growth · love · relationships · wounding

Emotional Cheesecloth

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I’ve been thinking about the savior role.  About my shoving an apple into the mouths of others, nearly before they’re open because I have all the answers anyway.  How I manicly (and maniacally) attend to your needs, taking me from attending to mine.

But, there’s something else I need to learn:  how to sit with others’ suffering.

When we’re born, we’re like a house without a gate.  We throw the doors wide and absorb everything life offers.  As we grow, we begin to realize that, “Hey, wait, not all this stuff is good stuff.”  Suddenly, in our emotional house there form mountains of other people’s shit — stuff that’s overflowing or untenable in their own homes being shoved into ours.

Some of the stuff that comes in is indescribably good.  Generosity, color, laughter, awe.

But, with our doors wide open to all comers, we can begin to feel overwhelmed, maybe even resentful: There’s a storage facility down the street, lady.

And so, we begin to put up fences.  Maybe walls, maybe even security guards, or those boiling-oil pouring soldiers who cry, Keep the Fuck Out.

Because stuff is thrown at us so quickly, there becomes little time to discern its value.  (Even the city dump makes you weigh and measure your crap before they take it in.)  And perhaps your doors have been so widely open, you’ve become a drowner in a sea of rot, so that you say to yourself, you know what, I don’t want any of it.

Sometimes, though, you have a chink in that wall somewhere, and people or ideas or experiences sneak in.  Sometimes, they’re so marvelous, you are dumbstruck by how desolate and isolated your house is and how abundant and gorgeous Life is.  And so you invite that person in.  You fall in what you call love, and you have found salvation in that person who is not going to give you any more shit and may even help you clear out some of yours.

But.  People are complex.  And when, as is laughably inevitable, the cycle of realization turns from “Salvation!” to “Oh, crap, you’re Human,” that crash can lead a person to kick their loved one out.  Out, out, out.  You’re complex!!  I have no room for that.  No time for that!  Too much, too human.  Out.

It is not my “picker” that is broken; it is my emotional resilience.  The fortitude to sit with another’s humanity without absorbing and storing all their crap and without kicking it all so far to the curb their new address is China.

I am not good at this yet.  I am not good at not shoving apples into people’s mouths, allowing them to have feelings without my neeeeding to “solve” them.  I am not good at remembering people aren’t projects.

I also have very little experience simply sitting with others’ stuff without running away or growing cold.

What I need is reweaving.  My netting had been too wide in youth and I drowned.  My netting is now too narrow and I reject.  There is a human-sized webbing which allows for inflow and outflow, which allows me to speak up when you really are putting things in my house that shouldn’t be but also lets me sit with your things that are uncomfortable to me without becoming an ice queen.

I want love, healthy love, but that comes attached to humans.  So I must learn to let you be one.


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