Thursday, March 31, 2016

Because you are loved (3)

We can't offer others what we don't have
We confuse love and pity and tend to "love" people we can "pity" and "rescue."  The ACA Laundry List
We will choose to love people who can love and be responsible for themselves. The ACA Promises

Don't talk of love. Well, I've heard the word before. Simon and Garfunkle, I Am a Rock
"Love" may have been used on us- to excuse abuse, or indifference or neglect. The adults in charge may have told us that, whatever happened, it happened for our own good, or because we were "loved."

The word took on a toxic connotation as it was associated with  harmful experiences.
Because we cannot offer love if we don't experience self-love, we sometimes settle for pity as a default. It's easier to be attracted to weaknesses because we can feel in control as rescuer. Pity puts us over others. In feeling sorry for someone, I'm often led to give relief or aid. That makes me feel better about myself. But it's not love.

When Jesus taught to love others as we love ourselves, he also provided an insight into how love functions. We will love others as we love the first person in our lives: ourselves. We cannot offer love, acting in the best interest of others, if we don't know what it means to act in our own best interest. 

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Because you are loved (2)

The only person we have a chance at changing is ourselves.      
First take the log out of your eye, and then you’ll see clearly to take the splinter out of your brother’s or sister’s eye. Jesus

We have an overdeveloped sense of responsibility and it is easier for us to be concerned with others rather than ourselves; this enables us not to look too closely at our own faults, etc. from Tony A.: The 14 Traits of an Adult Child

Pleasing others is a default many clergy have learned through years of serving others. However, tying my emotional well-being to the approval of others is something I learned at a young age.

In families impacted by addiction, alcoholism, or dysfunction, a survival trait often acquired to survive is people-pleasing and  we live by the illusion of fixing others. We may have tried valiantly to change our troubled and toxic family into a loving and supportive one. And we continue that fruitless effort with those closest to us in the present.

Like the children in the movie, Boyhood, every day is lived walking on emotional egg shells. That means that hyper vigilance is the baseline reality for our bodies. Stress hormones running overtime, in fight or flight default. 
That's the physical cost of people-pleasing and the futility of controlling what we cannot, in the end, manage: the behavior and choices and addictions of others. The emotional focus also becomes other- centered, in a toxic way. Jesus spoke to this persistent focus on others, a trait shared by many, but especially apart of the adult child's experience.
How sad and ironic that "Christians" may think we are given the privilege and necessity of judging others in the name of Jesus, that the Christ himself somehow gives us that right because we go to church. Read the words: according to Jesus, one of the chief signs of  healthy spirituality is self-examination, not focusing on others.
When we release ourselves from the responsibility for others, a new freedom to be ourselves is possible. By learning to keep the focus on ourselves in the here and now, taking responsibility for our own life, we can be free from focusing on others in emotional dependence, blame, or judgment.   

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Because you are loved (1)

Insanity: extracting love from others 
God, grant me the serenity to accept the people I cannot change. from Adult Children of Alcoholics and Dysfunctional Families

For those of us who grew up where addiction/alcoholism/dysfunction was present, the first line of this prayer of serenity offers a hope and recovery from to emotional chaos. We don't speak of sanity as if it was there. The rules were 1. Don't talk about it 2. Don't feel 3. Don't trust. Thus, we speak of clarity. 

Without a resolute and ongoing self-examination, life is an endless exercise in abandonment and desolation, especially if we hope others will give us what is lacking in us: self acceptance and self-love. We learn to reflect and talk about what happened then and how it affects us today. We give words to our feelings and learn to trust. This, without casting blame or judgement, realizing that the adults in charge were not able- they could have done no differently. We see with the eyes of compassion.
It's a wonderful gift to realize that we have choices. Some are toxic to us because they cannot be present to us, having compulsions of their own. It's freedom from trying to pull from others what we can only give ourselves.  We allow ourselves to be loved by God. 

Oldies but Goodies