Wednesday, May 25, 2011

...You Have to Know Your Role...

Or as Biggie might have said, “Play your position.”

You’ve heard this before, haven’t you?

People come into your life for a reason, a season, or a lifetime. When you figure out which one it is, you will know what to do (for) each person.

In short...
  • "Reason People” come in, do their thing (meet a purpose for you), and they’re out as quickly as they came.
  • “Season People” are supposed to almost always be a blessing. They bring wonderful things to your life and then they fade away. (I miss my “special-plastic-key ring-playing-musically-gifted” friend. There, I said it. Now fly, little thought, into the universe, and be heard!)
  • “Lifetime People” are those folks you’re stuck with, good or bad. And you learn a lot of foundation-building, life-shattering, core-shaking stuff from them, good or bad. What you learn from them goes with you everywhere into all your other learning experiences. Sometimes they are love and light, and sometimes they just suck. They are always there until one of you… isn’t.

Well, we’re all people, right?

So even though when most of us read this, we think of who the various players are in our life and whether they are Reason, Season, or Lifetime People, how often do we stop to think which type of person we might be to someone else?

You probably don’t have to think very hard to conjure up the image of someone in your life that, as best as you can figure serves no purpose in space or time. I mean, really, utterly useless as a human being in general, and more specifically someone you’ve fantasized about pushing down a flight of stairs. Not necessarily a co-worker or passing associate but people more deeply implanted in your life either by accident, incident, or family ties.

It’s tempting to try and take the spiritual approach and look for ways this person might be the messenger of a very critical life lesson. But then, what do we do when we realize this individual is as dumb as a jar of dog doo, and only half as practical? Aside from faking our own death, there’s only so much dodging that can be done to avoid these people.

So I find myself in the position of waking up to an old, familiar leech back in my life, who for the sake of this post, we’ll refer to as “Parasite.”

Parasite has the amazing ability to accuse you of wrong-doing if you don’t give them advice and then snapping your neck if you do give them advice. If you offer a roundabout suggestion, they complain that you aren’t being detailed enough. If you give instructions complete with pie charts, and moving graphics, they complain that you’re being pushy and that they don’t need your help.

If you do nothing, they blame you for their downfall.

If you do everything you can, they blame you for their downfall.

Not surprisingly, when things go well, you had nothing to do with it.

I have tried quietly backing away from this person, sitting near by, but playing dumb, and just holding them tightly and tirelessly while they sob and sulk, and every last option has left me bitten, bruised, and bloody.

I couldn’t figure out why this person was ultimately a constant source of misery and not an ounce of redemption. If you don’t like me, and think I’m mean, or I’m always out to hurt you or sabotage you, and you think that I don’t do enough for you, why do you keep hanging on to my arse like a sticky poopball whenever I decide to walk away? What on earth is the point?

I was talking to an old mutual friend about my situation and how this person was back in my life. I asked how she managed to avoid this person all these years.

“Just lucky, I guess.” She mused. “But whatever happens, keep your head up, and keep the faith. God will bless you for it.”

You all know how I feel about God and how I think He feels about me, so I wasn’t really in the mood to hear that. I needed a solution, and I needed it yesterday, if not, sooner.

A few days went by and I had apparently ignored one too many phone calls from Parasite because they showed up on my doorstep.

I seriously stood there with my face scrunched up and my hand over the peep hole contemplating my next step, mad that I hadn’t signed up for the CCW class yet and wondering why I felt compelled to obey the law and take the class before I bought the gun.

But I had a hammer.

And then I remembered I had a bat and calculated how fast I would have to open the door and swing in the same motion so Parasite would never know what hit them. If I was really fast, I could move to a new state before they came to. That could work.

Unfortunately, by the time I got the bat and had slowly and quietly turned the top lock, I noticed just barely in the frame of the peephole, my neighbor in the hall staring at Parasite knocking nonstop on my door.

