Into The Otherwhere

There are times in my life where I felt so much weariness just maintaining my facade that I couldn’t bring myself to explode. I mean strip down to the bare bones and rebuild myself into my birthright. The very idea of destruction to create something real seemed counter-productive, but without truly understanding, I invoked Inanna, Goddess of Love, Fertility, and War. One of the Ultimate Mother Goddesses that I embraced with great fear but deep trust. I had no idea what I was doing, but in the core of my being, it was the right thing to do.

Gate of Authority

I removed my crown. I released my prayers to a God I didn’t believe in, or rather, doubted his existence. I surrendered my name that identified me by birth and allowed it to become dust of the earth. I gave my power to the winds of change, the solid earth, the fires of passion, the waters of emotions, the edge of the Universe clenched tightly in my abandoned fist. I allowed myself to become whatever would become.

Gate of Perception

I took off my rose colored glasses to allow any vision of the new world to manifest. I needed to understand the rawness of reality. I required it because I could no longer make my mind see what wasn’t there. I had to face the illusion that I’d created; safety, love, comfort, stability. I couldn’t lie to myself any longer. I opened my eyes and felt shame for what I’d allowed myself to be fooled by because it was truly obvious.

Gate of Communication

For every time I justified words that weren’t my truth. “Oh, you just have to get to know him. He’s not really that bad of a guy.” or “You don’t understand. He’s not like this at home.” or my favorite lie, “He didn’t defend her because he was defending me.” All lies.

Things I told myself because I wanted so desperately to be loved, to be worthy of love. I needed to speak a truth that nobody seemed to want to hear. If I raised my voice, deafness fell on my audience. I became (to cross pantheons here) Cassandra, the soothsayer that could see the future with 100% accuracy but nobody would believe her.

When I realized my voice was aimed at the wrong people, I let it go. They didn’t need or weren’t ready to know me at that level. Onward!

Gate of Compassion

For so many years I was groomed to be the perfect victim. So much so that it never occurred to me that I was one. Even now, at 50, I still have difficulties thinking of myself as anything other than me. But world events or politics such as they are, remind me on a deep level that I was bred to be consumed by men like popcorn, until I found this gate. I had to find a way to love every broken piece of myself. I had to discover that the words I was taught to destroy myself by people that sought to destroy me, were theirs, not mine.

My words were those of a mother caring for a sobbing child. My words were ones of comfort and reassurance that I was worthy of love, capable of love, in fact, I AM love. This gate held me for the longest time because centuries of anguish had to be unwoven, stripped, and remade into my light, not into their darkness.

Gate of Personal Power

At this point I realized that I was harming others with my shards of broken edges and broken promises. I released deception of myself. I released deception of others. I had no reason to manipulate others to suit my needs even though I tried constantly. I allowed others to take from me because if I gave it, they couldn’t steal it.

I returned the power I had stolen from others and set them free of me. For example, I had to walk away from relationships that no longer served me or my companions. I gave up drugs, abusive relationships, alcoholism, nicotine, and the acceptance of violence against me.

I no longer gave sex away willy-nilly (I know). I found more power in holding my core strong. I mean, I love sex, I won’t lie, but there’s something different when it’s given freely and not coerced or forced from my loins. Now, you may think, “Well, duh, Mare!” but I again point out that I was groomed to believe that my vagina was my worth. I didn’t understand the power because it was not seen as power but shame.

Okay, so I also learned that telling my truth to large groups of people was extremely cathartic. I was allowed to say what happened to me and my family lived. I was safe when I walked the stage and spoke of the gun violence I’d experienced at the hands of someone I once loved. I learned at this gate that my personal power was more than who I am, it’s what I am to myself, to others, and to the world. It is my light of LOVE that will not ever again be dimmed.

Gate of Creativity

I found new ways to value myself. I had to believe, from top to bottom that I was created with a purpose so Divine and sacred that only by walking deep into my belly could I find the earth in which I was planted, the water which nourished me, the air that I knew so intimately, the fires that cleansed me, the spirit which guided me. I had to eliminate anything that contradicted that balance of perfect love.

