I have heard disturbing stories of metaphysical gurus and spiritual teachers sexually exploiting their followers or people under their care. This raises questions around the ethics of being in a helping profession, and also how to be on the receiving end of such help or support. Is the spiritual community paying enough attention to red flags and boundaries?
When do we set boundaries? One does not want to be too paranoid, however waiting too long might send the wrong message, like “your behavior is okay.” We want the help, but sometimes the price we are asked to pay is not so clear. I shall explore the intricacies, the dance, of this aspect of a helping relationship through the narrative below.
The only person that deserves a special place in your life is someone that never made you feel like you were an option in theirs ~ Shannon L. Alder
She was raised by a strong mother and taught to trust the power of women, more so than men. She later worked hard to undo those teachings, to open the door to nurturing male energy – father, big brother, soldier, hunter, gatherer, best friend. Men had a different way of looking at the world – that wonderful male mind and male energy.
A parade of men started showing up at crucial times in her life, when she needed healing. These encounters morphed into a dreaded ‘patterns.’ These were no longer a series of events to be ignored as not related, or irrelevant. These were no simple fences to jump over, or go around. No, this was a pattern. Repetitious, similar, and definitely relevant, showing her an area of growth (darn it). Some fellow lightworkers call this a “healing opportunity.”
In the early days of this emerging pattern, she convinced herself that she was just irresistible. A man would offer to help her, and then could not help himself, or rather he did help himself…to her. “Ah,” she thought, “I let them close and they cannot help but be attracted.” Sex was a small price to pay for that complement, not to mention the bit of help and attention she received from someone in a time of need. Amazing what stories the mind can tell us. These were the stories she told herself, pre-pattern epiphany.
As the years progressed, and she slowly, very slowly learned about boundaries… and men, she realized that:
1. Sex is not a fair or good payment for being nurtured, especially by a stranger or a married man;
2. Sex did not equal caring or nurturing;
3. The majority of men will have sex with any woman, at any time.
4. There is a certain kind of man who marries a self-sufficient woman to guarantee a good lifestyle at home. While things at home are taken care of, he then sets out to look for opportunities to feel like a knight in shining armor outside of his marriage.
Let’s teach that loving isn’t always loving. Like when you loved the hamster so much that it died. Some adults do that too. Too much, the wrong way ~ Deborah Ainslie
This ‘Dark Knight’ needs to feel like a hero, as most men do, while most women need to feel like a goddess. However for some reason not yet understood, the Dark Knight cannot get their knight energy up for their wives. They have somehow lost the talent of being the hero at home. Or perhaps, as Dr. Laura has pointed out for years, they are not getting the correct knight payment of sex from their goddess wife. Men need sex like women need cuddling and conversation.
So, the philandering Dark Knight is the perfect husband, and the perfect knight, but the latter is saved for the unknown woman he seeks out to rescue. Until the adventure concludes, when the Dark Knight goes home to his castle, and his bill-paying wife or partner.
It starts off with a blazing to-the-rescue entrance of some sort. A woman is in trouble legally, or emotionally, but usually not financially, unless she is an incredible knock out. The Dark Knight’s radar finds her. Dark Knights can be found answering a random phone call to someone else, or can find you on Facebook in troubled times. Of course some will take that dysfunctional radar as a ‘sign’ from Spirit and hop on board the train. She is saved! Spirit sent her someone, answering her prayers. Whew! (or ho-ho-ho). Thus the adventure begins.
In the beginning it is all amazing. There are hours of phone conversation and text chat. He talks like a woman, about feelings and understandings, and sharings, in a deep rumbling voice. This referred to it as ‘love bombing.’ She is saved.
He always knows when to call. He calls to say goodnight, his voice tucking her safely under the covers of his promises – that all will work out and he will never leave her side (figuratively speaking of course). She can breathe now, she can sleep, safe beneath the loving watch of her knight in shining armor. This time is different, she tells herself (until a pattern becomes undeniably clear.) He is happily married, he lives in another country. He really is her friend and there is no danger of inappropriate sexuality encroaching upon the offer of help, support and friendship.
The more people rationalize cheating, the more it becomes a culture of dishonesty. And that can become a vicious, downward cycle. Because suddenly, if everyone else is cheating, you feel a need to cheat, too ~ Stephen Covey
Slowly, ever so slowly, and under the guise of platonic love and caring for her, gifts begin to arrive. It does not matter that his idea of what she likes, or what has any meaning for her, is way off the mark. He is not really sending her presents, he is sending them to some woman he has in his head. No matter, her brain says, “He took the time to buy me something and send it.” Sigh, heart flutter, fantasy, fill-in-the-blanks thinking follows. She does not yet realize he was buying the woman in his head those gifts and he was starting to have sex with her in his mind — the woman in his head who answers his real life phone calls. There is a flutter in her fluttering brain, that something is not quite right. “No matter,” she tells herself, “he is a knight!”
