Wednesday, January 23, 2008

CAT-scan Your Life

I was toodling along the other day, walking my sweet dog, I think, when this question popped into my mind: What kind of foundation do you need for change?

I ask this because I'm interested in the fine line between real obstacles, and the ones that only become obstacles if you let them.

So, for example, a real obstacle is having an abusive partner. An obstacle you allow is having a partner who doesn't cook, placing the burden of dinner on your shoulders.

An abusive partner is all-encompassing; it is a cancer in your life, and one that you must cut out to be well enough to move forward. A partner who doesn't cook calls for negotiations; fine, I cook, but you give me time to myself in the morning, when no cooking is required, or we get takeout on Wednesdays, etc.

I feel very fortunate, because most of the obstacles I've faced have been ones I can negotiate and minimize till they're almost nonexistent. I'm healthy, I have a wonderful family, and a safe, secure home with a supportive husband (and an exemplary dog!). I have been in positions in the past with very real obstacles: an abusive boss, a truly bad relationship, friends who behaved more like vampires than like friends.

In order to get to the place of health and well-being, I had to cut out the evils in my life that threatened to choke the breath, the will to live, out of me.

Evaluate where you are: Are you in a place with a cancer that needs removing? Even if this is a real obstacle, it is not insuperable. You can overcome it, but you might need to focus all your energies--like the concentrated beam of a laser--to rid yourself of it. Once you do, all the little stuff will seem like small beans, and you will find yourself much more capable of setting the goals for following your bliss.

So go ahead, do a CAT-scan of your life. Are you healthy, in a place that gives you the room for breath and growth? Or do you have an emotional cancer, something big and malignant that must be dealt with?

My guess is that you know where you fall; if you're healthy, then you have no excuses and everything to gain from moving forward. If you have a sickness in your life--abuse, addiction, vampires of the soul, crushing debt--you know what you have to do. You're not alone, and you have my support, and the support of others who have survived such situations. Feel free to ask questions here, in the comments, anonymously if you want. Good luck and god speed. Know that you will be healthy again.

And for those that check out clean, don't squander your good fortune--get to work on living; there's nothing holding you back.

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Sara said...

The dragon lurking behind me is self doubt about my wisdom and judgement. I have always thought of myself as able to look at a situation and make good, considered decisions. I've also been pleased with myself for not being the kind of person to get up in other people's business. I thought it was wise to live and let live, good judgement to trust others' judgements about their own affiars.

But this seems to have failed me. I watched an organization I care about, people I care about, friends I care about make huge mistakes for which they and others suffered. No one faults me for any of it. It wasn't my responsibility, not my job, not my problem.

I remember hearing people say things that gave me pause; but, I thought to myself, they're professionals -- they don't need me to tell them how to do things. The things that bothered me didn't seem like big problems at the time, but they were things I wouldn't have done myself, things I am against. I knew that the people responsible weren't trying to do anyone harm. They were just doing their jobs. I realized too late that regardless of intentions, there would be harm. And I could not have imagined the extent of it: millions upon millions of dollars lost, careers ruined, good people emotionally wrecked.

None of it was my fault -- it wasn't my problem. But I could have said something. I can't know, but I suspect that if I had spoken up everything might have been different. It probably would have involved insulting people I care about, but I could have saved them.

What really bothers me is that I didn't merely fail to save them. Until it was too late, I didn't think they needed to be saved. I thought that doing nothing was precisely the right thing to do. I was more wrong than I'd ever been about anything before and I don't know if I'll ever trust my judgement like I did before.

Erzsebet said...

Red Flags to an Abusive Relationship:

(New Directions Shelter, Knox County, Ohio)