You may hear me joke about my body size, but it’s my shell. I love every inch of this meat suit. It’s kept me moving forward for half a century. It’s weathered so many stormy seas and still sets sail each morning. How could I discount one inch of this glorious being I am? I love me. I love my body. I love how I feel. I love how I look. I love who I am. I had to accept me to love me with no conditions. It was hard work, but baby, look at me now!

Gate of Manifestation

So at this gate I stand Naked. Bare bones flapping in the breeze like wind chimes. Flesh stretched over shells to make drums, entrails stretched into harp strings, and nothing of my former self remains. There isn’t a door or an audience to applaud this place I find myself. I can’t even stand to be around people at this point. It’s not that I’m afraid, I can see them as they are. I see them for their lost paths and misguided anger. I’m not different than them, but I’m not the same either.

I want to step through and see myself reborn. I want to become what I’m meant to be. I’m ready. I have nothing more to lose. Seriously, nothing. Every material good is vanquished. Everything I thought I knew is scattered on the side of the highway between there and here. I have so much lost blood that I’m crusty with scabs of things I’ve torn from my body that didn’t belong there. Leeches of my energy, parasites of my love, rapists of my body, shamers of my spirit are all released into the mud I’ve created in tears cried zig-zag across the country. I am ready.

Gate of Death

And there she died. The part of me that couldn’t love. The part of me that was so devastated she hated the sound of her own name. The knife-like pieces that stabbed anyone that got too close, that wanted to take anything from me, that needed anything from me, that wanted me to be happy or not. I had to allow her to die. I had to lay her to rest with a fancy wreath of flowers in a cold field under the ever-watching stars where the milky-way sang a dirge and witnessed the sacrifice. I was finally free.

Rebirth

As I write this, I realize that for many years I struggled to find my footing. I had many people along the way that helped me even when they didn’t have my best interests at heart. I had to trust the journey. I had to reach out to people that I was deathly afraid of, but found them to be some of my strongest allies. I’ve trusted some people to my error, but they taught me to be cautious with whom I interact my power with because not everyone has my heart.

I still have years to go in this life, Lady willing, but I want to know what it’s like to find that peace of mind. I am strong, I know that, but I’d like to help others find what I’ve found. I’d like to show them the way to love of self, others, and the divine spark within. Here’s hoping for another fifty years!

Facing faces of my family

I have stood within the fires of my community

Feeling their judgement with their vigilant scrutiny.

My skin has been scarred by the guilt of my actions

Withdrawing, re-birthing, questing my faction

I have stood dripping the blood of my kin

The impression of their prudence slicing at my sin

My spirit fiery with the perdition of my birth

Refusing their wisdom, not knowing its worth

I have slithered slyly a slippery slope

Seething such squalor swiftly to scope

My disdain for the mundane, my refusal of love

Was my born albatross that I couldn’t get rid of

But now I have faced the faces of my family

I’ve found them not to be of my enemy

I’ve been wrapped in the warmth of hearth-side chats

Covered in the laughter of loving habitats

Return to the tribe, return to the fold

Swallow your pride, be not undersold

Be everything you are without any fear

Because those that love you will hold you dear.

 

 

Wealthy Street

I was a beggar on Wealthy Street

where I was accused of being vibrant

arrested in my quest for murdered time

charged with being an artist

convicted of faith in more than I do

as an accessory after the top hat

In my sidewalk cell,

I became an advocate as a willing-faced pauper

begging for change on Wealthy Street

These Are My People: ORUUC

Oak Ridge Unitarian Universalist Church, Oak Ridge, Tennessee

Oak Ridge Unitarian Universalist Church, Oak Ridge, Tennessee

I’m not a religious person. I don’t classify or call myself anything in particular except maybe leaning towards spiritual. It’s not because I don’t believe in “something” but because I see validity is so much. A few years ago, I felt a strong push as I heard a loud voice tell me to go to the ORUUC. Over the course of two years I found the family I’d been promised by the winds. They didn’t come in the shapes, sizes, or ages I expected, but there is not a doubt in my heart or soul they are my blood kin.

