“Guard your heart above all else for it determines the course of your life.”

I recall being newly married, and repeatedly coming across this wisdom when I would read some beautiful Ancient Writings. I could not for the life of me interpret completely what this was to mean to me. Though I contemplated this for years, yet it would be many years before I could fully comprehend the sobriety of that wisdom and how it could have saved me from many ills.

At a young age growing up in an unloving and invalidating environment, I made an inner vow that I would not merely possess love, but become love. I sought to give every single person I came into contact, honor.

Early on, I also devoured any literature I found on Psychology and Science. One day while doing so, I read how important hugs were to the well being of us as individuals. Since I didn’t experience hugs or loving words, I was determined that I was going to be a hugger and always tell everyone I met something lovely about themselves too.

I grew up greatly influenced by Cinderella and how life was supposed to be. I could not wait to marry my handsome prince. Only to marry someone who was not a hugging or kissing kind of person. Nor were they a talking kind of person, one who shared feelings, thoughts, dreams and hopes. And they were not a listening type of person either. Very similar to how I grew up with emotional abandonment and neglect, unfortunately history was repeating itself for me.

Many years later I would come to realize that I was merely an accessory to fit their persona. I was a commodity. A thing. A possession. A piece of property. I was an extension to their formulated identity. And over time I would lose my opinions, my dreams, any contradicting ideology, and become a Stepford Wife.

We had the perfect pseudomutuality, a relationship that had a superficial appearance of mutual openness and understanding although in fact the relationship was rigid, shallow and hollow and depersonalizing. Later this was utterly devastating when faced with the reality that I had been living and participating in someone’s falsehood. In the process, my identity and personality DNA was stolen. And in reality for them, I did not exist and in attempting to, would result in more grooming and stripping of my individualism. In any attempt to “exist” would be met with punishment to reinforce, I was nothing. This fit perfectly with my religious and cultural beliefs that I assimilated such as, “A good woman sacrifices for everyone else and never thinks about herself or complains either.”

Unfortunately, when we share pieces of ourselves with a person who doesn’t authentically care about us; we actually are throwing precious pearls at the feet of unempathetic souls.

With a toxic person, everything we share not only can be used against us, but very well will be used against us. It’s astonishing what hurtful things they can contrive to cause someone unmerited suffering.

Too often, had we proceeded with more caution into our friendships, relationships, or partnerships, it would not have been necessary to heal from unnecessary narcissistic trauma or to recover the lost pieces of ourselves. Because, “A wise person is cautious in relationships.” And trust must be earned and never an entitlement.

The amount of caution that we drive our relationships with, will ultimately end up determining the quality of life that will spring forth and will ultimately design for us a more meaningful and fulfilling life along with greater impact.

“Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm.”  Toxic individuals are not only foolish but they seek to fool us as well. So we must be very careful who we let into our inner circle and guard our hearts well for it will determine the course of our life.