I was talking with my sister the other day about someone who had married into our family, and subsequently refused to have anything to do with anyone in our family (except for the person she married), and the poem, Outwitted, by Edwin Markham, came to mind.
After years of feeling like I was being excluded by this woman it dawned on me that I could not be excluded from happiness, inner peace, love, and friendship by anyone except myself. When I got angry, resentful, disgusted, discouraged, or resigned, to what I perceived to be her unfriendly ways, I walled myself off (I thought from her but really it was from the happiness that I could have been feeling whether I was seeing them or not).
At some point, I made a conscious effort to draw a circle that included her. It didn’t mean that I then started extending invitations to her to get together. She’d made it clear that she didn’t want this….so I did it in my mind. I thought happy thoughts about her, saw her as I would like someone to see me: happy, healthy, peaceful, and loving life. This might not sound like a big deal, but in the beginning, it took a monumental effort to think nice things about her, especially when I was pretty sure that she was thinking sh** about me.
Occasionally, I would feel like I should do something more (like send a card or gift) and I would do it, but these physical expressions of love were never well-received or wanted, so I would go back to simply thinking good thoughts. I didn’t do this in the hopes of eventually have a relationship with her, because I wasn’t sure that this would have been in the highest and best for either of us. I didn’t have any motive, other than wanting inner peace, which eventually came.
I still do not have a relationship with her (except for the one in my mind) but it is so fine with me. I feel very peaceful when a thought about her enters my mind, and am also open to the possibility of seeing her some day. Having this type of relationship taught me something important: no matter what a person does (or doesn’t do) to me, they cannot make me feel excluded, less-than, or unwanted. I do that to myself by being exclusive, small-minded, and petty in my thinking.
What anyone thinks about me is none of my business. What I think about me, and what I think about them, is my business….and my business is the business of loving myself, my world and others.
He drew a circle that shut me out— Heretic, rebel, a thing to flout. But Love and I had the wit to win: We drew a circle that took him in! Edwin Markham