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Yesterday I made a comment to someone that they were a joy to be around. Right after I made that comment it came to me to ask myself, “Am I joy to be around?”
I honestly had a tough time with this question. I rarely consider myself in those terms. The reasons I don’t see myself in this way go back to the earliest part of my life when I made some decisions about how the world was and how I was in it.
I realized that I think of myself as going it alone. You cannot be a joy to others when you are all alone. That made me feel a bit angry and chagrined at the same time.
Then it dawned on me. What if I was never going it alone? What if instead I've always had family, friends, and co-workers with me. What if instead of my belief that I’m alone I am in fact connected, interdependent, and part of a grand community? What if the belief I created for myself more than 40 years ago wasn't true? What if the world was on my side and had my back?
Well, in that case, I’d have had a posse. I’d have had people around me all the time. I’d have had love abounding. I’d have had support when I needed it. I’d have reached out to people when I was feeling low. I’d have a completely different experience of the world.
But then why did I make the choice to go it alone? Which was true? Did I have to go it alone or was the world there to help me and I was just ignorant of it? What if both were true? What if I did have support but in order to learn the value of that support I had to spend time thinking I was going it alone? What if the reason I went it alone was to simply have the experience of isolation and abandonment in order to come to this place and this realization?
Let’s consider this.
My first posse was my family. Here is where I made a decision to go it alone. My parents loved me but they had a lot of personal issues. I decided that their unavailability at certain times meant I needed to go it alone.
So as a boy I learned to not rely on people unless I in turn was doing something for them.
When I was five my dad asked me if I wanted to come live with him. My answer was, “Then who would take care of my mom?”
Already at this age I had established in my mind a world order. A world order that meant I had to go it alone and when I needed others I had convince them to help me. My trick was to solve problems for them. Then I could get what I needed.
I had made a decision that codependency was a workable life strategy.
Now, as I change and grow I realize that I have spent much of my lifetime hunkered down in survival mode, using old strategies. Now I discard those old strategies for new ones. Instead of survival mode I’m in thriving mode. In order to thrive I must live from a place of joy. If I am living in joy why would I go it alone?
The answer to me is, “I wouldn't”, and in fact I’m not. I just haven’t realized it in these terms. I hadn't transitioned my thinking to realize that these days I’m never going it alone. I have a lot of people in my posse:
- I have God
- I have my family
- I have my friends
- I have my therapy community
- I have my co-workers
- I have you all
I live in an abundance of support, encouragement, and friendship.
The truth is that I live connected and bound to many people. My realization this weekend is that I do not have to ever act like I’m going it alone. I do not have to hunker down when my mood is low. I do not have to hide when I make a mistake. I do not have to seclude myself with my small dreams.
I can ride with a posse in the hunt for my next adventure. I can take the liberty to explain my problems to another. I can get their help and support when my mood is down. I can live in joy and thrive in community.I hope that if you do not have it already that you to can come to this realization that you are connected and discard the belief that you are alone. You too can look for the support that is around you. It may appear hidden. It may seem unavailable from those around you who are caught in their own isolation and fear, but a posse awaits you. It may be in the form of new friends. It may not look like you expect it to. It may be that you must make the first connections and ask for the support you need. I encourage you to look for it as if it was a matter of life and death.