He listens to all of her conversations and helps her solve problems. He tells her how amazing and special she is. She conveniently forgets his wife is the breadwinner and that Mr. Generous is probably spending his wife’s money on her, rather than his wife and children. This often is a constant with the Dark Knights – to use their wife’s money to fund their hero ventures.
She notices how he spends his limited and valued family time on this courtship foray, thinking that if she was the wife would she be okay with that? Really? She asks herself, “Am I so lonely as to accept, or pretend to accept, that the real me is being appreciated, when I receive attention from a man who has no idea what I would wear and who never bothered to ask (because that would make her a real person, rather than his internal fantasy of who she is)?
Still acting as the helper, counselor, or friend, the sexual overtones of the conversations grow. Stories of being multi-orgasmic or insatiable begin to be the topic of his sharings. And the complements grow. “Your voice makes me quiver,” he says as he pictures his someone (the one in his head, not her, that’s for sure) in his presents of short shorts and bathing suits. “Those long legs of yours,” and on it goes, and grows.
One day he says something like, “When you told me about your date with another guy, I actually got jealous!” According to the manual she is supposed to swoon that he, her married phone-a-friend, actually wants her. Of course he is merely talking to the imaginary porn-imaged woman in his head. His supposed jealousy he expresses openly to her, while every night he crawls into the arms of his longsuffering wife. Her riddled mind somehow manages to make all of this logical. She shakes it off.
I know I am but summer to your heart, and not the full four seasons of the year ~ Edna St. Vincent Millay
In the past, when the Knight was local, this kind of behavior turned into a stolen kiss, a touch of the leg, or breast, and then finally a great deal of pressure to jump into bed. And here is the kicker – when she turns him down, no matter how gently or apologetically, she becomes ‘the bitch’ and will hear such things as, “After all I have done for you, all the attention I have given you!”
After numerous refusals of his advances – always polite – this can escalate into an all-out psychological attack, where she is told, “You are crazy and no wonder you needed my help. This is why you get into bad situations.” The Dark Knight has just taken out his sword (yes the analogy is there) to chop off her head and destroy her psyche, and counter all the work he invested to build her up in both his and her mind.
While this is certainly the description of narcissistic behavior, this does not neatly fit into that category, making the situation so much more complicated. Intentions were good, behaviors were bad – in some cases, not all. This particular Dark Knight has over two decades of recovery work in 12-steps under his belt and is licensed as a counselor. He is educated in the ethics of being a counselor, especially regarding sexual overtones. How to set boundaries? When are the lines crossed?
This time it is different. Perhaps this is the last lesson in a series of ‘ho-ho’ classes. Perhaps she is finally learning. She cannot afford to make him mad. She still needed him. This Dark Knight lives oceans away, so at least there was no real threat of having sex. However, he and his wife come to visit and he finds an opportunity to give her a squeeze, while his wife isn’t looking, and say, “I still have the idea, it should have been you that married me.” Pure porn… that move; sneaking a feel right there in front of his wife. Ah, the thrill!
And, sigh, the disgust on her end. What can she say? His lovely wife, recently recovered from cancer and his gorgeous 10-year-old daughter are right there. It is a kind of rape, with a psychotic psychological edge to it. The Dark Knight knows she would never do anything that would hurt his wife or family. Of course, he is the one hurting his wife, but that is not his thought at the time.
Someone told me the delightful story of the crusader who put a chastity belt on his wife and gave the key to his best friend for safekeeping, in case of his death. He had ridden only a few miles away when his friend, riding hard, caught up with him, saying ‘You gave me the wrong key! ~ Anaïs Nin
One day, her worst nightmare occurs — her knight becomes extremely mad at her…. over a very frivolous issue regarding Facebook (go figure). She has been trying to avoid any anger, so she could keep receiving his attentions as her knight. She was never going to bring up the psycho-sexual molestation that she was experiencing from him. She has no idea she could bring it up, and cannot not see it accomplishing anything other than being called crazy, or demanding, and then losing contact with her Dark Knight.
Up until this moment, when he went into a rage, she hadn’t realized she had been trying to avoid making him angry. That she was in fear of that and had compromised herself to keep the Dark Knight happy and in her life. What a light-bulb moment! Sad, but true.
