Wednesday, October 14, 2009
The Never Ending Becoming
It is always amazing to me how much work there is to be done. Part of me loves this and part of me can't stand it. For instance, I'm looking forward to ski season so I can focus all my energy on understanding how to bend my ski high in the turn rather than focusing so much on how I work in the world, why I am here, and how I'm meant to interact with the rest of the humans around me.
But really, they are both so totally interwoven, I can't ever get away from becoming, because its, I believe, the point of it all. To get as far as I can get in this lifetime toward a peaceful, happy, joyful existence. That's part of why I love to ski, its like touching that kind of joy, its like sampling what life can be in all its facets once I've figured it out more. The funny thing, is that the life seems to be the journey, there really is no "figuring it out". Well, for a few there are, those rare enlightened beings who have let go of ego and suffering and simply exist, helping others to do the same.
Anyhow, I'm waxing a bit rhapsodic here as I'm puzzling through something that happened to me over the weekend.
Here is the bare bones again, and thank you for your indulgence while I lay myself bare. I guess, again, the reason that I do this is because I'm a person, struggling to make sense of it all, and you guys are too. So I figure, why hide? Why hide my flaws and mistakes and warts and stubbornness and all that. Why not just lay it bare, sift through it, look at it, learn from it, be grateful for the lesson, and grow. (And I think I always have to write that disclaimer because its scary to show you guys, my readers, whom I love and cherish, how very flawed I am. But that is what makes us human, and here I am. Human.)
I pride (and there's the first mistake) myself on being a great communicator. I like to think that with all the years of study that I've done in Psychology and communication, in coaching, in teaching, that I'm really, really good at being clear when I speak.
I also am proud of myself for having learned in the last three years, and especially in the last year, the installation and protection of boundaries and self respect. I now feel when those boundaries are being bumped up against, and I protect them, I protect me, fiercely. I have finally lost the fear of saying to someone, "I'm sorry, you can't talk to me like that. That does not feel good. Please say that differently, or don't say it at all."
The problem is, and perhaps you can read it in that above statement, that in learning to protect and care for myself, I have become a bit of a warrior, sometimes when its unnecessary. This may be because I had NO boundaries before, and so in order to feel them in effect, I must be very vigilant of them now.
And this weekend, I had to learn a very painful lesson that its time to trust that the boundaries are in place, and to put some compassion back in there for the person who is trying to talk to me, even if its in a less than ideal tone of voice. In caring for myself, I had lost my grace.
Realizing this was very hard, it was painful, because I believe that I care so deeply for my friends, for those I love, and because grace and care and compassion is something I hold in such high regard, that to see that in learning the lesson I needed to learn so badly, I had lost this essential piece was just...
For the last three days, I've been looking at trust again. Trusting myself. Trusting that I will care for myself, for my children, that I can feel that boundary, that I will step in if its dire, that I can feel the difference between semantics and battles worth fighting.
The scary thing is that it took a near train-wreck to bring me to my senses. I was so carefully guarding my boundaries, that I forgot someone else's heart, plight, feelings and fears. And that lack of care for them was like a beacon to their own boundaries.
And I stood on the precipice and felt, for the first ten hours, sorry for myself and wronged. And then, with the help of Tamara, who took me gently by the hand and asked me to look with my heart for what the other was feeling, I realized that there was so much sadness, so much surprise at my lack of connection and care, I realized, suddenly, I had been careless with the most important thing there is, grace and compassion for (all) but especially the ones you love.
I spent the next ten hours weeping about my carelessness, and living in fear that I'd learn this lesson the hardest way, (and yes, I've had to learn this lesson the hard way before, as we peel down the layers, the same lesson, closer and closer to the core of the matter is exposed. I've said good bye to several friends I've loved by not realizing I'd wronged them by simply not having a compassionate heart for their hurt while they were wounding mine.) And I spent the next five learning to breathe again.
I am fortunate that I have a strong, compassionate team around me who is willing to gently shine a light on the path when I get lost. Amy, Tamara, and Mike were my guides through this unexpected surgery, and, as with any abrupt becoming, it was wicked painful, but the end result was a well weeded, well tended beautiful becoming. I'm just grateful I came through it without loosing anyone in the process.
It seems to me that the beauty of this life is that the becoming never ends. The core issues I'm here to tackle will keep presenting themselves, in different and smaller permutations, as I learn more and more where they come from, why they exist, and I gain deeper understanding that allows me to let go of the behaviors associated with them. For instance, growing up, I had no ability to protect myself when I was disrespected, so now, when I feel disrespected, I do protect myself, a great step forward. The next step was to do it with my swords down, which was hard to do. I learned it, but not completely, there are some situations I'll go into both swords drawn without even realizing it. The next and hardest was to learn to go into it realizing that the disrespect I am feeling is probably me projecting the hurt I've felt in similar situations from the past onto the one I'm in now.
And rather than feeling that deep pain pulled forward from the past, and assuming the worst, perhaps, I can put down not only my sword, but my assumption, my ego, my pride, my pain, and listen with an open and giving hear to the person who is trying so hard to communicate with me. This is the big challenge. To be there for the other person, without looking through the filter of your past. To trust that your boundary will be there if you are truly threatened, but to see through that boundary, not like curtains, or gauze, but like an open window.
I'm grateful for these lessons, because I know they move me forward. I know they will make me better at loving the people I love, better at listening to my kids, to my students, to my teachers, just better.