May I call you that? I hope so, because that is how I feel about the people I am connecting with via this blog. You are all such truly lovely and compassionate people and I feel blessed to be getting to know each of you better (even those of you whom I have known for most of my life). To be honest, I was not prepared for the outpouring of kindness I received after last week’s blog, “Tracy Gets Sick”. I’m not sure what is different but it seems that, lately, my readers, in increasing numbers, are taking the time to reach out to me personally via email and Facebook. It’s amazing and I feel so honoured. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart.
SO much has happened this week that I think I may need several posts to tie it all together, but I’m going to trust that it will all unfold as it should.
Today, I’m back at Rooster and it’s a gorgeous day. On my way in, I read the quote on the sandwich board they have outside. It seems to me that, no matter what the topic of my blog is each week, those quotes seem to be super relevant.
Here is today’s:
So, let me tell you about this week.
Moments after I finished writing last week’s blog from my sick bed, I had a visit from… someone… Not the same someone from “Tracy Gets Angry”. This was a different someone.
This person and I have been more or less estranged (for lack of a better word) for about a year. The story is long and complicated but, suffice it to say that we decided to go our separate ways for a while to work on some stuff on our own. It was dreadfully sad, but absolutely necessary. So, in true Tracy form, I seized the opportunity and proceeded to devote all that energy into finding out what I needed to learn and putting it into practice. As many of you know, this past year has been full of learning, growing and traveling. A year ago, I embarked on this leg of my journey with the mantra “life’s too short” and I certainly have made the most of it.
Throughout the year this person and I were in touch from time to time, and I felt that we were on better terms. My wish all along was that time would give us better perspective, allow us to heal and grow and that perhaps we might be able to hit the “reset” button and put the past behind us. As the summer ended and a full year had gone by, I wondered if or how our relationship might evolve.
What I discovered this week, however, was that there are still some significant obstacles that lie between us and even though I believe that there is always a solution if you are committed to finding one, I have had to accept that this situation is now out of my hands. The brutal truth is that, perhaps, the reason I have not been able to find a solution is because there was one that, until now, I had been unwilling to try. I realized that maybe the best solution is to finally just let go.
So, that is what I have been working on all week. Letting Go.
At first, it felt as if I had jumped out of a plane without a parachute. Such a long way down… I actually felt panicky. I had no idea what I was supposed to do next, but I was determined to become the poster child for “letting go”. So much so that I manifested an intestinal upset, if you know what I mean… I was “letting go” several times a day…
This caused me to look up my symptoms in Louise Hay’s book, “You Can Heal Your Life” and discovered that the emotional issues my symptoms were pointing to were about “fear”, “rejection” and “running out”. This made perfect sense. I continued to read and journal which led me to think about my relationship with this person and why I have continued to invest in it, even though it was so difficult and painful at times. I thought about how I have a much higher tolerance for difficult situations than most people and tend to hang on to things (and people), believing that I can find a way to fix every problem, long past the point of being healthy and usually long after the other people involved have physically (or emotionally) left the scene.
Eventually, I asked myself the question “Why is it so hard for me to let go or walk away?” The profound insight that followed was related to my childhood (of course). As a child, in my “not so perfect” family situation, I “stayed” and “worked” on it because I loved the people involved. I also had no choice but to stay because I was kid. My survival depended on it. I learned to make the best of it because “it was all I had”. Even though I was not getting my needs met and was becoming more and more depleted, I coped by trying harder, being resilient, adaptable and by holding on to the hope that it would all pay off in the end. That is where I learned to be selfless, compassionate, dutiful, loyal, committed, tenacious and relentless, especially through the toughest of times (not in spite of them). I measured my worth by how hard I tried and how resourceful I could be in order to heal another person or situation. It’s no surprise that I became a therapist now, is it?
Lately, I’ve spoken a lot about “traveling light” and unburdening ourselves from the pain we carry around from the past. I see now that this pattern is yet another example of something I need to let go of in order to make room for new possibilities. In spite of all the work I have done, there are certain areas in which I have still been trying to “do more” and “push harder” and instead of investing that energy into myself, I’ve invested it into “other” things, people and situations.
Yes, there is always more to learn…
Depending on how we learn to cope as children, some people are hard-wired to withdraw from and avoid uncomfortable situations – and some people, like me, roll up their sleeves and dive in. I realize that my passion to “fix” can feel overwhelming, confrontational and even threatening to those whose coping strategy it is to withdraw. My intention is to inspire, but I suppose I end up doing the opposite. These two types of personalities are often drawn to one another and it can end up creating a “push-pull” dynamic unless each person recognizes his/her part in it and commits to working on it. It really comes down to whether you are prepared to see your dynamic as a catalyst for change and work on it together or whether you are more inclined to use the other person as a scapegoat and resign yourself to staying stuck – or shutting it down altogether. As for me, I realize it is my work to learn when to step back or, at least, stand still and give space. For those of you who tend to withdraw, it is advisable that you learn to get comfortable sticking with it when the going gets tough. Challenge yourself to step in and do the work – because, like it or not, work is what it takes.
But, unfortunately (and understandably), not everybody wants to work on themselves. As frustrating and painful as it is for someone like me to have to “throw in the towel”, I can’t blame the other person for needing to withdraw. Working on our stuff is damn hard and takes a lot out of you and I believe everyone should be allowed (and allow themselves) to honour wherever they are and go at their own pace along their journey.
So, what then? What if a “fixer”, like me, has to let go without a resolution?
Well, that comes back to Self-Love. What I need to remember (and start to believe) is that another person’s healing journey has nothing to do with me, and sometimes my relentless need to help (and not let go) actually ends up making things worse – for both of us. In this case, the act of Self-Love is to accept that this relationship is where it is (and that that’s OK) and comfort myself in the knowledge that I did the best with what I had. In addition, it’s vitally important for me to acknowledge that, in “trying” so hard, I was not putting my needs first and that now I have an opportunity to do exactly that.
It’s only been a week, but now, instead of feeling like I’ve jumped out of a plane without a parachute, it’s more like I’ve fallen off a wobbly, wooden bench and on to a big cushion. Yes, it was startling at first, and it will take a bit of effort to find a more comfortable, safer place to hang out, but because I have worked really hard this past year to cultivate a loving community and environment, I will always have a soft place to fall.
The other day I received this message from a dear friend, which says it all…
“I read your blog yesterday evening late…it leaves me feeling a little worried about you. I give you a lot of credit for sharing your vulnerable side with your audience…I can feel that you would like to find someone to care about you…as a member of your family, as a partner, lover, caretaker…Until that man shows up… and he will…. I am here for you…”
I feel deeply blessed.
THANKSGIVING BLESSINGS TO ALL OF YOU….