This was posted 12-7-2023
Hi, Celest and David, This project really brought up a lot of emotions for me. Below is my writeup. It’s kind of long. Apparently, I had a lot to say!
Love, Elisa – (Greece)
LISTENING TO MY SOUL – FINDING MY VOICE
At 36 years old, I became a widow. I had not realized until after my husband died that he was emotionally abusive. In response, I followed an old pattern of shutting down socially that began long before in childhood. Along the way I lost my Voice. In the decades since, my Soul spoke loudly and clearly as I navigated my way in finding my Voice again to be where I am today.
My husband, who died suddenly from a stroke, was outgoing and liked being the center of attention and the conversation. He made friends easily and our social life revolved around people he knew. When we first dated, he was considerate of my family life and compassionate about my feelings. After we married, he seemed to disregard my feelings when we talked about situations with family and friends. Other people’s feelings were more important than mine, his wife’s. Basically, I didn’t have a say or vote in any situation anymore.
When I spoke to people going through difficult events in their lives, like dealing with a parent with a serious health condition or about a deceased family member, I offered metaphysical perspectives. I sensed that my words were well received. Later, my husband would tell me that I should not have said what I said, that it wasn’t appropriate or considerate. His judgements did not end there. He was critical of the clothes I wore, my physical appearance, and how I spent my time at home. Gradually, I contributed less to conversations. When I asked him not to mention certain things with his family, he would come home from visiting them and immediately tell me what their opinion was of the matter. I felt betrayed. Nothing stayed in confidence. I could no longer trust him with my private thoughts. I no longer discussed such things with him. Eventually, I had nothing to say to him when he came home from work. My personality was shutting down bit by bit over our sixteen years of marriage. My opinion did not matter. What I did, said, felt, and looked like was criticized. I wasn’t the person I was when we married. I no longer felt comfortable talking about anything personal.
It is not my nature to argue and have a fight. I didn’t get angry. I was hurt. Looking back, I was still the young child again who became quiet and bottled up the hurt feelings I felt when I was younger. I grew up in a large family. My parents were absorbed with their own problems. My father was an alcoholic, and he had periodic long-term unemployment that caused significant financial hardships. My mother was argumentative, manipulative, and lacked compassion. At an early age, my sisters and I had to learn to solve our own problems. When you’re a child in a family that is experiencing these kinds of hardships and treated poorly by a parent, you learn that you cannot trust your parents to guide you through your life. Trusting is to live with disappointment, harsh words, and rejection. You don’t fight back. What do you know about standing up for yourself to your parents when you are only 8 years old? You are supposed to listen to your parents. Instead, you just keep quiet and learn to swallow your emotions and tears and avoid the situations that would lead to trouble and backlash. Usually, I went to my room to be alone.
Soon after my husband died, it finally occurred to me that I had suffered from emotional abuse not only from him, but also from my mother. In the process, I had truly lost my Voice.
My job as an engineer was a daily salvation. I needed to use all my creative and intellectual abilities. I was fortunate to have a supervisor who did exactly what I needed to start building my confidence as a new engineer and as a person. I would ask him a question about how something should be done. He always responded by asking me for my opinion on the subject. He would never tell me what he would do. He just approved of my plan and encouraged me to proceed.
What was more challenging for me were social relationships. Having realized the emotional abuse in my life, I was now aware of how relationships are one-sided or abusive. Many times I found myself in uncomfortable situations. I learned that the discomfort was a Soul sign that I should not accept or put myself in that kind of situation again, to not recreate the same scenario. I learned, too, that it takes courage to stand up to people, to refuse to continue to go along, and to take a stand with those people who continue to take advantage of me in the relationship. I needed to take a good look at my relationships to put them into perspective. Sometimes, it took courage to make changes to free myself from the unsatisfactory ones.