From the youngest children, such as Rayn, to the oldest of children such as Miss Marge, I was blessed with knowing, learning, and understanding some of the most beautiful people I could have asked for. Outside of the confines of the church there were some people whom could meet my level of tomfoolery, but never in my adult life have I found the encouragement to be everything I was meant to be as I did there.

But how can I say that an entire church is my family? A church? It hardly seems possible. What I learned from them, will follow me everywhere I go because I value the life-lessons I was given.

Be Passionate

When I first started going to the Unitarian Universalist Church, I was wisely advised to take my time in selecting what I wanted to do because everything has passionate players. They weren’t kidding. I watched the different volunteer positions to see which I felt I could be enthusiastically involved with. I discovered I loved to greet people, loved to protect, and loved to serve. I ended up joining the safety team, co-leading the hosts and greeters, as well as serving as fifth Sunday usher. I even did coffee a couple times. Find what you’re passionate about and without excuse or what-if’s, jump in and do it.

Learn Names

One of my favorite things to do on a Sunday morning was to be greeter. I have a knack for remembering the names with faces I see often. I could greet nearly everyone in our medium sized congregation by name as they approached the door. That I could do that, hug them, welcome them, demonstrated I truly was glad to see them. Learning people’s name that you see every day no matter who they are is key to discovering some of the coolest people you might never had opportunity of doing so if not for that small effort. When you remember people’s names, they know that someone in the world knows they exist. I believe that’s crucial to mental health.

Talk is cheap, Action is richer

Many times I’d listen to people in the neighborhood where I lived talking about how unhappy they were with where they lived (I was one of them for a while), their circumstances, their addictions, their kids, the etc. What I noticed was that none of them were doing anything to change any of that. They just noted it sucked but continued the same behaviors. I learned that it’s okay to complain because, really, that’s just an acknowledgment that an issue exists.

Once you’ve realized there is a problem, making a difference is the only way that problem will go away. You can kick sand over it, behave like an ostrich, or pretend it doesn’t exist, but once you know it’s there, it’s the Universe’s way of nudging you to make it better. Terry Goodkind wrote in his Sword of Truth series (loosely quoted), “You already know what the problem is, think of the solution.”

I saw solutions pouring out of the people at ORUUC far more than I saw problems. It was the most collaborative group of people I’ve ever worked with. Even when hackles got ruffled, which happens in any large group, everyone worked to make sure that the final solution was a balance. Do what you need to do to bring the positive changes into the world because happiness is worth it.

Fool for love

Pastor Jake Morrill’s closing words for the services he gives are ones I took to heart. He says, “Be pilgrims for justice and fools for love!” What profoundly simple words with such an enormous responsibility behind them. If he chose a different closing, I’d walk away rather bummed because I truly took on the challenge when he would use it.

I believe we should all fall madly in love with the world every day. No excuses, just open your eyes and fall. Even the people or things that irk your sensibilities the most are worthy of love. It’s not for you to choose who is okay or what is okay to love, just do it.

I’m not in any way implying that you can’t have preferences, nor that you should eliminate safety measures for the sake of love. I’m saying that when you look at the world as if it were your intimate lover and you its muse, you’ll find a different kind of kismet with the divinity that is everything; The atom of begin times, the eve of creation.

To clarify, I call everything the Universe, because as a rule, we can all agree there is one. If I called the Universe God, then that specific version that you know/doubt/reject/hate/don’t believe in, would negate this idea. BUT! If I call it the Universe, we can meet at whatever version of that ultimate we accept.

Using this idea, be the fool for love because love has a transformational magic that can be witnessed where two hearts meet in unison. Thus, if you’re falling madly in love with the world every breath you take, does it not then make sense that love will rule your world? And further that love will light your path to happiness because love doesn’t hurt? Indeed. As I was taught by those who love me there, be that fool for love.

A village

A short while before I moved away, I received an email that reminded the Sunday volunteers of the roles they promised to step in to fill. A reply to that email was astounded at the amount of people that took responsibility to make the service appear to be without effort. It made me giggle a bit because I was actively involved in the volunteer activities. I knew how many people it took because of that.

