Sometimes Leaving is Healthy

Computer with Virus needs to purge old programmingAs I write I am reminded how, when I left the family religion, I recognized the urgency of purging the old beliefs.

Ask my mother if it was healthy for her to leave her abusive husband, my dad. Ask someone who leaves a toxic employment situation if they did the right thing. Yes, sometimes leaving is healthy, but then what? The leaving is just the beginning. That’s so true, since part of the mind control of the dysfunctional marriage, or oppressive work situation, or religion taught that “you can’t survive if you leave”. My dad sure taught us that we couldn’t leave him because we needed him to survive. I had a job once where the work conditions were deplorable. But, because the pay was decent, that made me hesitate leaving. As for the family religion, terror of self-destruction upon exiting was a big part of the lifetime of conditioning I received.

“No, don’t believe that, sweet one. You can survive and in fact thrive upon leaving — by reprogramming your belief system,” counters my inner being. “Indeed, sometimes leaving is healthy.”

My inner being was right. I am learning that leaving the religion is like cleaning out viruses on my computer. Remove the dysfunctional programming and get back a smooth-running computer. More like when it was new. Or I might even have to buy a whole new computer system, depending on the level of damage or dysfunction. Unless I’m a technician in this field, I may opt to hire a professional to have a look. Indeed, let’s take a deeper look at why sometimes leaving is healthy.

The Necessity of Leaving

I was deeply conditioned to look outward to attune to my surroundings. As a frightened young girl, I had to constantly study my father and out-think him for my own safety. I ran away from home at the age of sixteen and learned to survive in the city — after knowing only farm life.

When I got married I attuned myself to my husband and later two children who came along. As a Jehovah’s Witness, I constantly had to attune myself to the religious rules of the day and was compelled to keep up with all the “new light” of their shifting rules, regulations, and impossible standards of righteousness. And no, I could never measure up to the perfection demanded of me. That’s why leaving the religion was healthy for me. Leaving was an absolute necessity.

During my lifetime, I broke down on three separate occasions, like when I was ordered to shun my beloved mother. Another time I got really depressed when I discovered my husband’s (at the time) infidelity. More recently, I became ill when pushing myself to stay in a job which I had long since outgrown. I found myself suffering with extreme adrenal fatigue and my doctor suggested I take some time off work. After a year of sick leave, I decided it was best to retire. Retirement is another healthy way to leave. It’s been two years and I’m still recuperating.

Trying too Hard to Please Others

I certainly did self-criticize. Often I did put myself down — perhaps to beat others to the punch. Sometimes I thought it was that lack of fitting in that “did me in” — having been taught I didn’t belong. Or perhaps I was just trying too hard to please an unpleasant boss.  The last time our boss took us out to lunch I came down with a case of food poisoning. I always look for a metaphysical meaning behind illnesses — and that incident told me clearly that I worked in a toxic environment. When I started working with there ten years earlier, I vibrated similarly. Perhaps. But, by the time I made my decision to leave, my perceptions were confirmed by three separate therapists.

Since leaving the job, I’m meditating and having deep realizations about what’s been happening to me. Simply put, my repeated illnesses were symptomatic of what happens when I’m too hard on myself. My body was on overload, trying to protect me from perceived harms. It’s all related to the conditioning I received as a child who received very little love or support from my parents in a dangerous world in unpredictable times. Or at least that’s what I was taught. Children depend on their parents to make healthy choices and tell them the truth, without frightening them into submission. Perhaps Mom could have left much sooner. Nevertheless, she eventually did leave her bad marriage and I’m proud of her for doing her best. Sometimes it’s healthy to leave. It certainly was for my beloved mother.

Learning to be Self-Aware

Now, I can thank my Self for bringing me this awareness about my Dream about car getting stuck in the mud. Sometimes it's healthy to leave and get unstuck.behavior. Now I know I’m on the right track. It’s like the dream I had the other night about the car driving itself down the highway — all by itself — and taking a wrong turn into the mud. I got behind the wheel to get back onto the highway. In effect, I was taking charge of my life right then, in that moment. Time for self-care.

I’m grateful for my downtime, so I might take care of my Self instead of the demands and whims of everyone else. I am reminded of when I board a plane and hear the spiel about when the oxygen mask falls, to put it on my Self first, before taking care of another. Makes perfect sense — now. Sometimes, it’s just plain healthy to leave a bad situation, even though others might view the situation differently. Bottom line is it’s not their decision to make. It’s mine.

Related Reading

(the concept of “being set up to fail” is considered)
Deconstructing Beliefs
Kindness of Strangers
Conflicting Beliefs
Pick Up Your Cot and Walk

My Memoir Phoenix of Faith
Twitter _PhoenixOfFaith

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