A long time ago, many years, I turned to someone who was a mentor and someone I thought was a gifted leader…
I had clients with specific problems. I was having trouble answering their questions in a satisfactory way. I was having trouble giving them advice and exercises and methods to help them in their situations.
I asked a question of said mentor something along the lines of: in a situation where you have to live with someone who is grinding you down, and the harder you try to maintain your own sanity and your own life, the worse things get, what do you do? How do you stay you? Basically.
I cannot remember exactly what I asked her at this point—I have been so disturbed by what she said all these years…and I am just now coming to a place where I can take what she said…and work with it, without going bonkers crazy angry over her response.
This spiritual leader and teacher basically told me, your clients are screwed. Obviously their partners are more powerful than they are. He who has the most power prevails.
So every woman in an abusive situation is just screwed and should just give up and take it. There is no way out. ?????
So every person in a relationship that is intolerable should simply endure it because there is no way out because the other person is stronger, has a stronger personality, whatever. ?????
Are you kidding me?
Are you sick?
Are you evil?
Do you have no compassion?
This was a spiritual guru…along the lines in some circles as, say, the Pope, or the Dalai Lama…this was a Wise Woman…
her off-hand, nonchalant, don’t really give a sh*t response—it floored me…and I left that community for good that night…I have never looked back…because that bullsh*t is not anything I want to be a part of in any way.
There is always a way out. There is always something. He who has the most toys—still dies at the end and has to leave his toys here when he passes over, so his power is really not my issue.
It took me a long long time to see the truth of the situation.
I do not want to go too into detail because these are clients and I do not want to put the details out in any way…but, I have to give you something to help you understand the very basics of these scenarios. It is something we as women seem to fall into a great deal.
We enter a relationship, fully who we are, and ever time our own light gets dulled. Sometimes it gets put out. We go along with things to make the other person happy, to make things easier, to not cause strife…whatever…
But that is the thing…the other person is really stronger than we are…we are giving our power away. We are denying our power. We are putting our power away.
My clients were all much stronger and more powerful than their spouses/family members/etc etc etc.
Maybe at one point they recognized and understood that fact…but then, they forgot.
They found themselves stuck in places where they were minimized, marginalized and set aside…spaces where they felt trapped and powerless, without options, without choices.
Would you go back to these women and say, hey, the person who I go to for advice says you are just screwed and learn to live with it?
I went back to my clients and I worked with them on boundaries and self-care and whatever else I could think of that would bolster their own self-esteem and self-worth.
You cannot change anyone else. Not ever. Stop trying to think of things that way right now.
They may change for a few days, a few weeks, maybe even longer…but eventually the real them will out. Just as you feel trapped by circumstances, at some point so will they, and they will take back who they really are…and if they started out as an a**hole, guess what you will end up with…you guessed it…
However, if you change yourself, if you work on yourself, if you rebuild and reconnect with yourself…that is it. You reconnect with who you are. Who you were. Who you want to be. You find ways to build and strengthen your power.
You can live with a monster and still be a saint. You can be the calm in the eye of a huge storm of nasty. The people you live with do not have to destroy your entire life or who you are.
That only happens when you let them.
I understand I have a toddler and I have made choices to be present for him, which means letting go of making it to all my classes, which means having to put things up out of his reach and, ya know, not being able to find them again until he’s about twenty because they are put up so safely so well…
I have to paint at night, in a small space…in a very limited amount of time. I do what I can with that limited time, limited space and in the dark…and I tell myself, sometimes, yes, to my chagrin, that one day I will have a decent studio space that actually has light so that I can see, where I have space, where all my supplies are not just where I can see them, but where I can reach them as I need them…and if I do this work I am doing now…just imagine how nice and how beautiful it will be when I can actually see…and when I have access to all my tools…
We can make choices that put us in difficult situations…without giving up who we are inside…without giving away our power…without becoming someone we deeply dislike. It takes work. It is something we have to work at every single day. That is a choice.
You have to make that choice, over and over and over, every day.
Sometimes you have to make that choice every second, every minute, every breath…but by becoming aware that you have a choice to make and deciding what choice you are making—that gives you the power.
Don’t ever forget that.