"It would be interesting for you to talk to her" a friend tells me, in all seriousness. His high school daughter has found herself in an unhealthy relationship. She communicates with her parents, but knows that her parents would like to see her out of this situation. I have already told the mother that I would be happy and willing to do whatever I can to support this teen, though I am not sure just how I can help other than just being there.
My experience with unhealthy relationships is limited, but strong as both these parents know. But I endured an unhealthy and manipulative relationship for years without really allowing myself to see it. I am not sure I would have seen it had someone pointed it out to me at any point during that time either. This isn't to say I didn't "know" the suffering I was experiencing. it just means that I refused to see it because seeing it, realizing it, would mean that I had to face it and do something about it. And in my case that meant recognizing that one of my core values was more based on my own experience than reality.
Over the years, I lost myself to a great extent. I stopped trusting my intuition and allowed myself to fall into a cycle of boosting another based on their idea of love all the while realizing that it wasn't mine.
Emotionally drained, physically unhealthy... I woke one day to find myself without secure boundaries and manipulated and involved with a passive agressive personality. I found myself choosing that core value over personal integrity and believing that I was doing what was best for my child.
With all this in mind, I wondered what I could share or what I could or can do for a teen who is trusting and entering this phase of her life with an open heart?I have thought about what I give my own daughter; what I would give her in a similar situation?
Would I share with her my experience?
Would I gently ask her questions to help her work through what she is experiencing and what she wants to experience?
Would I ensure, to the best of my ability, that she knows that she is loved and supported no matter what?
I would do all of these things, and I would hope that she has learned from my experiences. I would hope that, unlike me, she has the ability to trust her heart, her intuition, and her boundaries.
yet, without experiences, we don't always know the need for boundaries or where those boundaries lie. We don't always clear our minds to hear our intuition or learn to trust our hearts when they say "jump" or "leave" until we are faced with the situation. And we often don't know what it is to allow people to take responsibility for themselves until we are in a situation that asks us to be emotionally responsible for them.
And what do I say to a teen in the midst of a tough experience?
Maybe I say nothing; I listen, I support, and I demonstrate trust and care.