This has been sitting in my mind and my heart for almost a week now… I’ve been fighting writing it… first because it was so personal that I was afraid writing it would make it more true… and then because I didn’t know how much I should share on here. I was worried about alarming people as to how bad my situation was. I’ve been pretty candid with some with regard to the real nuts and bolts of my situation, but some I’ve left in the dark in order to protect. Not because I think that my situation is going to negatively impact, but more because no one wants to hear bad stuff about people they care about. In the end I figured out that I really protecting myself.
Last week I was at a Leadership course in which we spent two days discovering our own motivational values and discovering others.
My motivational value system is Blue. Defined as Altruistic-Nurturing. Some words and phrases associated with being ‘blue’:
Being open and responsive to the needs of others
Seeking ways to bring help to others
Trying to make life easier for others
Trying to avoid being a burden to others
Ensuring others reach their potential
Ensuring others are valued
Defending the rights of others
Open, Friendly, helpful, considerate, supportive, enhancing, trusting, socially sensitive, sincere, loyal, compassionate, respectful, humanitarian, being needed, being appreciated.
If you know me even a little bit, you know that the above phrases and wording are written for me. To be fair, it’s situational, but that in a nut shell is how I live my life… at home and at work.
When I’m involved in ‘conflict’, whether internally or externally, the internal experience for me is as follows:
Stage One (mild conflict) Simply be accommodating to the needs of others
Stage Two (medium conflict) Give in and let the opposition have it’s way
Stage Three (severe conflict) Feeling defeated completely
My observable behavior in conflict is
- Accommodate others
- Surrender conditionally
- Surrender completely
That’s a lot of information, I realize. However, it’s important as it relates to the real meat of this post.
My main driving factor in my relationships with others is to do what I can to give them what they need. This is sometimes to the detriment of being able to say no. I enjoy the feeling of being needed, I enjoy the appreciation from others… It makes ME feel good to make others feel good.
While we were in this class, I mentioned to the room that I couldn’t figure out how I was supposed to determine when I was in conflict because I was always ‘the exact same way’. Someone asked if I ever got mad. I said no, because I couldn’t remember the last time I was bounced out of my regular self into a conflicted self, even if for only a moment.
As we went through the rest of the course, the instructor (Matt) promised me an ‘aha’ moment. No moment seemed forthcoming and then we broke for lunch.
As has often happened for me, the epiphany comes with no warning. My subconscious mind is processing things behind the scenes and only when the item is processed enough for my conscious mind to hear it, is it given to me. And in this instance it was given to me in the style of a big bag of bricks to the head/heart!
I alerted Matt to the fact that I’d just had my epiphany. And then I cried. His sincere kindness and the magnitude of my realization led me to explain what was going on.
I had alluded to the relationship in past conversations with him, not really stating what had really gone on (because honestly, who tells an almost perfect stranger intimate details of a relationship, good or bad).
Even I was struck by my reaction… heaving sobs as I put into words what I had only just realized. Almost five years and I had lived almost every day in the state of conflict. Accommodate others. Surrender conditionally. Surrender completely.
I no longer knew how to live in the calm, peaceful and natural state of my real personality. I wasn’t able to say when I changed from my ‘when things are going well’ personality into my ‘conflict personality’ because I was always living in the conflict one.
I realized that someone that was supposed to love me unconditionally manipulated and took advantage of who I am as a person. The fundamental things that make me ME, were distorted and abused. I changed myself so much… accommodating, surrendering, that I turned into a different person.
I remember walking up the path to my house and feeling like I was towing the world behind me. Hoping for the best and refusing to believe the worst.
I remember the physical symptom of ‘surrender completely’. I would let out a huge sigh, my shoulders would visibly fall and that world I was towing behind me was all of a sudden right on top of me.
And the very next day, after he moved out, I felt surreal. Like I didn’t know myself. So I embarked on getting to know again what food I liked to eat, how I liked to keep my house, what I liked to watch on tv. When my ideal bedtime was, my new morning routine, taking care of the kitty by myself.
The thing that Matt mentioned was that while I’m working on getting to know those somewhat superficial (my word, not his) things about myself, it was also time to learn again fundamentally who I am when I’m living in peace. How do I process peaceful situations now. How will I process non peaceful situations. And how will I prevent my innate being from being removed from me… How will I prevent being taken advantage of? I’m a very kind, very giving and very accommodating (for the most part) person and it’s a slippery path to go down because it’s difficult to say no.
We discussed how to be a ‘selfish blue’. How to make sure that I trust myself again. I said I didn’t. I don’t really. I’m terrified that the next person that comes along will erase me again. Even knowing what I know now about the things I won’t tolerate, I still don’t trust me in love.
The instructor said that the two things he asks people to find out if they’re ready to move on to phase 2 (which I gather comes after the stark realization made in phase 1), is if they answer yes to both of the following questions.
- Do you love yourself?
- Do you trust yourself?
I do love me. I love the me that I am becoming. The mostly vegetarian, go to bed by 9, laugh at nonsense and enjoy my quiet time me. The me that was strong enough and able enough to get out of my relationship when I knew it would never be what it should.
I don’t trust me. I don’t trust me at all. Matt mentioned that now is the time for me. To be selfish and consider myself first, which goes outside of what my normal behavior would be. To know my own limits and to take more time to listen to my gut reactions about things. And to know to trust those gut reactions. To trust myself when myself is saying ‘this isn’t right’ and ‘I don’t want to…’.
He also said that that specific moment was inspiring. I don’t understand that… I’m an ugly crier and I was certainly not feeling inspiring or inspired. But I can see for someone like him, who is very self aware and aware of those around him, how it might be inspiring to see someone’s realization about the past burst the chains around their future.
It was a very enlightening 30 minutes of my life. I feel less crazy… I feel stronger knowing now what I do about my behavior. That I was simply behaving the way I was born to behave. That my reaction to the situation was innate to the person I am. I know now that if I would have realized this earlier, maybe I would still have taken 5 years to remove myself, but I would at least have understood what was happening.