This is going to be a very personal post.
I have had another interesting start to the year.
I know it’s May, but I have needed this time to process what has been happening and what my own actions were in creating this situation.
It’s not about blame, simply learning from mistakes and understanding when old programs resurface.
I met a new friend late last year, a fellow vegan, and we just clicked. We were both HSIE teachers too, which was a common interest and passion for us – although I am a History teacher and she is Geography, we complimented each other as the two subjects naturally do.
I was in a great place, relying solely on me for my happiness. This was a place I had worked towards for almost 2 years.
I didn’t need anyone in my life, I simply wanted them around sometimes.
During one afternoon, I happened to mention that it takes me a lot to get close to people, because of being hurt before. Her response to this was ‘I had noticed you were hot and cold’.
Now, I had simply shared this part of myself in an attempt to be honest and open about who I am. I am naturally cautious now, but that doesn’t mean I am not willing to let anyone in. I am just more discerning with who gets to be close to me on a very personal level.
I had not thought I was ‘hot and cold’ either. I was happy in my own life, I was not ‘attached’ to her and our friendship as I had been with previous friendships: I had finally learned that only I could make myself happy, no one else can. I had learned the difference between ‘attachment’ and ‘friendship’.
Still, I took her words to heart and in the blink of an eye I had judged my approach to this friendship as ‘wrong’. I had undone in an instant what I had worked so hard for so long to create.
As the old saying goes, hindsight is a beautiful thing. I can see it clearly now, even though I did not make an actual decision to change my approach at the time. I reacted out of a subconscious need to be accepted and approved of by another. My old acceptance pattern was hibernating when I thought it was dead.
I started to view my whole life as ‘wrong’. I started to question other decisions I had made, including my choice not to be fully active in the vegan world. I even tried to teach like her! (This last one worked well luckily, considering I have a completely different clientele in my classrooms, and is a strategy I will add to my tool belt) I started to see my own approach to teaching as wrong and tried to be more ‘like her’ in a number of ways.
It wasn’t until I refused to accept responsibility for something that she saw as a wrong I had committed that I saw what was actually happening.
She had approached the friendship from a place of attachment. She needed something from me that I wasn’t willing to give until I accepted her judgement of me and became attached myself.
I was whole and at peace with who I am. I was able to spend time alone and be happy. I was acknowledging that I am broken and working towards fixing it.
She was none of those things. In a subconscious attempt to feel better about herself, she tried to bring me down to her level, rather than working up towards mine. And for a while she succeeded.
It was a valuable lesson in honouring myself and who (and where) I am. A lesson in doing things my way and living life on my terms. A lesson in the need to get what I need from myself first. A lesson in the impacts of judgement and accepting that of others when they do not know my full story. It was also a valuable lesson in over-sharing and listening when my intuition says ‘she doesn’t need to know that’. (In actual fact, I think my intuition screamed at that one! But I trusted her…)
For these lessons and the growth I have since experienced, I am grateful and able now to step into the next phase of my life, one that is completely dependent on my ability to live life on my terms, regardless of what other people think.