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Riding The See-Saw of Unhealthy Relationships

Something happened the other week with someone I trusted and appreciated and felt was one of my best friends. It has done a lot of damage that may not be repaired right away. How was I to know that they weren't saying how they really felt? How was I to know that they were inviting me to a place they didn't want me to be? At the least unexpected moment it comes to the surface and is spewed out causing the other person to wonder how much of what they say is really true and they aren't just trying to be nice?

When people have been through a lot of abuse or trauma, or even just never were allowed to have a voice or discover who they really are, they have a very hard time knowing what they really need or want. They may just go along with what they think is expected of them. They may do everything they can to try to help and care for others. They may try to fix others when the pain they see is triggering or too much for them to handle. They may just shut down and do whatever it takes to avoid conflict. They may become enmeshed with the other person and use them as a distraction so that they don't have to deal with their own issues.

This can happen in any relationship. Often we don't see it in ourselves. Fear and anxiety motivate us to respond to ease conflict and please the other person instead of being true to ourselves. It is really hard to be honest with ourselves at times. To take a deep look at ourselves. To sort through the conflicting emotions. To sense in our bodies the implicit memories from other abusive situations where our trust was damaged in a similar way.

I hadn't realized it was bothering me so much. I had just been boiling with anger even though I tried to not acknowledge it. I tried to act like everything was okay. I tried to tell myself it is not a big deal. I tried to convince myself that this is so minor to a past experience that I'm making way too big of a deal out of it. I tried to tell myself that I shouldn't be angry but I should have compassion for the other person because they have such a hard time saying what they really want or need which leaves me feeling confused. I had taken them at their word. I wanted to keep taking them at the word despite this "little bump in the road" of our relationship.

But the anger...the just kept coming to the surface. It made no sense.

Till last night. When I realized how much this situation was bothering me. How big of a deal this really is to me. How I felt completely blindsided. A part of me kept saying, "but this really is a big deal to me." And I cried myself to sleep.

I let myself remember the first time I remember it happening where I had felt completely blindsided. By my "christian" employer and his wife. Who had been like my spiritual parents in more ways than one. I couldn't let myself think about it too much because I was afraid that I would have nightmares. I remembered how much I trusted them and how confusing it was to me because I wanted to learn how to have healthy relationships and there were times I had their approval and other times when I couldn't seem to do anything right no matter how hard I tried.

I alluded to someone yesterday that this is how I feel: "It's like trying to ride a see saw and being barely able to hang on before it goes in the opposite direction." I meant it about my current situation with this other individual but after I said it I realized how much it also applied to my relationship with my "christian-turned-abuser" employer and his wife who so completely flipped on me in the end.

Our relationship basically culminated on the day they called me into "their" office and scolded me for 3 hours(it was technically no longer their office and I was technically no longer their employee). I have no words for their horrible abuse. It left me questioning everything I believed. It is a memory now that I have tried to shut out of my life ever since it happened. I tried to go on. And I could to a certain extent. But please believe me when I say that I have never been the same after that and I fully believe that it is a big part of why I am where I am today, exhausted and burnt out with not enough energy to work a job and support myself.

I wish I could cut that part of my life out of my story. I mean, I could tear the pages of that part of my life out of the physical book I wrote of my story. But it wouldn't do much good. Why? Because my body remembers. My body remembers the brokenness of my spirit as I was scolded and prayed for. My body remembers the betrayal by the first people I had allowed myself to trust to the extent that I had trusted them only to have them throw it all back in my face by their words and actions. In a way, I believe they caused more damage in some ways in my life in the few years they were in my life than my parents did my entire life.

When you trust someone and they "flip" on you as in saying one thing and then changing it later it undermines and cripples your trust in them (which happened a number of times with my employer before they ever flipped on me in the office on that fateful day). Depending on the depth of your trust it will also determine the depth of the damage that is done. It can be something as simple as inviting someone and then later telling them you really didn't want them there but you invited them because you wanted everyone to feel included. Or telling an employee that you want to make them manager of a certain department and then giving that office to someone else. How would you feel if someone did that to you? Even just something as "simple" as that?

How long would it take to rebuild that trust of yours that the individual broke by not being honest?

How long would it take for you to be able to enjoy their company without the pain of the incident? What would it take for you to trust their word again? Or would it create a rift and you would find yourself constantly questioning their words and wondering if they really mean what they say?

I did some reading to see what I could find:

Here is an example of a contradiction in a conversation between a manager and an employee:

I'm not sure how well this fits into this blog post but I thought it would be a good bit of education if someone isn't aware of these things. Through the incident I'm currently dealing with I was also reminded of a friend I had once and how I knew something wasn't right but I didn't know what it was. If the one was hesitant to share something we would manipulate the other into speaking their thoughts by saying that we weren't made to be an island. But it also seemed like it felt she had to be strong for me and and I just wanted authenticity but then there was also the tug-of-war of feeling like I needed to be strong for her. Needless to say, I'm glad that she is no longer a part of my life.

Enmeshment is something I've seen in myself in the past but I've been trying to break out of it and learn to take responsibility for myself. I think I've especially become more aware of it after I cut contact with my parents. I also cut a bunch of "friends" out of my life as well because there was something about the relationship that didn't seem healthy or the other person was too demanding or needy and it was just too much for me too handle. Here are a few articles about what enmeshment is:

Sometimes it's hard to know what you want or need. When a person had all their power taken away as a child they have no voice and it takes a lot of hard work for a person to discover who we really are. It takes specific effort to cut out a lot of the distractions we use to self-medicate ourselves when we have uncomfortable or negative feelings. It takes a lot of bravery and courage to face ourselves and look inward. It takes a lot of effort to discover and put into words what we really want or need. Sometimes that means cutting people out of our life, like I did with my parents. It was only then that I began to really make any progress. Also choosing to cut out of our lives the things that drain us or the needy friends who take more than they give. Some of these things are very painful and hard to do but are necessary if we are to continue going forward as well as having the mental space to get to know ourselves better. Yes, it can be a very lonely place and it's hard to not act out of loneliness but eventually that space will get filled with better things. Not only will we get to know ourselves better but we will also learn to know what gifts and talents we have and we will be empowered to move forward into the things that we were created to do.

Especially to be the person we were made to be.

It isn't an easy journey and it takes a lot of hard work. And no matter where you find yourself on your journey I hope you've learned something new and hopefully encouragement to continue. Sometimes it gets dark and we can't see any light or things look so rough and we can't see any good coming out of it but let's just take one step at a time. Forward. As we receive the light and wisdom to do so.

And as always, thanks for taking the time to read my writings...

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