This has been the toughest post I’ve ever had to write.
It seems I came here this life time to deal with and heal various forms of abuse.
Sexual abuse when I was 7.
Domestic violence in my 30’s.
And this year, public and private attack via social media.
This year I reached my “NO MORE!”
Crippled By Civility
In the first two cases I had been crippled by civility, reasonableness and a general unwillingness to admit to myself the hideousness of the behaviour of the perpetrator. So I wasn’t free ‘in the moment’ to stand up for myself, say no and get help.
With sexual abuse there is an incredibly confusing mix of pain and pleasure… after all, the physical pleasure centres are being stimulated even as there is terror and pain. But that pleasure brings shame and causes you to doubt yourself at the deepest level and keep it quiet. Anyone who has experienced this understands.
With domestic abuse, when you are a man, there’s a particular confusion… The story goes: “You’re a man, she’s a woman… it’s different when a woman hits a man, you’re stronger… so what’s your problem? Be a man about it!…” (You might be surprised to know that I heard this from women more than men at the time). And the inner response to that goes: “If you complain, perhaps you’re weak, perhaps you’re not really a man” Again, pulling deep on a fundamental identity, causing you to doubt yourself and keep it quiet.
And now with social media abuse, well… you know the line: “It’s just not very civilised, mature, spiritual or enlightened to make any public mention of it… It just gets into public battles, fuels gossip, makes YOU look petty… so better hold the higher ground and say nothing”… which is kinda like “Grin and bear it little boy” or “Be a man”…
Silence Protects The Perpetrator
If unchallenged and kept in the dark, abuses remain in shadow. We have seen it recently in the UK with many TV personalities who committed child abuse for years, finally brought to task. But the ‘civilised’ brush under the carpet approach had kept their behaviour alive for years.
Unchallenged, untruths and slanders broadcast on social media… Those poisonous thoughts, plausibly presented, that stick in people’s minds and influence their perspective… tend to remain and DO have an impact. It’s abusive, plain and simple.
There’s a strange and damaging phenomenon that commonly occurs in abuse cases: By heeding the advice and succumbing to the pressure to ‘not make a fuss’ and ‘keep quiet’, the person on the receiving end, ends up actually protecting the perpetrator by their silence.
For me, one of the biggest lessons throughout, and especially this year, has been that holding strong boundaries is a HUGE act of self love…
In the interests of ‘not keeping quiet’, I’m going to share a little of what happened this year and how I ‘held my boundary’.
But first, I want to address the damaging civility, especially as I have seen it show up in the spiritual and personal growth realms, that may prevent you from holding strong boundaries at times… So let’s take a clear look at boundaries:
“The river needs a boundary to find itself, and flow”
The river is not its banks, yet it requires them to be what it is.
In the same way, we are not our boundaries and yet our boundaries define who we are in the world of experience.
In spiritual growth there’s a lot of focus on connecting with your boundless ‘true’ nature, and that can be a wonderful thing.
The Non-Personal perspective, however, reminds you that there are many aspects of Self that go to make up our human experience. Including boundlessness AND the experience of everyday humanity.
It encourages you to receive the gift of wholeness which comes from noticing and honouring all their expressions.
A human life is full of contrasting experience. And boundaries can become a very important part of self care.
Historically I had no sense of personal boundaries. More of a puddle than a river. This was an expression of my identification with the idea that I didn’t matter. To assert boundaries would be an inconvenience to others.
I had a long spell of personal healing and deep emotional work, which did me a lot of good, but was underpinned with a philosophy that strongly identified Self with boundlessness… “I” still didn’t matter, after all “I” wasn’t real anyway… Just the illusion. So I still ran into all sorts of painful ‘boundary’ issues in my personal life.
Today, after 9 years of NPA, after 9 years of re-membering my WHOLE self… I am very clear on my boundaries. I’m very clear that I matter.
I am willing to be an inconvenience to the rock as I carve the valley, and leave my mark on the landscape.
The river of my life experience is clear and cherished and honoured for the path it takes.
The Universe, it seems, likes a test… and what happened this year certainly called me to back up those words with real-world action.
A Huge Act Of Self Love
As I said at the beginning, I reached my “NO MORE”… And this email is part of that… part of my prayer to the Universe that says I’m not going to be civilised, protective of the abuser or deny my instinctual need to roar… It’s the inconvenient truth, I’m finally willing to say.
I could go into to every sordid detail of what has happened. I’ve certainly written it all out a number of ways while composing this email, which while good therapy for me, does’t really serve you.
So I’m going to give you the bare-bones version and move onto how I chose to hold my boundary. Then I’ll share the key lesson I learned along the way, as best I understand it now, given that, in terms of the Anatomy of the Dark Night, I feel I’m still in stage 5 (Rebirth) and not quite fully in Stage 6 (Understanding).
So here goes… This is my “not keeping it quiet”… This is my NO MORE….
In the period from the end of December last year (2015), through to August this year (2016), my Ex engaged in behaviour that the police later described to me as “Very high on our own scale of harassment”
In a nutshell, she posted publicly on Facebook claiming I had “run off with another woman”, who she named… rallying a lot of support and bad feeling in my direction. What her Facebook friends (including 500 mutual friends, clients and customers) weren’t told, was that in the background she was sending streams of abusive, character assassinating texts and emails to me, and on several occasions sent unbelievably offensive emails direct to the person she considered ‘the other woman’.
The public posts happened after I had repeatedly asked her to stop, and when she hadn’t, I myself stopped responding… finally blocking her on every medium I could 8 months after it started. I guess she felt the public posts were her only route to continue her striking out.
