Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Sacred Contracts


Last weekend, I went to a psychic faire and had a few readings done. These are all "mini-readings", just to get a sense of the reader and how he or she connects.

I met a rather good one named Shannon. She is very good! I'm linking her here because she also does phone readings and email readings. That way, she's not limited to region or location. She's not wretchedly expensive.

Anyway, most of you who read here know I have been living in a less than optimum situation for quite a while. It's not just the constant interruptions and the lack of respect for my personal boundaries, but it is also a mirror of what I've created again and again.

I allow people to depend on me and expect nothing in return. Somehow I've allowed myself to believe that expecting anything in return will corrupt me and is a violation of my belief system which, believe it or not, is the only thing that keeps me putting one foot in front of the other sometimes.

Shannon told me that Housemate and I have had a previous lifetime together. During that lifetime, I was her daughter and devoted my entire life to taking care of her. It has carried over to this lifetime. That pattern has continued since I returned from Thailand the first time and rented from her. I'd known her previously through someone who rented from her and recommended her. All told, I've known her since 1997.

The pattern didn't come to full fruition until 2005 when she came down with a horrible case of shingles. I managed everything from her meals to her medication and also ran her errands. I didn't mind at all because I perceived it as not only my duty as a fellow human being but also figured it had a beginning, a middle and an end. She would recover from shingles and everything would return to normal ~ which is simply that I am a tenant, we are pleasant to one another and share minor, casual interactions.

It's been increasing engulfment since that time and I have allowed it to happen. Me. Not her. Me.

That is what I needed to learn. Lately I've backed off quite a bit and no longer remain at her beck and call. I finally got openly angry when she interrupted me in my bedroom which is an unspoken no-no.

The cork was finally put in the Engulfment Jug when she approached me the other day and said, "I guess from now on, you need to ask me if I've left anything in my car." She'd forgotten some purchased groceries overnight and had to throw them away.

My response: "I don't think I want to get that intense."

I noted that she was sitting in her car crying shortly after that conversation.

I didn't feel rotten or lousy. I didn't feel like I had to make it better. I didn't feel .... engulfed.

That contract between us, perhaps established hundreds of years ago, has come to an end. While I have no interest in being cruel to her or unpleasant, I no longer want my life consumed with her life concerns. I have my own.

That is not entirely selfish. It's selfish... but healthy selfish.

According to Shannon, that has been my primary lesson in this incarnation is to learn separation, how to learn to be my own Self while still serving others.

What do you do to avoid engulfment?


~*

20 comments:

heartinsanfrancisco said...

I've suffered from a similar mindset for years, that I am only as good as the selfless devotion with which I serve others, and also believed that I would somehow be corrupted if I expected anything in return.

But endless giving without reciprocity is unhealthy, and possibly even corrupts the act of giving itself because it engenders bitterness.

It does sound as if your contract with your housemate has concluded, and it's up to you to recognize that for both of you because she can't. Good luck to both of you!

Olivia said...

Who says I avoid engulfment?

Seriously though, it does sound like you are setting healthy boundaries. Your heart wants to help but you also have an obligation to yourself. I am excited that this relationship is ending and you will have space for new, healthier ones.

I can't wait to see how things are a few months from now...things will be really good, I'm thinking!

xo,

O

Olivia said...

Who says I avoid engulfment?

Seriously though, it does sound like you are setting healthy boundaries. Your heart wants to help but you also have an obligation to yourself. I am excited that this relationship is ending and you will have space for new, healthier ones.

I can't wait to see how things are a few months from now...things will be really good, I'm thinking!

xo,

O

Olivia said...

Who says I avoid engulfment?

Seriously though, it does sound like you are setting healthy boundaries. Your heart wants to help but you also have an obligation to yourself. I am excited that this relationship is ending and you will have space for new, healthier ones.

I can't wait to see how things are a few months from now...things will be really good, I'm thinking!

xo,

O

Jen of A2eatwrite said...

Certainly not what I should. I think I need to contact Shannon.

flutter said...