I thought I had a friendship with a neighbor. I first met her when she hosted parties to sell home products. Sometime later, I asked her to lunch dates and other events. Over time, I noticed that she would expect me to remind her of our get-togethers and to furnish extra things while we are out, such as pain relievers or a few dollars to cover a purchase. I wanted to be a good friend, but I started to feel like something was off balance with the relationship. I realized that she never invited me to socialize with her or go anywhere. Apparently, I was someone to call on when it would benefit her in making money. It was a false friendship, a one-sided relationship. I decided to end this relationship and did not contact her again.
Another relationship that can appear as friendship is one that I established with people who provide personal services, such as salon and spa services. It is easy to talk about what’s going on in life during a manicure or massage. I became friendly with particular people at my local spa. I found myself wanting to schedule services just to talk with my friend there. I changed my thinking about this relationship when I realized that people you pay to spend time with really aren’t true friends. Now I only go when I really need the services.
Occasionally, someone asked me to talk to another person to either champion their special project or as a peer to help a coworker. Each time, I felt extremely uncomfortable doing the task. The first time was when I was working in a secretarial pool, and my manager asked me to talk to a coworker about looking more professional by wearing makeup and changing her hairstyle. I felt obligated to do it because my supervisor asked me to, but it did not sit well with my heart. I talked with my colleague, but only to mention that I was asked to do it by the manager. I didn’t feel right about doing what the manager didn’t want to do herself because she didn’t want to be the “bad guy.”
Some years later, one of my cousins that I hadn’t talked to since we were children called to ask for my assistance in championing his ideas for a space device with an aerospace company. Learning from my previous experience with having to talk with my coworker, I gracefully declined the task primarily because I was working full time and had many projects of my own to undertake in my spare time. Deep down, I also knew that I would not enjoy being an intermediary on someone else’s project.
There have been times when I asked another person to help me get some information from the person’s acquaintance that I didn’t know well. I would explain what I wanted to know. Yet every time I tried to ask an intermediary to do this, the person asks for something that wasn’t exactly what I needed. In the end, I had to speak on my own behalf. Whether I involved a third party or I was asked to be a third party, it did not turn out well. I learned my lesson.
Looking at the situations I’ve mentioned so far may only take seeing the relationships with a new perspective. You may conclude that your relationships fit your expectations and are worth holding onto with no changes. Other relationships may require taking a stand to voice concerns about your dissatisfaction. You may find that you have a toxic relationship and more drastic steps must occur. It takes courage to do whatever it takes to fix the situation, including ending the relationship. Extreme precautions should be taken for any relationship where there are risks to your personal safety.
Every relationship is between two parties or individuals. Even in a group, each person has a unique relationship with each of the other members of the group. The same is true for families, neighbors, businesses, clubs, societies, schools, governments, and so on. Inevitably, another party will involve itself in the relationship. Sometimes the third party helps the relationship. Other times it can be a catalyst that destroys the relationship. Countries influence the running of neighboring countries. People take sides. Allies in one situation may turn into enemies in another. All because a third party created a situation that compromised the relationship. Once something is said about your relationship by another person, it’s hard to un-hear it. The seed is planted, and it can grow into a patch of weeds that takes over the once agreeable relationship.
Parents involve themselves in their children’s friendships, love lives, career choices, and in the relationship between their other children. My mother would intentionally stir up trouble between her five daughters, twisting around our words to be used as ammunition in an argument with my father or to fuel some other argument. I soon stopped supporting whatever her latest mission was to cause problems between my sisters and me. If my mother asked me what I thought about what my older sister was not doing for her, I would tell her that whatever her problem was with my sister was between the two of them, and that her dissatisfaction with the situation was a result of the relationship she formed over the years with that daughter. It wasn’t my business. I would not provide fuel for the fight she wanted to start.
There was a lot of manipulation taking place. I’m sure that everyone can remember a situation where a friend or family member made it known that they disapproved of a certain friend or romantic partner, or maybe a business partner. Afterwards, were you still thinking about what was said of your relationship? Did this affect your relationship? This becomes a battle within ourselves about whether to respect the opinion of the third party or to go with our hearts to stay in the relationship. Is there a pattern where the same person interfered in your relationships time and again?
