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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Didn’t you know?

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Photo by Jian Xhin on Unsplash
Didn’t you know that I saw it all,
a long time ago?
Disasters, shootings and
a perfect blue-eyed babe
that arrived
in spite of it all?
Didn’t you know I knew
how things would turn out?
I see things.
Since it is both a blessing and a curse,
I don’t mention it much.
(And besides, I worry it might sound
a little pretentious.)
So I curse myself daily
in the hope of some clairvoyance
where it’s most needed
and in the meantime I scrape by
on my boxed-in-but-not-bad
reality.
I suppose I could choose to thrive on seeing
instead of scraping by on what’s here,
but that would make me a dreamer,
and that’s not very practical now, is it?

The Graceful Exit.

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“Every woman that finally figured out her worth, has picked up her suitcases of pride and boarded a flight to freedom, which landed in the valley of change.” ~ Shannon L. Alder

Something amazing happens when we choose to step gracefully out of a relationship that no longer serves us.

When I say relationship, it could be a relationship with anything or anyone: a partner, friend, workplace, city—hell, maybe even that classic novel that you somehow feel that you “should” read because it’s a classic but you secretly hate it.

If we walk away still feeling desperate, we will fall desperately into the next job, relationship, book, or town out of fear. We will attract others and situations that operate out of fear as well.

I know this may sound a little woo woo—but it’s just about understanding that we have choices in life, and that the harder we exercise that choice, the richer and more fulfilling our lives will be.

If we enter a relationship based on a fear of being lonely, for instance, that is going to show up time and time again throughout the relationship. Same with if we settle for a job that pays us less than we are worth—maybe it’s not entirely about money, but that gesture, that offering, is the company/client telling us how much they value us and our worth, ultimately.

Of course there are those times that it’s still better to have a crap job than no job—we all have to get by. And so, sometimes, we have to accept the less-than-stellar situation—but the key is to only do it for as long as we absolutely have to, and know not only when to walk away, but how.

If we can walk away gracefully, we carry that gesture of strength and resiliency into our next endeavours.

Running away out of anger, wanting revenge, even feeling “betrayed”—all of those have the potential to leave us in victim mode. Then we keep moving through our life in this fear-based mode, thereby continuing to find new situations where our victim selves “fit”—places where we’re not valued, where we’re manipulated or abused.

Sometimes getting angry–really angry–is exactly what we need to get the fires burning. There is a beauty in its ability to free us. So I’m not saying don’t walk away in anger—sometimes that’s exactly what’s needed.

But holding onto that only holds us back. If, after we remove ourselves from the situation, we are still operating out of anger (which is basically just another version of fear), we tend to find others who meet us where we’re at.

Fear attracts fear, and so on.

Taking the high road doesn’t mean “don’t ever be angry”—but the thing is that we generally won’t find our higher pursuit, (the one that serves us), until we’ve resolved the anger for ourselves. This may or may not include forgiveness or reconciliation with the other party.

When we walk away with confidence, it’s this very act of grace, of faith, that carries us forward to people and places that meet us where we’re at: as calm, clear and shining beings.