It’s been a week of letters from an emotional cliff side, a place that I once spent about a year in. This article is for all we THM’ers out there, who are on the journey to “Letting Go and Growing Strong.”
Know that you’re not standing alone. We’re on the path to health sanity and wellness together. Tough stuff to be standing on the dividing line between anxiety over a change in your life and that small hope you will wake tomorrow in a more mentally stable place. These are dark woods to navigate. Begin by identifying where you are in your stage of life development. There is a key phrase –
…change is part of human life development.
It’s appropriate at all stages of life.
Here are opening questions for you to ask yourself.
- What change have I experienced?
- What feelings are coming up in me?
- Can I separate my feelings of hurt from feelings of separation anxiety?
- Separation anxiety can affect any situation including job loss, a change in locale, relationships, even leaving home for college.
- What am I actually “afraid” of? Is it failing, being alone, that the hurt will never end? Be specific and honest.
- Do I know that I am fully capable of being happy, healthy and whole without the person/relationship/job/situation that I am currently thinking of?
- How many times in these questions did the past become your explanation or your present tense? The past (good and bad) inform us, but it does not control us.
The good news? THM will be launching an interactive forum where we can chat as a community and support one another in just a few weeks. The bad news? This is one long article about the answer to all the above. It’s about reclaiming your inner power.
Why We Lose Inner Power
Let’s talk honestly about “recovering your power.” I’ve gotten lots of letters this week from women (and one man) in the process of letting go of a hard relationship. Some are married, some are “the other woman,” some were waiting for that commitment of a lifetime. Each person has that angst borne feeling of “letting go.” One statement comes up over and over…
“I don’t know how to let go.
I don’t want him/her back,
but I don’t want to let go.
I don’t want anyone else to have him/her.
I am afraid to let what we have go…”
And right after that sentence, each person has this question that goes like this – I know this isn’t good for me – so why do I feel this way? Codependency in action. To support a relationship when we are not happy, when we expel great energy yet receive little…that isn’t emotionally healthy. Somehow, we’ve allowed a corruption of our inner power. Here are some hallmarks of corrupted inner power:
- You feel anxious over the perceived loss;
- There is a marked feeling of withdrawal, as though you have suddenly quit an addictive substance or behavior;
- The loss is impairing your normal functionality;
- You are used to negative attention and undermined self worth;
- You are accustomed to ‘picking up the pieces’;
- You may often feel like you’re responsible for the world, or that you’re parenting your partner;
- Your rationale (this isn’t good for me) is at odd with your feelings (I need this “fix”).
Your inner power can be defined as your understanding as an individual person, the ability to differentiate between your internal self and the feelings of the “now.” You see, we are not our relationship. We are separate human beings, with many circumstances in our lives. When we give into the chaos, it feeds on our internal power, redirecting our energy to the external chaos instead of our inner life. When we become accustomed to the power of putting our energy wholly into a relationship that is not fulfilling our needs, it’s often called “co dependency.” Be really honest with yourself – is the “love” that you experience enabling a person to continue treating you badly, or allowing them to use your life force as a method of staying afloat?
Truth: codependent relationships are harmful to both people, and any family involved. It’s going to take a while to disseminate all the info that you’re going to need, so lets start with getting you in touch with the most important person in your life – you. I promise that the “most important person, best friend, soul mate” that you are looking for is a healthy version of yourself staring you back in the mirror. If you achieve balance and Mr./Mrs. Wonderful returns to your life, think of how much better it will be when your love is healthy. Ready?
Time for some meditation. Yep, this part is required. Find a nice quiet space and relax while you use this amazingly helpful, free video to increase your own awareness. Use stereo headphones if available – and please, do not listen to any meditation exercises while driving.
How did that relaxation technique feel to you? Were you able to imagine, to relax, to be quiet within yourself? Keep trying if the answer is no – I didn’t do it at first, either. Remember…your situation is unique. To regain your personal power, you must do one thing: decide for yourself what is healthy for you, and act on it.
Love is a strange thing. To make us strong together, we often become individually weak. If you’ve fallen in love with someone who had/has developed pathology, you’re going to find that you feel siphoned from – that your power is literally taken from you to fuel the emotional life of another person. Some truth:
- Not all relationship splits are due to infidelity or mental health issues; actually, the leading cause of divorce is lack of communication.
