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Finding Center

She was a princess and duchess. She lived in the palace with the Queen of England. She had her prince. She had a fairytale life.

Sarah Margaret Ferguson seemed to have it all. But she lost it and for the past 15 years she’s known more for scandal than being royal – topless photos, a divorce from her prince, ballooning and shrinking weight, amassing large amounts of debt, and trying to sell access to her former husband, Prince Andrew.

How could that happen? How could someone squander away their royalty, be so gullible, lost and seemingly crazy? It doesn’t make sense.

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Accepting What Is

“When people show/tell you who they are, always believe them the first time.”  – Maya Angelou

I heard that today on a tivo’d Oprah about women whose husbands were living a secret life. I rewound and listened to it several times, it’s really is a simple truth and yet so hard to follow.

I think in our relationships we often project onto others what we wish they were, only see what we want to or create these expectations of them. Not all expectations are bad. Some of these are needs we have of them and these needs might be legitimate. However, we have to see and accept people for who they are, the truth, not what we need them to be, no matter how noble or right it is.

Yet, what if they lie, cheat, deceit, disappoint, manipulate and hurt? You have to accept that too? Maya Angelou’s point is if they lie they are a liar, if they cheat they are a cheater, etc. If they are doing those things then that is what they are. My dad says that “people do what is in their heart to do.” Our hearts are good and bad.

I believe that. We all have defects in our character, we all fall prey to our own shadow sides. Yet, we all have good points that drive us to do the right thing. Yet whenever the shadow side takes over the main point of difference between the two is remorse and a desire to change. I think.

If they are not sorry, not wanting true change and are not taking accountability for what they did or are doing then that is who they are. We don’t have to like it. We do have to accept the reality of the situation and not continue to project our fantasy of the situation or person.

The fantasy might be warmer and fuzzier but its not the truth. We also have to admit to ourselves what we are getting from them or the situation. With the women on Oprah it was an opulent lifestyle, children or the illusion of a perfect marriage. They overlooked key signs because they didn’t want to see the truth. We have to be brutally honest with ourselves first, and then make our decisions accordingly.

The truth of who we are is realized when we realize the truth. Who are we? Do we take responsibility for our actions? Do we play the victim? Do we stay unwilling to address the truth?

We have to take ownership of our own situation. When discover that someone isn’t healthy, isn’t honest, isn’t trustworthy, it is up to us to draw appropriate boundaries around them.

I’m here to say that is hard to do because of our expectations of the relationship. As you probably guessed I am in the middle of learning this lesson. I am trying to wrap my brain around the reality of who someone is. I was under the notion of one idea and it is proving not to be true.

I’ve stayed hoping things would be different. I stay projecting my expectations. I stay lying in the middle of the road wondering why I keep getting run over. I know they care about me, but they are incapable/unwilling to change the behavior I find so hurtful.

When I boil it down to these terms it somehow removes the emotion in a way that helps me see truth and make decisions. It moves me from victim to a place of power because I am not waiting for them to change unnecessarily. I am not giving them an ultimatum to change. Instead I am giving them the freedom to be themselves and then making my own conclusions and decisions.

This sucks. I wish it could be different. But I have to make the decision to be healthy. It is so much easier to stay in the familiar dysfunction tethered in co-dependency. Healthy change takes courage and consistency.

Grappling with Truth

I finally have the courage to sit down and write.

For the past six weeks the mere thought of having to sit down and think about what’s going on, how I’m feeling and what I should do has been too overwhelming. If I thought about it I’d have to deal with it. No, no one died, but I’ve felt like life as I knew it was shattering.

I finally know why I’m here and it isn’t pleasant. It doesn’t involve me directly but I’m affected by it. I don’t know what to think. My feelings are all over the map. All in one second I am angry, sad, disappointed and heartbroken. Yet, I can’t help but think, thhat even though all of this junk we are presently wading through is terrible it is finally real. We can’t deny it anymore. We can’t hide it. We can’t move on unti we move through it. For the first time in our lives we are forced to live in it. The pink elephant in the room is finally being called what it is.

I believe that the truth is much easier to heal from than lies. But when your eyes are completely open to the truth it can be startling and extremely painful. It forces you to live in reality. There is no fantasy. There is no pretending. We are made keenly aware of our depravity and need. The good thing is God’s mercies are new everyday. There is grace for everything but we have to be willing to look who we really are in the face, admit it and ask for help. It is a scary, dark place to be, but there is hope if you can do it.

I have been at that place for me personally. I know there is amazing freedom when you can embrace the process. But it takes incredible courage to do it. There is support and love in those who are truly your friends. The key is humility, vulnerability and complete dependence on God. You have to let go of everything you think you know and everything you think you are. I don’t think many people ever get to this place.

Sometimes people choose the fantasy. They choose to be a victim. They choose to ignore it. This perpetuates the lie. It isolates you from others. It makes you manipulative and passive-aggressive to make sure your safe world stays intact. The illusion of control becomes more important than the truth of the situation or other person.

We will be ok. I know we will. I see positive changes I never thought would happen. I feel peace never known. I see soul searching and realizations of things I thought were long forgotten. So it is good but hard for everyone.

As a bystander I am struggling not to relapse into my weapons of mass destruction. I am fighting to stay away from my vices that make me feel better. I am challenged to find a new way to cope. I too have to abandon myself into the process of a rotor router of my heart. There are still places inside me that are dark that needed to find the light of truth.

In the beginning, we all struggle against it choosing instead our own reality. At the end of the day the warmth and comfort of the light will woo us out of our struggle, if we let it. I have to let go of all my preconceived notions, ideals, fears and coping mechanisms. I too have to surrender.

I have to believe we will be changed. We will be stronger, closer and better. But the process is a bitch.