With him already mad, she now had nothing to lose. He was already mad and her skin had been crawling since that squeeze, when he and his family were here. So, with him already raging, she found the freedom to say something. And this is when it becomes ‘Theater of the Absurd,’ or is it ‘Theater of the Grotesque?’
She tells him she feels he had been inappropriately sexualizing the friendship. He had been acting as her friend-with-a-purpose: to be a helper (and in fact was a licensed counselor and 12-step sponsor). He had definitely emotionally rescued her – something they were both conscious of and had discussed numerous times. Theirs is not an equal friendship; it is a helping relationship, something they had both acknowledged. And therefore his advances were inappropriate.
His calm response to her accusation of exploitation is simply, “That is not true.” In other words, her own experience was not true for him, therefore it was not true at all. He also infers, “You are crazy, but I will apologize.”
Being a veteran of adventures with other Dark Knights, she responds with something like, “Well then good! I am glad I was mistaken in my interpretation.” She says this to be diplomatic and to see where the discussion would go. “Since you are comfortable with your behavior and actions, I want to get your wife involved with buying me more shorts and bathing suits,” she added.
As part of the healing process, change your perception of yourself from “victim” to that of “advocate” and “survivor ~ Don Easton
She has to admire the cool and calm response of the Dark Knight. Without missing a beat he says, “Well, I don’t think right now is a good time for that, as her self-esteem is a bit fragile after the battle with cancer.” Damn, he is that good under fire! She thinks for a minute. It seems to her that the female cancer survivors she had met, had amazing self-esteem — they just won a battle for life!
The conversation continues to weave in and out of reality, as she presses to hear the Dark Knight admit the truth about his hidden agenda. But he never does. So, she persists. She tells him she will be having a conversation with his wife about their various chats, his requests for pictures, the clothing he bought her, and so forth. Hiroshima and Nagasaki erupts. He forbids her. She has nothing to lose at this point. She had burst the fantasy bubble he had created about their relationship (or lack thereof). Things will never be the same!
Pressing on, she reminds him that since she had met his wife, she now had a relationship with her and could talk to her about anything she chooses. Of course she never does.
Months later, he admits to the inappropriateness of many of his conversations and actions with her. Their relationship is never the same and she doesn’t know if it will ever thrive again. Time will tell. Their phone calls have diminished, as has her importance in his life. Conversations have gone flat and it often feels as if the relationship is now an obligation, rather than a joy. It is a loss in one way, a gain in another. There are no easy answers here.
When they first met, she was depressed and in no position or condition to be responsible for even considering the issue of boundaries. This is why mental health professionals are taught ethics in their training – to at least try and prevent those in helping professions from taking advantage of people in distress who come to them for help.
When one sets boundaries, there is always the possibility of the other person leaving the relationship, in retaliation or humiliation. While she was no longer in dire need of his help, for a long time she was still not strong enough to risk losing the entire package. And there was a guilt that she remembered boundaries too late; afraid that she was to blame for not being able to be brave enough to set boundaries sooner.
People cannot always get it together to set boundaries; boundaries are always a work in progress. And while one would hope that people are comfortable with negotiating boundaries, realistically most are not. Many feel ashamed or blamed when a simple boundary is requested, and others rage because of their own suppressed shame. It is easy to see why so many people allow boundary violation rather than walk the maze of mature boundary health.
For now one can only hope that people seeking or accepting help from gurus, shamans, counselors, or friends, listen to their radar and risk setting boundaries if conversations and behaviors get too uncomfortable. In fact, the same is true for friendships, marriages, and family relations. It is not easy to have enough self-esteem to set boundaries to honor and protect yourself. However, hopefully you will consider the price you will have pay if you cave in to the inappropriate intrusions of others, even if they mean well, and especially if they don’t. But it is all worth it. Namaste.
I hope this narrative helps others. By sharing our experiences, strength and hope, we help each other to become braver – brave enough to grow. Growing almost always means leaving something behind, giving up old bad behaviors and thought patterns. While growth ultimately brings us a better quality of life, there is some sadness and loneliness when you step into new territory, sometimes all by yourself, until you find some new friends.
| PsychicAccess.com.Nonna lives in Southern California, and is a professor of psychology and a teacher of psychic development, energy work and meditation, who has recently finished her PhD. She has been a counselor for both humans and animals for thirty years, removing energy blocks through her expertise in the spiritual arts. She also has numerous years of study and practice with classic psychological therapeutic models, family work, twelve-step processes, nutritional and body/mind/spirit healing, complementary, alternative, and quantum medicine. Nonna is brilliant at unearthing the gems in every client’s soul and polishing them to a fine finish. To release your own soul’s sparkle, contact Nonna at |
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