Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The Castle

Two years ago today, I was depressed, unhappy, miserable, not as efficient as I should be at work, a financial mess, lonely, 20 pounds heavier, and unfilfilled in just about all of my life's desires.

Although I no longer recognize that person, I remember that person. Most of all, I remember how I became that person.

The truth is, the main reason of my unhappiness (with some contributing factors), was that I chose to live my life with a bad person.

I made that decision. Today I can fully accept that decision, and the faulty reasoning that went with it. I had good intentions in making the decision, and with sticking with it for so long, but in all my good intentions, I forgot to look out for number one (me).

In making the decision in who you choose to accept in your life, you are looking out for yourself. You are protecting yourself and your life. You are loving yourself, something I've only recently learned how to fully do.

By letting good people into your life, you transform your own destiny. Today, I've drastically changed who I let into my life. I've found it's amazing what you can change in just two years with a couple of big decisions.

With good people in your life, you find that you don't have to worry about whether they truly care about you. They will fight for you. They will be there for you. They won't talk bad behind your back. They won't throw you under the bus. They won't lie, cheat, deceive, or hurt you, physically or emotionally. They won't make selfish decisions with no regard for you. You don't have to lose sleep at night, or double-check their whereabouts.

You don't have to worry they will lose another job and put your house into foreclosure by sleeping all day instead of looking for a new job, punching a family member while incredibly drunk, or crashing into a car with no insurance and no license, putting you into thousands of dollars of insurance debt (obviously NOT random examples).

Today, all of that is in the past. I am happy, fulfilled, joyful, grateful, in love, successful at work, financially secure, fit and healthy, and surrounded by friends and people who truly care about me. I have an amazing husband who has accepted my past and helped me to climb out of all the mess that was my life.

God is so good! It's taken me a lot of money, lawyers and time, but I am finally away from the bad influence of the past. I'm so grateful for the wisdom God gave me the past two years.

I will never go back to who I was then, and I have put plenty of safeguards in place to ensure that, the main safeguard of being careful who I accept into my life, and of carefully controlling my reactions to others' actions.

It can be harder than you think. Especially when you are one of those people that cares about ALL other people, regardless of who they are and what they've done. You have to make a logical (not emotional) conscious fact-check in your head. You have to constantly re-evaluate your choices in your acquaintances. You have to be careful.

Or, as my former therapist said: "Help your students. Help people at work. You shouldn't have to help your husband. He should help you. He should be someone you can look up to and respect, not someone that needs your help."

Think about your life as a castle with a moat that surrounds it. An impenetrable stone wall blocks invaders - a wall that only you can open and let people in.

You must protect the castle of your life.

Who will you let in your life, and who will you block?

Who is in your life right now that may be causing you problems - whether intentional or unintentional?

Did you ever think that maybe if you open the gate and let someone in that you've misjudged, that they can become a poison to your entire community, slowly morphing your surroundings until it's a scary place you no longer recognized?

I don't mean just significant others, either.

Friends can do this. Family can do this. Those most unassuming individuals who look like a pretty package outside can actually be very ugly and rotten inside.

Those people who keep coming back, even after you've evicted them. Because you let them.

See, if your life falls to ruins, you can't entirely blame another individual. You are an individual. You have choice about how you live your life, regardless of how others treat you. You have decisions. You have the ability to change and grow, regardless of others' influences.

In fact, there are signs that you can watch for, if you think your problems may be from another individual's influence. I wish someone had shown me these signs and made me evaluate my former ugly person. Maybe I'd changed things if I'd known what a huge mistake I was making.

Or maybe not. Maybe I needed to hit rock bottom to see clearly.

All I know is that now I know this: It's okay to judge people. It's okay to deny people. You can love them at a distance. You can have empathy for them. You can forgive them.

Just don't let them into your castle.

You have to take accountability for the role you played in who you let into your life. That was hard for me, because I had good intentions. But look where they got me.

I know now that I control my life. I control who is in it as well.  Learning to take control of my life and taking a poisonous person out of my life had huge positive implications in nearly every aspect of my life.

I'll never forget going to a new church not long after I'd started dating my now husband, and the sermon focusing on the "people you partner your life with." There was a list similar to the one below, and I remember looking at him from the side of my eye and thinking, "He is none of these horrible things. I've done it. I've found someone who will make my life better, not worse. I've found someone I can respect and trust."

And I married him.

Below, here are some traits that you need to watch out for. Of course, everyone makes mistakes. Repetition of these things is what is dangerous.

Evaluate the people in your life. Fire them if necessary. Just don't let them poison the community. It's never to late to kick them out.

Liars (not little white lies, repeated lies about important things)
Deception (hiding who they are, their actions, living two lives, etc.)
Abusers (physical and emotional)
Drug users
Angry people who act out in their anger
People who don't care about their personal growth
People who don't care about other people or their families
People you don't respect
People who don't make good decisions in general (financial, moral, impulsive, etc.)