Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Out with the old

I have a confession. I like to collect people. I don't like to say goodbye, and I don't like to discard people. I like to remain friends, to transform relationships, to stay in touch, to honor their value as a person. I realize now that is a nice ideal, but it doesn't hold water in the real world.

 I realized that I did not discriminate in collecting people, and that meant some of them ended up being insensitive, unkind without apology, judgmental, or bossy.  I tried to stay with people who were hurtful and could not clean up their emotional messes. I would then take on their blame and actually feel guilty for being emotional or sensitive, while they traipsed off happily unburdened by pangs of conscience or guilt.
Gee, I wondered to myself, why on Earth am I trying to make something work with people who are consistently hurtful?
It has left me cultivate intolerance: intolerance for criticism, intolerance for contempt, intolerance for not taking responsibility for one's actions, intolerance for dishonesty, intolerance for double standards, intolerance for demeaning behavior, intolerance for hypocrisy,  and intolerance for my own masochistic tendencies. I realized I simply could not stay in relationship with someone who made a habit out of making a big 'ole hurtful mess of things and then leaving me to clean up after their lack of awareness.
This led to a commitment to authenticity. I have set boundaries and let go of those people, and that was hard. It leaves me free to focus on the people in my life who are trustworthy and safe. Going a step further, I am also looking to women who are older than I am to usher me into the next phase of womanhood. I have a few in my life already who probably don't even know I have designated them "mentors" but I soak in their wisdom.  I am pickier about who I choose and make sure their character is one I can emulate and learn from. Gosh, I need more help developing compassion, not less.
That was a hard, painful lesson to learn but it was years in the making. I do believe it is compassionate to not tolerate the cruelty of a fellow human.
It's an awkward subject. Sometimes we have to break up with friends. Sometimes there is no hope that a person will ever "get" it. Sometimes we have to give up our belief in that person. Sometimes people just have their season in our lives.
I read once about a Buddhist vow that involves not adding to the suffering of the world. When I have put myself around people who add to my suffering it is easy to ignore my own blind spots. Being with safe, like-minded people gives me a place to be vulnerable and correct where I might add to the suffering of others or the world.
And love is where I want to and grace and compassion.

We smoked a lot of hope
We did our cryin', too
We're finally waking up
To what real love can do

From "Round of Blues" Shawn Colvin


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