In last month I had several shaking experiences in my professional and personal life. It started like a feeling of little inner discomfort and it is proceeding like major life crises.
In the middle of the storm, suffering and destruction strange thing occurs: I watch it, feel it, not only as a crises, but as well as great opportunity to learn maybe life-changing lesson for me and my loved ones.
First I realized that I cannot teach one of my friends who was also my yoga student. The boundaries between yoga teacher and friend were systematically crossed and even if I tried hard to make distinction of my roles, I did not succeed. In one moment, I had a clarity that this is not healthy neither for her, neither for me, and that I am not able anymore to assure the safe space for work in the class for her, and actually for other students neither. The separation did not happen all well and it was big time for self reflection.
How it is possible that this kind of situation happen repeatedly in my life, as the feedback is “you attract crazy or difficult persons”? I know better. This attraction is mutual and we always attract what has to teach us something. It was third time in my yoga teaching, but it is systematic in my friendships.
As in the same time I was watching my repeated crises with my mom and my father and brother, I realized important thing: BOUNDARIES.
I know I don’t really have them, and in the name of yoga I even arrived to proud conclusion that we are all ONE, thus I don’t need to set the boundaries, because I don’t need any protection. I can handle, right? My ego is quiet enough and I am detached enough, so boundaries… not needed for me!
Well, last month was good slap in my face. Direct hit, bleeding nose. Wake up girl!
Second realization was that I am living and creating unconsciously the relationships of codependency. I am taking responsibility for what is not mine. I am helping people without waiting for THANKS ,sure, but it does not mean it is not nourishing my need to help and derive from it some ego satisfaction. The truth is, I was programmed for it as a girl raised in dysfunctional family, and very early in my life I felt I have to take care about my brother, then my alcoholic mom, and later on my divorced dad. And the repeated pattern of helping people in difficulties was not about:” I am such a good person”, or “I am such a selfless person”, it was actually about: “I am such a good girl”. In my 43 years, I am still searching for the approval of my parents (that somehow I can never get), and more importantly, I am still looking for unconditional love of my mom. It is never too late to see how our childhood stories influence unconsciously our adult life. Especially if we think “we already did DEAL with it.”
There is many definitions of codependency, and many forms of it. One that definitely apply on me is to “help people in the way that actually enable them to continue in harmful or dependent behavior for them or group of people”. It is of course linked to the fact that I m not setting healthy boundaries and to the wrong perception of what the HELP really is. I confuse regularly the help and the enabling.
I see it with my children, with my brother, and recently even with my friend and student. There is somewhere deep this inner feeling of responsibility for their well-being that push us go there and act the same pattern over and over again. It is like our own addiction to stay in unhealthy relationship that hurt is inside, and we are unable to let go, because we have this need to be there, help, enable the harmful behavior, manipulations, emotional abuses, verbal fights… because the suffering became our comfort zone over the years. And when we don’t have it, we will somehow find it. And we will try to FIX it.
I could move thousand kilometers away from my family and unhealthy behavior, but over last 20 years I always find somebody else to “save”, or somebody else who will “bully me” and I will feel as a victim wondering how I end up to tolerate the behavior that under any circumstances should be tolerate or excused.
So we are back to the core problem: our self worth and self esteem. Or better, our lack of them. Without healthy self esteem and clear idea about our self – worth we cannot set clear and healthy boundaries. Without healthy boundaries we are subject to codependency when the codependency is defined as dependency on “outside influences – people, places, money, property, prestige, looks, talents, intelligence…)” (Robert Burney, The Dance of Wounded Souls)
But codependency does not work because as long as we are looking for some fulfillment or approval OUTside, we are subject of disappointment, doubt and chaos. The true self-worth is coming from looking INside and realize our inner Truth of who we are. I am not speaking about THE TRUTH, absolute Truth; that knowledge is not given easily and it may take many lifetimes to get there. I am speaking about our own Truth of who we are and we don’t need any approval or external affirmation of our self-worth. I don’t even need the approval of my parents, and I don’t need the unconditional love of my mother. All this I can give to myself at the moment I realize not mentally, not intellectually, but with my heart, that I am LOVE<,BLISS and FREEDOM. I am a spiritual being having human experiences to teach me to remember who I truly am, because I forget it. How many times I heard it from my teacher? I red it in “wisdom books”? Blablabla…. Hear it, say it, understand it…. it does not count. We have to FEEL IT.
As a yoga teacher, I teach this “truth”. I am even saying my students that we are all deeply inside gold nuggets, and trough the yoga practice we burn out all impurities and we are more and more 18 karat gold. We are pure potential, and it is up to us to realize it in infinite possibilities, it is up to us to see what we do with this golden nugget. But whatever we do, the gold is always there.
So now, it is not just the teaching. It is hardly gained own experience. Now I have no other way than to really FEEL IT. BE IT. In my heart, not just in my head.
So next time I feel the need to SAVE or HELP somebody, I will not just say “save yourself first”, as I used to do, I will really DO IT.
Next time I will sit for hours with a “friend in need”, over the weeks and months, and practice “compassionate listening” in order to “help her”, I will reflect twice if I am really helping her, or if I am enabling her to get satisfaction for her own drama and suffering.
Next time I will get involved in the drama queen performance of friends or family members, I will ask myself why am I again in it and what is my true need to be there. Am I again in my own suffering comfort zone? How do I contribute to it? Is my presence actually enabling the drama to continue?
Next time I hear my children, loved ones or friends complain about something or somebody and I start to find the solutions for their problems, or I feel deeply concerned for it, I will ask myself if I am not stealing them their story, their lesson, their experience.
Next time my father, my friend or somebody is overconcerned about my story or situation, I will observe if they are not stealing my power from myself and how I am giving into it, giving my power away, by being concerned more about their opinion, approval or love instead of keeping my own clarity.
Next time I am driving my kids from school instead of teaching my yoga class because I feel it is “my duty” instead of letting them take the bus and be independent and empowered themselves, I will ask myself if I do it really for them, or if I do it for myself and my fear of being “bad mother” (this can apply for many things we do as mothers: are we helping or are we enabling???)
Next time I see the resentment build up and rise up, I will ask myself how did I contribute to it to do things that I don’t want to do but I have no voice and courage to discuss it in loving and honest way.
Next time I m suppressing anger I will ask myself if I m “controlling” my mind (which is definition of yoga), or I am suppressing and putting under carpet something that maybe I should address openly.
Next time I have a “I KNOW IT” feeling, I better start to let it go immediately because it is first hole to the fall. Yes, now I know, but it is always just a partial truth till the next fall and learning starts again, so the I KNOW apply really only on myself. Everybody else has its own I KNOW till the life teach us next lesson.
It is intense time of my life and my familly’s life too. I repeat to myself: Slow down and Be patient, 2 “mantras” my teacher gave me. Because now it is time of Trust, Patience and Perseverance. It is time of Sadhana without hesitation.