Sunday, January 8, 2012

The Pricetag for Freedom

There comes a time when you have to stand up and shout: This is me damn it! I look the way I look, think the way I think, feel the way I feel, love the way I love. I am a whole complex package. Take me, or leave me. . . .Do not try to make me feel like less of a person, just because I don't fit your idea of who I should be and don't try to change me to fit your mold. ~Stacy Charter

The above statements resonate with me because I've had to stand up in my life and say, "Enough is enough, I am not doing this anymore! I'm not tolerating verbal, emotional or societal abuse because I choose to be who I am, live my life according to my values, and believe in what I deserve in genuine relationships and a genuine life."

Where are you fitting into someone's mold? How are you negotiating who you are in exchange for material goods, security and comfort, or for love and acceptance?

I started standing up for myself in 2003. I was involved in an emotionally and verbally abusive relationship with a man who was controlling, critical, and angry. When I expressed how I felt, I was shut down, my words taken out of context, manipulated into statements of attack against him when what I expressed were my feelings. My world was a life in which I lived walking on eggshells, never certain how anything I said would be interpreted. In this “loving” relationship, I had to be someone I wasn't; be who he expected me to be, everything from how I washed fruits and vegetables to how I addressed his displeasure about work or family or social issues. I was expected to agree with everything he said, without question, without looking at any of it from the others' point of view. If I did express my thoughts that differed from his own personal perspective or opinion, I was against him, nonsupporting, and failing him as his mate.

It took a while to realize I was not living my life from a place of personal power. Chris Michaels, author of Your Soul's Assignment says, “We all reach that point of authority in our lives – that place where we can no longer stand pretending to be something we're not just to please other people. That is the point of power in our lives – a personal declaration of independence. It's also the point in life where. . . we become less tolerant of others whose only interest is to make us feel bad and wrong.”

I eventually found the courage to leave this relationship. It was a three-year road towards freedom, for my ex continually reappeared, clinging to our connection with humbled apologies and proclamations of true change. His actions showed otherwise as his resentment and the anger festering beneath this facade of humility surfaced quickly. He refused to leave me alone because he was angry: at me for daring to stand up to himself; at himself and his choices leading to the demise of our relationship; at those closest to him in his life who betrayed him, hurt him, caused him pain. I finally freed myself from being a target of blame for his unhappiness. And only until he healed past betrayals, grievances and disappointments would he find the inner peace which he sought in making anyone who challenged his maltreatment and behavior miserable. He felt better about himself by devaluing and demeaning me, which is what bullies do when they are unhappy or insecure. Bullying is abuse in the form of picking on others, bad-mouthing others. Bullies secure sympathy from others, often placing the blame on another for whatever misery they experienced in their life. My ex-boyfriend drew me into this web with stories of his ex-wife cheating on him, how his alcoholic parents abused him verbally and never showed love for him; how co-workers did him wrong, etc. I fell for it, hook, line and sinker. In addition to learning how to stand up for my life, I also learned there are two sides to every story.

I feel empathy for my ex-boyfriend, and the road he's traveled, but I don't deserve being his punching bag as a cure or relief from his own miserable life. Just as I have the personal power to make choices that create a better life experience for me, so does he; so does anyone. He eventually got help, and like most people who have a few months of counseling, he believed he was “changed.” This experience in 2003 launched me on an eight-year journey that continues of healing, forgiveness, and rediscovering who I am and my God-given gift of personal and spiritual power. When I let anyone dictate to me who I am, how I should show up and be, what choices I should or shouldn't be making, or how I should live my life, I hand over my personal power to another human being. I cannot control anyone's choices or actions in his or her own life, or even towards me. I can take action to stand up for myself, and walk away on the high road, head held high knowing I do so from a place of authentic truth as a Light of God. My value doesn't come from other people's opinions of me, but rather it comes directly from my connection to God. This holds true for everyone.

It isn't always easy; I lose my footing, I stumble and I fall on occasion. But, when I pick myself up, I understand what tripped me, and I resolve to walk again, more firmly entrenched in God's love for myself, and especially for those who attempt to push me down. We all have our own paths to walk, and we walk them in our own time, at our own pace. I am only responsible for how I show up in my journey's path, and upon crossing the paths of others along the way.

Sometimes, moving forward means leaving others behind, even when we love them deeply. Leaving behind my ex-boyfriend, and others since then, doesn't mean I stopped loving them. They hold a special place in my heart and in my memory. They are wrapped with love and hope that one day they recognize their own personal power to stand more brightly in the Light of God to live a life of spiritual authenticity.

1 comment:

A'ra Blair said...

Beautifully conveyed!