I noticed a progression in my last two blog posts. I can see that I was exploring the ways that one gives oneself over to another. How someone can give up themselves, in the context of a life, and in the context of a conversation with a friend.
Since my last post I had an opportunity to explore the question of giving oneself up in the context of an important and intimate friendship.
Again the precipitating event wasn't a big deal: Marti and I have had a standing date for breakfast every Saturday for years and years. Our usual practice has been to email each other to confirm it. I didn't this time, because we'd stated our intention at the prior week's breakfast. Marti is a highly responsible and reliable person. I didn't think it necessary. But that Saturday I arrived, and she didn't.
I made several phone calls, and even texted her (a big deal for me since I don't have a texting plan with my phone). No answer; I gave her a half hour and left. It worked out fine, since my grocery store was close by and I used the time to do the week's shopping. I hoped she was ok.
Later in the day I found a message from her in my voice mail, with a heartfelt and sincere apology...she'd completely forgotten and had driven out to Toni's place in the Gorge. I felt myself move into the wonderful place of our hearts meeting and dissolving any rift, until her message kept going and she said something about us "missing each other", a misunderstanding. It's "dangerous" to not call her.
Which brought me up short. "Misunderstanding", and "missing each other" belonged to a different kind of reality, one where there was sort of a shared responsibility. There was no misunderstanding or confusion on my part: we have a standing date every Saturday, we'd agreed that it was on when we last saw each other, so I'd seen no need to confirm. "It's Marti" was what I thought; she doesn't need reminding. So I understood perfectly. And we didn't "miss" each other because she was nowhere near me.
The inconsistency of the world she was coming from with the world I was living in was a small one. She was saying a happened, and I was pretty sure it was b.
So what do I do with this? I didn't call her for several days as I thought it over. One--it wasn't that big a deal. The place wasn't far from my house, I got my shopping done, all I lost was a half hour (the cafe even bought my coffee for me!). Maybe I did "share" some responsibility for having not contacted her to confirm ("but it was Marti") (and, confirmation goes the other way too. I'm not the designated confirmer). Two--it's such a small shift, the difference in our realities. Why not go ahead and let it pass without comment? Three--I can't think of a way to discuss this with her without seeming nit-picky and small Four--If it's important to her to believe that the mistake was between us, rather than her own, why not do a dear friend the kindness of letting her version of the story stand? Five--I can't think of any way to talk about this that doesn't sound like I'm a bully, forcing her arm behind her back til she says, "OK! It was my fault! All my fault!" Six--I can't think of any way of talking about this that wouldn't seem accusing, wouldn't make her defensive, wouldn't bring on counter-accusations...wouldn't alter our friendship.
I see that all of the above was a classic and nearly involuntary talking myself out of something by putting my own self into doubt. It's simple. I love Marti and want to be in connection with her. That connection is threatened, potentially, by correcting her version of the story. If I break connection with mySelf, as I was systematically doing above, I can stay in connection with her.
The trouble with that is, I'd have to be out of Self-connection on an ongoing basis, because what I know to be true would be like the pea under the mattress.
Another problem with talking about it with her though, is that I (also nearly involuntarily) take on the perspective of the person I'm talking to. And when I do, I can't get back to whatever it was that was informing me. I only see myself through the other person's eyes, and in that context it's possible I am nitpicky, bullying, overly sensitive, legalistic, and accusing. And I come away feeling totally yucky and confused. I suppose fear of that can be added as a number Seven above.
Sharon said I allow the Other's perspective in out of a desire for fairness. But once the Other's perspective is in me I lose myself. The door is closed and I can't get back.
I thought about it over the week. Particularly interesting was the hint that I was attempting connection with the Other in taking on their perspective. I was attempting to be at One with them, but it was at the price of my connection within my Self.
So when I saw Sharon again I said, "So the question becomes, how can I be open to Another's perspective without losing myself?" She said, "By becoming One with them."
She said, "If you consider the Other to be a part of you, and that other is yelling at you, it's very different to wonder why you are yelling at you? What's angry in my Self?"
Now is this really possible? Really?