This morning, while seeking stillness, I started sorting again–laundry, dirty dishes, books, notes, piles of papers that wound up in my purse–all the while defending how I function better when surrounded by order.
I pause while sorting and realize I’m sorting someone else’s stuff….my sister’s. (I’ve just helped her complete a move). And there’s this tug at my heart: “What about you Tre? When ya gonna sort your ‘stuff’ ?”
I know that voice. It comes as a little girl sometimes….gently, softly….It comes when I’m mentally running around taking care of a loved one’s needs if I’ve neglected–to some degree–my own daily creatings (writings, meditations, exercising–the stuff that I’ve learned I enjoy doing day to day).
Awareness I’ve neglected my own needs arises, followed by a conflict within. I value helping others and don’t wanna give that up. But I also know I yearn to find balance while doing so, so that I can help while still honoring my creative life practice. So when that tug comes– ‘Tre, what about me?” I know it’s time to regroup and devote thought to my creative doings.
I’m known for dropping my work and hopping the next plane to get to whomever’s asked for my help. I value that flexibility. I value my commitment to growing my relationships. I value my awareness that true love doesn’t come all neat and tidy in a boxed up package you give on a holiday. Real love means being there, making time to be there….even when it’s messy, even when it tries every last ounce of your patience or tests your emotions.
But what I’m learning too is that in really loving and supporting, I gotta drop my agenda of the expected outcome. And I need to better respect the pace and processing of the one I’m helping.
I’ve recognized what I tend to do instead is start orchestrating how I think the project should result. And if it’s not going in that direction, then I start to verbally impose my own sense of right structure and ordered life. And I expect who I’m helping to agree with me 100% and carve out their situation as I would expect, because afterall, my way’s the right way right? Hugely kidding here. Hear the ego?
So if I’m really honest with myself: while agreeing to help is unconditional love, imposing my will on the process or outcome is not. And worse, neglecting my daily needs isn’t loving myself either. But here’s my weakness: Often I don’t know how to say no when that no would translate into ‘yes’ to myself and my own needs.
I am convinced that none of us have to give up our own needs in order to help another…be it family, friend, or anyone who needs help. If there is a need and the yearning within calls to give, you make it happen. It’s the most natural inclination any of us have because it comes from within. That yearning to give, bless, love, support—it’s our spirituality yearning to be our wholeness, all the time.
So it’s more than natural to act on that impulse.
But essential to carve out while agreeing to help, is an awareness of balance. I’ve found I must ask myself to define what I’m gonna need to feel not only are my efforts productive, but so too am I not neglecting myself in the process. I don’t know many women who feel they’ve found a good balance of this. In fact, many I know would agree they always put their own needs aside and feel they neglect themselves.
I’m still trying to figure out how to do this. But figuring this out is vital. It will prevent the ‘I’m outa here’ attitude that crops up when I feel maxxed out.
Because in my anxiousness to fix the problem, I’m also impatient to see the solution and stick around until I do. ☺
Not to be vague: my current scenario involves helping my sister transition from a large home to a smaller one and now that she’s all moved in, we’re surrounded by boxes that still need sifting through, objects that need to be pitched or placed, and my organizational mode doesn’t really rest til the process is completed how I think it ought to be.
But that’s where the test comes in: did I come out to help in order to complete the project to my liking? Or am I here to support how my sister needs the project to be completed. In her eyes, my work here’s done. Technically we’re all moved in. But that bugger in me that is insisting on really completing the project: Ie no boxes, no piles, all in it’s place, well, that may well be my own needs imposing themselves and willing me to orchestrate the outcome.
She’s not inclined to have a similar outcome. Not yet anyway. She wants to take some time, get used to the new surroundings and feel her way.
In the bigger scheme of things, this is small stuff: boxes or no boxes, disarray or order, feeling finished or feeling unfinished.
And if I let myself get pulled into that focus, well, it could be completely frustrating. I like order, things in their place, a finished look. She doesn’t need that. She likes it. But she’s not gonna stay up all night to ensure it (and I’ve ridiculously been found cleaning at 4am if I’ve just returned from a trip and need to reestablish the order of my surroundings).
No one’s right or wrong here. But what remains my goal is this question: Tre, how are you gonna love yourself enough to honor your own needs but at the same time respect your sisters’ and not impose your will?
That voice of the little girl ‘what about me’ is my writing voice. It comes as the nudge when it’s been a few days since I posted or a few more days since I’ve commented on blogs or written in my journal. So today, thought by thought, I’m honoring my sister’s unique way and respecting her desire to emerge gently into this new setting. And I’m respecting my own need to order my thoughts, unpack and organize and place all the ideas into some kind of work that I’ve been ‘storing’ while helping her move and sort. And in so doing, my hope is that I’ll refrain from judging the seeming disarray, enjoy that we continue to share some incredible one to one moments we’ve not had since highschool, and be grateful that our lives can overlap this way right now. It’s really a joy.
In Mary Baker Eddy’s main work, Science and Health, she writes: “Whatever blesses one blesses all.’ And while it’s sometimes hard to find how someone else’s struggle or pain (in this case a transition) can hold a blessing for you, indeed I’m seeing much growth in my own self absorbed tendencies. In dropping my own agenda and coming to support a loved one, I’ve had to flex my all too often rigidity and firmness. I’ve had to go with the flow and deal sometimes. But all the while, the true motive of love and support remain.
And so I remind that little girl voice ‘what about me?” in helping this situation I am caring for her. She’s not neglected. She’s being directly addressed through my nurturing care of others. And as I’m leaving my willful ways aside, she’s even getting to play amidst the socalled disarray of boxes.