I’ve learned some hard lessons in the last two weeks. I’ve run the gamut of emotions during this time: confusion, anger bordering on rage, deep disappointment, and now acceptance. We learn many things from the positive experiences in our lives, but our deep life lessons are often integrated through pain and displeasure.
Here is what I’ve realized:
When someone gives you the icks, PAY ATTENTION. Listen to yourself. There is a reason this person rubs you the wrong way or gives you a weird feeling. As women, we are conditioned to be nice to people even if they give us a bad feeling or appear predatory, and we are encouraged to turn the other cheek when these same people violate us. Do not open the door to someone if you do not want them in your house. Not every person who gives you the icks will necessarily turn out to be a predator, but nevertheless, your intuitive feelings about people are worth paying attention to. Those feelings can save you time, money, and (in some circumstances) your life.
Furthermore, if someone violates you once, or you are not happy or satisfied with the relationship or agreement, don’t be like me and keep signing up for more abuse! I paid for a certain certification because it was cheap and fast, even though I was not happy with the initial course I signed up for through the same instructor. I continued to give this person money even though I didn’t trust her. This experience revealed to me a personal weakness: I sometimes look for the easy achievement, wanting something without giving very much. The real truth is that most things in life worth having are achieved through effort, time, and gradual accumulation.
Second, BEWARE OF FALSE OR RUSHED INTIMACY. It is inappropriate, and I would venture to say even a violation of personal boundaries, for a teacher to profess love for their students, except in very particular circumstances. Love, respect, and trust are earned. Don’t tell me you care about me if you don’t even know me. Would you trust someone who told you they loved you on a first date? Honest, caring relationships are grown through repeated acts of good faith.
Third, people don’t get to use their personal wounds as justification for violating agreements with others. Illness is an unfortunate life challenge, but it not an excuse for taking advantage of others or not living up to obligations. Know your limits. And never use exposure of your wounds as a way to gather psychic sympathy or support from others. I think the spiritual (for lack of a better word) community is especially vulnerable to predators because its members tend to be trusting, desirous of seeing the good in people, forgiving, often somewhat vulnerable, and sometimes not very clear about boundaries.
To be a teacher, a counselor, and any type of leader asks that you to be responsible, accessible, and accountable. Be clear with your intentions and your communications. To paraphrase a video I watched yesterday: if you want to sit at the big girl table, you need to own your shit!