Sidenote: My husband would get really frustrated with me because I’d try to do way more than my body could handle. He’d have to verbally remind me, “Mare, you’re not Atlas. You don’t have to do everything yourself.”

It’s the same when facing life’s many challenges (like moving out of state with a weeks notice). You’re not Atlas. Just like sharing your great experiences with your friends, sharing burdens makes them easier to bear as well. Nothing limits you to only putting on your good face. Being a human with All The Bumpy Bits is by far more deeply satisfying overall in my experience. When you find people willing to be human with you, that’s a rare and beautiful gift. Shine for them even from your darkest places. It’s worth it.

There are so many lessons I’ve learned from the beautiful people I am honored enough to call my friends at ORUUC that I couldn’t possibly cover it in one writing. I hope you will bear with me as I process this tremendous life shift. Together we can be incredible humans together on this wild journey called life.

The Suitcase

“You just don’t waltz into and out of people’s lives.” I found this quote in a podcast/article by a man I respect very deeply. The entire script and podcast is found HERE.

A happy suitcase wearing a hat

A happy suitcase wearing a hat

I’ve moved all over the country. Up until I got to Oak Ridge, I’d never in my entire adult life lived in the same house for more than two years. Considering I’ll be 47, that’s not a good track record for stability or longevity but it’s also taught me a lot about change, leaving, and transitions.

Most of the time when I’ve become disgruntled, disheartened, or feeling a loss of hope are the precise times I’d pack up the bags either metaphorically or physically and set them by the door. It was not uncommon for me to check those bags periodically to see that they match my state of mind given whatever the situation I faced.

If I ended up in a relationship that I knew may end, I’d pack the bag and set it down because I knew it would fail. I knew that I couldn’t give my whole heart to anyone who wasn’t willing to love me back the way I needed. It might have been because they were violent or they were absent from the beginning, or even that they were afraid like me to give in to the commitment all the while longing for that connection. No matter the reason, there was always a pile of luggage (not baggage because that has to be lugged around), ready by the front door.

The point for me when I knew it was time to leave was the point when my heart was irreparably broken. It would happen when I knew and understood that no matter what was done or said from that moment forward “WE” could never fill that trust back up again. I’d lost hope, trust, and an ability to want to rebuild it at that point.

I try to be mindful of relationships. I struggle to maintain some that aren’t good for me. Some demand that no matter what is happening in my life that their life is far more important. It has never been about anyone else, but for them to be at that point is an astonishing progression from “I don’t matter at all”, so I try to be mindful of that. It becomes unhealthy.

I’ve tried to remain friends with people who can’t see any light, no matter how bright. They are so asleep in so many ways that the only time I’ve allowed them to re-enter my periphery is when they really are trying to make changes for the better in their lives. When they are actively seeking answers that I’d given them before, but either they weren’t ready to hear, or they needed to find without my guidance. I’m not claiming to be a guru or an expert, but I’ve messed up enough to know certain things in life.

I’ve tried to be the best I can be no matter who I’m around, but sometimes my best isn’t what someone else needs. Sometimes they need a broken person with horrible feelings of self esteem to coddle, take care of, feel needed by to make up their own value as a person. When they reject every good given, that’s when the dependent person feels lost, vulnerable, and without taking time can fall into a vicious cycle of begging to be taken back.

With each one of those, I’ve waltzed out at will and sometimes against my will, but they’ve all ended in one way or another. My packed suitcases were at the ready so the transition was easier but no less painful. I don’t like that I’ve had to, for whatever reason, walk away from various lives in my lifetime, but self-preservation has been worth it.

What I didn’t expect, after reading the article, was a glance to my door and a note that there weren’t any suitcases packed there waiting. Not a duffel bag or a backpack, not even a fanny pack laid up waiting for my itchy gypsy toes to want to hit the road. BUT WHAT DOES THAT MEAN?! And why do I feel a sudden jolt of panic?

