On Presence.


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Photo by Korney Violin on Unsplash

“When we are too entangled in our own stories or too fixated on other people, we can’t be truly present with ourselves. When we can’t be present with ourselves, we can’t compassionately attend to others.” {Paraphrased from Tara Brach}

 

People love talking about how busy they are, especially in the context of relationship (family) privilege. Presents, festivities, stress, family, family, FAMILY, travel, gatherings.

That part isn’t all pleasant for people either—I get it. It’s a stressful time of year, even when it is also joyful.

But I notice all of this especially sharply at this time of year. And find myself feeling especially isolated. It’s deep winter, long nights, and the few friends I do have here are—well, caught up.

After some slightly off-putting interactions these past few days/weeks, I’ve made a firm choice not to devote too much time to those who have shown time and time again that they are unwilling/unable to be present, compassionate.

Those who claim to be friends, but aren’t really able to give—or receive—my presence.

When I ask for support, in a respectful way, I don’t expect people to drop everything and run to me. But, I would hope for a real answer about how much they can do this for me, realistically. Not an obligatory, distracted “half-there” reaction, but something real.

When I offer support, it is an offering, not a demand. However, sometimes I’m taken aback when the person on the other end does not receive it. I wonder what value I have to them in the context of the friendship, or maybe whether they think I’m capable of presence. Because, let’s face it, I can be self-involved too.

I often have found myself surrounded by people who are more supportive of me and don’t ask me for help often. These are the people who tend to get burnt out because they feel the need to be “needed.”

But when someone reaches out to me in vulnerability, that they require a deep listening, my advice, or something like that, feel honoured, valued, both as a friend and a person.

Not checking in with yourself and the other person in a real way leads to false promises, a lack of integrity, and generally poor behaviour. Maybe not even evilness, but being a kind of shitty friend (or lover or husband or sister or whatever).

I sound blamey because in truth I am a little angry at the moment. And I know I’m still learning too. I’m refining the process of self-inquiry on a daily basis. I have no choice but to do that in order to be a better human, hopefully, tomorrow. I’m also going to keep fucking up.

However, I want you to know, that when I say I’m there for you, I’m there. And I expect a certain level of give and take in that regard.

Idealistic? Maybe. Overly sensitive? Possibly.

But I don’t think there’s anything wrong with wanting to live a life surrounded by people who value me deeply, in that way that we can be truly present.

So this year I re-commit to myself to stick with the people who presently practice both intimacy and integrity regularly, who understand it in the context of themselves as well as with others. Who aren’t so blinded by their own relationships, conflicts, work, dramas that we can’t actually respond authentically with each other, instead of just reacting out of ego—or obligation.

I want to be friends with those who can be vulnerable with me as well, who can receive my presence in the context of self-inquiry, not fixation or attachment or some ego-based BS.

No excuses, no externalizing. These are two of my biggest pet peeves.

Sure we all fuck up, we also have times that we can’t give as much attention to one thing or person as we might like. I get that.

But when I ask, please give me a real answer. Not an excuse. Not a half-hearted brush off. Not an obligatory set of meaningless words. Because it just makes me feel worse.

I’m not even pushing for time. I prefer quality over quantity where that’s concerned. Just be aware of how you’re being, how much you realistically want to offer, and be clear about it.

Please be real with yourself so that we can have an honest relationship.

I can’t afford to waste any more time on those who don’t (appear to) be able to grasp the concept of self-inquiry and therefore can’t truly be attuned to others in their lives who they supposedly care for.

Please see me. And I will see you.

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