Spiritual and relationship expert, teacher, counselor, advisor, speaker, and writer James Gray Robinson

Love Versus Disempowerment

I was raised in a culture where loving someone meant having no boundaries and completely disempowering yourself to them. My parents insisted that I behave in certain ways, and when I didn’t, I would be punished. Sometimes manners and public behavior required such convention, but usually it had more to do with me being “seen and not heard”.  So to avoid punishment, I had to constantly be vigilant about my parents’ moods and how I was behaving around them. This was all called “love”. What it actually was training how to disempower myself and be someone other than who I was to make others happy.

I just ended a relationship where I finally realized that I was doing the same thing to someone I loved. I was constantly vigilant to her needs, making sure that everything was to her liking and totally forgetting about my own needs. I thought that was love. Whenever she decided to walk all over me, it was accepted because I was afraid if I set boundaries she would leave. I was in complete denial to the reality that she didn’t really care much about me; she was just using me to enjoy a lifestyle I threw at her in an attempt to buy her love. Over and over again I was given evidence that she really didn’t care much about me. She never invited me to meet her family or her friends even though we were living together. She would never plan things for us to do together; I was constantly doing that to win her affection. It was pretty much a one sided relationship.

The wake up call came when she planned a date with an old boy friend the first night we went on an international trip together. I suppose she felt that if I loved her I would be fine staying in the hotel room by myself while she went out with her old boyfriend. I finally stood up for myself and ended the relationship. Ironically, she still does not see that she did anything that justified ending the relationship.

This story is not about her. It is about the way I totally lost myself in the relationship and allowed her to ignore any boundaries or attempts for self respect. Nothing is worth allowing myself to do that. I learned a lot of lessons in this relationship, primarily being more careful about who I want to share my life with. There are a lot of toxic people out there and I seem to be able to fall in love with most of them. The truth is I am a naturally gifted healer and many people come to me for healing. It is my problem that I sometimes fall in love with them.

The truth is this person only came into my life for one reason, to lead me back to my teacher. I had left this teacher several years before, and in chasing her I found my way back to him. Once this was accomplished, I hung on too long, and probably made it too difficult for her to leave by showering jewelry, exotic trips, penthouse apartments and other goodies on her. I remember the saying that some people come into our lives for different reasons, and we have to be aware of when that reason has been completed.  I have written many times about love, and how we should think about the other person’s happiness. I have learned an important lesson about love, and that is we have to love ourselves first. When we let someone disrespect us and walk all over our self-respect, that is not loving ourselves.

It is true that we go into relationships to learn how to love ourselves more. Sometimes loving ourselves means ending a relationship that is unhealthy or one-sided. While that may seem paradoxical, it makes perfect sense to me now. So if you are in a relationship where there is not mutual love, affection, respect and caring, you need to end it. If you are the one receiving all of the love and affection and not giving anything back, you should consider whether you are in integrity by staying when it is obvious you are taking advantage of someone. The karma that comes from abusing someone that loves you is huge. So when a relationship isn’t working, be brave enough to stop and go find one that does.

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