#WellnessWeds: The Art of Disengagement

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I once heard Oprah Winfrey say, “You are responsible for the energy you bring”. It is a quote that stayed with me for years.  The energy I bring belongs to me. I am responsible for it and I’m equally responsible for the energy I allow into my space. Part of my wellness routing involves the art of disengagement.  Disengagement is defined as the action or process of withdrawing from involvement in a particular activity, situation or group. 

I learned how to disengage in my marriage but it wasn’t out of a need to take care of myself, it was out of fear. Disengaging became a survival technique I used frequently.  My ex-husband loved to argue. I truly believe it is how he communicated.  Normal family discussions would become full blown arguments.  He was like that with everyone. His family, my family and me. I didn’t grow up that way. My family has always been big on healthy communication.  Yelling and screaming about the smallest things just were not part of my experience growing up. During arguments with my ex, I learned to disengage and stop trying to prove my point or express why something bothered me.  I just wanted the argument to stop so I stopped talking.  It’s how I lost my voice.  I taught myself that my words, thoughts and opinions didn’t matter.  I disengaged out of fear.

Fast forward and I’m no longer in an abusive marriage.  I found my voice again but I was different.  I was now a domestic violence survivor. My personality was altered by that experience.   Once I found my voice again, I became extremely vocal.  Determined never to be silenced again, I openly said how I felt, oftentimes without a filter.  In truth, I was still projecting the feeling of wanting to be heard.  I stopped disengaging and my personality shifted.  There was hardness, an abrasiveness that now shaped my words.  Scars…I suppose.

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It didn’t take much to get me talking.  I openly shared my displeasure and disagreement about people, thoughts and situations. That tongue of mine became razor sharp and if triggered, I’d verbally assault you. The girl who once ran away from arguments and disagreements, now stood in the center of them, wielding verbal swords. I went from one end of the spectrum to the other.  Those unhealed wounds,  became verbal weapons of mass destruction.   I felt helpless, silenced, and walked over in my marriage and in an effort to avoid ever feeling like that again, I went to the opposite extreme.  If you brought it to me…I’d finish it. If you disrespected me…I was in your face.   If you said or did something I didn’t like…I’d tell you about it, after all I’m strong now. I’m not running away scared or timid anymore, I’m not intimidated anymore…Right?

I hadn’t truly learned the art of disengagement in a healthy way.  I was merely projecting old wounds.  During the last half of last year, I experienced a number of shocks to my emotional state that propelled me to this journey of emotional, physical and mental wellness.  I realized I was still giving people, particularly, people who did me wrong or the men I was in relationships with power.  My ex-husband and the emotional and psychological wounds from an abusive marriage, ex-boyfriends who were disrespectful in their actions, friends who proved themselves disloyal, etc.  I allowed those experiences to harden me.  It wasn’t who I was and it wasn’t who I wanted to be.  I wanted to be a woman who recognized her voice but who knew when to engage and disengage.   “I am responsible for the energy I bring”.   Nowadays, I disengage on a regular basis but for the right reasons.   I’m protecting my energy.  I learned that disengaging doesn’t make me weak or mean that what I feel doesn’t matter.  It’s an exercise in self-care. I don’t have to respond to everything I disagree with. I don't have to argue with you even when you are wrong.   I don’t have to respond to the negativity or the madness I see on a regular basis.  My energy...my responsibility!

I recognize that I’m a woman who is passionate about my beliefs and core values but maintaining my inner peace is a priority.  So I disengage from things that attempt to disturb that.  That could be social media, conversations with people who are negative or gossip, the current political administration, racism, sexism, stereotypes, homophobia, fuckboy rants…you name it...if it disturbs my peace…I disengage from it.   I even went through an “Unfriending” spree on social media, eliminating people who constantly keep up drama or people who feed into negativity. I removed toxic people from my circle. My ex-husband did not know how to communicate with me without disrespecting me after our split, so I stopped engaging in conversations with him, I turn the TV off, especially when the current administration is on.  I realized that I have the power to remove anything that attempts to disturb my peace and change who I am at my core. 

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Now, disengaging doesn’t mean you don’t stick up for yourself or even speak your mind. There is a time and a place for everything.   It simply means that there are moments when you will find engaging in certain activities or engaging with certain people will do more harm than good.  There is a delicate balance in using your voice and expressing yourself and engaging with people who do nothing but drain you of positive energy.  As my mom always says to me, “Guard your heart, while keeping it soft”.  Experiences will shape you and if you allow it, they can change you.  The negative and hurtful things that I have experienced in life have made me stronger, wiser and more aware.  I use my past experiences to shape my future choices but I don’t want those negative experiences to change the very nature of who I am.  That’s where you find your true inner strength!

You are responsible for the energy you bring and for the energy you allow in your space! Use it wisely and remove whatever it is that disturbs your peace!

Until next time,

Take care of yourself and one another

D. Sanders