“The moment you feel like you have to prove your worth to someone is the moment to absolutely and utterly walk away.”
I have been manipulated by people my entire life. To even make this statement out loud strikes at the core of what I value most about myself – my intelligence. How could someone so smart be so stupid and allow herself to be used and abused so intimately by so many? My greatest relationships have been the most disappointing – the most manipulative. I thought this cycle of behavior began with my marriage, but in a revelation last week, I discovered this disturbing pattern began much earlier in my life – with my father. And this new discovery sent me into a tailspin that revealed a level of myself I had not yet seen, and one I wasn’t certain I was ready to look at up close and personal.
They say, “Hindsight is 20/20.” How many times do we hear this statement and never really stop to think what these words mean? My observation has been that people peering into your life from the outside – the ‘cheap seats’ as I like to call them – always have the best vantage point. It’s just so seemingly easy for them to speak volumes into your life: you should choose this relationship; you shouldn’t buy that house; no, don’t have children now; oh gosh, you bought that dress? But many times I find the ‘cheap seat’ advice is guised as judgment, even by the best meaning people. Even with a pretty spin, judgment still stings, especially when some of the words ring true.
Over time I’ve learned to listen first, reflect on the person’s heart who’s laying down their pearls of wisdom, and respond less. Oh, it’s not been an easy lesson by any means – I will be the first to tell you. That sting is still there – maybe just not as painful as it once was. But when you can trust the one who speaks into your life, trust that their heart is not intentionally trying to hurt yours, the pain is short-lived and you’re left with the nuggets of truth to take away.
So this is what happened for me last week. A painful, but heart-full exchange, truthful nuggets, and reflection. It was in that reflection time I found my brain spiraling out of control, and I needed to put those thoughts to paper before I simply lost my mind. That exercise – release of my thoughts and feelings on a blank paper – proved to be so powerful and freeing…I’m not sure I can completely put into words what all I accomplished with that simple act.
I have shared my childhood experience here before. I am a steadfast believer in the fact that there are no accidents – all things happen as they are meant to. And while we may or may not receive answers for the tragedies we experience here on this earth, they all absolutely serve a purpose. I don’t know why I was molested as a child, and quite frankly, I don’t need to know now. I am, however, learning over time how even though I had thought I was not impacted beyond the end of that event by what happened, that is not exactly true.
As I sat with my therapist this week, recapping what I had discovered in solo work, questioning how I could have been so foolish to allow myself to be continually manipulated, she stopped me and posed several questions to help me work through my harsh conclusion. Who was the parent and who was the child in the relationship with my Father? Obvious answer there. In my marriage, why did I choose my husband? That he lived 1000 miles away and I was looking to escape, and his family seems so welcoming and I desperately wanted to belong to someone’s family. In my friendship with X., what did she bring to the table? Strength when I was at my weakest and availability when my other friends were busy with their families. So with this information, was I ‘dumb or stupid’ in making the choice to be with them when I made my original choices? No. I made good choices at the time. However, I am drawn to this type of personality – a controlling, manipulative, overbearing person. Each and every relationship I have had has revealed this trait. And I bounce from one relationship to the next to the next. And if I don’t identify why I make this choice each time – I will continue to make this bad choice for myself again and again.
So what we decided together is that I need to trust ME more, pay attention to the red flags that I see coming up instead of avoiding them, and take my time, allowing people to earn my trust, instead of giving it away too freely. Wow…that seems like it would be so simple, but believe me, it is not! Doubt is sneaky, creaping in to every little crack and crevice you have, and seriously…I have too many! But I am wicked proud of the work I continue to do, and I am thankful for the people I have who speak into my life from their heart. I love them more than they know…and they know who they are.