boundaries · codependence · service

The management reserves the right to refuse service.

6.21.18Opening this morning’s Oprah/Deepak meditation, I was sorely tempted to skip right past today’s topic: “How can I serve?”  Nope, nope, nope, I intoned aloud.

Though in the end I listened anyway, I immediately turned “How can I serve?” into “How can I be positive?”

As a recovering and compulsive co-dependent, self-abandoner, let me do for you what I will not do for myself-er… I have a complex relationship with “serving others.”

But during the pre-meditation talk, the point that struck me most as, “Oh, here’s where can I learn,” was when Deepak reminded me that, “Giving and receiving are merely different aspects of the same flow of energy.”  Harumph.

This stings because I have a lot of trouble on the receiving end of things, particularly to and from myself.  It’s difficult and uncomfortable for me to treat myself with care, priority, and love.  This compulsion is better than before, but I know the giving/receiving coin is one relationship that needs healing.

Because when I hear the question, “How can I serve?,” I see The Giving Tree.  More specifically, I see that stump at the end of the story who’s like, “Nah, man, it’s totally cool that I’m nearly dead.  Use what’s left of my husk to park your ass.”

Veysmer.

Turning toward filling someone else’s need is a long-ingrained, long-painful pattern of mine, and so when I hear this question, I recoil from it dramatically.

But I know that’s not truly what Deepak is saying (perhaps it is what some religious or spiritual tenets are saying).  I am not being told to give of myself until there’s nothing left.  I am not being told to give away something against my will that I don’t want to give.  I am not being told to over-ride my “Red Alert!” alarm when a soul-vampire is at my door, and invite them in anyway because “they need me” or “it’s the ‘kind’ thing to do,” or because “that’s what a spiritual person would do.”

But in order to hear what is actually being said, I must replace the word “serve” with the words “be positive.”

I can be a positive force in the world.  I can offer a smile, return a text, share my words here.  I can not be a f*cking drag, even though I feel breakuply shitty right now.

I can get out of my head, meet a friend, go to a museum.  That is how I can be positive today.

But I cannot “serve” you.  It’s self-service here, buddy.  Get with the times.

 

 

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codependence · friendship · surrender

The Heart Cell does not judge the Liver Cell.

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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.

codependence · interdependence · relationships · self-care

Come on, you know you want it

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I walk through this life like a battlefield water-bearer, insisting to each person I meet that they need some of my light and life:  “You can’t get along without it!  Look how thirsty you are, needy, barren, bereft.  I can help, I have the magic secret sauce, and I’m the only one on earth healthy and able enough to give it to you!  I am your answer, savior, and absolute finite resource.”

Running around the world attempting to feed all those Sally Struthers children and Sarah McLachlan puppies is horribly exhausting, besides being awfully narcissistic.  But when you don’t trust other people to get their own needs met without you, you become the Giving Tree.  Here, have an apple, a limb, a torso.  I’m fiiiine without it.

This is where the pain arrives, and I finally become aware that something is terribly out of balance.  I am not fine without my torso, and guess what?  You do actually have your own.

I have assumed for so long that you’re inept (subconsciously, you know!) that I don’t allow you time to prove you’re not before I shove an apple in your mouth and run away before you demand more.

But the thing is, I don’t actually need for you to prove it.  Are you missing things?  Love, affection, validation?  Wow, that sounds like a pretty shitty place to be; I hope you get help with that … you know, from your own Source.

Because when I trust that you have your own well or tree or metaphor, I am free to tend to my own and to sit with you in gracious companionship.  Relieved of my self-imposed burden to watch for all your signals of need I am open to watch for my own.

Not gone grocery shopping this week, Moll?  Sleeping with a pile of clean laundry again?  Hey, lady, what’s going on, what do you need?

Oh, shit.

I’m going to have to answer that.