Can You Sit With Me? (Guest Post: Robert Miller)
File this under relationship advice. But I think this will apply to far more than those who are romantic. Knowing how to *be* with one another, whether a survivor or not, is a life skill we could all use.
I’ve mentioned before that I come from a place of pretty hard and, in my opinion, rather toxic codependency.
And make no mistake, codependency is a survival skill, and the end goal IS CONTROL.
The sooner all of us realize this, the better. And the truth is that we all have a tinge of it. We want to be secure, to fix things, and to make “sure things” in life so that we can rest our minds and move on.
But this control, this meddling is a drain on the system, where you’re incessantly striving for more and more, relentlessly *trying* and never satisfied. We HATE ourselves and don’t take the time to nurture and believe ourselves WORTHY of love, and scramble to try to fix it, to right a sinking ship.
But we’re righting the wrong ship.
When sharing life with a survivor, you’re bound to come across days where they’re just not ok. If you’re a codependent mess, you’re gonna mess with that shit, and they’re going to wind up having to take care of YOU instead of themselves.
There’s going to be days where you’re sitting beside them and they’re staring into their darkness. If it’s about YOU, if it’s about whether or not YOU’RE secure, you’re not going to be able hold their hand and let them be where they’re at.
So, if you want this to last, and if you desire them to be able to take refuge in your heart, then take some time to start studying the art of listening now. Personally, I’ve started to take a few minutes every week to hunt down Ted Talks on the subject, etc.
You see, it’s not a technique, but I’ll be honest, techniques aren’t a bad thing when you’re learning a new skill. Practicing a technique can help you develop a skill that will come naturally. Recently, I found this TedX talk, and though some of it is hit or miss, I really enjoyed one aspect of it: RASA.
R – Receive
A – Appreciate
S – Summarize
A – Ask
Personally, I have in the past had a habit of listening for a moment, and then wanting to interject with my own stories. I find an “oh me too!” moment in my past, and mistakenly take over.
Though not a deal breaker, if this happens over and over and over and over, it’s bound to shut a person down. They never get their full turn to speak and share their pain.
This acronym has given me a mental construct to shut that urge down. And I kid you not, if you take the moment to hone in on receiving what they are saying, appreciating it for what it is, you will tune into THEIR heart and mind, rather than your own insecurities.
It becomes about THEM and not about YOU.
I mean, isn’t that what YOU want when you speak? To be heard.
I think that one of the hardest things that was ever said to me is when I was spending time with one particularly dear inside person of Jade. We’ll call her my “Sweetheart.” I’ve known her AND Jade for many years.
My sweetheart is especially precious to my heart, and sometimes, many times she has grief to express and needs a safe place to rest that sorrow, or a friend to cry with. In the past, I haven’t always been terribly comfortable with that. I was taught as a child that if my mother was upset and sad, that it was my fault and I HAD TO FIX IT.
This is a lie.
I mean, if you’re directly responsible for the pain, sure, make it right. But if not, I hereby give you permission to sit, be still and simply listen.
But anyway, back to my Sweetheart… she asked,
“I feel like you don’t want me to be sad. Like I’m not ALLOWED to be sad with you. Can you be with me, even if I’m not happy?” “Of Course! Of course!” I replied. I desperately wanted this to NOT be true. We were silent for a moment. Sometimes the truth is like a knife to the gut. She’s right. I was not allowing her to be sad. My heart sank.
You see, I have very special relationships with many within Jade’s system. But Jade and my Sweetheart, well, they’re something on the next level for me. Sweetheart and I have been through a lot together and parallel with one another. I’d hurt her badly in the past. Her forgiveness is immensely strong and sweet. My own self-hatred can come like a torrent.
I desperately wanted her to be happy… I wanted to fix it, because I HAD NOT FORGIVEN MYSELF.
I sat with that for a moment, and I immediately resolved in myself that my pledge to be with her in whatever state, and her equal pledge of the same was tantamount to love.
The other day, Jade reminded me as I was in a strange state, that I deserve to not have to be calculated or *fix* myself for the sake of another.
She reminded me that I deserve someone to be by my side in whatever state I’m in. (outside of abuse, of course)
You, the reader know of the darkness I’m alluding to. I’m grazing the surface of the dark dark realm of healing here. Each of you have your own stories. Whether mental abuse, torture, etc… we all have our share of the shit we have to sift through.
Your partner, or your best friend, they have their stories.
That person who reaches out to you to talk, they have a story.
We ALL WANT TO BE HEARD.
So, I urge you. Practice putting on your listening ears little ones. Practice the uncomfortable yet beautiful discipline of sitting silently in the darkness with your love.
Receive it… believe it… touch… be still.
Cry with them.