In the end it has taken police intervention to bring it to a stop. And as you can probably guess, the police don’t get involved for just a few angry post-split interactions, which seem to be a normal, or at least common, part of the break up process in the digital age.
For the record, my Ex’s claim is not true, and she herself has told me face to face that she’s well aware that it is not.
The simple truth is, I left because of fundamental issues in our relationships with nobody else involved… I felt I had to leave because we had different dreams, different values and an unresolvable gap between the things that truly mattered to us.
Her justification, even to the police, was that she was hurt.
Feeling hurt when your partner of 6 years ends the relationship is very understandable. But we all have choices about what we do with those feelings.
And I had a very clear boundary around that:
While she is absolutely entitled to her feelings, she is definitely not entitled to slander or hurl abuse at me or anyone else she makes assumptions about.
I consider my life choices AFTER we split to be very much my choices to make. Very much my business and we were blocked from seeing each other others posts on all social media platforms from very early on… people block each other when they split, precisely to give each other space to move on… even so, it seems she saw them (there are always ways if you look hard enough) and took offence, as my posts were often the trigger.
I had repeatedly asked her to stop and she hadn’t. It just escalated. Which is why I felt compelled to go to the police for support.
Holding my boundary, even though it was repeatedly ignored was a huge act of self love for me. My urges to sacrifice myself in the name of being ‘loving’, ‘nice’ or ‘spiritually compassionate’ frequently vied to take the reigns. But I held my boundary.
Going to the police and actually asking for support was a huge act of self love. It took a LOT of focused, active self love, in spite of my mind demons telling me how pathetic it was of me, to go get backup and have my boundary honoured.
And sharing it now… here with you, is a huge act of self love, as I have learned the pain of silence in these matters, have a deep commitment to doing things differently, and again I have been faced with fears of your judgement…
But this time I have NPA…. Speaking of which…
What About Not Taking It Personally?
It’s a very fair question, given all that I teach, so let me explain:
NPA is definitely not about deleting all challenging life experiences, or the lessons and growth they bring. It’s certainly true that there are times when it will be within the Souls remit to simply have NPA end the suffering and for life to move on. However, there are also times when the Soul has a lesson plan and there’s be no avoiding it. In these cases I often see that NPA facilitates a clearer, suffering-reduced and often surprising route through the terrain.
The NPA I have done around this has enabled me to not take anybody’s response to me expressing this personally… so rather than being gagged, I can say what needs to be said in a way which is healing for me and hopefully offers some insight to you. NPA has enabled me to say what needs to be said regardless of what anyone else might make of it, regardless of any scary consequences that my mind would have me believe and in spite of my previous history.
As you are probably aware, these hugely significant life experiences can continue to be your teacher through life. Exposing ever deeper aspects of your shadow, and ultimately revealing ever brighter expressions of your light. That’s certainly been my experience.
The key lesson for me is that sometimes holding a boundary meets huge resistance both internal and external. Holding the boundary regardless may rattle your world, but brings a deep inner resting, scatters the demons that have kept you small and builds a stable inner confidence that only comes from a bedrock of huge self love.
If you’re in a challenging boundary issue, the circumstances may be asking you:
• Do you love yourself enough to maintain your boundary in the face of the resistance?
• Are you willing to meet the fears and external pressures and still honour you?
• Are you willing to be an inconvenience?
• Are you ready to step openly into the world, as by holding a boundary you become very visible…
• Are you ready for the change that will bring?
I know there were two things I HAD to do before I could share all this. Firstly, I had to meet the ‘victim’ energy in me (I’ll cover this in a later post), and I had to NPA the heck out of all the responses I feared.
Just to be crystal clear, I’m not sharing this to illicit any kind of sympathy. I feel very empowered in relation to it now… though I couldn’t have said that in the midst of the dark night… I’m sharing it to honour myself, walk my talk and make a difference in the world.
And as ever I truly hope this inspires you to hold stronger boundaries, the willingness to speak up and ultimately continue to step more fully into beautiful you – especially should you experience any kind of abusive behaviour.
An Offer Of Support:
As is often the way with therapists, facilitators and coaches I have helped countless clients who have experienced abusive situations find peace in their Souls, freedom from their past and a deep forgiveness they never thought possible. I also work with many people who suffer from the “I don’t matter syndrome” who tell me they come into a truly empowered place of loving and honouring themselves.
If YOU find you have difficulty with boundaries, you’re probably stuck in a rut and going nowhere… Maybe feeling worthless or trapped… Maybe finding you feel abused in some way…
If that’s your experience at all, I have to tell you, it is one of my passions to help people remember they matter.
And I’d love to help you uncover and honour your boundaries, discover your path and find your flow. Get you to a place where you’re carving your own valley and leaving YOUR mark on the landscape of your life.
PS If you find yourself judging what I have written as petty, unconscious, bitter or any such… Please ask yourself if you’ve ever DIRECTLY experienced this situation or are you coming from a conceptual notion of how you think someone OUGHT to deal with this, without any ACTUAL life experience of the situation? And if you think it’s ‘mean’ of me to ‘out’ my Ex in this way, I refer you back to how we are culturally pre-disposed to protect the abuser.
PPS. I’m aware that this blog is pretty raw, and may bring stuff up for you. So please know I am very open to feedback in the comments.
Joel is a well renowned international speaker and teacher in the field of Human Consciousness. With nearly 20 years experience in private practice and working with groups, Joel’s vast experience makes him a master of facilitating release, freedom, healing & awakening.
Contact Joel for sessions that bring profound ease, clarity and peace: [email protected]
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