What do we all, as humans need, crave, want..? Connection. We want connection so desperately that we allow connections with toxic and harmful people, or people who have toxic and harmful qualities that we don’t know how to properly deflect or to protect with strong enough boundaries. We rush into relationships because we’re tired of being lonely and tired of doing everything by ourselves. We overlook neon red flags because of a few good euphoric qualities. Yet, the neon red flags, especially if there are many, can cause our stomachs to clinch in knots, and are not worth overlooking for the few euphoric qualities. If our stomachs ache and our values feel compromised, yet there are one or two ways a person makes us feel good, it is not good. Period. I have, over and over again, allowed people to convince me that my reality was not what it was. I felt the knots in my stomach, and yet I allowed another person to convince me that I was paranoid, and that I wasn’t incorrect. Because others wanted to sway me for their own benefit, and they were master manipulators, and since I was taught as a child to doubt myself, and to please others, I allowed myself to be swayed, against my better judgement. Growing up, I had to walk on eggshells. My reactions to my parents’ moods and behaviors had to be what my parents wanted them to be. I couldn’t have my own feelings. If I expressed what I was feeling, and my parents thought that that was ludicrous, or not their perception, or it angered or triggered them somehow, I was then convinced or shamed, or even bullied to change my opinion to appease my parents’ feelings or perceptions. I was told what to feel, when to feel, if I was feeling too much, if I was too sensitive, too dramatic, misread the situation, etc., ……and sometimes was made to justify and validate a “truth” by my parents that I knew was a blatant lie. Because of these inadvertent teachings, I was conditioned to doubt myself, to allow myself to be easily persuaded, to change my reaction to suit the egos and insecurities of others. I was always on constant alert. I was never enough, suffered from anxiety and restlessness. A parent was always mad, upset, angry, disappointed, and I was conditioned to believe that my reaction to every situation should reinforce what my parents wanted it to, that I was always the cause of their anger, and that I was there to validate their egos, feelings, false truths, truths, and insecurities. In essence, I never learned to be true to myself or to take care of myself, or to truly feel my feelings. Having recently gone through a separation, and seeing so clearly now, how I allowed myself to be convinced of what I didn’t feel was best for me, for the benefit of someone else, really slams the truth door in my face. I have to unlearn what I learned as a child. If I feel something isn’t good for me, I shouldn’t do it, end of story–no matter the opinion of others; no matter if it disappoints or angers another. So be it. I am NOT responsible for other’s feelings, lives, well beings, etc. I am not a walking ego feeder. It’s not healthy, and it’s utterly exhausting. I have put the needs and wants of others above my own to the detriment of my emotional, mental, and physical well-being. I must learn from my experiences. I must not sacrifice my well being for others. I must have stronger boundaries, and realize that if someone doesn’t respect them, or that my boundaries anger them, that that is okay. Their lack of respect for my boundaries is their own pathology with which to deal, not mine. I am the only one who can be true to me. I am the only one who can make those decisions. I can’t allow other’s opinions or validation to sway me. This is not easy, especially when interacting with family members, some who have been dependent on me in some way, most of their lives. I think most of my family members’ driving force for their decisions and reactions is fear based. It’s all about their fears. I must stand tall and grounded in my roots, like centuries old oak trees do. Unwavering; deciding what is best for me in that moment. I also need to allow myself to understand that I will make mistakes, or some decisions might or might not turn out to be what seems the best. Regardless, I will learn from my decisions, and I will no longer punish myself for mistakes or allow others to do so either. It’s amazing that we, as adults, seem to spend our entire lives working out traumas (or continuing to suffer from them) and unlearning unhealthy traits which we learned from our childhood. It is imperative that we do overcome these traumas and that we unlearn toxic thought patterns and behaviors so that we can flourish, thrive, and not pass on our traumas or our families’ traumas to others. We want to be mindful not to inflict our wounds onto others. There are a plethora of people in this world, yet it seems so difficult to find life partners who are healthy for us and for whom we are healthy. We all need connection and socialization, solitude, and support. Life is a constant balance of mixing our needs for connection and our connections for healthy relationships, all while being authentic and true to ourselves.