Quandaries about personalities and beliefs

The collapse of my association with the 'healer' was followed by the collapse of my beliefs.  I felt as if the tree of my life had been ripped apart taking with it much I held dear from childhood.  I needed to reconsider everything.  I did, but could only do so by very slow degrees, the chasm was so great.  

For the sake of convenience I will call this woman Teri. Nothing in my past prepared me for dealing with anyone like her.  I was trusting, confiding and foolishly generous, then unwisely loyal.  I have tended to idealise people, seeing the best in them even when they are behaving badly, and this has made me vulnerable to those with hidden agendas.  I was easy to manipulate because I was kindly and unsuspecting.  If a person seemed nice I assumed they were, or at least believed that they meant well.  I had no insight into the politics of relationships at all. 

My childhood relationships with two adults with whom I had shared an interest in spiritual matters had been warm and secure - and had included quite a lot of teachings which were similar to what Teri taught, or so it seemed.

One of these people was my father.  My relationship with him, while stormy at times, had been close and nurturing.  I had read many of his wide-ranging books at a young age.  Others were read aloud to me.  His books included quite a number that would later come to be referred to as New Age in content.  A portion of them were about special, spiritual people who lived lives of asceticism and abstinence in India or the Middle East, or if living elsewhere, certainly travelled there regularly for spiritual refreshment, or spoke of it as the home of their guides and masters.  These books were full of miraculous events and rang with high ideals and exhortations to the reader to live similarly.  I now see them as romantic. 

The other adult I had been close to as a child was our family friend, Zelda.  She was a great friend of mine and similarly devout to my father, if in a slightly different way.  With both of them I felt completely safe - and confident of my welcome.  I knew they both loved and valued me.  I knew my mother did too, but my relationship with her did not include this mutual interest in spiritual matters.

I'm sure I unconsciously expected the mutual trust and warmth I experienced with my father and Zelda in this new association with Teri, possibly projected it there, which would have lulled me into a false sense of security.

I could have looked more closely at her actual behaviour.  Looking back the warning signs of contradictory statements and behaviour, personal excesses and unreasonable demands were there right from the start, but I was flattered at the proffered friendship and allowed myself to be drawn, almost immediately, into a subservient role.

Later, my distress about how badly Teri treated me did turn me back to examine the nature of my relationships with both Dad and Zelda and the legacy of what they had believed in.  The difference I noticed was that although Zelda and Dad were both quite dyed in the wool (in different ways) about what they held to be true, they never demanded I follow their dictums - beyond the line of minding my manners and showing due respect, and NEVER used those standards to belittle me, which Teri did, repeatedly.  

With her everything came with a hook - she wanted something back for herself, so while in some ways she seemed kind, it was highly conditional, which in my view now is not kindness at all.  It took me years to see this.  Dad and Zelda both valued my friendship and companionship but never made demands on that score.  They were both emotionally generous in the truest sense.

Teri's extrapolations of the ideas I already knew about were highly unusual, creative yes, but in the end I think reflected her own inner confusion.  While I later came to consider the books these were drawn from unlikely I felt quite differently about them in relation to Dad and Zelda: I saw these two as fundamentally sound human beings whereas I had to conclude that Teri was not.

It took me years to unravel all this.  The more I considered my experiences with Teri, the more confused I became, both about her and as to why I had persevered with that situation so long.  What on earth had really been going on?  Finally I decided that the most generous conclusion I could reach was that she was disturbed, at least latterly if not for the full stretch.  This is not a good state in which to be giving paying clients advice about spiritual matters - or about anything else for that matter.

These key differences meant that I could accept that Dad and Zelda may have held views I later came to consider unlikely or fantastical, and still feel warmly about them as individuals.

With Teri I did not accept it at all.  She had treated me shabbily as a friend and as a client. She had used those ideas to rule my life and in the end they not only wrecked what happiness I did have but also rendering me severely depleted and unstable.  That was not healing, that was ruin.

To go to the next article click this link:
What were all those 'spiritual' books?

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