Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Games people play

It never ceases to amaze me how people can be incredibly caring, sweet, wonderful and generous ... until they aren't. 

A few things I've learned about people in the last five and a half years that I've been in "recovery" have set me back on my heels. These are things that either I didn't know or that I didn't want to know. 

One thing is sure. People will surprise you. You think you have them pegged and then they do something completely unexpected. Like when my co-workers opened their hearts to me after my youngest daughter died suddenly last October. I never expected that - and the caring continues to this day! 

However, I have learned - sadly, the hard way - that no matter who it is, people (because they - er, we - are human!) will inevitably disappoint anyone who depends on them / us. We aren't perfect, and if we try to give that impression, well, let's just say the fall from the pedestal is quite steep. And it seems that the higher the pedestal we think we're on, the more it hurts when (not if) we fall from it. I've learned that it's better not to think of myself as better than anyone else, and it's made me avoid anyone who thinks that way too, for whatever reason (education, position, etc.)

So, for better or worse, I've developed some personal guidelines to help me navigate the world of interpersonal relationships - which can sometimes be a mine-field, especially if there are relationships where one person is in a position of power and the other one isn't. So, in no particular order, here are a few of my own personal guard-rails:
  1. I have boundaries. These pertain to my personal space, to my emotional space, and to my spiritual space. I have the right to occupy a place in the world, and to feed my soul with what nourishes me inside. If someone infringes on that right, or takes advantage of my generosity, I have the right to be angry and also to say, "This is not okay." It doesn't matter whether that person believes himself or herself to have the right to demand my respect; if the person has hurt me, it is okay for me to say that he or she has hurt me. 
  2. I have the right to make my own decisions and my own mistakes, and the responsibility to learn from them.
  3. I have the right to feel what I feel. This means that nobody has the right to tell me that I don't feel something or that I shouldn't feel something. 
  4. Other people have boundaries. It is not okay for me to try to fix anyone, even if that person asks me to do it. It is not my place to tell someone else how to live their life, run their marriage or raise their kids.
  5. Other people have the right to make their own decisions and their own mistakes, and they (not I) must bear the consequences of their own actions.
  6. Other people have the right to feel what they feel too. Just because I might be uncomfortable with it, or I wouldn't react in the same way, doesn't give me the right to dismiss - or to judge - what another's experience might be.
  7. If anyone - including me - is in a relationship where he or she feels consistently shamed or bullied or "less than", it is not only okay ... it is IMPERATIVE ... to walk away. NOBODY deserves to be treated that way. Staying in a relationship like that only encourages the abuser to continue abusing.
If this post has helped anyone identify an area where there are boundary issues or relationship inequalities that are taking place, and then figure out what it is that they need to do to take care of themselves, then I have achieved my purpose in writing it.

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