Growing up in Newark, NJ, which was known for its riots a few years earlier, I was overprotected as a child. My parents wanted me to come straight home after school and I wasn’t allowed to have anyone over the house if they weren’t home. In order to avoid any consequences if I didn’t follow their wishes, I stuck to the rules. Now that I am able to reflect on that time, I believe it laid the foundation of my challenges in communication as well as connection with others.
I spent the first 36 years of my life looking for acceptance, comfort, adventure and love in every wrong way imaginable. In 2nd grade, I was stealing change from around the house to buy candy to share with others. If I didn’t have any change, I would steal the candy from the store. In 6th and 7th grades, I was acting out in class, joining in with the “troublemakers”, subconsciously wanting to be a “part of” something.
I had found paradise in the sounds coming from my FM radio which fostered a sense of connection for me. I was able to extract a guitar as a birthday gift one year which ended up serving multiple purposes. I no longer cared about belonging to any “group” of people and my only focus was to be able to play everything from ABBA to ZAPPA. My folks were happy that I wasn’t running “rampant” in the streets while I spent the next 6 years mainly isolated in my room playing that guitar.
I was friendly with all of the underdogs throughout high school; a few burnouts, jocks, nerds, preps, punks, nobodies (my category) and the foreign kid who just moved to the US, didn’t speak English and had the highest math grade in the school. I rarely ever had people over my house.
Spending a few summers in Europe as a teenager, I found myself connecting with people via drug and alcohol use, my first taste of “freedom”. Back at home, I maintained compliance. When I went away to college, I continued connecting in this fashion.
Spending my life avoiding consequences, I unknowingly began creating my own. In most relationships thereon, I was either using people or being used, my self esteem diminishing at a gradual, steady pace. Generally speaking, my motives were genuinely good, but at the end of the day, it didn’t matter. I had lost control. I worked really hard, played really hard and had countless awkward, negative, debilitating and heartbreaking outcomes along the way for the next 20 years.
It was only when I began my journey in recovery that I was able recognize that I had any issues with relationships, let alone address them. I had always thought; these things only happened to me , people didn’t like me for whatever reason, that I didn’t fit in, the odds were against me or I just didn’t deserve whatever.. When in reality, I had developed an entire set of negative coping skills to deal with the adversities that life threw my way.
I had to look at which relationships were positive for me and which I had to respectfully dissolve. Straight away, many people dropped off of my “friends” list once my party was done. This helped me recognize who my true friends were. I found that I had many, many, many acquaintances, but all of a sudden, I was down to a handful of people that I could truly call my friends.
I had to learn new ways of making money since it had revolved around drugs and alcohol in bars, restaurants, cafes, nightlife as well as social circles for many, many years.
As I grew, I began fostering a healthier self esteem and boundaries around myself and others. When I changed, the people around me changed. Simply reacting differently or not being reactive changed the way others (re)acted around me. This was true for everyone, including family. Slowly but surely, they all began looking at me differently which began guiding our relationships in positive directions.
After taking honest stock of all of my relationships where there were grudges or resentment, I was able to see what my part in those relationships and events was. It was then that I had created the ability to forgive others and more importantly, myself. As I became more patient with myself, my relationship with the world became that much easier. That was the beginning of the transformation of the me that I grew to love.
Where do you fit into the relationships you currently have? Is there reciprocity? Do you feel you have healthy relationships with the ones around you? Are there relationships in your life that might be more detrimental than good? Are there relationships that might need repair? Do you have any relationships that might be beyond repair?
What are some of the patterns that you have around unhealthy relationships? What were some of the reasons; that you might have been taken advantage of in the past? ..or that you might have taken advantage of others..? Who are the ones that truly belong in your life? What do you do with the ones that don’t?
They say that time heals all. There might be some truth to that, but unless you take initiative in addressing your relationships at home, work, school, your community, with family, or friends, they are not going to change. If you are on your transformational journey and others aren’t being supportive of your bettering yourself, then they might not fit on your magic carpet ride. Your ride just got a little smoother and that’s a good thing.
Working on our relationships is not the easiest, most pleasant, nor settling thing to do, but when we do it in a positive, thoughtful fashion, it can bring lightness and openness to our hearts, leading us to happier, more fulfilling lives.
If you identify with this post and/or feel it can help someone you love, then please go ahead; leave a comment, like it and share it. Love Life Today. THiS ReCoVeRY LiFE.