Saturday, July 16, 2011

The Devil You Don't Know

One of the most important and hardest lessons to learn so far in life has been the lesson that it is not my responsibility to fix people. While I believe that all of us have a touch of this in us, for some it is more of a hump to get over than others. I know for me, at times, it was akin to climbing Everest. And I am ever aware of the backsliding.

For as long as I can remember, I have felt some sort of ingrained mission to fix other peoples' miseries and situations. For those of us who spent as much time raising and protecting our parents/siblings as our parents did us, the root of this can be obvious. Whether obvious or inobvious, however, this tendency in me has proven more unhealthy than healthy in the long run, and after 27 years, I have let it go.

It kept me imprisoned in unhealthy relationships, pushing for my partners' miraculous mental revelations. It kept me dating and settling for chronically unhealthy women with no hope of ever seeing the light at one end of their darkness. It has pulled me into negative energy spaces with friends who seem to have no interest in viable, long-term solutions to their immediate miseries.

When I first entered therapy a couple years ago and unloaded all that was weighing me down, my therapist looked at me and responded (in not so many words), "These things are all sad or unfortunate, but they're not your problems."  I don't think my mind could really comprehend it at first. I had no boundaries. No rules about what was mine and what was someone else's to handle. Those people, however unhealthy, were my partners, my friends, my family, and admitting it wasn't my responsibility felt like abandonment.

The process of letting go has been long, and hard, but so very worth it. I had to learn that love, true or otherwise, can be poisonous, and there is no way to love someone harder or better in order to change that. I had to see that some people really do prefer the devil they know to anything else, because misery can be soothing in its familiarity. In waking up and looking around, I saw the darkness in addiction, and that not everyone is as ambitious, or stubbornly-willed as you might hope in your love for them.

In trying to put distance between myself and the people/situations in my life that were perpetuating my need to play savior, it made room for healthy people to appear/reappear in my life, including one of the most important of all. Talk about freedom and joy.  It surprises and pleases me when people see this change in me. Feeling the change in myself at first was even exhausting. The devil you don't know can take a lot of energy at first. But when people started bringing up how happy I was all the time, I knew all the pain and exhaustion of moving through it was worth it. I had to get used to a smile on my own face. I had to remember how much I giggle.

I am ever grateful to the people who have stayed in my life through all of this. I am thankful for the new people I have met, and blessed in the necessary loved ones who have returned. As for those I have lost, I cherish you, and my wish will always be for you to become the saviors of your own destinies. Sometimes the best way to love yourself and others is to let go. Sometimes it's the only way, if you want to see that person grow.

~ Mar

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