I used to believe that I was the glue that held things together…. especially when it came to relationships. If I hadn’t contacted someone in what I thought was a reasonable length of time, I would feel guilty and immediately take action in the form of a phone call, email (once upon a time this meant writing a letter), or visit. With one family member in particular, 99% of the time, I initiated the contact because I believed her lack of initiation was “just the way she was”. A friend of hers once told me that she felt the same way, and I guess this was the evidence that I wanted to support the illusion that she “needed” me in this way.
Then one day I overheard another family member say that this person, whom I labeled as unable to reach out to others, called and emailed him often.
I was stunned. It was as if my mind couldn’t take that information in because along with seeing her in a new way I also realized that she didn’t really want to contact me. She wasn’t incompetent, forgetful, or too busy…she just didn’t want to connect with me! What a humbling revelation it was, and how difficult to admit this…even to myself.
I’ve seen and heard this scenario play out with many other people, especially in dating/friendship situations and have heard myself say, many, many times, “If you feel like he/she is avoiding you, he/she probably is. Trust that.”
But that is so hard on the ego. Our minds want to make up a story about the person to explain what is wrong with them instead of taking a deep breath and realizing that there is a disconnect between us… and it doesn’t make either person wrong or defective but if I feel like I’m banging my head against a closed door/person, I can choose to step back and observe myself.
In my case, I didn’t end the relationship, but I stopped initiating contact with her, and began to notice my feelings as I allowed a space to open up. I didn’t know what would happen, but as more time passed without any communication from her, an interesting peace filled the space. Since I was no longer feeling guilty and rushing to take action to alleviate that feeling, I was much freer to ask myself the question, “Do you want to connect with her at this moment?” If I did, then I trusted that and did it, but if I didn’t, I trusted that too.
I’ve spent way too many years anxiously trying to figure other people out…trying to figure out their needs, their motivations, and their issues, so I could be in some sort of relationship with them. It is such a small and controlling way to live, and we can’t do it anyway.
My only “work” is to know what is happening within myself, and I don’t mean understand myself in psychological terms. What I really mean is much simpler than that. All I really need to follow is that still, small, voice that always leads to peace and harmony for me. The reasoning mind comes up with a thousand theories a day in an attempt to make sense of things that cannot be explained, but the “knowing”…the deep knowing of which path, thought or action to take, is our only true and trustworthy guide…and it is always with us, always ready to take the lead.
“You don’t experience anxiety unless you’ve attached to a thought that isn’t true for you. It’s that simple. You don’t ever feel anxiety until you believe that a thought is true—and it’s not.” Byron Katie, Question Your Thinking, Change Your World