- No matter how much you explain to me that you were a “happy, connected, intense” relationship that has hit the skids, there is still the contrasting viewpoint of your significant other. It is entirely possible that they are simply a human being, a healthy person that honestly does not love us in a way that fulfills their needs. At that point of disillusioned love, that partner may call it quits.
Know how you tell that person apart? Here is my “healthy endings” list. A healthy person seeking to terminate a relationship will:
- Talk about relationship openly, even if reconciliation is not an option.
- Be honest and upfront about relationship issues contained within your partnership. There is no reason to text crazily, to digitally stalk, to replay every interaction in your mind over and over.
- Refrain from abuse – physical, mental, emotional or verbal.
- Honor the former mate by behaving with dignity and grace, even if another person is in the picture.
- Will uphold their boundaries, without yelling or screaming, no trading up or out for another person.
- Will make a decision based on your relationship.
- Will be fair: Parting has all the signs of civility and fairness. No one is left homeless, without support of children, etc.
Conversely, the person that is a “soul breaker” has a list, too. If we’re in the break up of an unhealthy relationship:
- We left behind feel guilty or convicted of something that we didn’t do?
- We wonder what we did wrong? There is no communication.
- We feel like loving has made us less of a person, worthless, desperate? We’ve been told that we’re not wanted.
- We feel like we live on an emotional roller-coaster? We get mixed “come and go” signals.
- We use phrases like “came and left, came and left, came and left.”
- We use ideas like “can’t commit because…”
- We get used to things like “affair” and “he/she would change for me?”
If this is you, you’re in the right place. You’re dealing with a person who, mentally speaking, is siphoning off your life force, your power. Most narcissists, borderlines and those extra special duo bipolar narcissists…and people who are “stuck” in an underdeveloped life span state all thrive on personal drama because it gives them access to your sanity. You’re like a human battery. Once drained, you well may be replaced. That is not to pin diagnosable conditions on our former flames – but it is to recognize that we’re dealing with that complex intersection of mind, body and soul when we talk of love. If someone is out of balance, the relationship will have to adapt to survive. How has that adaptation been healthy for you?
In my experience, these things will help your identify and clarify what is “reality” and what is “emotionality.”
- Find a method of total relaxation that requires no other individual or expense. Take time for yourself. If you are very enmeshed, you’re going to have a hard time listening to these meditations. Taking thirty minutes for yourself will feel like an eternity. Ask yourself – what is it that drives me to preform for others constantly? What is it that tells me I am not worth thirty of my own minutes of life?
- Value silence. Allow yourself to simply breathe and be. Let your mind float, apart from your problems.
- Journal your feelings and allow your private space to keep the angst apart from you. Can you let the drama go?
- There is no need to answer when a person is “ugly” to us. you have no investment in “getting even.” In fact, adding your aura to an emotional battle simply drains you. The universe, the Divine, will redeem the time if you simply be patient and have faith in your unique ability to heal and be whole.
- See yourself as who you want to be…and allow others to evolve into who they are. Allow yourself to ascend.
- Imagine your problems in a container, like balloon or crystal. Imagine that you’ve given them over to the Divine, however you understand “god.” Watch that balloon or crystal take to the air, to find itself in and amongst the stars, far from you.
- Seek a qualified mental health counselor who fits your faith, finances and future.
Learning To Let Go
This week, commit to using these two resources each day, more if possible. You see, the first step in letting go is realizing that you’re in an emotionally hard place. You may be depressed, hurt, angry or a combination of the above plus a few. Give yourself permission to grieve – recognize you’re not going to feel this way forever. Report any thoughts of self harm to a trusted medical person immediately. Harm is not the answer.
An emotionally hard place is an external influence on your internal self. You may be asking who you are now, what to do from here, and you may find the future terrifying. Depending on your life story, you may have developmental steps you need to take. For instance, I had a child at 19. Married at a very young age (during college) didn’t allow for development as a young adult in our society. I have never experienced the night club scene, or been a twenty-something. I have always been a Mom, since I myself was a kid. Now, I am learning healthy adult play, given that there is also a romantic side to marriage that is formed in the courtship phase. Women and men who have married early life sweethearts are often also unable to develop individuation as a single person, unique among the universe. That is one situation among many leading to developmental delays in the life cycle. I’ve learned healthy individuation as a person to become a better spouse and mother.
So how do you do that?
Start by becoming more in touch with who you are, and not identifying yourself as an emotion…you are a human. Unique. Special. Loved. Time to dust of that individual understanding and deeply value the person that you are – your soul. I started with meditation and working out. Here is a great centering meditation that might help you. For best results, use stereo headphones.
