That awful sticky place of dread

Recently I was in a terribly wobbly place taking care of someone close to me. This friend had recently had serious back surgery. I knew he would depend on me solely. In our tiny community we depend on each other, especially as we age. Most everyone else my friend knows is retired, and I work full time. I would do what I could, but I felt that sticky and uncomfortable place of having someone else depend on me totally when I knew it would take a supreme effort for me to do everything necessary. I knew there were others that were totally willing to help, that kept volunteering. My friend kept refusing them, saying “Patty will do it all.”

It’s a terrible thing to say, or even think, you do not want to help someone for several reasons. One is society expects us all to be cheerful, concerned caregivers. Two, because I am an overly nurturing person by nature, why would this make me cringe? It was the overwhelming idea of the whole kit-and-caboodle that had me scared. There was something about this looming responsibility that had me quaking like a leaf. It makes me feel like a bad person for even having those feelings. I usually love to be wanted and needed, filling the role of nurturer.

This is what was going on with me that might help explain this feeling. The surgery came at a time when I had been trying to lessen my dependence on this person for my sake and his. My own dependence on him for filling my social needs has never been met and I needed to broaden my social scope. It’s not his fault whatsoever. He’s a good egg. He is in fact a dear friend. I am having a strong yearning for conversation and company and it won’t go away. The time for change is long overdue and I had been putting off the inevitable for over a year now. I must expand my horizons! The looming post-surgery tasks seemed to be holding me back just at a time when I want to burst out! Feelings of frustration, guilt, but also care, were building and mixing.

With some insistence I was able to get him to call on other neighbors who were happy to share the burden with me. I was happy to do my part and stock his fridge and freezer with groceries that were easy to fix and eat. I was thrilled to look after his sweet dog for a few days. In the days immediately following his surgery I felt better. I tried making coffee for him, which I totally flubbed two days in a row, with coffee all over the counter! I checked in on him in the early mornings to see his pain level, got him to start moving a bit. Urged him to walk more, as advised by the doctor. I changed his bandages, etc.

I believe Spirit turns up the pressure when there is a lesson looming.

When we want to diet, everything conspires to tempt you. Gooey brownies and donuts are brought into work. Your neighbor comes over with homemade banana bread. You know the drill. For me it was wanting to get out in the community more and expand my horizons. That’s when the surgery gets scheduled and you know you have to spend more time, not less, doing something you know does not suit you. But Spirit knows best.

My friend and I have been good friends for years. As close as brother and sister. But Spirit had something for us to work through. My friend also has something to learn about depending on others, in spite of insisting he did not need help. I was in that same position about two years ago, and I learned my lesson the hard way. I knew we each had something to learn from this.

In the end things turned out fine and we are both better for the experience. He was able to get the community to help, by simply asking for it. His surgery after-care was not as bad as we thought it would be. He was up and about days after surgery. I did my share of care, and liked being helpful in that way. I also enjoy going over to my friend’s home once a week instead of twice a day. We missed each other a bit more. Things seemed fresher and better. He started asking what I was up to. A stark change from his usual lump-on-a-log non-commitment in any simple conversation. He started taking more responsibility for his life instead of depending on me. I was starting to break away and make myself a priority. Things were changing!

As we know, everything is energy. Change must happen in Spirit/with you manifesting and wanting that change before it can happen in the waking world. He learned that being stubborn and wanting total independence was not always realistic. I learned (and not for the first time) that care of the self comes first. I had always given to him first. Thought of him first. Worried about him way more than about myself. The caregiver must care for him/herself first. Okay, I’m getting that lesson, for the third time!

If there is any time you feel that pressure is on, and you are being made very uncomfortable, there is a lesson or a message in it. Look for it, be humble, and be as open as you can for the change coming your way. Maybe this thing that feels awful is your key to freedom, the key to standing up in your own power and being who you have always wanted to be. On a soul level, my friend was willing to be the one to help me make this happen. I am in deepest gratitude.

Comments are encouraged. Likes tell me someone is listening. ❤ Love and Light, Patty.

Boundaries, encounters, reflection, and a new path

Do you have friends that once you are off the phone with them, you wonder why they are in your life? Do you wonder why you still hang out with someone who is not good for your energy, your mental health, who doesn’t bring much to the table? Yet they don’t have a mean bone in their body? After all they just want to be friends, and they deserve company too. There is nothing wrong with just wanting to be friends, right? Recently more and more is happening to make me aware of the fact that I need to take some action, one way or the other, instead of settling for the status quo. I resist visits or chats because I think…why oh why am I going to let my vibe go back down to this level? This is not said or thought of in a privileged way at all. It’s more of a state of self protection for the good vibe I’ve worked so hard to achieve.

