adulthood · anger · change · family · love · recovery

Wilderness Survival

So, here’s a funny.

Remember when I posted that blog about finding equanimity in my relationships? About not being thrown by others emotions (or even my own)? Yeah, that one I posted on Friday… three days ago?

Well, guess what I’ve been given the opportunity to practice these last three days?

Bingo!

To be respectful, I will simply say that I saw many chances to retaliate and behave how I used to — particularly, by being curt, punishing, and seethingly silent. If I behave that way, you, of course, will apologize for your behavior, and change in the way that I want you to, right?

Unfortunately, or fortunately, I really noticed how I wanted to react, my first reaction. How my disappointment wanted to come out as being mean. Instead, I tried to my best to “let it go.” I had that silly Frozen song in my head a lot this weekend!

How others are choosing to behave is none of my business. As it affects me, it is my business. But it’s up to me to choose how I want that to be expressed.

Let’s just say that I was pissed, so much so that I was on the phone while driving, and got pulled over by a cop before I even left San Francisco.

Luckily I was let off with a warning (and I know how much those tickets cost!), but it gave me the opportunity to pause and look at why I was behaving in the way I was — in a way that wasn’t good for me.

The whole weekend ended up, for me, being an exercise in letting other people have their emotions and their actions, and not being drawn into that drama. It’s camping. It’s supposed to be light, fun, and not particularly insightful, except maybe the insight and rest and joy that comes from being in the silence of the forest. Which, is never actually that silent, once you get quiet enough. That’s one of the things I love about it. To hear the rustle of the trees, the little animals, the little noises. How this tree sounds as it sways in the wind as opposed to that tree.

Luckily, I was able to ask for some of that time for myself, so that I could get my stillness in.

I am no saint, and I am no angel, and I have no business judging others, or assuming that they should be any way other than they are. But I do get to ask for what I need, and I do get to behave in a way that is in alignment with how I want to be. Despite that my brain gremlins are momentarily eviscerating you.

Upon arrival home to Oakland, I get a phone call. It’s my dad.

Really?

I let it go to voicemail. I’m emptying out the cooler in my bathtub. It rings again.

Now I think it’s an emergency. Nope: After a decade of being engaged to the same woman, he’s finally getting married.

The last weekend of the play I’m playing the lead in.

I was *informed* I should see if they can get the understudy to do that weekend. I wasn’t asked what play it was. I wasn’t told congratulations. I was told, in the voice of force only my father knows how to invoke, that I should be there.

I told him I’d ask about the understudy.

I called my brother, who’d left me a voicemail about this earlier that day. If the invitations were going out the next week, it was clear that this plan was in place quite some time ago, no? Could be that I could have been informed a little earlier, no?

I was virulently reminded of when I was sick with cancer, and my father told me that he could only call me after dark, when I was exhausted from my days of chemo, that “This is how it works.” This is what he told me about not being able to call me earlier. “This is how it works.”

After I got off the phone with him yesterday, I remembered that. This occasion, this insistence that I be there, despite whatever (SUCCESS) is going on in my life, is part of his pattern of demand, and selfishness.

And, an inability to say something like: You know, Molly, it would mean a lot to me if you could be there.

I told my brother when we were discussing the viability of my coming out, plane tickets, and where to stay, things that my dad has obviously not thought of. … that I would talk to my network. That I would look at my numbers. Maybe ask him to pay for half the plane ticket out, since I’m not in a position to go back east again right now.

But then, I do know how awful it is to ask for money from him.

So, I will talk to my network. I will repeat “Let it go” in my head, and I will remember the thing I usually forget when I feel made small by him: I am awesome.

My being in a play IS a big deal. My getting a lead role IS a big deal. I’m doing a brave and new thing. I am taking chances to be greater in my life. And the exercise in equanimity is to allow and remember and embrace and be bolstered by these facts.

It is not a surprise that the weekend I claim that I’ve moving “beyond” being thrown by others, I’m given several (immediate!) chances to practice what I preached.

A mentor once told me that our “character defects” (or, outmoded coping mechanisms) aren’t relieved from us. They aren’t removed. Instead, we’re given opportunities to either pick them up again, or to act a different way.

I haven’t known what that other way is, until I’m given the chance to try something else. If I only reach for what I know, I do the same thing. It’s not that I feel relieved of being thrown by others’ emotions. I just feel more able to deal with what that brings up for me, and how I choose to engage with that.

What will happen with my friend? Change.

What will happen with my father? I can only hope: Change.

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