I think I haven't quite learned that, yet

slouching mom said...

While I have no interest in being cruel to her or unpleasant, I no longer want my life consumed with her life concerns. I have my own.I'm so glad to read this, to see that you're taking care of yourself, your Self. No, not selfish at all.

Hard to avoid engulfment when you have young children. Ask me in a few years... :)

Suki said...

I feel that after a point, I just give out. I lose it, I'm at the end of my tether, and I need time to recoup.
What I do to avoid total engulfment(the kind where I plunged into depression while nursing my sick grandmother for two years) is to recognize my own danger signs, and take time out to heal.

By the way, I have an award for you. Right here - http://the-light-of-happiness.blogspot.com/2009/05/i-was-just-about-to-get-self-righteous.html .

LittlePea said...

I'm just learning how to set boundaries and speak up for myself. It started when I was in the hospital recovering from surgery(you remember the whole cancer thing?) It finally struck me that I am the only person in this world who has the power to stick up for myself and that if I don't, no one will. It's a daily effort when people around you have become accustomed to "the you" that allows for things like that to happen. I'm glad you were able to make a start guiltfree. That's the part I have a hard time with, the guilt.

meno said...

I am curious about the person who takes and takes, without doing any giving. I wonder what she will learn, if anything.

Most people understand that there are times to give AND times to receive. If it's always one time or the other, something is wrong.

I say good for you.

Mariposa said...

This is something I've been struggling for years and I still struggle 'til now.

There are times I can find courage to and most of the times, I just give in...and to read this is just inspiring.

And yes, it is not selfish to take care of ourselves...for how can we take care of other if we cannot do that to ourselves.

Border Explorer said...

I'm going to a little seminar this weekend on saying "goodby" or letting go. The blurb says that sometimes we need to let go of the pattern we live by that no longer serves us.

You don't need this workshop.

What a powerful post: so succinctly written, communicating so much in a few simple paragraphs.

wheelsonthebus said...

not much i'm afraid. but i am happy you took a stand.

Leann said...

It has taken me years to figure that out and it's very much a work in progress. There is a difference between being selfish and selfcare. Even with our children we have to teach them responsibility and consequences. It sounds as if this woman is old enough to begin learning those lessons.

starrlife said...

Sounds like a positive reading and moving you in the right direction. Hmmm... what do I do? If I let myself get engulfed after 25 years of providing therapy and support I'd be gone! I guess I try to have clear and realistic expectations and try to be conscious of my own underlying needs. It helps to have supporters who you can get some objective feedback from. Separation is good and not selfish. There is no such thing as pure altruism- it's always a give and take, even if very compassionate!

Angela said...

Oh god, it's always about boundaries, isn't it? This sounds really huge for you, Chani. Good for you.

Carla said...

We must have both been meant to learn the same lesson. It's one that took me ages to learn as it goes against my natural nature. And of course I always thought, well why wouldn't I do that, or help in such as well and kind of assumed that anyone would. Of course it got me in all sorts of messes where people took advantage of me. It even got me into abusive relationships. I've learned that it's really all about boundaries and setting them up right from the beginning. It is a healthy selfishness. I am still working on this and still recovering from the after effects of not doing it sooner. I wish you luck. It gets easier.

ConverseMomma said...

Healthy selfish, yes. I think it is so important to know the difference. I think boundaries are healthy for everyone involved.

PeterAtLarge said...

I still find it the hardest thing in the world to say No, even though I recognize how important it is to be able to do so. How do I avoid engulfment? I work hard at it, and often fail! My wife, Ellie, by the way, had shingles, and suffered from its painful, sometimes debilitating effects for a whole year. It's a dreadful illness. But you can't help the sufferer unless you're able, first, to take care of yourself. Good for you, Chani, to have recognized this, and acted on it!

Woman in a Window said...

I'm learning of myself. Surprised by myself. I try to set boundaries...lessen visits with people who suck my spirit. I still find value in these people and want to offer what I can, but in some cases, distance is the answer.