I’m in a marriage where there is a level of reciprocity that I’ve never had despite fumbling intentions before that had all failed. I’m in a neighborhood that is distasteful, but where I find myself waving at people I like and know. People that I tell my stories to and they tell me theirs. I discovered a diamond and platinum spiritual home that has given me a stability of family that I’d been missing for eons but found on accident thanks to John Lennon and John Denver. I have friends interwoven in generational blankets of uplifting proportions that bring me to a place of stellar humbleness, gratitude, and the best teachers of compassion I’ve ever known besides my Bapa’s family.

I think it’s safe to say that sometimes that waltz from one life to the next is necessary to move into the house that will become your home. The home where suitcases are no longer necessary because it’s truly where your heart is born, grows, and can be found at any time.

The heated battle

I am currently in a heated argument with the Universe. I am being sent omen after omen telling me to trust who I am and my vision for the future. However, trusting that hasn’t paid my bills in the past, although I’ve never wanted for anything and my heart has been happy, my husband has made many sacrifices for me to do that. We can’t afford me to say the words the Universe wants to hear.

How can I trust that what is in my heart is right? How can I let go of the need to pay rent, put food on the table, have internet service, and maintain my lifestyle. I don’t own a lot of stuff (except weird hats and odd eclectic clothes), but I like what I have including the less than stellar accommodations’ location.

I hear the Universe pulsing in my veins like a driving song that makes the foot drop on the accelerator just a little too hard. I feel my heart get excited and feel “right” when I hear, “Thank you, Mare. I always feel better when I talk to you.” I take deepest joy and satisfaction in just hugging people until their pieces are glued enough for their hearts to feel better. I adore sharing laughter, good and bad jokes which makes me feel richer than any pocketbook could hold.

But the Universe begs me to hear. It is constantly prodding me. I hear it whisper over and over, “You don’t belong there. You’re too big for that room. You’re meant for greater things. You need to be out in the world. Go put on your cape and trust me.”

But my practical side says, “I can sacrifice my physical comfort for a paycheck so my husband doesn’t have to worry any more. I can give up a bit of time so that we can get back on our feet as the trail of my medical bills have left us a bit underground.”

“Heed me.” Begs the voice. “You’re missing every first event around because I put them on the weekends you “need” to work. I’m making sure you’re understanding what’s wrong with this picture. Are you getting my message?”

“No. I mean yes. I mean…I know, I get it, but I have things I really want to do and that takes…”

“Yes, but you’re not trusting me. You’re not hearing my words to you. You know, in your spirit, I’m speaking your truth but you doubt me. I’ve never let you down.”

“I’m going to do this. Right now. I’m setting my alarm so I can go back to my job tomorrow and earn my paycheck to ease my family’s burdens.”

“And I’m going to keep dropping boulders on you until you pay attention. This is not your destiny. Go do as I asked you to do.”

“Maybe after pay day. Right now, I’m saving up to pay off some medical bills, some personal loans, and looking for a safer place to live.”

If the Universe were a human, it would be rolling its eyes at me, wondering how obtuse of a human it created could actually be. “Omens, my dear one. Look for the omens that are right in front of your face. I don’t know how much more obvious I can make them. You don’t have to worry, just trust me.”

“Oh, I trust you,” as I push the buttons on my phone setting my alarm for 5:16AM. “I just don’t believe my bills will get paid and I’m not sure you understand how important that is to sentient beings like me.”

Another eyeroll. “When are you going to get it? Really? You’re not a sentient being. You’re a spirit in a meat suit. Your spirit is your destiny. Meet it. Be it. Belong to the realm of the Spirit Walkers.”

“You’re crazy!”

“You’re not crazy enough.”

I See You

Kaleidoscope_13I see you. You are not invisible to me. When I look at you, you wear no clothes. You wear no physical form. There is a ball around your body that lights up when you’re around people you like and dims when you’re not fond of them. The ball has colors and patterns that are spectacularly blended to me. I see you.

You’re a kaleidoscope of vivid colors that ebb and flow depending on how you move the liquid essence that you float in unwittingly. Where there is pain, I see the darkness. Where there is love, I see the light. Where you reside is usually a central color that tells me everything I need to know about you. I am a voyeur of sorts but not the creepy kind. I will not jump from your closet unexpectedly one night. I will meet you on the terms you’ve established. Because I can feel your intent.

