There was a “thing,” with me and another person. Discord, disconnection. Missed connections and misunderstandings. And I was sitting there, knowing that in that complicated way that relationships can be, that she was not bad nor was I bad, but that both of us were doing some kind of dance that had us in opposite corners of the room.
The thing is, I knew all of the things that you are “supposed to” do in situations like these. You are supposed to discharge your own strong emotions in advance of the conversation, then have a respectful conversation, with “I” statements, with everyone owning their part, ending with forgiveness and a new resolution for how to move forward.
I have done this, before.
It is very dignified.
It is very mature.
And yet the process I was in didn’t seem to want to do that. I was not just dancing with this other human being, I was also dancing with myself, my own process.
And my process whispered: “Do not try to force a result, right now. Wait.”
This ran counter to everything I wanted to do. I wanted to fix, use the tools, explain myself and my behavior, because surely if we just sat down and explained ourselves to each other, everything would be fine…right?
I had a conversation with a dear friend about what was going on. He encouraged me to move forward and ask to have the conversation with this other person.
I knew that I was not saying what I “should” say when I stammered, “I just…I just don’t feel drawn to that, right now. It doesn’t feel aligned.”
One of the biggest things I’ve learned is that when a decision is truly aligned, it actually feels aligned. There may still be challenge or difficulty, but there’s a kind of relief that comes with alignment, knowing that your soul has rooted in to the right next step. Reaching out to have the mature “right” conversation felt…very distinctly not aligned, not “right” even though it “should” be.
“Sitting with” felt difficult in some ways, sort of antsy and prone to rumination and very much like trying to stay present upon a meditation cushion, but strangely…it also felt very aligned.
I’ve since decided that in those times when we aren’t doing what we “should” be doing, we can take these times as our spirits trying to tell us that there is some kind of hard and difficult work that we need to parse through. We’ll bypass that difficult work if we trade it for the rush to answers. True alignment is far more important than answers.
What emerged from that period of “sitting with” in this relationship, instead of rushing to force a result, was profound. I came head-to-head with a few deep, shadowy core pieces of myself that feel distinctly unwanted and unloveable. I spent time sitting and consciously crying with those pieces, feeling their pain. I began quietly questioning why I had made myself a contestant in the “self help Olympics,” rushing to execute a series of moves that were “right” all while trying to bypass my actual, lived experience and deny myself the process that I was clearly craving: space, silence, time to think.
In my life, I have frequently been willing to deny myself a process, in the hopes that I could trade that for having “answers” or to please someone else who wanted me to arrive somewhere, faster. I frequently haven’t allowed myself space, time to think and ruminate and figure out where I was in a situation, and I have often made myself wrong for needing more time and space.
And, because it is true that we will often treat others as we treat ourselves, I have often been frustrated with others who have needed their own process when it didn’t match mine.
This is more hidden perfectionism, by the way—a strange subterfuge of the self, pretending that we are about one thing when really, we are holding expectations for the other.
Here’s the thing: you can have room, space, time. You are allowed a process. Anyone who holds that over your head, as if you will lose out if you don’t quickly join them wherever they are, is asking you to betray yourself. Acting out of fear and the self-interest of my own comfort, I have asked others to betray themselves in this way. I imagine that we all have.
Most importantly of all, though, is that we do not betray ourselves; that we do not believe our own fear when it says that we’d better act quickly, or else! Fear doesn’t like taking time, going slowly. Fear frantically searches to get ground beneath its feet, to cling to the nearest possible answers instead of letting the truest answers emerge and ripen with time.
Yet we can choose this for ourselves. We can choose to be in process. To trust. To slow down and breathe and be patient. To believe fiercely that we are worth the time, the pause, the breath.