circle gets the square

My life in the last two weeks has gotten a lot more interesting.  Some stuff I’m not at liberty to talk about here–at least, for now.  But there have been developments that have me optimistic–but also mean I might have some tough decisions to make sometime soon.

I took a bit of time off this winter to kinda take a step back and get my life in order.  I went back to work last Monday.  For now, I’m only working 20 hours a week (which is really, actually, 40 hours a week in my profession because we never stop working–paid or not).  The whole thing has been pretty frustrating…from paperwork not being processed correctly to people just flat-out dropping the ball to having to jump into something where everyone assumes I already know everything–but where I also haven’t been informed of some major things–to trying to work without tools and resources. To not feeling like I’m part of my old team because it’s so different now, and I’m not included in all the Reindeer Games.  It’s been rough on me because I was such a central player before, and I’m used to leading–not playing on the sidelines.  But I’m actually pretty glad I’m on the sidelines.  I don’t get pulled into all the BS that I was pulled into before.  I don’t have to interface with grumpy managers who expect everything yesterday.  I don’t have to sit in on agonizing conference calls or fill out hourly reports detailing everything known to man.  I basically source (though that’s requiring creativity due to lack of access–STILL), interview people, and submit.  One report a week.  I’m alright with that.

And yet, this entire week, I haven’t been feeling it.  I’ve flat-out been apathetic.  I was letting the little twitchy political stuff get to me.  My ego was getting in the way.  I think it was part of a whole series of events that happened before I returned–which I won’t get into–that made me just absolutely not excited to be coming back.  I was really wanting something else, and that whole thing made me feel slighted…not hurt, really, so much as disrespected.

I don’t tolerate disrespect well.  I’ve quit many jobs over things like this.  It’s a big deal to me.  But I stayed–being smart rather than emotional.  Which is probably why this week wasn’t my favorite.

Today started off that way.  I was just not amused.  There was a guy shoveling our building’s sidewalk at 2:30 am, keeping me awake till 4 am. I haven’t been sleeping well. I’ve been sick for weeks, and my ears are now both infected–which means my sinuses and ears stab me periodically.  Grumpy Alma was in full effect–not at all amused about a full afternoon of interviews.  But I did it because, as I reminded myself, it’s not these people’s fault I hate everything today.

The thing about this industry is that your mindset is everything.  If you come in with a bad attitude, the entire Universe will turn against you.  It’s actually one of the things I love and hate about this work: who I am matters.

Luckily, I was blessed with interesting people to talk to and had some great conversations.  People did what I asked them to do quickly, so my life was made much easier.  At the end of the day, I was reminded about something I learned since returning to this industry: I am privileged to serve these people.

I used to hate this field–saw it as this burdensome chore I had to do to make ends meet.  I never could see the service in it.  I only saw the money-grubbing corporations and how they used people.  I guess I grew up.  Or, at least, I figured out that the problem was me–not them.  That I hated it because I wasn’t being true to me.  No one forced me to do anything, and if I could just give up the ego for a second, maybe I’d learn something.

I have learned a lot.  And my work has meant something.  I’ve met amazing people.  I’ve advocated for people and have changed lives.  I’ve helped entire communities by finding good people to serve them.  When I forget about the hassles and the paperwork and the gobbledygook–when I’m just me–it’s just the greatest gift.

I realized today that I’ve been moping for the past several days because of fear…fear that my choices ruined what I had.  Fear that I wasn’t the golden child anymore.  Fear that I lost my mojo.  Fear that I was going to be devalued, miserable, and stuck.  Fear that I wasn’t good enough.

And then, I remembered that none of that was about me.  That I was manufacturing these things and that no one thought that except me.

So, yup, I’m back.  And I’ll be setting those records again soon.

###

I’ve written a little bit about Rhonda Britten’s work in the past and have posted some exercises I’ve completed.  This past weekend, I attended a workshop Rhonda held with Christine Arylo.  Rhonda is all about tackling fear and embracing freedom. Christine is more focused on self-love.  The workshop was on Fearless Loving.  I was intrigued because I sorta have felt like my ability to love has been put on pause lately.  It’s been a year–almost exactly–since I broke up with my last ex.  Since then, I’ve really been disinterested in even trying to find a new love interest.  The thought is there, but mostly in that people-pleasing way.  That idea that I SHOULD be in a relationship–or trying to be–since I’m 34 and want to have babies one day.  Time’s tick-tocking away, yea?

