Challenging Personality Series – Emotionally unavailable people
When I think of family, I think of chaos. There are 360 of us just on my father’s side, and I will be marrying into a family of 10. It is possible that Michael’s family could meet 80 of my family members every year for the next 10 years and still never see a person twice. I’m sure that I came as quite a shock. It is from my background of being exposed to a large group of people with diverse personalities that has conditioned me to be a very open minded and open hearted individual. Everyone is welcome into my family, and being related by blood is not a pre-requisite. Just through sheer conditioning, I came away from my environment with emotional intelligence from having been exposed to so many emotions from so many different personalities. I am pleased that this made me a warm, open, accepting and friendly person. Sometimes though, I forget that the rest of the world isn’t always like this, and my open arms and free love is met with coldness, indifference, mean spiritedness even. I stonewalled out of the “circle” and there is some attempt to assassinate my character in order to get others not to like me as well. Not unlike a childhood game of “whisper down the lane” and a “I don’t like her so you shouldn’t either” mentality. As an adult in my 30’s I still run across this even now. The immediate befriending of person that I deem a destructive personality to my life in some sort of “gang-up on her” “we have nothing in common but our hatred for Jenna” foolishness. I call these cold people “emotionally challenged individuals”. Meaning they have not gotten to the stage in their life where they will be forced to challenge their own heart/behavior. That humbling time period comes for us all. It’s a certain as death.
In my experience with emotionally challenged individuals, and having gone through a cold personality phase myself, what I have learned is that somewhere at some point in time, cold people decided on some mental level to never allow themselves to be open with feelings, or to allow themselves to be vulnerable. The sole purpose of which is to avoid any and all pain associated with getting hurt, as well as an attempt to curb or completely stop any and all change from occurring in their lives, and/or family dynamic. This emotional unavailability can happen as a result of a trying childhood, or after a divorce, a break-up of any kind, or after some sort of trauma. For me, my cold person phase was after a period in my life where, again, I was an open and loving person who was always all inclusive trying to bring people together, who continuously got hurt. During formative years, I was made fun of, criticized, and several attempts to assassinate my character were made. It took me decades to change back to who I was, and as soon as I did, it (recently) happened to me all over again. This means that I didn’t learn a damn thing the first time, instead of truly learning unconditional love, I learned clear avoidance and how to burry my feelings over it all. True to when life wants you to learn something, it will repeat the lesson. Also true to repeating lessons, the stakes get higher, as they are now. This isn’t middle school anymore, I have a family to nurture and protect, and I have the responsibility to be an emotionally healthy person so to be an example. This means that I need to learn how to live with and unconditionally love these cold personalities without…and here is the hard part for me…trying to change them, and with absolutely no expectations for anything in return.
Cold people “hold you at a distance. And if you tried to say something to ease the situation, their response (though not exactly inappropriate) pretty much nullified your efforts.” They can be stand off-ish, aloof, unfeeling, unemotional, angry, hostile, critical. And the only way to deal with these people? Love them. Love them because they may not know or remember what love feels like. Love them because hurt people are the people that hurt others the most. Love them because we are all God’s children. But sometimes we, the lovers, need help getting to that point because they hurt us so badly. So where do we begin? How do we get the love back into our hearts? We have to take care of ourselves first. Get your mind right with these three steps and your heart will follow;
1. Give up the illusion that you can change them in any way, and accept them for how they chose to live their life right now. Give up the illusion of expecting them to love you in return.
2. Do not ever, under any circumstances give in to or allow yourself to be subject of irresponsible, irrational, mean, jealous, destructive or otherwise bad behavior. You teach people how to treat you. If you can be manipulated then it is because you are allowing it.
3. Love yourself. You are allowed to establish boundaries with anyone, and you must remain consistent in them. If you value you, then others will value you too.
There are cold people within every family and in every work environment. We are among them everyday and they need our love and acceptance. They on the other hand, provide for us a visual reminder that we come into this life to face certain challenges on purpose in order to perfect our soul. They also provide for us constant practice for unconditional love, acceptance, and grace. Every time I want to strike out against these personalities, I picture myself standing before God on my judgement day. I would like for him to see me overcome this particular challenge rather than succumb to it. These people’s behavior has absolutely nothing to do with us. If they hurt you, thank them for reminding you that you are a feeling and emotional being. Their behavior is their journey, how we react to it is ours.