I am moved to explore the edge between our work at the LP and my own journey of listening as a friend and family member. I know I’m not alone in this as several of us have mentioned it over the years – we have an easier time listening to our guests than we do to people in our own families. Wouldn’t it be nice to close that gap? I was considering this today as I happen to be in a moment of discomfort within my family. Now is the time, right in the middle of the discomfort, that I desire to bend toward listening and not away from it.
In order to lean toward listening, I took a break from the family. This may seem ironic and the end of listening. Yet taking a break as a form of self care is not the same as walking away from the situation. I trust that my family can feel the difference. I trust this, I’m not trying to control it. But I trust it for a reason – I actually experience it as very different from just walking away so there is a chance that they can feel it, too.
Have you ever just walked away? What is the energy of that? For me it is riddled with frustration. I walk away only when I am fed up and it’s not very subtle. Or, if I do manage to withdraw myself from the situation without revealing how on edge I am… I end up having to vent about it to someone. Either way it ain’t subtle.
I remember a time in life when I saw self care as self-ish. That link up between self care and being selfish strikes me as conditioning and has a story to it like, ‘being there for others is what good people do. To take care of me is selfish and, therefore, bad.’ I don’t see it that way anymore.
As I practice listening – and in particular, practicing letting go of outcome – I have been able to discern the different energy of taking a break vs. just walking away. From irony to paradox, when I chose to take a break out of self care – when I have become familiar enough with my own boundaries that I recognize I need a break – the energy is not of frustration but actually of love. And who the love is for? Even in self care… the love is for everyone.
I want to share an excerpt of a poem with you all. And what I really wanted was to draw a thread through exploring self care that would tie into this poem… I’m not confident that I have done that, but trust you can make the leap or find some value in this poem:
Sometimes it takes darkness and the sweet
confinement of your aloneness
anything or anyone
that does not bring you alive
is too small for you.
This is from David Whyte’s poem “Sweet Darkness.” I stumbled across this as I took my breather from family. It has also been in this break… that it dawned on me… my family might need as much of a break from me as I do from them. What I hope to offer my family when I rejoin them later today, is that by caring for myself I am not too small for them. That my break widened my heart…. and that listening will prevail.
with ever widening gratitude,
Avie and Marcia