The whole thing makes me just want to slap myself.  I mean, my life hasn’t been all that conducive to a lot of things.  I didn’t spend a lot of time honing an amazing career when I was younger because I had no idea what I wanted.  I didn’t figure that out until I was 30.  Which is crazy to me.  Anything I had built was derailed when my Mama got sick.  And then, afterwards, I had to start over.  I had to earn credibility.  And I spent a good deal of time doing the wrong things–when I thought they were right.  So, now, I’m kind of a career girl.  I’m back to achieving–which was always me.  Back to school.  Putting one foot in front of the other.  Hailing the dream.  And I kinda have to be like that.  Which is why I don’t spend lots of time dating or even hanging out with friends.  I’ve been too focused on the have-to’s rather than the want-to’s.

But, let’s face it, dating after 30 is a clusterfuck of massive proportions.  And with all the time I don’t have, online crap makes the most sense–which is just terrible.  Because Denver is way too small, and the guys here just aren’t right for me.  I like the outdoors, sure, but I’m not some stupid ski-wench.  Most of these people are new to the area or in love with the area, and while I love Colorado, I’m hoping to leave soon.  And literally, Denver is the most incestuous place on Earth.  It’s mind-boggling.

I just don’t find anyone interesting.  Not even enough to be friends.  Or to share a drink.  Nothing.  I feel like I’ve seen it all before.  And let’s face it, I have bad dating habits.  I’m not known for being rational.  I’m known for doing stupid shit for bad reasons that I’m not even aware of.  I think my last relationship taught me that I’m often someone who just wills a relationship into being to satisfy some urge inside me rather than actually wanting the relationship.

Anywho…(geez, that was much longer than I anticipated…sorry)…  In any case, I know I need some tweaking somewhere.

I’m going to be sharing a few things from the Rhonda workshop over the next few weeks (probably more since I’ll be doing other things, too).

Today, I’m going to share something called Love Rings–which kinda totally reframed all my understanding of relationships and also somehow healed about a million years worth of anxiety and anger about other people.  I’m still in the midst of completing the associated exercise, but this really made a difference and has brought me some peace.

###

So, here’s my understanding of the Love Rings idea.

Think of your relationship life as a tree with a bunch of rings.  At the core, there’s you and God (whatever you think of as God).  You are God.  You share a soul with God.  I think of God as the Universe–as collective consciousness.  Got it?

The next ring out is the Soul Family ring.  The soul family ring contains your Peeps.  These people are not necessarily your family by blood, though they can be.  These are the people you are closest to.  You can be totally yourself with them.  They can hold you–no matter how crappy you are.  They love and respect you unconditionally.  They don’t put their shit on you.  You can lean into them for support.  That doesn’t mean that you don’t have boundaries with them.  It doesn’t mean that they are perfect all the time.  It means–if you have differences–you can work them out without losing any part of the relationship. You help each other.  You can count on them.

The next ring is for the Happy Bunch.  These are people who you share good times with.  You like them.  They like you.  You don’t tell them all your deepest secrets.  You don’t call them to cry.  You talk to them about stuff that some would call superficial.

The next ring is for the Affectionate Afficianados.  These are people who you share particular interests with.  It’s something you’re really passionate about that brings you together.  It can be a very intense relationship.  When that project or that situation changes or goes away, the relationship goes away.  The relationship is about the project–the interest–moreso than you.  These are people you sort of outgrow…people from college, people you worked with, people you volunteered with.

The next ring is the Original Class.  These are people who you share a common history with.  You may or may not talk to them.  You just have spent time together at some level, at some time.  There is distance of some sort.

The key with all of these rings is that these are all people you love in some way–even if it’s in the past.  Love doesn’t go away.  It changes.  You still respect them.  People who don’t love or respect you (or vice versa) even in some low-level way don’t fit in these circles.  People can move from circle to circle, too.

