In true ‘Universe’ fashion, my commitment to give up worrying about others has been put to immediate and raging test.
Over the past 2 years, I’ve formed a friendship with a now 91-year old gentleman because of my work on overcoming my debting thinking and behavior. Together with another person (ostensibly) committed to the same, the three of us meet on a monthly basis to review Dennis’s financial situation and suggest actions for him to take. Dennis is one of the sweetest people, a trumpet player in a veteran’s band, a coronet player in another band, and perpetually tan from his daily sun-lamp “health” regimen.
Dennis is also totally drowning in debting behavior. He lives in a cramped, cluttered illegal studio/porch behind his two-story house, where he’s rented 2 units to other people — one of whom recently called the fire inspector and has created a chaos of tasks Dennis “must” complete in order to keep his house.
Over and again during these 2 years, there’s always been something that Dennis must pay for or a crisis he must overcome. And, diligent compatriot that I am, I attempt to mitigate the advice he’s receiving from the other member of the triad (“pack up everything and move to Bali;” “escape the tax man by moving to Mexico”) and from his own brain (“I have to take down all the paintings in the foyer because my tenant wants me to;” “She wants a gold door, so I have to pay for it”).
When we began, Dennis had $24,000 in savings; now he has less than $5k.
And when he called me yesterday to give me the update on his situation in advance of our monthly meeting, and told me about this freaking gold door situation, I kind of lost my cool.
… well, not kind of.
I became enraged that people are taking advantage of him; that this tenant now feels she can play him for a piggybank because she can “call the fire chief” on him. And I feel enraged that he’s allowing this, that he’s allowing spiders to spin webs in his head and breed lies.
I feel angry, … and I feel powerless. And sometimes when I feel those things, particularly when I feel that an injured person is being harmed, I try to control it ALL. What the tenant does, what Dennis does, what the other member of the triad does… I try to make it all better for Dennis because it’s obviously and clearly not going “well.”
… however, more to the point, it’s merely not going the way I want it. For all I truly know, this is exactly how it should unfold. Maybe Dennis is supposed to move into an assisted living program and forfeit his home to these mongers. …
But whatever it is that he is or is not supposed to be doing, my ire does not help anything. It makes him defensive, me offensive, and doesn’t help move the needle forward.
I am powerless over his situation, and judging him only serves to make me ill.
I am not his Higher Power. I can’t read the runes. I can’t make him change his thinking from these behaviors — and this is a hard fact for me to swallow: I cannot change others’ minds to act in ways I think they should.
And so, also in true Universe form, this morning’s Oprah/Deepak meditation emphasized the following sentence: I find success without judging others or myself.
I am in a middle place, where I haven’t yet relinquished this habit of judging, caretaking, controlling and saving others, and where I haven’t yet found a replacement way of being.
This is “okay for now,” as my bf says, because I do at least know that wherever is next will have more dignity and humility — for me, and for those I love.