Not Right Now

I think this must be my year of learning to listen to myself, and I am immensely grateful for it. A big part of listening has been discovering the freedom of saying no, and I'm sure this isn't going to be the last time I share about it.

I'd been anxious about a friendship for months, frustrated and angry with my friend for certain choices, and with myself for not being able to muster more support. I didn't discuss this with my friend, but I didn't want to discuss anything else, either. I was impatient with myself, analyzing my feelings and not coming up with much. Was there some transference going on, making this less about my friend than my own past situations? Was I being intolerant? I would be embarrassed to tell you how much time I spent fussing with myself over this. I didn't want to stop wrestling with myself, because I didn't want to lose the relationship forever.

Finally, late at night when I was trying to sleep, I came to I am not able to be a good friend to this person right now. It was the most matter-of-fact thought in the world. It wasn't an indictment or an accusation, it was just an acknowledgment of the way things were. It was also permission to take some space, and through that permission I felt peace about the situation. Not everyone needs me to be their chief cheerleader all the time. It's OK for me to take a break if I don't have it in me. Trying to push my way through those feelings, ignoring them, would have made the situation worse. Taking space gave me exactly what I needed. Being able to say no (to my own expectations of myself) gives me more freedom. When I can detatch with love from my own turbulence, I can practice the same with others. Not surprisingly, once I accepted my limitations, I felt much more comfortable with my friend.

I was afraid that letting go would mean cutting off, and it's not the same thing. Sometimes we have to let go of things forever, but other times it's more like the tide going out, and returning in due time.

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"So keep fightin' for freedom and justice, beloveds, but don't you forget to have fun doin' it. Lord, let your laughter ring forth. Be outrageous, ridicule the fraidy-cats, rejoice in all the oddities that freedom can produce. And when you get through kickin' ass and celebratin' the sheer joy of a good fight, be sure to tell those who come after how much fun it was."
-Saint Molly Ivins