Alyse In Words

A Year of Practicing Contentment

A little less advice, a little more knowledge

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Days 38 & 39 – It’s been a pretty magical couple of days.  Maybe a bit of epiphany.

One of my best friends has been dealing with a painful life moment (I’m not going to describe his stuff because his stuff belongs to him.  Let’s just say that it’s about as easy as death by a thousand paper cuts.)  All he has asked of me is to be someone to whom he can vent and, when asked to, provide some ideas/resources.  Half of this is easy for me–I can find resources and directions or sprout resolutions for just about anything.  It’s a thing I do.  What I also do is offer unsolicited advice when I promised to just listen.  To be forthright:  I suck at this.  If I am a 10 at finding resources, I am a 1.5 at not trying to fix things or relieve the pain of other people.

The book I ordered, Crones Don’t Whine by Jean Shinoda Bolen arrived along with the fancy shampoo and conditioner that I didn’t need but really wanted.  My hair looks pretty good and I started reading.  I’m all the way up to page 5 and I read this:  (The crone) can see flaws and imperfections in herself and others, but the light in which she sees is not harsh or judgmental. It got me ruminating about how and where to draw the lines in this and when it might be appropriate to jump the boundaries.  I think that what I need to be better at is that whole appropriate thing.

And the universe gave me a chance to test what I wanted to learn.

My son has stuff, too.  (See disclaimer above about not describing someone else’s stuff.) He contacted me yesterday to say he had punched a hole in the door to the laundry room because he was upset.  The next minute lasted about an hour.  Some of life flashed through my head just like a movie sans surround sound and popcorn–all of the times I have tried to advise/fix/tell/threaten/guilt/uplift/unsolicitedly help him.  I took a deep breath and realized that this was as good a starting place as any.  I replied to him with, “Okay.  I’m picking up dinner on the way home.  Do you want me to get something for you too?”  After a stunned silence he told me that would be great.  At home he flashed through the kitchen to grab his to-go container and hid out in his room.  I’m pretty sure he spent the night waiting for me to interrogate him and offer him advice.  I didn’t.  This morning we had a lengthy, awesome conversation about other things.  I listened as he talked about people trying to blame rather than own their choices.  I heard him talk about asking someone else how much time they were going to give to something that was bothering them.  Inside I smiled, listening to him repeat in his own terms concepts I parented into him.  As we were both getting ready to get on with our days I told him I had something to say.  I saw him pull up his interior walls and I said, “I am working on doing somethings better.  It would be helpful to me–and only if you want to–if you would let me know what would be welcome and unwelcome when you’re having a hard time.”  He looked a little gobsmacked and I felt a lot lighter.  Maybe today I moved from a 1.5 to a nervous 3.

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