Thursday, February 5, 2015

Walking Away From The Martyr Archetype

Thursday, February 5, 2015

It's another sunny and cold winter day here in Minnesota.  I continue to feel quite unmotivated to seek out a new paying job.  I have been looking for four years.  Despite my feelings of disenchantment (with my job search), sadness and confusion I am going to do my very best to find the good in my day and not descend into the abyss of complaining. Complaining won't do anything to change my life anyhow.

Some aspects of what I am doing in my life now are quite clear.  I am walking away from the martyr archetype.  My paternal family of origin includes a number of people who, in my opinion, bought deeply into the supposed glory of the martyr archetype.  This is not surprising considering how my father and his siblings were raised Catholic.  Though my own upbringing did not include what I would call rigorous instruction in Catholic teachings I nonetheless soaked up plenty of the ideology of the martyr archetype.  It has taken me some time to unlearn the shadow side of this way of living in the world.

Quite simply I spent too much of my life putting the needs of others ahead of my own needs. I spent four years of my life in my twenties serving and, yes, even ministering to others. Caring for others came quite naturally to me.  I first learned about how to care for others when I was a kid. Just being required to be present to the drama and chaos of my father's first two (dysfunctional) marriages gave me excellent firsthand experience in how to live like a hostage.

When followed over a long period of time a way of life in which you always put others ahead of yourself seems to be a perfect recipe for eventual burnout.  Some might call such burnout compassion fatigue.  Others might append the term trauma to describe a person's experience.  Whether you describe what I previously presented with as Stockholm Syndrome, compassion fatigue, PTSD or something else does not, in one important sense, really matter. I felt awful and I was not recognizing the very unsuitable life I had created as being a significant cause of my distress.

I don't feel anything near the degree of burnout I did in 2013.  But I still feel quite weary on occasion.  This is not at all surprising to me now considering how long I was living a life in which I was not taking very good care of myself.  Some of the grief and sadness I have been working through is very much a product of the sobering and gradually deepening realization I have been coming to that I really did not take good care of myself for a very long time. Considering the family I came from this is not at all surprising.  I didn't have good examples of how to live a healthy, productive and rewarding life.

My grief and sadness ebbs and flows like the tide along a coastline.  I feel an ultimate end to the grieving process will arrive one day.  I feel it drawing closer.  I feel the necessity of moving on and opening myself to the grand possibilities that can still come to be in my own life.

The good news is that I survived.  The good news is that I am learning more and more how to honor my own needs.  The good news is that each and every day I am drawing closer to discovering and authentically expressing my true self.

Today I finally did something important.  I removed my original commentary which appears whenever I post a link to my blog online.  This is what previously would appear:

When making a comment please keep all comments respectful.  I ask that you offer only constructive criticism.  However, any comments containing inappropriate, abusive or obviously false information will be removed and the account of the person so posting blocked from future access.

Any person with any significant awareness and sensitivity could easily surmise something was really off about my life at the time I wrote that.  I was in a very defensive, frightened, furious, sad state of being.  I still feel sad now.  But I am thankful to see that my defensiveness, fear and angst have substantially lessened.  I am probably the healthiest person I have ever been.

And this is enough writing for today.

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