I’m sorry if you feel I’ve invaded your privacy. I don’t know how to turn it off. I don’t really don’t want to because it’s served me so well. It’s proven invaluable to me to seek others of the light. It’s proven invaluable to me when I know I can’t trust a person because they are too consumed by material things to know they’re spiritual beings. It’s guided me effectively to incredible experiences through people with knowledge so deeply profound that I sometimes weep with gratefulness while others cause me deep caution.

It’s a feeling of authentic appreciation of identity that can only bloom with the watering of confidence when I see people that fit into their spirits; That “get it”. When I see someone working actively to grow into their spirits, I can forgive almost anything they do because I witness the evolution of color as if a perfect painting were in the works and I get to watch the brushstrokes fall on the canvas. It’s glorious to see. My gift allows me the privilege without effort.

There are also people who are not exactly dark and not exactly light. They are in a flux between worlds. The material world grabs their ankles and wrists tugging them away from their destiny. Their spirit self does a watoosie trying to find footing, trying to fill in the blanks. There are some that stand in this disarray and cry out that they don’t know who they are or that they don’t know what they’re doing. Nobody knows for sure what we’re doing. We just come up with a plan and see how it pans out. If we’re lucky, we have guides to show us the way out. I am one of those guides but I don’t know everything.

It is increasingly difficult when I feel as if I am carrying/dragging them towards the light. They start off saying, “Oh yes! I really want to do something different and I really like your ideas. Let’s go on this journey together.” I comply and we have long talks deep into the night. The kind that feels like it is the most important conversation I’ll ever have. For that moment in time that glimpse into the moonlight or the daylight it truly is. The intensity can’t be matched because it is so relevant. It is crucially real. But they fall back asleep and forget that we’d every spoken the conversation. With some, that shine so brightly but fear themselves, I keep trying to wake them up because I believe they need to be; because they said they wanted to be.

I don’t say anything to people who are dark. I don’t squeal with delight when I see them. Their wounds run far too deep for me to do anything other than shine a light at the end of their tunnel and coax them from sleep if they’re ready. There have been times when words came out of my mouth that weren’t mine but were intended for a particular person. Just like that, it’s as if a small miracle, sometimes large, happens but it isn’t mine. That’s when my light can reach into that dark place and help bring them home to the light where they belong. Those are the people that shoot past me like a rocket grinning from ear to ear on the tides of self-discovery and I cherish each one that finds that place. I do not gift them because it’s already theirs as it is yours. I may just nudge the light a tad to the right so they can see they’re really okay.

But I can’t carry them. I can’t wake them up. I can’t do that. I can’t pick someone up and force them to embrace their colors. It is ALWAYS the individual choices that color their spirits. It is ALWAYS their responsibility. I learned this and other rules of engagement when watching the masterpieces I encounter.

I can’t tell people what color they will become but I can tell them what color I see. The colors don’t have traits as much as they have emotions attached to them. When I see the colors and I really like them, I have to wait. I can’t immediately bond with them because rarely, but it does happen, they are wearing someone else’s colors. Like maybe they had a bad interaction with someone so it clouds their spirit or they’ve just received great news and are wearing that instead of their normal vestments. It’s the wolf in sheep’s clothing that causes me to ease my steps.

The physical being, the way you wish people to see you comes second. When I see someone that matches their physical self with their spirit self, it’s a feeling of home. It’s a feeling of such personal integrity, I think, “YOU! You’re there!” Sometimes it surprises me so much to find an authentic person that I actually say that out loud. There are many people who come close to matching but, it’s like they choose the wrong pair of socks or the wrong shade of happy. It’s just enough off for me to recognize that they’re missing parts of themselves or aren’t aware they are. It is my experience that it’s typically the latter.