I hadn’t planned for a witness.

I relented and opened the door, explaining away the bat by saying it was for Pilates.

Of course, Parasite unloaded their usual doom and gloom monologue, and then waited for me to tell them what to do. And of course, every question I asked for clarity was met with an accusation of somehow asking the wrong questions or not being helpful enough.

Parasite blabbered on angrily and I put up my imaginary negativity deflection shield and zoned out.

I’m glad I did because in the middle of zoning out, my friend’s words came back to me: “God will bless you for it”

That was the initial moment it occurred to me that I was looking in the wrong direction for an answer to my question. It was starting to look like I was meant to be the answer to someone else’s question. Still you can’t help someone that doesn’t really want to be helped as much as they want to complain about how much help they need. All I could do at that point was listen, and try to really hear what it was Parasite needed.

I like to think of myself as a fairly good listener.

I enjoy the sounds of different voices, accents, dialects, pronunciations, and speech patterns. I believe you can learn so much from listening so I take every opportunity to do so. I listen to the words, the breaths, the nuances bouncing or flowing between them, and I watch the nonverbal cues. I do these things because I like to do them. And if it turns out to be helpful, then all the better.

I’m not too bad at hearing either. Just because I enjoy the sound and the rhythm of the words doesn’t mean I don’t get the meaning of the words. I might not fake all the so-called signs of active listening (mimicking your motions, prolonged eye contact, leaning in close and dropping pointless feedback comments: “aha” “I see”) but if and when I want to, I can listen to anyone without prejudice, personal filters, and with kindness.

Sadly, I didn’t want to. I wanted Parasite out of my home, eating up all my vittles, ranting about nothing, and expecting me to blow up balloons and hang streamers for their pity party. I listened anyway.

When it was all over but the shouting, what I believe I heard was that Parasite was indeed a mess, but somewhat enamored with the messiness. Parasite never wanted a solution, just to complain- endlessly- about the number of problems there were to deal with.

Me, sincerely: What can I do?
Parasite: What?
Me, losing patience and sincerity: What is it that you need from me to help you with your situation?
Parasite: If I knew what I needed, I wouldn’t be over here.

A full meal, two cupcakes, and several freeze pops later, I was finally able to send Parasite on their way without much more than a “good luck.” (and a few more freeze pops for the road)

I tried to enjoy the silence and the pleasure of being alone again in my own space, but I couldn’t stop thinking about everything and if Parasite wasn’t meant to be a Reason/ Season/ Lifetime person for me, what was it I was supposed to be for them? I wondered if the only way to get this person out of my life was to serve my purpose so they could get me out of their life.

But how do I do that?

I flashed back to something I’ve read over and over again in materials at my job: You didn’t cause it and you can’t cure it. 

In other words, don’t take it personal. Do the best you can, don’t over-think it, and leave room for the next person to make their own choices. It’s not your job to make everything all better.

As much as I would like to believe that my role as a Reason/Season/Lifetime Person for Parasite (or anyone) could be meaningful and help set them on the right path, I understand and accept that everyone’s needs are different. Maybe all they need from me is to be present, visible in the picture, but not necessarily involved.

It’s a human responsibility to participate in life. Sometimes it’s your life and you accept the privilege and weight for all of the plot twists. Sometimes it’s someone else’s life and you’re just meant to be a performer and entertain them in an act of distraction.

Whatever happens, keep your head up and keep the faith. God will bless you for it.

Stuck in my head right now...
My mom used to like to watch my sister and me sing and act this song out...
The Shirelles - Foolish Little Girl

Cassie strikes again. She sang one line last weekend and it's been stuck ever since... Busta Rhymes f/ Kelis "What It Is" (and you get a bonus track with the video!)

And another thing...
If you happen to run into "Special...musically gifted" guy, tell him to send me some new music!! [AngelRose111 AT] Or at least let me hear some snippets from his new CD...please?!

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