I had an incident recently with someone who I “should” be close with. This isn’t the first time we’ve had unnecessary friction, quite frankly it seems to be more the norm the past few years. I won’t get into too much detail because frankly it’s not necessary to relay the point. Let’s just say it was yet another verbal attack, which has been the theme of our relationship for years and years. Family is tough sometimes. Regardless of who is in my life, I’ve come to realize that it is not my burden to subject myself to the perspective, actions and reactions of others.
We all have relationships in this world. Those closest to us are often the people frequently sending subtle jabs and body-shots our way. I use the boxing analogy because I came to an epiphany with my most recent bout with a family member. Sometimes you just have to step out of the boxing ring. I cannot tell you how many relationships I’ve experienced where it seems like we’re always in some emotional boxing match. Frankly, some of these boxing matches have lasted a lot longer than “12 rounds.” Some of these boxing matches have been going on as long as I can remember. Usually the underlying issues burst from the emotional ego of my “opponent” (so called family member, friend, co-worker, significant other, etc..). When this happens I usually feel like I got hit with a strong right-cross, or worse- an uppercut to the jaw. Also, do you ever find those who are “supposed” to care about us the most are often the people who know just how to hit you with a verbal cheap shot?
How about when the “boxing ring” isn’t really a ring? What happens when it’s a cage with steel bars wrapping all around? Or worse, a concrete room with no doors and no way out? This is my reference to this question- what happens if it’s a family member for example? What happens if you simply cannot escape their negativity or wounded temperament completely? How about those holidays and family functions that we are all “expected” to take part in? Perhaps even worse is when we simply feel we have to stay in the ring face-to-face, within a jab’s reach, because we’re simply “supposed to” due to our “relationship status” with this person? Once again, they could be a parent, a sibling, a close co-worker/boss or even a significant other. We just stand there right? We sometimes dance around the ring by trying to appease them, or we bring forth the inauthentic/accommodating versions of ourselves to avoid the knock down punches. Other times we just stand there and take shot by shot, letting the verbal abuse, threats and condescending tones fly our direction because it’s easier than actually fighting back. After all, often times we have more important battles to fight, right?!
I’ve been dancing, jabbing back and taking blows for years with a few people. This past week helped me realize that I actually do have the ability to pull off my gloves, walk to the ropes and gently withdraw from the match. I don’t have to “win another round.” I don’t have to “defend against more punches.” I don’t have to “be right.” I don’t have to stand and take any more verbal jabs fired from a place of wounds that most likely the other fighter doesn’t even understand come from deep within. If I want to fight, I’ll go fight while taking 3 hours of spin class (4 classes) like I did today, just because I had never done it before. If I’m going to fight like crazy, I’m going to fight like crazy for something that helps me grow. If I’m going to put gloves on, it’s going to be for a cause worth fighting for. And I cannot say this enough, if I’m going to put on gloves with someone else and fight together, we’re going to both be fighting for each other in a healthy way or we’re going to fight against whatever else comes our way that disrupts our intentions of connecting with OUR MIGHTY GOD first and foremost. I’ll fight the good fight, but I will take no more emotional energy to fight the demons, egos and wounds of others – those gloves lead nowhere for anyone “in the fight.”
Ultimately, I used to shut down and “ignore” for periods of time to prove some phantom point to the other party. Yet I’d always feel the obligation to re-engage when I felt it was the expected thing to do (que family member for example). I’d get a call from a parent asking me to be the bigger person with a sibling for instance, and often times I’d come right back and before long we were back to the same jabbing session. I simply stepped out of the ring in my most recent example. I did so with a calm demeanor and finally not from a place of being wounded or with a point to prove. I didn’t let the emotion of the situation lead me into a full blown attempt at a true “knock out round.” I simply went with this: “this dynamic isn’t healthy for me. Your place in life isn’t my responsibility. Your perspective is your own and mine is mine. This relationship doesn’t serve my true calling of spiritual growth and therefore I’m exiting until if/when it does.” I forgive and pray for this individual and the horrid things they said based on animosity that I can only assume stemmed from resentments from happenings in our life (completely out of our control) decades ago as children. When I think of the situation or this person in general, I simply pray for them to find a deeper relationship with God and offer the overall dynamic to Him. After all, God can handle it and I’m pretty sure He can take the punches as well!
To summarize, I realize as I continue on my spiritual journey that staying in that ring actually dims my light for myself and my ability to be a light for others. I cannot experience true spiritual growth if so much emotional energy is drained amidst fights that shouldn’t be happening in the first place. No person in this world has the right to continually land jabs at me if they’re unwilling (or unable) to see that self-work is the first step to having healthier relationships with God, themselves and with others. Others’ spiritual journeys are their individual responsibility. I cannot “save” others by engaging in warfare, or being a verbal punching bag in an emotional boxing match. The best way I can follow my true desire to reach a divine-level relationship with God is to continue to grow myself. I pray I can be a light to others via positive interaction. I pray I can continue to heal my own wounds. I pray I can forgive others/myself throughout it all. I pray I can be a light, live from a place of gratitude and help others live without regrets. That’s what I’m praying tonight!
PS- 10 days until my road trip! My special journey around the US! Follow here and on IG @Surrender_Project