I was remembering earlier a girl I used to work with. She had an anxious, confrontational nature, served with lashings of victim mentality and manipulation through (excellent, enjoyable) humour. But manipulation, nonetheless. I worked in the back office and she was the "face" of the company out front. I could tell what kind of day I was in for by the number of times she would turn her head this way and that, keeping her gaze on me, as she asked probing questions before I had even put my bag down in the morning after arriving.
Unfortunately for me, I fell in to the trap of placating her. A caller who slighted her on the phone would cause her to slam open the door to the back office - yes, you can bet it is possible to slam open a door.. try it! - and stand in the doorway protesting loudly about what she had just been subjected to. Or if it was just all too hard, there she would be - door slammed open, taking up the space between our two separate areas.
I never realised while I was there but this individual, who was at least six years my junior, was displaying behaviour that triggered reactions in me. Reactions to my mother that I had not long since tried to bury. I would be working away, concentrating on my screen and the interruption to my thoughts became a violation of sorts to me. Towards the end of her time there, I got to the point of feeling a tenseness creep its way across my shoulders and down my back, there to remain until my working day was over. I braced for the almost imperceptible sound of her rising from her chair, keenly listening out for her footfall on the plastic chair mat under her desk, knowing that at any moment I would be a captive audience of one to the latest vomit of "pity me" about to escape her.
Over time, I made the connection. I recognised the similarity in energy between this young woman and my (estranged from me by that time) mother. It was a moment of choice for me; I vowed to change how I behaved - both in terms of what I gave out and how I internalized what was coming at me - if ever I found myself in the presence of this sort of energy. I knew it now. I had known it all along, having grown up (and been raised) by it. But coming across this type of behaviour and energy output from a source external to my familiar circle helped the penny drop.
Years have passed now and there have been a couple of occasions where I could easily have fallen into the trap of shouldering the "burdens" of this type of energy again. But I haven't. I see them coming, usually, and practice (sometimes harder than others, depending on the situation) pure love - that is, the sort of non-placating, non-smother/mothering, universal kind of tough love that enables me to stand apart from the individual but remain in compassionate care and, sometimes, service.
This past-time was recalled while I was working today. A paragraph that stood out to me read:
Do no bother to your “brothers of blood”, nor to those belongings you once had in bygone times, who act as reminders to you of your lack of “spiritual perfection”. Instead, begin again and be able-bodied to the basic call to be at one with your spiritual calling. Some “past” influences and experiences in your life will fall away (Death), some will walk by your side (Rebirth), but the sum of it all—both Death and Rebirth—will be TRANSMUTATION.What this says to me, as I remembered how I was struggling in that time with walking away from that person I worked with (and I still had several others in my life who leeched me in the same way, even though their personalities were different), is that sometimes the fear of change is what prevents us from changing. It says that just because I have behaved in a certain way for however long and it's expected of me (either by myself or external forces) that I will continue to take it because I know I can handle it, doesn't mean I have to. Or, indeed, that I need to. No. That actually serves to become a defeatist kind of devolutionary way of handling things.
I know, for me in my circumstance, I had to really look at why I kept attracting the same kind of friends and acquaintances. Not to blame myself, but to learn from it. Working with this girl was the straw that broke the camel's back - so to speak - and something in me said, "Right. Enough. I'm ready to start anew from Now.... ok, now.... How do I do that again?"
And the rest, with all my study now seven years in the making, is history.
Slowly, very slowly, I began to redefine myself. After Ellanor died, I was forced to start again! I guess I could have chosen not to. But I would have been denying a hell of a lot, had I done that. So with diligence and taking it very easy on myself - for I begin again, and again, and yet again all the time! - I define my own Now. I attract those close in who enrich and fulfil what I do and who I am today. I daresay for the most part, I know the ones who will continue to be there for as many "tomorrows" as I can foresee. But I also know that I don't really know how I will change and evolve either, as they are continuing to move through their lives too. The fluent movement of friendship has been something I have come to wonder and marvel at - the ones you thought would remain, the ones you were SURE were destined to end explosively and the vast number of surprise delights to be found in people that support your place in your own life. As you are. Now.
There are other posts to be written about this. As well as the flashback moment I had recently regarding my own time in preschool and the conditioning surrounding being raised by a very sick mother. But I am diligently trying to practice keeping posts short these days! (Hmmmm...... how'm I going? cough.... not exactly acing the short post thing so far)
Do you recognise repeat performances in your life? Of friends, family or perhaps colleagues who treat you the same? If so, I wonder what your next step has been/will be (and please don't feel you need to answer this in the comments, although I always deeply appreciate and welcome them! This is personal, private stuff. Email me if you wish, too :)