This has been a sensitive topic in my life lately. I am not talking about protecting our kids, even though part of this does factor in to how we treat our kids too. I am talking about trying to protect our loved ones.
My sister and I have always gone back and forth being the protector of one another. She took on that role when we were little. My mom told her she needed to protect me when we went to Arizona for the summer. The roles started to switch when my sister was about 15 or 16. I assumed the role of protector. This continued all through college and really up until my alcoholism took over. At that point another shift happened. Fast-forward a few years, I am healthy and happy, you can only assume there is another shift. I started out this phase taking on that role again. Through prayer, meditation and reaching out to trusted friends I realized that is not my job and does my sister no good. Even if it was possible to protect her from pain, hurt and life (which is impossible) I am doing her a disservice. We are meant to have hard experiences so we can figure out how we are going to deal with them. And with that we get to feel the glory when we do rise up.
I’ve learned a lot about myself since my journey in recovery started. I get to keep learning too. I have learned that not only have I been trying to protect my sister my whole life but trying to protect every last person in my family as well. I feel when they hurt and I want to take their pain. I know what makes them feel uncomfortable and I want to take it away for them. I know what brings them joy so I try to bring that to them. I struggle the most with trying to protect my mom and my step mom. And at this point, trying not to protect them. Because after all that isn’t my job.
One of my biggest character defects is I am controlling. I never would have believed it because I feel like I am a very laid back human being but sure as the day is long, I am a control freak. Here is where it gets real for me. How much of me trying to protect my family and take their pain and give them joy is my issue with control? I don’t want them to be uncomfortable because it makes me uncomfortable. Sound familiar? This doesn’t negate my true passion for wanting my family to feel amazing all the time but how much of that is my responsibility to bring them? Balance is key.
Our job is to keep our kids safe and healthy. It is not to shield them from having life lessons. I am learning that Sawyer is going to hurt himself. He is going to get hurt playing baseball. Friends are going to hurt his feelings. It is not my job to protect him from everything in life.
When you protect people, you are shielding them from their life lessons and journey. Stop doing it. Take it off your plate. Watch what happens. Watch how people rise up or fall. Watch how much faster they are able to do both without you helping. Be there. Hold space but take your will out of the situation. Do you see this happening in your life?