The world is not safe, you will be misunderstood, there are people who don’t like you or get you (gasp!), all these people will gather together and bring their evidence. It’s happening right now. People are talking about you. They think you are self-centered or unfair or a snob. (Oh my god, not me…) They will think blah blah blah and more blah.
Tuesday, June 5, 2012
This being human is a guest house... and totally freaked out.
This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all
Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture
Still treat each guest honorable,
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.
Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.
Maybe no morning should begin without Rumi. If we could live by these words, we certainly would be a bit more peaceful. I know I would. “Every morning a new arrival…” ah Rumi, you speak to my heart and soul. Today is the day I take to the stage with 8 other women to get my funny on. I have felt so far from funny recently. Insane, yes. Funny, not so much. I question why I am doing it, yet I question most things that stretch and challenge me.
Yesterday, I had an ‘unexpected visitor’ in the form of someone’s complete and utter judgment of me. This came from the blue and caught me off guard. A professional relationship that never quite got off the ground, this person decided all sorts of things about me. Shocked to hear this, and very thin-skinned at the moment, I bit hook, line and sinker. After we both hung up the phone in anger, I thought better of that. Even though I was still baffled by her reaction, I decided to call back and apologize. It’s an amazing experience to hear another’s view of us that is so far down a road we don’t even recognize it as us. It’s disorienting to say the least. Fortunately it doesn’t happen often but when it does, for this human, it is quite troubling. My impulse was to rack my brain for glimpses of the evidence she gathered. I have to admit, I did search our email correspondence for something to comprehend her claims, but to no avail. Her dedication to her view of me was absolute. In a moment of clarity, I realized all I could do was apologize. Even if I don’t like someone (which was not the case with this person at all), I am not inclined to leave them feeling disregarded. Even this new raw gritty version of me doesn’t want to do that. And, I don’t want to keep my people-pleasing persona either. Hmmmm. Therein lies the rub.
This experience threw me into an inquiry of how we decide who and how someone is, label them, and thusly squelch anything else being there. Being on the receiving end of someone’s concrete decisions of who I am and how I am is blicky to say the least. And, in my rumination of this interaction yesterday, I acknowledged (again) how I do this too. We all do this. We put stuff in boxes to understand life, yet then we miss so much. I could be grateful to this person for showing me how I have killed off a few people recently by deciding, “they are just like this or that.” Thanks to her, I removed some of my judgmental boxes and freed their prisoners.
It’s called righteousness. We are so sure that our version of the truth is the truth that we then block out all other possibilities and kill off any affinity we might have had for that person. The real truth is, I have my truth and you have yours and rarely the twain shall meet. Just ask any married couple or survey any juror box. We see things differently and it’s actually miraculous when we have any alignment on what we see at all. Yet, we rarely live from this understanding. Instead, we assume that others see things the way we do and if they aren’t agreeing with us we label them as wrong. Add in anger and judgment and the whole system bogs down. We know that it feels horrible to be at the other end of someone’s judgment especially when we can’t understand its source or reconcile their version of reality. Yet, we will continue to do this to others. Factor this out a few levels and we can comprehend how war starts and continues. Absolute commitment to a point of view coupled with a refusal to see that just maybe possibly perchance perhaps we are only seeing from our eyes – and it isn’t the entire “truth” – is the downfall of humanity.
Scanning my life, I see so many places I do this. Some I am completely willing to give up, right now, on the spot. Others… well. Not quite yet. Can we at least be conscious and aware that we do this and proclaim, “No, not this one. Not ready to give up this position, yet…” vs. being fully and completely right? Probably not.
So what did I do after this interaction? Did my insight propel me into a new realm of spiritual connection and love for all humanity? Not quite. Instead, I fell into a pit of extreme self-doubt. Always a companion waiting for the right moment, the gremlins wailed loudly:
And what did I do with all these lovely visitors? I took them to the mall. Typing this, I realize some ancient irony. Many moons ago during the years of my addiction and disorders, I would binge shop while I binge ate, wandering malls aimlessly, feeling the dark pit of despair closing in and numbing myself with food and spending. Shopping has been my friend and my enemy ever since. I am certainly a shopper (as anyone who knows me would concur) yet most of the time, I have old murky layers of ick around it. It never feels completely clean. Even if I have money to spend, I feel like I am cheating somehow. I have a low level of franticness, of needing to hurry through. Even now, when I am “allowed” to buy replacement items, it has this tinge.
So last night, my demons were with me as I made a few stops at the mall. As I walked into Steve Madden where the salesgirls were half my age, I made the split second decision that my shoes were tacky and absolutely did not go with the dress I was wearing. Until this moment, I thought my outfit was a-ok. Suddenly, viewing the shelves covered with boots and recalling a cute girl I saw earlier who wore her short skirt with low-slung cowgirl boots, I decided I was all wrong. Amazing! I was convinced that the hip sales girls were sizing me up and labeling me as out of style. Flashbacks loomed of high school and the cheerleaders decreeing my shoes tacky… And, guess what. I couldn’t let it go. Could not. Would not. Instead of rallying my tender psyche, I folded and bought some sandals, wearing them out of the store and burying the shoes I had been wearing in a bag. Jeeeeeez. The whole time, I was observing myself do this, falling into this age-old trap.
What happened: someone I know said I was disrespectful and inconsiderate and she didn’t want to do business with me. What I made it mean: the world is not safe, I am not safe, and worst of all, my shoes are not right. Again.
Funny girl, I am. Funny funny funny. Funny???????????? Good God, what have I said yes to? Can I be gentle and patient with all who enter my guest house – the colleague, my angsty nature, the shop girls, my extreme anxiety as I take the stage tonight - and the observer of all of this? This morning, I can say yes. Can I be welcoming? The jury is still out…
Will I ever again wear those shoes with that dress? Probably not.