Being Erica had an episode last night about her relationship with a woman she’d known all her life who was irresponsible and kept getting into trouble. Erica kept rescuing her and paying – and not being able to extricate herself because of what she thought of as her loyalty and love for her friend. In the end she saw she was letting her friend use her because it made her feel needed and the strong one. It was hard for her to face the truth. I could relate to that.
I had a sobering illustration in the past 6 weeks of staying in something unhealthy. I thought it was because I didn’t have any other options, but that wasn’t really it. A man offered to fix my car for a reasonable fee. Too reasonable? My gut sent out a signal, and I heard it, but over-rode it. Why? Because I was vulnerable and thought I didn’t believe any other options would be available to me. That’s on the surface of it.
From the start things went wrong. I’ve learned the man is a petty crook and beats up on people. He kept making promises, I kept believing him – so did the police. Then he’d renege and I’d experience a horrific sense of having no power, of people being allowed to do what they want to me and me having no options. I was constantly exploding with rage in the privacy of my own home. Feeling victimized. But not walking away.
Then suddenly yesterday I saw. This relationship – I know it! It feels comfortable, safe, it’s where I know my place. Not safe in the ultimate sense, of course, but safe as in familiar. It was shocking. In that moment I saw how all my life I’ve made choices to stay in unhealthy relationships hoping the other person would change, keep their promises, respect me, stop using me, stop lying. And truth? It was so I wouldn’t have to walk away into nothingness.
Being treated as if I’m unimportant is how I’ve known who I was. How could I walk away from the only thing that affirmed my existence? But over the years, with all the experience of unconditional love and teaching I’ve been getting in therapy a new me has been growing, one that doesn’t need abuse to feel alive. Funny how you can be gradually changing, building inner strength, but not realize it.
It came to head yesterday. I suddenly got sick of the game, of the parts both he and I were playing. It didn’t make me feel alive. I didn’t have to lecture myself into it, it was an emotional reaction. This felt like death. I wanted life. And for the first time ever I didn’t want to punish him. I just wanted to get away, cut my losses and make space for something better. In the past I’ve been consumed with anger and hurt and desperately wanted to take on people like this – take them to court, make them pay. Worse, I wanted to stay entangled with them.
Not this time. There’s nothing left in this kind of relationship for me. I don’t need to punish him, or see him punished. I need to be somewhere else. So I walked away. And another solution, a healthy one, slipped into place. In Being Erica last night, she spoke of reaching a point in your life where you’re able to make choices that truly work for you; are protective of your right to be treated with respect. I guess I’m reaching that point. It’s an emotional thing, not intellectual.