I was chatting with a friend today and confessed that the first time my newfound therapist (back in 2013) suggested I put “healthy boundaries” in place in regards to my then BFF, I truly had no clue what she was asking me to do.
As an empath and lightworker, I have always found myself drawn toward the broken heartbeats in the world. As an adult child of an alcoholic, still trying to figure out the meaning of codependency as it applies to my life, I have also found myself desperate to save those I thought were drowning in a sea of despair. I would throw on my super-hero cape, the one with the Good Daughter emblem on it, and swoop in to save the day.
Having grown up more Catholic than the pope himself (Dad was a Jesuit brother for eight years, Mom spent her recess time in grade school sneaking into the chapel to pray, and my parents spent their honeymoon saying the rosary together instead of attempting some procreation stuff), I was indoctrinated into the faith. My main goal in life, according to my mother, was to “find a good Catholic boy, marry him, and make little Catholic babies.” In that order. Obviously.
I was instructed, on a nearly daily basis, how to be a good Christian and follow such teachings as those dictated by Christ during his Sermon on the Mount, as shared in the Gospel of Matthew, The Beatitudes:
Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are they who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the land.
Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be satisfied.
Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the clean in heart,
for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called children of God.
Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are the peacemakers. My self-imposed role. Straight A student, conformist, good girl, avoider-of-conflict-at-all-costs. One of those eye-opening realizations when I read “Codependent No More” by Melanie Beatty, was my unhealthy role as peacekeeper in my family. A peacekeeper mentality can actually be a good thing when we have healthy boundaries in place and are cognizant of the driving force behind our desire for tranquility. Where I was up until 2016 was donning the unhealthy peacekeeper role.
A recipe for chaos:
No clue about boundaries.
Unhealthy peacekeeper mentality.
Drawn to hurting souls.
Then, boom, March of 2016, it all became painfully obvious. I was brought to my knees when my bestie disappeared from my life without warning at the exact moment my alcoholic mother was fighting for her life in a state of detox, seeing little boy ghosts and hearing songs not being sung, in her month-long hospital and rehab stay.
After crying for, oh, I don’t know, a year, I did what I always do when confronted with chaos . . . I researched the shit out of it. I read books and articles, listened to podcasts, watched videos, joined online groups, tormented my friends with hours of contemplation, self-reflected through journaling, and prayed. A lot.
Somewhere along the way I learned how to forgive. And I learned about loving from a soul perspective in lieu of ego-based. Most importantly, I learned how to let go. In the process, I put some healthy boundaries in place (it’s still a work in progress and some of the lines are squiggly, but that’s alright). I also maintained my role as peacekeeper, as I am a huge fan of tranquil living, but with the realization that I can say “no” and stand up for myself at the same time. Respect for myself and my own needs has been a key component.
Utilizing ho’oponopono Hawaiian healing practice has been crucial, as well. For instance, I might silently say to someone who has been curt, “I’m sorry I don’t understand your anger. Please forgive me. I love you. Thank you.” Then I move on.
Now when my eyes meet the knowing eyes of another soul who has dwelled in the darkest of spaces, I offer a hand to hold, as always, but with this knowledge in place:
- Healthy boundaries are crucial to a healthy relationship.
- A peaceful existence is possible, even with a volatile past.
- As a lightworker and empath, my role is one of empowering others through “I get it” connections on an emotional and spiritual level, while honoring my own space.
I’ve been thinking about the girl I used to call my “best friend”. There are days I miss her. Tremendously. When she comes to mind, I send off a little prayer. And in it, I wish her peace.