The physical being does matter. I don’t wish you to have the wrong impression. I do see it, but not until I’ve peered through the spirit. When I tell someone that they are beautiful, I see them as I’ve described to you. I wish I could paint each person so they could see their beauty too. As if, if I could create them on canvas, they might appreciate their own divinity that seems apparent to me. But instead I’ll follow the advice of my kind Uncle Les who said, “Mare, whatever you do, keep doing it. The world needs more of it.” So it is written, so it is done.

I really dig

I really dig that when I open up my blog reader

I find people-y readers lurking about, liking this or that.

I really dig that when I peer back through the shop window

the readers grunt, groan, lust, hug, love and hate like I do.

I really dig that when I peer through the looking glass

I don’t find my readers slumped sleeping in side-chairs.

I really dig that they poke fingers to keys while:

drinking coffee

popping pills

drinking bourbon

honoring artists

dancing with desires for origami people on paper they will print.

I really dig that the people I don’t know by face

stare back at me as we travel, passing on our reader’s train.

I really dig when we arrive at the same destination of personal truth.

Because that’s when the shit gets real.

Expectations and the Pedestal

I used to have a friend that was constantly three hours late for everything except work. The fact that she worked two or three jobs at a time made some of the tardiness excusable. But after a while, we had to adjust our scheduling as a group to accommodate this. If the event started at 7PM, we’d tell her it started at 5PM and she’d show up fashionably late. It was a running joke for a while, but tardiness bothers me when it’s repeatedly done. To me, it says, “My time is far more important that you are. I’ll get there when I get there and you’ll just have to deal with it.” Now, I know that’s not how the thought process works, but it felt that way.

We all have those people that hang on our periphery that just don’t quite make the inner circle. It’s not that they’re bad people, per se, just that they may have habits or ideals that don’t quite fit with our own. Maybe they’re disrespectful of your time by being perpetually late or they find the bottom of a bottle far more interesting than taking care of their children. Whatever the reason, they are still called a friend, but aren’t close enough in our emotional commitment to be able to stop by any time. Cull the herd. It is unnecessary to hold on to people just because you worked with them 15 years ago. Letting them go doesn’t mean a confrontation, just a silent goodbye and an unanswered phone call. It’s okay to allow that relationship to organically decompose.

But what about family members? Those are far more tricky to deal with because of the blood-kin ideal that family is family. Remember, at least the black sheep is an honest hypocrite. We all know at least one that is of questionable views on the world (I push that boundary so I labeled myself the dark gray sheep), but even if they aren’t living life like everybody else tells them they should, they’re making their own choices.

It is my opinion that loving them does not mean enabling them, criticizing, or judging their every action, but realizing that they might not be ready for the kind of love you have to give. Being supportive doesn’t mean that you have to rush to get them whenever they fall down, it means listening when they talk to you about their own wants and desires.

I’ve recently had to relearn this. It was extraordinarily painful because the person in question was throwing out thousands of dollars to the lowest bidder, giving away a free education, and walking around in a drug induced haze while doing nothing to further his life. I was furious with the choices he was making. No matter what I said or did, he kept making the worst possible choices in my eyes. But my tactics weren’t working and it was driving a massive wedge between us. Communication had broken down to the point of stony silences and terse comments. Something had to give.

I took away all expectations and started from scratch. Chores have to be done on these days because that contributes to the family. Three days a week. Daily stuff included being respectful, not using at my house, and sharing responsibility for our four legged friends. I made that change three weeks ago. Things have become our normal at our house. We joke and laugh. We all seem to be happier. When I removed the expectations about his life and kept them to expectations of family responsibilities, it worked out a lot better overall.

Relationships are complicated enough without, what I call, THE PEDESTAL! When we place expectations on other people to say, behave, or be a certain way, we set ourselves up for major disappointments, resentment, anger, frustration, and confrontations. I have to ask myself this question, “Is this them being a human or is this them being a jerk to me?” It helps me narrow down the field and realize that my perception of them is skewed by my idea of who they are or should be in my mind. With practice, it becomes easier to let them be who they are without making them justify every move or action.

I don’t claim to be an expert, but I have found that culling the herd, communication, taking the pedestal out from under them, and living my own life has made a dramatic difference in my happiness level.