How do you tell someone to stop looking at their phone (texting or talking) during your time together? How do you tell someone that you’d like it if just once they ask how you are doing? I have a friend who knows I have been through a challenging year, and they never ask how I am feeling, what’s up, what’s going on. If I tell them I had a bad experience, they skip right over what I say without an acknowledgment and keep talking about their life. Or worse they gossip about someone else’s life. (I can’t abide gossip.) That makes me sad, and makes me feel like I am the entertainment committee. Which leads to me feeling selfish for even having that thought.

Now the questions start. I wonder about the many facets of this problem. I am protective of my alone time. I live out in the sticks because nature feeds my soul and it keeps me sane and grounded. But it keeps me away from being social. Always a double-edged sword to live so far out. Does spending a lot of time on my own make me snotty, stubborn, or exclusive? Maybe it is smart that I protect myself as much as possible from the wrong type of encounter. Or that I feed my soul as much as I do with time spent alone, or with quality people. Does it seem I am being exclusive? Rude? Stubborn? Hoity-toity? I have worked so hard for my safety and security.

However being more open (less stubborn) might be called for because I could be losing the openness to be wrong, to stumble on something new, to have an open heart. Balance is key here, and I know stubbornness is my stumbling block. By being ‘safe’ out in the sticks, living my life without much contact am I missing out on another type of companionship, camaraderie, and social connections? Maybe the effort to feel safe is not serving me anymore? These are questions I ask myself. It’s the flip side of the protect thyself coin. In hopes of finding an answer, I ask myself a ton of questions to make sure I’m not being a jerk. I call it a ruthless self-evaluation. This is during a time where I want to be more social and get out more. As irritating as the problem is, I think it is good timing. 

There always seem there is a bit more work to be done to have healthy boundaries. I’ve come a long way. For years I was the world’s doormat but I’m not in that place now. So maybe this is one more whorl of the river. It’s a tricky place. You can’t shut people out of your life unless they are totally toxic. Then it’s a must, but I have found that to be rare. Boundaries should be flexible enough to let the new and unexpected in, while feeling respected and honored by the presence of others. Good boundaries also means respecting others in your life. It means giving them the respect they deserve as well. It’s a two way street. It calls for more minute, fine maneuvering in the river of life. 

Even though some people may be ignorant of their social trespass, the problem remains. Ignorance does not excuse bad behavior. It must be handled somehow. I guess it’s one more level of detail I have been missing in terms of gentle communication. Here comes the lesson on runway two! There must be one more way for me to negotiate the river and find the best way make it clear, in a compassionate way, how I would like to be respected. That’s better than just dumping someone, isn’t it? It’s more humane. More detail in a finite matter. This is good. These tiny gray areas are where we learn about ourselves, and do a kindness to others. That kindness can be information they didn’t know before, that helps them negotiate their way through life. This is growth for both parties. Growth is good. 

An example of gentle and helpful communication was many years ago I was still in a bad marriage. To cope and come out of a depressed state, I was on a popular anti-depressant. Let us say it woke me up a bit and I got rather chatty. Feeling I had a voice. I was elated! I went to a party with a dear and trusted friend. At one point my friend tugged me on the sleeve and whispered in my ear,

“Maybe you are not aware, Pat, but you are interrupting every person here. I know you are excited and have a new found voice, but you have to let others speak. Tone down your excitement and listen a bit.”

Oh my I was stunned to learn what I was doing. I thought I was joining in joking, laughing, and sharing. But I could see his point. Since I was told this in a gentle and loving way, I was able to better manage my enthusiasm and channel it into listening and replying at a more appropriate time. The advice didn’t get my hackles up because my friend used a gentle tone of voice. He was sincere. This is advice I still take with me today. I also learned to ask about the other person a lot more than I talk about myself. People like me that live alone tend to get chatty when we meet other human beings! 😉

Compassionately communicating to those I feel disrespected by, gently telling them what I would like in my life is being true to myself, and helpful to the recipient. Sound and words have power. Speaking words that need to be spoken in your own defense must have great power. I need to speak out loud the words that outline what I need for the basics of feeling respected. I guess now that I put it that way, it doesn’t sound so bad. Not so black and white. Not so terrible to tell someone you need a little respect during a friendly visit. I just need a little courage. Already a new path forward is being forged. All from an irritating thorn in my side and then some good old fashioned investigating and evaluating of the self.

Comments and dialogue are encouraged and welcome. Likes tell me someone is listening. ❤ Love and Light, Patty.