###

During the workshop, Rhonda referred to an idea that 1/3 of people will like, love, and respect you without your having to do anything.  1/3 will be indifferent to you completely.  1/3 will dislike you.  She said that most of us focus on the 2/3 that are indifferent or don’t like us–trying to get them to change their minds–when, in reality, it’s not about us.  It’s completely about them.

I realized how much I do that.  How much energy I put into that…just by being mad because I didn’t do anything.  Taking it personally.

My a-ha related to all of the above is this:

I’ve never really understood relationships.  I always thought, as a kid, that everyone should like me.  I worked hard at it, and I kept people away to ensure that they wouldn’t know me well enough to hate me.  I never thought I had relationships, but now–I see I had all of them except for the Soul Tribe.  And I even had that one because I had my Mama.  So, I wasn’t some emotional cripple unable of making any relationships.  I had skills.  I connected.  Just not in the ways I thought I should.  I judged myself a lot.  Still do.

When I changed myself from the inside out–choosing vulnerability–I tried to make everyone my soul family–often inappropriately.  I shared too much, often with the wrong people.  And I got hurt.  A lot.  I expected things that just weren’t appropriate or right for what I had with those people.

This whole idea really has helped me change who I am and made me less committed to making everyone my bestest, bestest ally.  I don’t feel so hurt anymore about the stuff that changed.

###

After the workshop, my roomie and I talked a little about some of the ideas I was exposed to.  Both he and I have this tendency to see people’s weaknesses and to also see who people can be.  We’re both really intuitive and have been right enough that it’s easy for us to make assumptions.

This conversation led to a really crazy talk that kinda made my own behavior–that I never could see before–really apparent.

My last relationship was with a guy who had a lot of confidence issues and just held back a lot.  It was really painful for me because I felt like I kept getting dragged back into things I’d dealt with personally before.  He had a lot of the issues that were really hard for me to overcome.  In almost every situation, I saw through all his attempts to hide.  It was frustrating to me–even moreso because his shit reignited my own shit–and I’d act out in similar ways.  Which made me want to change him because I saw that he was not comfortable as he was.  And I saw that he could be a great guy if he just had the courage to do XYZ.  I didn’t want to change him.  I just wanted him to be the brave part of himself more often–the person I knew he wanted to be and the person he was evolving to be–if he just put it all together.

I’m not the most patient person, though.  So, I’d poke and prod him–even making fun of him–just to get him out of his comfort zone.  The whole time–I was listening to these people that weren’t him–these people I saw–instead of listening to who was in front of me–telling me his hopes and intentions–the person he was trying to be in that moment.  But I couldn’t hear him because I was too distracted.

Which is really sad and tragic, in a way.  For a long time, I thought I just stopped loving him.  That the frustration of him choosing to stay stuck in his little world was just too much to deal with.  I was angry at him for doing that.  But, as it turns out, maybe I wasn’t ever in love with the person he was.  Maybe I just loved the one I thought he could be.

Understanding that was pretty major.  And I realized that there were so many times when I thought I was listening to dear people in my life–when I thought I heard them–when I really was just analyzing them and plotting my next move.  I don’t think I’ve ever really been in the moment with any of these past loves.  I’ve been playing out of my fear sandbox.  It didn’t really matter how vulnerable I was.  I wasn’t allowing their vulnerability to touch mine.

Which means I owe some people some apologies.  Even though I’ve already apologized.  And I wasn’t aware of what I was doing.  But that–that’s exactly where all my anger comes from.  Not from what they did or didn’t do.  It comes from what I didn’t do.  In a way, I’m pissed at myself for being so clueless.  But how do you even attempt to realize that?  It’s a mind-bender, for me, that’s for sure.  When I understood it, suddenly absolutely everything made sense.  On my end.  Even on their end.  It was like someone turned on the lights.

They say the first step to change is knowing it exists.  So, now, I know.  I’m doing better.  But, as always, much work to do.  Some things can be fixed.  Some things can’t.  But I’ll be less of that person the next time I have a chance.

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