I finally bit the bullet and talked with someone about situations that have been presented in my life, especially some of the more recent instances. In the last few months alone, I:
- Had to deal with the death of my beloved Grandma – my role model and one of the great loves of my life.
- Left an extremely stressful and hostile job that provided no work-life balance.
- Grew my Transcendent Inc. business and made new connections with consultants and clients.
- Started working for a new company.
- Started getting our house ready to be sold (to be on the market this spring).
- Lost my dad suddenly who died of completely unknown causes AND had to deal with family fall out from those who didn’t like that asked for donations to help me pay for my dad’s funeral.
- Got tangled up with more family drama that was caused in part to having to re-connect with toxic family members.
These are some pretty heavy and stressful events in life, and I know I’m not the only one who lost loved ones over the holidays or had to deal with major stress.
…and don’t get me started on the news and what’s going on in Washington D.C. That’s enough to burn anyone out.
Over the years I’ve become increasingly resistant to stress and resilient (which I credit to my practice of Transcendental Meditation), but the last few months have hit me like a ton of bricks. I needed help, so I went and found someone who could help me.
Her name is Lisa, and she’s a counselor of sorts – more of a spiritual counselor than your run of the mill therapist. The one thing that has been kicking me down lately is the continued brokenness of my family. They want to talk about baking cakes when the whole house is on fire. They want to practice willful ignorance instead of being brave enough to lay all the puzzle pieces on the table and work on a solution. I’m dealing with people close to me that seem to be perpetually lying and living incredibly destructive lives – physically, emotionally, and spiritually. For one person in particular, I’ve been trying to get through to her for about 20 years. I’ve offered to go to therapy with her, I’ve encouraged her to learn meditation to help with stress, I’ve purchased a self help book for her, I’ve taken her out to bond and tried to be there when she was down. In return, she has consistently lied about me, robbed my home, left me hateful voice mails and emails, and on and on. She has also has made a point to kick me whenever I’m down, despite my efforts of trying to lift her up.
I haven’t lifted her up recently, mostly because I need to keep space between us. Whenever she lies to me, it ends up in another fight. It’s never productive. It’s an unbroken cycle. Whenever she falsely accuses me of ruining her life, I have to firmly remind her that I have nothing to do with her ruining her life. Whenever she accuses me of “embarrassing her” when I talk about what she’s done to our family, I have to remind her that her actions embarrass herself. She points a finger at me, and I point a mirror at her.
Lisa gave me the straight talk last night, and I think it’s exactly what I needed. She explained the concept of “love jail” which I think is incredibly brilliant and wanted to share it.
Basically, it goes like this:
- There are people in our lives who hurt us either intentionally or non-intentionally.
- People who hurt us are deeply hurting within themselves and so they use us to feel better about their own pain.
- Don’t take it personally. It’s not about me, it’s about them.
- We need to communicate to people that their behavior is unacceptable and we won’t continue subjecting ourselves to their behaviors.
- We love them and we pray for them.
- They go into love jail.
…and they stay in love jail until they can stop behaving in a way that dismisses your personal boundaries.
Interestingly, I’ve had certain people in love jail for years, but never really had a word for it until yesterday. What I know for sure is that I want to be around people who are nourishing and nurturing and treat others with respect. I don’t want to be around people who lie, deceive, mislead, drink or use drugs excessively, or are co-dependent or abusive in their words or actions. I don’t like people who blame others for their own personal choices or self destructive tendencies. Because I strive for authenticity in all the things that I say and do, I want to be around others who are also working hard to be as authentic and truthful as possible.
That does not mean that I don’t forgive these people. It does mean I unconditionally love these people. It also means that I have to love them from an arm’s length – a safe distance. It does mean that they stay in love jail until they decide to approach me with words and actions that are loving, kind, compassionate, and nourishing. Anything less keeps them in love jail.
Lisa also reminded me of some other straight truth:
- My problems usually always self created. If I want fewer problem people around me, allow fewer problem people around me.
- People’s opinions of me are their opinions and are not reflections of me – they are reflections of the creator of the opinion.
- Don’t let stress take me out of the game. Just get through it.
- This is all just noise and a distraction that keeps us from being the best version of ourselves.
- If someone regularly drinks and uses drugs until they lose bodily functions, I can’t do anything to help them. I’m not their mother, and I’m not their savior.
- Everyone is in a different stage of their spiritual evolution, and even if someone is killing their self with drugs and alcohol, it’s not for me to worry about. I’ve said my part, and I need to let them go into love jail.
As the oldest child of my family and someone who had the responsibility as a breadwinner and parent when I was still a kid, this advice is a hard pill to swallow. I was groomed in early childhood to be responsible for myself and everyone around me. I was literally programmed by my parents and other family members to take on the responsibility of others. However this is another pocket of bad programming that I’ve stumbled upon, and now it’s my responsibility to fix it. In a recent Amanda Hoyle Show, a guest speaker reminded me that, “we repeat what we don’t repair.” I need to lay my puzzle pieces out on the table and create a solution for my life. I don’t want to repeat the cycle of thinking I can or have to do anything to fix anyone else’s lives except for my own (and the obvious job of parenting my children).
If you have people in your life that can’t be kind, try love jail. What do you have to lose besides pain, stress, hurt, and tears? Remember that people always have the opportunity to come back into your life when they can respect you, and you are the judge and the jury.
Wishing you a happy spiritual journey through life and evolution to enlightenment!
The Guru Girl