Sunday, July 8, 2012

Learning Life Lessons

One of my favorite places
This post isn't the travelog of the trip.  This post is an entry for me to process the recent events and to see where I've missed the mark and where there is opportunity for improvement.

One of the most difficult parts of life for me is sitting with uncomfortable feelings.  Yep, just sitting.  Not saying or doing anything, either overtly or covertly, to manipulate situations more to my liking and comfort.  I had opportunities to practice just sitting in the stew on this trip.  It wasn't like things were bad, they weren't, but I was aware of so many of my tendencies, of my past behaviors in response to others.  I didn't act (out) upon them (much ;-)), but instead I was just aware of what was happening around me and how much I wanted other people to change so that I would feel better.

I am still struggling for balance in my familial relationships - to be able to be with them and love them where they are  - without trying to change them.  Attempting to change other people, even for their "own good" just doesn't work.  It doesn't work with an alcoholic, it doesn't work with a drug addict, and it doesn't work for any kind of addiction/disease model.  Everyone's journey is just their own and I have no business trying to make it mine. I do feel so badly that my sister is doing so much of the heavy lifting (literally and figuratively), but she's an adult and is making her own choices.  Watching that dance is really the most painful for me, but I can only save myself.  


This trip had me on the horns of a dilemma and  I don't really know how to proceed.  It will certainly take some more thoughtful meditation to determine what the best course of action to be.  At its' very basic level, our family function primarily manifests itself in debilitating lack of self-esteem.  In order to maintain the "balance", each person is required to prop up, support, deny, enhance, do whatever it takes to ensure the emperor doesn't ever find out that he is buck-ass nekkid.  So for me, it comes down to this 1.  I can't do that anymore.  I just can't.  and 2.  I don't know what to do instead of.  By withholding, I'm perceived as being critical, but I absolutely can't go along with the old behaviors.  People change at the rate of pain and if I'm always buffering the outcomes, nothing changes.

My first objective on this trip was to be of service, but to do so in a way that did not lead to any resentments.  That was the best I could do.  I tried to set my boundaries and equally important, to respect others right to set their own.  And I don't feel any resentments, just more sadness.  I don't know if the pathology itself is actually getting worse, or I just see it much more clearly and certainly feel some level of shame and embarrassment in knowing how I must have looked when I was playing the energy-sucking vampire in full-out "all about me" mode.  I got to see what some of my worst character traits look like when in full bloom and I can certainly see the roots of my social/friendship difficulties originate.  How much of this is actual pathology or just learned behavior, I don't know?  But I am happy to say that I am working hard to change this way of relating - and it's even coming a little bit easier.  So for that, I am grateful.

Healthwise, I made good choices until Friday, when I went off the rails and stayed that way for a full 24 hours.  I seem to always struggle at the end of travels - especially on the return home day.  And yesterday proved to be a trying day, with lots of time spent in airports.  I finally got home at 5:30 am this morning.

This wasn't a vacation trip for me, it was fully designed as service work, in order to help better manage my expectations.  And that proved to be a good strategy.  I don't know if they are getting worse or if I'm getting better, but the distance between where we are is growing and that is not comfortable for me.

       Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change.  

6 comments:

  1. ugh. I understand this post. lol. I have a relative that is very, very stuck in negative attitudes and behaviors. He holds beliefs I find abhorrent. He stews in bitterness and resentment. I made ONE commitment to myself when I went to visit...that no matter what...I would not get angry or fight. I would be PLEASANT. lol. It's hard to see your own prior behavior/ attitude mirrored. But it's healing to know you are no longer in that place. As for your sister....you are exactly right. It is her choice to lift, to buffer...even to suffer. She can stop if she wants. I know....I stopped. To have an enabler, there has to be a willing participant. Good for you for rejecting the position. Sorry for the pain it caused you, because there is no way to change it. It's a pretty big thing to stay engaged emotionally while drawing appropriate boundaries. It takes a lot of emotional maturity.

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  2. I've had about 5 friends post this quote on their FB status and it resonated with me today. "How people treat you is their karma. How you react is yours." -Dr. Wayne Dyer Hope you can sort the family dynamics out in a healthy way.

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  3. yes yes yes I understand this too.
    lots of struggling for balance here as well.

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  4. I get it. I SO get it. I wrote a very similar post about three years ago and it doesn't exist any more (except in my book and it's been altered). In the end, I had to stop seeing and communicating with certain people because I couldn't seem to control my own reaction, and I didn't like my reaction. I didn't like feeling the way I did in response. Of course I continue (sometimes) to blame myself for not being able to have a different reaction (or no reaction). I keep thinking if I could just change something about myself then everything will work out, but I guess I am not there yet.

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  5. Yep, I SOOOO get it too. I've come to realize letting go of my expectations is a must if I want to have any kind of relationship with some people. I'm glad you could see it all clearer I'm sure it is about your growth.

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  6. Amazing post. It sounds like you have come a long way my friend! That serenity prayer is a savior. I can relate to a lot of what you have shared. Several things popped out to me in your sharing, but the one I'll share today is that awareness can bring more sadness. I can relate to that. I'm grateful for that power of having the awareness and the wonderful benefits it brings overall; however, that sadness can be heavy to carry around some days.

    I really liked your thought process going into this trip. Sounds like it really worked well for you, and I'm glad for that :)

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We'll try this for a while.