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Nothing is so beautiful as spring—
When weeds, in wheels, shoot long and lovely and lush;
Thrush’s eggs look little low heavens, and thrush
Through the echoing timber does so rinse and wring
The ear, it strikes like lightnings to hear him sing;
The glassy peartree leaves and blooms, they brush
The descending blue; that blue is all in a rush
With richness; the racing lambs too have fair their fling.
What is all this juice and all this joy?
(from “Spring” by Gerard Manley Hopkins)
to all the lovely 400 people who are following my blog :)!!
I made a list tonight of the people in my life who found me very difficult to deal with, and who I have found very difficult to deal with.
Then I looked at the names I had written down.
This is a fascinating experiment. You might want to give this a go yourself – you might see connections you weren’t aware of before.
Looking at the names on my list, I think they have a few things in common.
I found being with and near these people very difficult. I could not be myself near any of them. And I ended up feeling unsafe with them.
All of these people were fine by me to begin with. I was perfectly willing to love or like them, to work with them, to be in relationship with them.
It’s good to remember that there are a lot of people who were on the same levels of closeness with me and have no such issues with me. I might annoy or irritate them sometimes, I might even hurt them at times, or be hurt by them, but they and I are able to work that out. That’s what normal human relationships and conflicts are like. With the people I listed, that didn’t work.
I usually considered myself theirs, and acted accordingly. Expecting to be heard as much as they were. I have a voice, and I use it. I have views. I make choices. And this was often the “red button” for them – that I considered them equal, not in some ways superior, to me.
It’s about co-dependency, isn’t it. I’m sure that’s part of this equation. Having had this sort of experience in my family while growing up is very likely the reason that my emotional struggle with this sort of behaviour is so intense.
What this list tells me in the end is that
I don’t need to believe what these people think of me.
They are not valid representatives of what my relationships are generally like. They are a handful of people. They seem to have something dysfunctional in their psyche.
They react to me in ways that I am not responsible for. They are responsible for their reactions.
What I need to do is to look after myself while I’m around them when they react.
What I don’t need to do is take their reaction as a mirror of who I am.
It’s important that I don’t start to see myself as they see me. Because that’s not the perspective I need or want to live by. Their reaction to me is not the truth of who I am.
And if I need reassurance of my own worth and goodness and “lovableness”, I have loving and caring friends who are able to help me with that, and I can pray to hear and feel God tell me that I’m Her Beloved, her Love.
There’s nothing fundamentally wrong with me.
I’m okay as I am. Not perfect. And I don’t need to be.
The last similarity is that
That’s important to know too.
If I can, it’s good to not spend my energy on being around these people. There’s no point. They won’t change, or if they do, then not because of what I do or don’t do, say or don’t say.
That’s what I need to know.
This is not about me.
I’m okay as I am.
And the time will come when I don’t need to go through these lengthy thought processes anymore to remember that…
Peace be with me, and with them.
If you miss open space in the city, like I do, the one thing you can always do is: look up.
Here is a wide expanse, here is room for you, here is a glimpse of freedom…
I think Lent is doing its work in me, an ‘internal spring-clean’ that creates space for new things. For God to make new things, for me to be open to receive them. I’ve given a lot of possessions away in the last weeks, and I’ve started sitting in silence for 20 minutes at the beginning of the day. Most of the time it feels like my mind just seizes that opportunity to turn up the volume (…) but there’s work being done in me still.
The most recent new flow is around work, in particular around working in an environment that isn’t just stressful in general and perhaps by default, but that also includes a very difficult relationship with my supervisor. I’ve been dealing with this for a very long time, because the place is important to me, and I don’t wish to leave just because of one difficult relationship. Things seemed much better for a while, but now we’ve apparently gone back in time again. And my response to this ongoing conflict is often that I try to analyse my way through it, I try to understand what the dynamics are, what causes them and if there is anything I can do to change things. I lose myself in these details, and I find it very difficult to switch off from thinking about it.
Today, I felt I took a step back and saw this relationship for what it is to me: toxic.
Whatever the causes, whatever the details, this relationship is poison to my self-esteem, my confidence, and my health. It causes my anxiety levels to rise, it causes a lot of physical tension, it grinds down my resilience in every way, and it stops me from trusting my own judgment and my own worth. I end up with the “is it my fault” mindset, questioning myself when the actual issue is often not mine. I am so busy trying to emotionally process the effects of the very often unhelpful and at times unprofessional behaviour from my supervisor, that I lose time and energy over it that I’d much rather spend doing other (better) things.
I am not happy where I am. I don’t thrive where I am. I deserve better.
It’s time I had some compassion with myself. It’s time I trusted myself again.
No matter how much this place means to me, if it now means more than my health and happiness, something needs to change.
My work life doesn’t have to be like this. I’ve had all the persistence and stickability and goodwill anyone (including myself) can expect of me. It’s enough now. I can’t do more than do my best. And I’ve given this every chance I could, I made every effort I could. I don’t have to break myself in pieces while trying to fix a situation I can’t fix. I can’t change this person. I can only change what I do.
So it’s time to look up now.
My next move might not be perfect, but there is no ‘one right thing’ I can do now. I don’t need a one-in-a-million solution. I just need a good new place to move on to.
To leave can be a strong decision. It’s not failure or weakness to go when going means showing myself new care and respect.
And God will go with me. I’m not alone, even when I leave what has been my home for years.
It’s time to see that there is more than this. There is space above and around me, a wide expanse, room for me, a glimpse of freedom…
O God of comfort and challenge,
whose presence is ever reliable
and ever unexpected:
grant us to grieve over what is ending
without falling into despair,
and to enter on our new vocation
without forgetting your voice,
through Jesus Christ, Amen.