The key to assessing your relationships is to figure out what is motivating the words and actions of the other person or party. Do they truly want to help? Do they want attention? Do they want to control everything about the relationship, including you? Do they want to divide your relationship and have you as their new friend or partner? Do they want to cause malicious harm to the relationship for some other reason? You also must look at your own motives for being in the relationship. How is this relationship benefitting you. How is this relationship hurting you.
If you don’t know what to do about a relationship, listen to your Soul. Confiding with a friend or family member brings in a third party. If you have indecision about how to resolve your situation, then you’re not listening to your Soul. Your Soul knows what needs to be done. You may want an easy solution. Perhaps you want the situation to resolve itself so you don’t have to make hard decisions. Maybe you’re afraid of hurting people’s feelings. You know that what must be done may be difficult for others to accept. The decision is easy if you listen to your Soul. Don’t feel guilty about what you must do. Most people get over things and move on. Sometimes it is hard for the other person to move on. But, when you try not to hurt anybody, everybody ends up getting hurt somehow. Handle the situation with grace and compassion.
It can be more difficult to address family relationships. As you grow up, family can keep you in the role of a child no matter how old you are. They may have had to tell you what to do as you grew up, but now you can decide for yourself on how you want to be treated. Do not feel guilty for standing your ground and standing up for yourself. Do not let the other person make you feel guilty.
At some point I knew that I had to address my relationship with my mother. Shortly after my husband died, I knew that my mother would expect me, her newly single daughter, to be available to jump to meet her every need. I had to set boundaries. My previous attempts to talk to her about my feelings failed to stop her taking over the conversation to talk about herself. So, I wrote a letter. I explained that even though my husband and I had been having marital issues, we still cared about what happened to each other. His death was a shock to me and I was trying to deal with it. I also told her that I still had a full-time job and I would not be available at a moment’s notice to help her with a non-urgent issue. Most importantly, I would not be made to feel guilty for what I didn’t do for her. Then, I mailed it to her. We never talked about it, but I had my say. Afterwards, she did not push issues on me if I said that I was staying out of her relationships with others, or that I could not immediately get together with her. I would be mindful of times when she really needed assistance, or I would arrange a later time to take care of her issues. After all, she was still my mother and another human being. I would not recommend writing a letter for every relationship situation. I knew of no other way to be able to tell my mother what was on my mind. In most other situations, I mustered the courage to speak with the other person.
Once you take care of relationships that are not supporting the life that you want, you may have to clean up afterwards. There are leftovers from relationships, like shared property and personal items. These material items have residual energy from the relationship. Are you holding on to items from a past relationship just because you managed to win it in the breakup settlement to keep your partner from having it? Do you really want to have that energy around? Do you want to have the constant reminder of old relationships? When I finally moved out of the house I last shared with my husband, I decided to give away all the furniture and other items that we had together. My real estate agent told me that her husband had been asking her for a divorce for 25 years, but she did not want to give him what he wanted, which was the house and all the furniture and items they had collected over the years during their extensive travels. I told her I was going to buy new furniture for my new life because I did not want all the residual energy from the past and reminders of unhappy times. To my surprise, she gave her husband everything he wanted, and her divorce was final by the time I closed on my new house! Let it all go. Let the other person keep the old energy.
After all of this, I’ve found that not being in a relationship is sometimes better than being in a bad one. Before you find a good relationship, you may have to close out the bad ones to create the space for good relationships to come in. This does not mean that you must stay away from people all together. Instead of a close relationship, try finding individuals or participating in an organization supporting a common interest. Get involved in community work. Get to know your Soul by allowing some alone time. Listen to your Soul for guidance. By doing this, I found that my Voice has returned, and my Soul is alive and well and leading my way.
Love, Elisa – (Greece)
Response from Celest and David – We knew this Project would bring out emotions and inspirations on all different levels. And it has. Do not be surprised when it happens to you (the readers.) If inspired to do so send us your VOICE expression for consideration to be added to this Universal Project.
Initiating a Soul Movement / bluestarspeaks.com