The Lonely Journey of Personal Growth.
Personal Growth Can be Lonley
Growth and maturity often shine a light on your flaws and failures. You may be ready for change... Your family may not.
Saving Yourself from destructive behavior is a Battle You Will Likely Fight Alone
As you grow older your face and body change. Your hair may thin, and turn grey but those closest to you aren't affected by the changes. Your friends and family accept the process as a natural part of life.
Growth and maturity of the mind are less obvious to loved ones because as humans they tend to notice the physical more than the emotional. In spite of their oblivion, when your personal growth appears to be a threat- the reaction is surprising.
More often than not personal growth shines a light on your faults and failures. You may be ready to accept those faults and make the necessary changes, but those family members who have grown accustomed to them or dependent on your dysfunction may have not yet evolved to your level.
It's not personal when your husband, siblings, or your children are confused by what appears to be a sudden change. It's not personal when they lash out. They have no idea what's been going on inside your head. It's possible they don't even care.
Hitting The Brick Wall
The brick wall is an illusion, built on one brick at a time-over a whole lifetime. It doesn't matter who laid the foundation, its not about blame.
Unwilling participants of change. Their not listening.
It would be easier if your loved ones would take the time to understand your position. You know you need to change the dysfunctional behaviors that result in you being dumped on and weighed down by other peoples problems. You know you are taken for granted.
Your deepest fear is if you pull back and refuse to take on issues and messes created by others, your friends and family will think you no longer love them. This fear, above all, is poison to sound, rational thinking. As long as you are afraid of what others think, you may grow a little on the inside but you will never allow yourself to act on it until those closest to you give you permission to act. Waiting for permission is a dead end. Its an abrupt halt to progress. It's like hitting a brick wall.
You didn't ask permission to be the sacrificial lamb and you don't need permission to stop. The brick wall is an illusion, built on one brick at a time - over a whole lifetime. It doesn't matter who laid the foundation, it's not about blaming those who set you up for such destructive patterns. It's about saving your life. You alone decide when it's going to stop.
Push past the isolation. Its temporary.
Feeling loved verses feeling needed.
We all need to feel loved. Our very existence depends on emotional fulfillment and a sense of security that can only come from love. Only love can give value to your sense of self. If you are loved, you feel precious, you feel special, you feel content and safe. You are created to love and be loved.
If love is not readily available you will settle for second best. You will learn to be a necessity. For those who have unwittingly chosen the path of the caretaker, self-worth or a legitimate sense of value has never been established. Being needed is a solid replacement for a time. It's survival.
A person who makes themselves indispensable knows they are not loved in loves truest form. They know that it is conditional. They simply live for moments of what feels like love, approval. In order to thrive and survive, you must feel loved, you must feel valued. It is impossible to live without love because love is so much of who you are. Without it...you die.
The unfortunate result of your settling for second best is that you have created a persona by which everyone else knows and understands you. You have taken on this identity and now you want to change it, and this can be a threat to normalcy.
Loves purpose as far as your family is concerned is to fulfill their wants and needs. They don't recognize love in its truest form. Like you, they will need time and growth to figure it out. You cant do this for them. No one could do it for you.
If your holding out for permission you will be just as miserable and lonely as if you choose to move on without permission. Whatever way you chose to live, you will battle a sense of isolation. Moving forward in personal growth will stir up hurt and misunderstanding and likely cause those closest to you to reject you and your new-found ideas. It also gives you the opportunity to make new friends and develop healthy relationships which bring peace, fulfillment, and love into your life.
How to lose and regain your identity.
Love is simply the reward for playing your part, not an expectation for being part of a family.
The identity crises.
When you are an enabler, a rescuer. Lying is part of the process. Your job is to maintain the norm, keep the family secrets under lock and key and at the very least, paint a pretty picture of the family dynamics.
It's because of your assignment within the family structure your understanding of love is deeply flawed. It is only natural for you to gravitate to those who simply need you to maintain their view of normal. Rarely do you run to the aid of those who truly want to do better, as a matter of fact, you will commonly ignore these ones as they do not fit the pattern that you learned in childhood.
In every case of the enabler, there has been some form of ongoing shame or abuse. Physical, emotional or sexual. In many cases, all forms of abuse existed during their childhood causing a deep disruption in personal growth and identity. They identify themselves according to their role in the family. How well they perform that role determines the amount of love and approval they will receive. Love is simply a reward for playing your part, not an expectation that comes with being a part of a family.
Your parents, siblings, or classmates may have assigned you a label. Your husband and children may want you to maintain your status as the rescuer but you reserve the right to change how you and others perceive you.
The word no and freedom.
It begins with the word... No!
Begin with saying no to any added burden. If your forty-year-old son who moved in with you six months ago wants to move in his new girlfriend, say no.
If your forty-year-old son is living at home for free. Charge him rent.
Give your forty-year-old son a time limit to save money and move out.
Rescuers never set boundaries on others because they don't set boundaries on themselves. Give yourself a line you cannot cross. The first being... No more dumping.
By limiting the amount of added burden you are setting a pace with which you can slowly build confidence and slowly introduce your new identity to your family. Still, be prepared for some serious negative reation.
Avoid the melt down, take it slow
If you need to be understood. You're in trouble.
Stop trying to be understood.
The enabler wants to be understood. Their childhood was riddled with someone else's idea of who they are, often it was in a very negative light. So the need to be understood is intense and can lead to anger and frustration.
You have to let it go. What's important is that you understand for yourself what changes in your personality and identity need to be made. If you are convinced, no one will be able to stop you. You won't feel the need for others to understand or be in agreement with your line of thinking.
Envision yourself as a different person. Pre-plan your reactions to each circumstance rather than reverting back to the old reactions that identify you as an enabler. Be prepared for isolation by finding a counselor or friend that will encourage you and remind you of your mission for change.
Just because you feel lonely and like no one is listening to you does not mean you are wrong. It more likely means you are on the right track.
Changing is never easy, it is a challenging process. Expect and accept the silence and retaliation. Allow your family time to adjust. Take it slow by exercising personal boundaries you have placed on yourself, not others. Prepare your reactions ahead of time for any set of circumstances and find someone to encourage you and hold you accountable. Yes, you are well on your way to re-establishing your identity on your terms and your timeline. Just stand your ground and it will happen.