The next step is to realize that you are not responsible for someone else. Not their happiness. Not their actions. You cannot change another person – change is their own prerogative. For a person that leaves in a high drama, chaos laden fashion, they more than likely need a medical diagnosis, a licensed therapist and medication.
The questions I am asked this week….
Will that change them into the forever person that you can love?
I don’t know.
Confronting the Idea of Codependency
WebMD offers these three questions to identify a codependent relationship. Three simple questions can help you identify a codependent relationship, the experts tell WebMD.
Question 1: Is this relationship more important to me than I am?
Love does have a selfless element, in which you want to make your partner happy. “I’m willing to give a lot for that person because I love them, but I shouldn’t be destroying myself to give it. If I have to do that, something’s wrong.”
Question 2: What price am I paying for being with this person?
Someone with an anxiety disorder may only realize it when she sees its cost. For example, the price of her anxiety may be that she can’t fly somewhere fun for vacation. Similarly, it can be helpful to jot down a list of things you’re giving up to be in this relationship. “If you seem to always be putting yourself last, that’s not generally healthy for a person.”
Question 3: Am I the only one putting energy into this relationship?
If your tennis partner is too distracted or not interested in hitting the ball back to you, the game isn’t going to be much fun. The same is true for a couple when only one person is putting forth any effort.
You must understand that love, faith and prayer will not persevere without the tools that exist to help such folk. To do anything less is to give them access to literally using you as a battery. What does a human battery look like? It might be that wife of fifteen years. It may be the husband who is in it for eighteen months and finds out the baby isn’t his. Maybe you’re the girlfriend of the now. Either way, to enable a person to use you, to continue with an addiction…you’re not helping them, or you. You’re not helping children – you’re actually damaging them. No matter how you self define, if you’re codependent, you’re in the cross-hairs of some dangerous stuff.
Special note – If the person who is dragging you through the mud is married to someone else – please, I beg of you stand up for yourself and terminate your relationship. Not for the husband/wife, or even them – but for you. You are inviting heartache into your life. I promise that every woman/man on this site who has been there would say the same. I have one rule about extramarital affairs….
“What someone will do with you – they will do to you.”
You can’t be surprised when the people that we’re involved with in an unhealthy lifestyle actually act in an unhealthy manner. that is like being surprised that a dog can bark. We left behind, we “other women” who bought into the lie, we girlfriends/boyfriends/fiancees…we’re the same person over and over. Does this sound like you?
“I trusted him.
I loved him so much.
I never experienced anything like the passion, the intensity that we shared.
He promised that I was like no one else.
I keep hoping that he/she will come back,
and that it will be like it used to be.“
I once said it myself. Okay, I will admit that for about ten seconds, it was probably true. Then for eighteen months, you get bounced like a basketball though a hoop three sizes to small. You get accustomed to feeling rotten about yourself. Why? Why? WHY? Do you realize that a.) before didn’t end well and b.) you’re different, too? A lifetime of pretending “it” didn’t happen is an early access pass to hell.
Hard truth: We chose this.
We chose not to walk away.
We know that this relationship is over/unhealthy
….we just chose not to believe it.
Choose a statement from those below, or make one that means more to you, and repeat, repeat, repeat throughout the day, every day, of every week, of every month. You might want to make or print out a card with your affirmation, and carry it with you. For the positive affirmations to work, you must use it whenever you notice you have that negative thought – immediately turn it around by using your affirmation. I love these affirmations from Positive Affirmations CBT site. I used them for myself. Ideas for successful affirmations? Always use in positive, present tense. Imagine them true even if they aren’t right now. Believe in your inner power. Adapt them to fit your personality and goals.
- I am strong
- I have strength
- I am determined and successful
- I am a good and worthwhile person
- I am a unique and special person
- I have inner strength and resources
- I am confident and competent
- I hold my head up high
- I look good because I am good
- People like me – I am a likable person and I like myself
- I care about others, I am needed and worthwhile
- I am a loving person
- I have a lot to be proud of
- I have all that I need
So, here we are dealing with our anxiety and our choice to let go. First, understand something about the medical issue of “anxiety” and how you can learn to work with your own mind and body to reclaim your inner peace – or establish it for the first time.
(P.S. The anxiety trigger/reaction for us is the idea of ‘letting go.’)
Next Up: Developing Stronger Inner Power