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Ihave, what turns out to be, a pretty extensive history of getting involved and connecting with people who manipulate.

This has been going on for most of my life.  I have enough perspective to understand that those who do the manipulating are not necessarily doing it to exploit me or intentionally cause me harm or pain.  Unfortunately that perspective does not mean that I have come away unharmed or uninjured.

In my life, I have been deeply hurt by manipulators.  I think if I take an honest look at past events, and some current ones, I can see the easy relationship that has formed between being manipulated and being a people pleaser.  The two, for me seem to go hand in hand.

I don’t know if there is a particular pull to those who manipulate if one is an empath, but when I look at my history it seems there is a bit of a correlation.

I’ve been struggling for the past year with one relationship in particular.  Rules and boundaries were verbally put in place, but what has transpired outside of those verbal formalities has contradicted them and left me in a messy puddle of confusion.

I managed to reach out today for some guidance from someone I have come to deeply trust.  She seems to be able to untangle things and present them to me in a way that I understand.  My connection today with this person has come after weeks of reaching out to friends, looking for their perspectives on the matter.

As I told my really amazing friend Jess, about a week ago, I already know in my heart the answers I have been so desperate for others to show me.  I am aware of what has been going on.  I may struggle with boundaries and advocating for myself but if I am going to be honest I am no fool.

Some of my friends have responded with a defensive anger which while ultimately a sign of support, hasn’t resulted in much of an in-depth conversation, which is what I have really been searching for.  I get it though.  I think if I had a friend who had come to me explaining the current situation that is doing a number on my head, I would likely lash out in defensive anger.  Nobody likes to see someone they care for being exploited.

My conversation today was eye-opening and confirming at the same time.  It also reinforced a pattern that I have been repeating for years.  One where I am so desperate to carry-fix-love-please-support-do anything for another person that I lose myself.  I lose my sense of who I am.  I lose the ability to look after myself first.  I lose, what was pointed out to me today, a tremendous amount of space in my heart as I will typically carry that other person there.

People pleasing has been a common theme in much of my writing in which I have been exploring myself.   It is something I do without much thought.  It is almost a second nature to me.  This ultimately began in my relationship with my mom, and has carried out and repeated through a number of relationships with others.

In being a staunch people pleaser, my world often becomes consumed with the other person.  I think about their well-being, how they are doing, if there is anything I can do to help them.  I don’t think much about my well-being, how I am doing and if there is anything I can do to help myself.  I don’t just put myself on the back-burner.  I disappear.

The realization that carrying someone in my heart who is demanding so much space there and subsequently leaves me little to no space for myself, made a great deal of sense.  But it also touched me profoundly.  A bit of an awakening.

The year now, where I have felt off and out of sorts; where I have been unable to fully engage in the present moment; where I have been exhausted and worn out-seemingly for no reason-it all fits.

I’m still processing a great deal of what was shared today, and likely will for some time.  I can remember in the past the moments where I have finally felt free from relationships with manipulators, and I also remember some half-hearted promises to myself that I would not get into similar situations.  That I would learn from the lesson.  Those promises were half-hearted though.  I unfortunately didn’t have a terrific amount of perspective or insight at the time.  And so the pattern continued.

I sit here now, a bit dazed like the proverbial deer in the headlights as I look back and see the source of this pattern and how it has waltzed me back in with manipulator after manipulator after manipulator.

Like all patterns I have come to recognize now over the last year, it is one I am desperate to break.  It is a thought process I would like to deprogram myself from.  During times like this, I struggle between feeling extreme gratitude for the awareness and knowledge I now have, and feeling like the most stubborn person in the world who refuses to see that which is in front of her.

I’m trying not to be too harsh on myself as I begin to unpack this relationship and how I allowed myself to be brought into it, seemingly unaware.  A few days ago in a meditation I did, the guide mentioned the process of training a puppy and how a lot of patience and love is required.

It sometimes helps, if I think of myself as the puppy.  I try to be kind to myself.  I try to be gentle.  I try to be patient.

Growth, realization and learning is hard.

With Love,

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Olivia Shaw

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