My houseplant taught me something, right before I left for this trip to Bali. I was doing my final plant watering before leaving and I noticed how happy my fern is in its current spot. It gets just the right amount of filtered sunlight for it to flourish. And it dawned on me: environment matters.
A cactus cannot grow in a swamp, and a lotus cannot grow in the desert. Environment matters.
This was a bit of an aha moment for me, because until then I had been telling myself, for so long, that “wherever you go there you are,” -which is totally true, but… environment matters too.
And that thought has traveled with me across oceans and continents to accompany me here in Bali.
From the moment I arrived, I’ve wondered what’s going happen when I get back to California. All I could think and all I can think is that when I try to reach people, 90% of the people I talk to will be “too busy”.
And I simply do not have the energy to chase people around and beg for a timeslot in their schedule.
Many of these people I love deeply, and their circumstances are not solely on them. I mean, shit, with the OBSCENELY high cost of living in California (especially the Bay Area), everyone is swimming against the current. But I’ve worked too hard and spent too much time designing my life around having time and space for my loved ones. So, to still feel like I have to chase people in order to have a relationship with them is beyond my capacity at this point. And it’s taken me ‘til now, here, across oceans and continents, to get honest with myself about it.
I’m not thinking of any one person in particular, I’m just speaking generally. I carve out time in my schedule for what I call Relationship Building and Maintenance, and I can think of very few people who do the same. Most of the people I carve out time for- to check in on, to see how they’ve been or what they’ve been up to, I would easily go six months to a year or two without hearing from them, unless I contact them. Except, of course, for the percentage of those people who only contact me if they need something from me (even if all they need is to hear themselves talk to me).
And don’t get me wrong, I love being there for people! But there needs to be balance and mutuality. If all I am to someone is: there, for them– then what kind of a relationship can truly be had?
Different relationships require different levels of attention and energy. I have plenty of mutual friendships where the give and take is the same and we still only manage to see each other every few months. That’s fine, and it works. Then there are people who I put so much energy into, and still only see them every couple of months.
I’m not looking for constant contact, or for people to revolve their lives around me. And I’m certainly not interested in anyone feeling obligated to put energy into a relationship with me. That would probably feel just as shitty.
I know this is not something personal. This is not something that people are doing “to me“. It’s just that they don’t have the time and space for this person that is Me. So, I’d rather put my energy into people who do have the time and space and energy.
It’s unfair to both of us (whomever the ‘us’ may be) if I try to wedge myself into any little slot of someone’s time. Because really, in doing that, I’m lowering my own self-respect, which is not an authentic way to live and love, and it’s not bringing my Truth to the relationship. I’m putting more on their plates instead of looking towards people who have room on their plates, and invite me to their feast. Wedging myself into someone’s schedule, and therefore life, also enables The Other to continue taking people for granted. And do I really want to spend my energy wedging myself into someone’s life? Wouldn’t it be better to simply open my arms and be met by another pair of opened arms?
I have cultivated a truly beautiful community of truly incredible people. I love my friends, just about as much one can love. But no matter how incredible they are, I can no longer carry the weight of my relationships. I have been down that road way too many times. I’ve cut out so many people from my past because of this very same issue (combined with them just being toxic people).
So, I am coming to terms with the fact that I may not have the same relationships when I return. This does not mean I am cutting people out, disowning, or closing the door. It just means that even the thought of how much energy I spent on people (especially in comparison to how little they spent on me), is exhausting.
So, I’m not going to do it. I will no longer work so hard to get a piece of other people’s time.
And this does not mean I don’t love them. In fact, it is going to be very difficult for me, because I love them. I love each and every one of my friends so, so much.
But I can no longer over-give and show up faster, further, and more available than others show up for me. I have to take a step back, and only give as much as has been given to me. Otherwise, I am just depleting what I have to give.
I will return to California with new boundaries and start looking elsewhere for people who can really understand and live this with me.
There is absolutely no love lost. The love is all still there, it just could not flourish in that space. So, the time and energy must be allocated elsewhere.
It’s time for this lotus to bloom.