Thursday, May 28, 2009
Thursday, May 21, 2009
I sat in my chair thinking about how wrong it all was. How wrong that this man was yelling at this woman. How wrong that this woman was not able to ask a simple question to get further clarity. How wrong that this man was unleashing his frustration on this woman. How wrong that now it was two women and they were both crying. How wrong that these two women had been victimized by this man’s anger.
I wanted to walk across the room and hold those women. Hold them and tell them that everything was going to be okay. That this man was just a big bully and that his manners were terrible. That this man had lost himself and was too arrogant to see that you were just asking questions. I wanted to tell that man to get a hold of himself and have some compassion. I wanted to walk across the room and protect those women. Protect them from that man and his anger.
And all at once I wondered what it was in me that made me think that these women needed to be protected. I began to think about my own emotions and was completely uncomfortable in my chair watching this confrontation unfold. Confrontation is uncomfortable for me and I can’t be with it. I can’t just sit there and watch it unfold. I need to take action; I need to do something. And instead of doing anything, I continued to question myself and my motives as to what emotions were being stirred in me by just watching it all happen.
I felt uncomfortable, yes, but that was just on the surface. There was something more than discomfort there, something deeper. Underneath the discomfort I started to feel sadness. Sadness, not for the women being confronted, but for myself. Where did that come from? I could see my child-self in these women, and as a child I was incapable of protecting myself, I was incapable of standing up and speaking my mind--doing so would create a physically and verbally unsafe environment for me. As a child, I was unimportant and need not share my opinions because they didn’t matter, and wouldn’t be heard regardless. As I sat there and thought about these childhood feelings that were very much visiting me in the here and now, it occurred to me that somewhere along the line I became an adult.
And as an adult I have grown to learn that I can and do stand up for myself. I’ve learned that sometimes people get angry, even get angry with me. Sometimes the reason is valid, and sometimes it’s not. Whatever the reason, I’ve developed the skills to assess the argument, know its truth and address it accordingly. I’ve learned to own my part of that truth and discard the rest as I see fit. And then a flash of anger came.
As an adult I’ve learned these things, but as a child I hadn’t learned to protect myself. That job belonged to my parents. And they didn’t always do a good job. As I thought about that, the anger became stronger. Tears welled up in my eyes and my heart beat faster. What was this about? And almost without thinking, I began to sob, I began to yell, to spew, to actually feel the feelings instead of sitting in my discomfort and trying to shift the focus onto something or someone else.
This experience happened over a period of a couple of hours, some of it in a large group of people, and other parts in a smaller, more intimate setting . These interactions and thoughts were the result of my training in Process. Process, being actually processing what’s happening for me right here and right now. What’s going on, what’s happening in my body right here right now, rather than what am I thinking about and how can I shift the focus from myself to someone else?
From that experience I was able to let go of some of the past simply by reminding myself that it was just that: the past. And the rest of it I was able to let go of because I allowed myself to just be present with myself in the moment. I was able to own my feelings as they were coming up, and acknowledge them, hold space for them and then give them permission to be released. I don’t need to hold onto that anger because I’ve now been able to express it. In that experience I was able to feel it all and let go of it pretty quickly. I suspect other things may not be as “easy” to release. But the important thing is that I’m learning to exercise the muscle that allows me to really be present with myself rather than deflecting.
Staying in the here and now has no room for anyone but whomever your emotions belong to (that would be you). I encourage you to find something you can’t be with today, and then to own it. For me, it was confrontation. My hands got clammy, my heart raced, I physically felt uncomfortable. Find whatever puts you in that place and then be with it. Really be with it. Honor it. Have compassion for yourself and those feelings, those emotions. Stand up for yourself and those feelings and emotions. Address them and love them. Actually feel your emotions. When you do this, the discomfort you feel will no longer be for hiding; it will be for growth.
This post is also available at coachdian.com. As I continue to build that site, I am working towards putting all coaching related posts there. I welcome your feedback!
Thursday, May 7, 2009
Tuesday, May 5, 2009
Monday, May 4, 2009
A cell phone is ringing. I lift my head and see that I’m the only one in the room. It’s my phone. It’s Rick. I answer. He’s at the hospital. Doesn’t look good. 12-24 hours left. Doctors want us to say final good-byes. Final good-byes. Final. I stare at my journal. It’s still unfinished, the pen still in my hand. I set the pen in the crease between the two open pages and then close the journal. I get up and scan the room. What am I looking for? Final good-byes.
A man walks into the tiny consultation room. He greets me with his name, a consoling smile, and holds his hand out for me to shake it. I reach out my hand but I do not shake his. I tell him I’m sorry but I have to go. I tell him my father is dying and I just got a call. He pulls something from his breast pocket. He puts his business card in my hand and tells me to call him if I need anything. I think this is odd. I take his card and I walk out of the room. I put my sunglasses on. I walk outside. It’s raining. I keep my sunglasses on and my face towards the ground. I walk to my car.
Rain falls on my head but I don’t walk faster. I lift my head and see the cemetery as I use the keyless entry to unlock my car. My mother is just over there on the right. In The Mausoleum of The Resurrection. I think, “resurrection” is definitely the wrong word. It’s been years since I’ve come here to see my mother’s niche. I don’t feel her. She must not be here today. Maybe she’s with my father. Maybe she’ll greet him. The car door is open and I’ve been standing in the rain with the car door open thinking about my mother and this business of her greeting my father on the other side. How long have I been standing here? I get in the car. I close the door. I cry. I start the car. I begin to sob. I lay my head on the steering wheel and I sob. As quickly as it started, the sobbing ceases and I wipe my face. I put the car in gear and I drive to the hospital.
I call Reese on the way. I tell her my father is dying today. I tell her I’m on my way to say my final good-byes. My throat tightens; my chest feels as if it’s ready to burst, as if a thousand knives are scratching to get out, as if broken glass is running through my veins. I keep my tears silent. Now is not the time for an outburst. Now am I driving and talking and listening and waiting. There is no time for bursting now. She is sorry, but what can she say? She knows she cannot change it and she cannot make it better. She says something but I don’t hear her. I tell her I will be okay, that I’ll be fine. I tell her I will call her later. I hang up the phone. I tell her I love her.
The car has stopped in front of the hospital. I guess I’m here. I turn the car off and remove the key from the ignition. I stare at the steering wheel. Then out at the rain. The drops melt into the windshield. The wipers are mid-wipe. I take a deep breath. And another. I hear a melody in my head. Tom Petty seems to come to life: …and the wai--ting is the hardest part… I hear this on repeat like a broken record: the wai--ting is the hardest part… the wai--ting is the hardest part… the wai--ting is the hardest part… the wai--ting is the hardest part. The melody drifts away.
I take another deep breath before getting out of the car and into the rain. I have no umbrella. I stand in front of my car and look both ways for cars. What if I wait for a car and just walk in front of it? I see a car in the distance. The headlights spotlight the rain rushing almost sideways towards the ground. The car gets closer. I brace myself against the wind. The car passes me. I step out into the empty street and make my way to the inside of the hospital. There are people waiting in the lobby. There are people waiting at the information desk. I pass both of these areas and press the elevator up button. I have all the information I need. And I will do my waiting on the third floor. …the wai--ting is the hardest part…