Saturday, September 20, 2014

When Darkness Strikes

We all walk through periods in our life that seem dark.  Through those periods, we scramble for purchase, clinging to whatever we feel because we simply can't see.  We can't sort through the muddled, jumbled, occasionally crazed thoughts in our head.  We grasp for something real because everything seems like a dream.  Some of us gaze up at the darkness and wonder where the stars are.  Others retreat into their safest of places and do their best to wait for the light.  Then, there are those who recognize the dark as a time for spiritual growth, and they peer into the abyss, waiting for it to peer back at them.

This time of dark moon has descended upon my own life.  Having been though this several times before, I recognize the signs and symptoms: frustration, negative feelings or self-talk (major or minor, doesn't matter), and (most importantly) the same situations and reactions coming up over and over with various people who are not connected to each other in any way, save for me.  "Here's your lesson," said the Universe.  "There's no secret agenda, no secret plan to make you miserable, no one is out to get you.  Once you see the lesson for what it is, then you begin to understand and grow and your misery (self-righteousness, fear, ego, etc.) disappears and the soil of your soul becomes more fertile."  For me, this dark moon time has been about finding compassion, being okay with being a mirror, and recognizing and accepting that the reactions of others are their own, not mine.

I believe it may have reached its crescendo yesterday, at work.  We had our monthly meeting and 'retreat'.  Lots of good was done, but also, lots of negative feelings were aired.  One person, in particular, felt 'picked on' and felt like an outsider.  This person accused us (the rest of the staff she works closely with) of making her feel that way.  As this person is telling us all of the ways we have slighted her, made her feel unwelcome, etc., I stop her and I ask her to let me give her another perspective.  I then tell her that she came into our office, promptly separated herself from us (both physically and emotionally), began to change things in our office to suit her without giving our way a chance, and so we figured that she didn't want to be part of our team and we let her do her own thing.  None of us were offended.  We just figured that we would give her the space she needed to adjust.  However, we can all see the vast chasm between these two perspectives to the same events.

There were two of us who ended up taking the brunt of her very poor reaction to how we (as a group) perceived her.  (We all know shit rolls down hill.)  And, her reaction was very poor.  She did what most of us do when we hear things about ourselves that we don't want to hear.  She pointed fingers, laid blame elsewhere, and stormed off.  Nothing that was said to her was said with mean or negative intentions.  Nothing was pointed out harshly or in bad form.  Several of us had things that needed to be said, we said them without accusation and with the intention of clearing the air so we could start fresh the next day we all work together.  All of us were ready and willing, made the commitment to our supervisor and manager to start with a clean slate, everyone but her.  In her brutal honesty, she said she didn't know if she could.

This was, for me, a turning point.  I saw, very clearly, a few things about myself.  First, I saw my own resigned reaction.  While I didn't want to add insult to injury, I knew she needed to hear the things that were said.  When she reacted and started placing blame, I gave an inward sigh and thought, "Here we go again."  That immediate reaction to her reaction was my own putting up of a wall.  Recognizing that, I lowered that wall enough to, at least, hear what she had to say.  When my own shortcoming (yes, ONE) was having an answer to the questions she asked, I realized then, just how stupid our emotions make us.  I was a 'bad person' for answering a new co-workers questions honestly and to the best of my ability.  What?  Then I asked her, "So, you don't like it when I answer your question with the information I was given?  How else am I supposed to answer it?"  Of course, since our emotions make us stupid (not just her, but all of us), she sputtered and stuttered because she knew she was grasping at straws.  Our manager interrupted her and had some really, really diplomatic thing to say, which was nice.  I appreciated that a lot.  Then our manager asked if we could commit to starting fresh.  When she refused to commit to starting fresh and stormed out, I gave another inward sigh and thought, "If she comes back, she's going to be abusive to those of us who spoke up."

Then, I thought, "Okay, negative self talk, instead of preparing yourself for the abuse you know is coming, start now with an attitude of cooperation, compassion, and love for this woman.  Those are the things she needs.  If she gets abusive after being given those things, you go to your boss and let her know.  Find your compassion and, if she refuses it and gets nasty, that's on her, not you.  Be apologetic.  Be sincere.  You can only control your reactions.  You are not responsible for other people.  You are not responsible for their reactions.  You can not help that you are sometimes a mirror for things they do not want to see.  Keep working hard, do what you are told, and remember that the squeaky wheel gets the grease."

I don't necessarily like this particular lesson.  I haven't been liking it since it started.  That said, I know I need it.  I know I need to be able to disengage when those around me feel slighted by me.  I know it is their own insecurity and need to be important that causes this projection.  I know I have to find my compassion for them.  They are like teenagers, spiritually (and emotionally).  They look into a mirror and don't like what they see, so they blame the mirror.  They whine and stomp their foot.  They criticize the mirror and scream that it's wrong.  All I can do is wait and hope that one day they will stop screaming at the mirror.  All I can do is fill my space with love.  All I can do is hope that, one day, instead of laying blame, they will want to actually talk and listen to the other perspective instead of making assumptions.  We all know what making assumptions does...

Brightest blessings, Friends!!

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