Monday, May 16, 2011

"Strange Weather"

It's been cold here lately. We even had some unseasonable rain yesterday. Check that--thunder, lightening, and hail. Usually, it's stopped raining by this time of year. Who knows? Maybe I'll get rain for my bellybutton birthday in June. I've always considered that a lucky sign the rare times it's happened.

I've got my big Statistics final tomorrow morning at 8am. Today will be spent, oh, studying certainly , but also de-stressing so that I'll have as much brain power as possible. Nothing worse than trying to take a big test with all sorts of other personal crap distracting me. I do have a time set up for studying with another student this afternoon.

There are a number of people in my life that are on my mind. One friend who's struggling to figure a way out of an abusive home situation. Another who's disappointed I'm not taking a trip with him. A sponsee who's struggling with the eleventh step. Another sponsee who I haven't heard from in a little while. Another friend in the program who's finding life unmanageable again after getting back together with an ex. Though I feel for all of them, their problems are their own. I can listen if they choose to talk to me about it, offer advice if I'm asked for it, and otherwise do them all the courtesy of letting them deal with and solve their own problems.

There was a time when guilt and fear motivated me into action. I'd jump on the codependent rescue cycle and charge my way over to insanity. I'd feed my ego and build myself up as a martyr, ever willing to sacrifice my own happiness and well-being to save others. I found fulfillment in defending others, feeding into their bullshit, keeping their secrets, and never ever suggesting to them that they might be responsible for their own problems and perfectly capable of finding their own solutions. Growing up, I'd learned that I was responsible for everyone else's emotional trauma and that the only worth I had as a person came from saving them from themselves. My God, I am so relieved to know I don't have to do that anymore. I'm grateful for the ability to let go of other people's stuff, knowing that it's not mine, that not only is it not my place to save them, but that I couldn't if I tried. And the biggest gift of all is that I don't have to feel guilty anymore for allowing others to be responsible for their own lives.

My favorite coffee shop here is packed with students today. I'm not the only one going through finals, of course. The laptops are humming, the papers are being edited, the books and the notepads, the pens and the pencils, and all the conversation too. There's three people working behind the counter and they can barely keep up. I'm happy for them, though. It's good to see a local place doing well.

Last night, I had a cigarette with one of my neighbors. She's the older of two young women. From the moment they moved in last year, I caught the familiar scent of chaos and drama. After watching the people who come and go from their apartment, being kept up by loud late-night parties in the quad, hearing stories told of feelings felt and thoughts expressed, I have smiled privately to myself many times that these two young ladies are so "one of us". Listening last night, it seems the drama reached a fever pitch and now one of them is moving out. I feel a little bit like the stereotypical old man looking down his nose and muttering, "young people!" under his breath. And of course, it doesn't occur to either of these gals that all the excessive partying might have something to do with their frantic, frenzied lives. A moment of silence for those that still suffer.

No matter what I do, life is going to keep happening--for me and for others. I can choose to get caught up in others' chaos and drama, or I can choose to remain centered in myself. In my better moments, I can stand tall, sure in my stable footing, and listen to the wind of insanity as it whips around me. Sometimes people caught in the storm will shout out for help and I extend them a hand. Sometimes they think they want help, but all they really want is to pull someone else into their chaos. The best thing I can do is to stay centered.

I remember taking lifegaurd lessons when I was a teenager. The biggest lesson was this: wait until someone has stopped thrashing before you try to save them; if they're still flailing about, they'll pull you under, too.

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