Whenever life takes a nasty turn I try to ask myself how did I contribute toward it? Don’t get me wrong, I’m neither a victim nor am I (any longer) the over responsible person who must blame themselves for everything. I just know that in order to change the route you must be aware of the place you came off the road, onto the bumpy dirt path, that led you into the swampy ditch. Then you can drag your muddy ass up out of the hole you find yourself in and never take that road again. This doesn’t happen if you don’t take responsibility for that first (or the second) wrong turn and learn from it.
The question is what do you do when you are watching someone else heading for the ditch and you can tell the hole they will be in might just swallow them up and they have no idea where they got off the road? You might think to jump in, waving your hands and screaming, “Save yourself” or “Watch out ahead.” Maybe you even throw yourself in the ditch a few times so they can step over your back avoiding most of the mud. But then how will they ever learn to change the route?
Sometimes, as painful and dangerous as it feels, the only answer is to let go and detach with love, standing to the side while letting your heart fly from your chest, into the ditch, and hope that somehow all the love you have in it will provide the strength to that lost soul to get back on the road that leads somewhere better.
The three things I cannot change are the past, the truth and you.
Each day, on my way to work, I walk past an SRO (single room occupancy) building. My office is located in a very cool building with exposed brick and $1500 studio apartments, in an area that is being slowly transformed from a rough area full of not always legal immigrants and people who live outside of the mainstream into high rent apartments ,brew pubs and cupcake shops. Just beyond a comfortable stroll away, houses sell in the millions of dollars and people try to decide if they should head to the summer house for the weekend or spend the weekend sailing and at the yacht club. The men standing outside of the SRO, smoking, chatting, or just killing time make different decisions. They coordinate which kitchen is open on Sundays for lunch or dinner or perhaps how they will avoid a demon that whispers to them periodically, if not constantly. I have no illusions that the demons don’t call to every class of people but when I pass those men on the corner I see a loss of hope in their eyes. The ability to see the other side or perhaps to have seen it and know it may be possible to arrive there again. If we can hang on to hope, then there is always the possibility that life can be better.
My great hope is to laugh as much as I cry; to get my work done and try to love somebody and have the courage to accept the love in return.
Whatever you are not changing,
you are choosing.
— Laurie Buchanan
As with most questions in life, if you pay very careful attention, the answer presents itself. First subtly, which is why those most ‘in tune’ get the message right way. Then, with a little more force. Perhaps the stain on the ceiling is growing and it’s time to check out the reason for that? If we ignore that message we often get a full-blown catastrophe. The ceiling stain becomes the roof that leaks, which becomes the roof that falls in on your head. The final answer is now given in a way that we just can’t ignore.
I have always aspired to be the person who got the message at the first whisper. Unfortunately, the reality is that I’ve often been the girl who stayed too long at the party; stuck out the bad relationship hoping it would change and when it did it was for the worse; worked at the stressful job until it made me ill; held the hand of the incredibly needy friend until they sucked the last bit of energy out of me and then were nowhere to be found when I needed them. I’ve almost always known what I should do, but instead I stayed. Maybe I was always worried that I’d leave right before things got good. Maybe I just afraid to be wrong.
I hope I have finally learned that staying beyond the usefulness of anything, whether it is a roof or a relationship, is not healthy. It is also not a failure to choose to change your circumstances when those circumstances conflict with what is beneficial to your overall self-worth, self-image, health, or aspirations. Choosing to surround your self with healthy, supportive people and rewarding work is how we love ourselves and it is impossible to create a fulfilling life, in my opinion, if you don’t first love and care for yourself. Many things, both good and bad, are wonderful learning experiences. It’s important to know when to let go and move on.
So as I step in to a new phase in my own life I am focusing on trusting my intuition. I am also trying to remind myself that sometimes even when you’re scared, for whatever reason, that’s not enough of a reason to stop going forward. The safety of the familiar, the hope that sticking it out will be rewarded, or just the fear of regrets, are not enough to of a reason to ignore needed change or prolong the inevitable.
Courage is being scared to death… and saddling up anyway. – John Wayne