Vulnerability and Motivations
Today’s meditation card is titled BALANCE. It begins by explaining the difficulties in calibrating the give and take of relationships and ends with the lesson that there’s no difference between giving and receiving, a message that sounds lovely but doesn’t rationally make sense to me. I’ve been sick for months now so I’m an undelightful combination of exhausted, impatient and bitter.
As is typical in my world, several work and life themes are simultaneously culminating to create a change of being for me. My guides have led me through the different forms that mothering can take, whether it’s forcing an awareness for a continual need to choose self-care over lesser responsibilities, examining the change in my roles with an adult daughter, or meeting the living prodigy of a mother in the form of Sister Lucy from India.
I am currently participating in a women’s book club that is examining shame through the lens of Brene Brown’s book I Thought It was Just Me (But It Isn’t). I thought that this was an obligation I didn’t really have the time for but I now understand, in their tutelage, it’s the both root cause of my suffering and now, my motivations.
In my meditation, JC and Mary Magdalene are sitting with me on a bench on my beach. JC is ready to jump right in.
How do you know when to give?
I freeze. Is this a trick question? I’m cranky and not in the mood for the Socratic method today. I’d just prefer some comforting, thank you very much.
When someone is in need.
How do you know when to take?
When I need help.
When you responded to Anne recently-were you trying to make her feel guilty?
I’m frozen in a shame that’s so solid it has stopped my thoughts. An immediate silent conversation ensues with JC.
Jesus is referring to a recent text exchange I had with an old friend from Seattle University who was dear to me during a culmination class where we would share our internship experiences. I reached out wanting to set up a time to talk on the phone. A catch up to share what-and who-was happening in my life. The magic of these meditations. I knew she was doing important work in the medical community and I was interested in where she was at with it. I loved bringing people’s stuckness to JC. He always unfolds some golden tips that I can return.
When she responded that her schedule was too busy right now to plan a phone call, I was a little surprised but mostly I was disappointed and sad. I missed her. It was a vulnerable action for me to take and I was shot down. Brene Brown would have been proud. I fully realize that I shouldn’t take these sort of responses personally but still. Her response was worded with compassion.
My guides were always telling me to talk about how I lived not what I did. So, as I looked out over the water and the beach, I reframed. I still wanted to help.
I thought that a weekend at Gentlewood could be an elixir for her. I remembered how much she loved labyrinths as i looked down upon my own. I texted her with an open invitation the next day without hesitation.
But now that Jesus says this, I fall into a spiral. I was blinded to any sort of ulterior motive. Did I reach out to her once before? I don’t remember. If she doesn’t have time to talk on the phone, how was she going to have time to plan a weekend getaway, whether it’s just she and Joe or whether I’m here?! And what about---
Jesus interrupts me with a thought-form. This wasn’t an intentional or conscious act on my part, stopping my mental sword fight. My consciousness shifts from the criticizer back to the one who is frozen. I hear him take a breath and I breathe in response.
Sally, as I try to catch up:
Yes. I suppose I was…
Jesus, saying as neutrally as he can:
Sally. (Pause) This is manipulation. (Longer pause) It was common in your family.
I’m overcome again, now with shame and guilt, sitting on an open shelf for the spirit world to see. My cheeks burn.
Sally, beginning to cry:
I just want to share Gentlewood with people! She is so busy…she can just come and relax! It’s so healing to be here…
Shame veil number two: I realize I’m acting like a child. I stop to try and recover. I was trying to be nice, wasn’t I?! But I want to get to the root of this and I begin to cry harder.
I shouldn’t have this [Gentlewood] for myself!
I abandon that line of reasoning. It’s just another shame spiral.
Sally, remembering the card I chose:
I don’t understand why giving and taking are the same.
Yes, we know that. We’ll get back to that. This behavior is important. It’s a deep pattern for you. This work, this hidden motivation is the work. You know this.
Sally, I retreat and surrender:
Yes, it’s the work of boundaries.
Yes, it’s the work of developing your self-respect. You’ve exhausted yourself searching for ways to help others.
Give yourself the love you long to give others.
By doing that you naturally become aware of others need to ask for things on their own terms. You give them the space to learn their own lessons and find their own way.
We will be with you as you learn to practice balance in your own life.
I wonder. I think about the shades of this type of behavior. Whether there is a need to apologize. Did I do anything wrong in her eyes? When do the semantics of an invitation become too needy?
Jesus stares at me and listens to my ruminations. His voice begins to soften.
Sally, this is also the work of MOTHERING. It is not as apparent as other forms, but the same theme runs through this. You are doing powerful work. We are here for you.
This baffles me a bit. More to chew on. I do not see this as mothering but I will. I am sure.
Have you ever extended yourself in a vulnerable moment and acted in a way that didn’t sit right with yourself afterwards?
How can you tell when your motivations are coming from a place that is respectful for both you and the other person?