I was speaking to a friend of mine who I had known for many years the other day. I usually would hear about her partners life and how his business was going and how overwhelmed with busyness he was and how important it was that he felt supported. When they went away together, it would be to do things that he wanted to do like intense rock-climbing expeditions and treks and she would go along with it, even at the risk of her health sometimes. All I would hear about her life was how she hated doing her job and how she felt compelled to keep doing it so she ‘kept up’ with him. I would hear about how he would make decisions about his career, including moving overseas without any concern for her and how she may fit into the move. She would often sit and try to be ok about the compromise and pressure this put on their relationship and even had moved over to be with him but no sooner had she done that, he changed his mind and they both had to move back to Sydney.
Fast forward two years later, the same thing happened and he has moved overseas to follow his career path but this time she has decided that she will finally take the leap and leave her job, apply for a work visa and move over properly with him. She is going through all the usual emotions and fear of leaving the safe harbour of her role and the wage that comes with it but has started to notice something happening for her.
She is the one who is left to pack up the house and sell off any stuff they didn’t want to store and has noticed that as she keeps taking each step towards what she wants, support keeps coming in. No matter how challenging or impossible each step of the move is, she keeps getting supported by people. The car that had been taking ages to sell, sold this week. The clutter around the house since her decision to jump has cleared, bit by bit. She is noticing that she is beginning to feel lighter and lighter about the whole experience. She has several job opportunities waiting for her to arrive and she is moving to a country where her 51 years is respected and admired, whereas she was experiencing ageism and glass-ceilings here in Sydney which contributed to her fear of leaving her job, believing that she will soon to be unemployable and irrelevant. She was talking about the very thing that we all know and love to experience and that is flow. Things falling onto place when we follow our heart no matter what the perceived challenges are. She leaves next week and feels good about it, regardless of the fear inherent in change.
Then she shared with me that she had heard from her partner last night and that he wasn’t feeling so great about the move and that he wasn’t sure about staying there. She initially started to go into her usual role of concerning herself about his mental state and about how he was feeling under-challenged in the role and how he was bored. But then….something clicked inside of her as we spoke. She realised that she no longer had the energy left to keep worrying herself about his problems and choices and certainly not for his frame of mind. She realised that she had been walking around on eggshells with him for as long as she could remember, afraid of his reactions and worried about his mental health history, worried about his moods and temper. She had put aside her love of TV and Media, a role she had when they first met and was awesome at and had effectively made herself small next to him so that he didn’t feel bad or challenged by her. What clicked for her was quite profound because what she realised was how none of this had anything to do with him! She had been the one to choose to put his requirements ahead of her own. She had made the decisions based upon her judgement of him not being able to handle himself emotionally. In her attempt not to upset or challenge him, she had given him no choice but to turn up like he did and seem to take advantage of her like he did. But no-one can be taken advantage of unless they unconsciously let that advantage be taken. She had hit a point of release where she knew that for her to continue to feel the flow of life around and through her, she would have to make the choice to move overseas FOR HER, not for him and that she was the one who was able to take responsibility for herself and let him take responsibility for his choices.
It was beautiful to witness as years of self-judgement and weariness began to fall away. It doesn’t mean that the next while will now be all hearts and flowers and that it wont come with continued courageous steps and challenges in the story of their relationship but it does mean that their relationship can now become more of what it truly is. Each of them no longer able to continue to turn up the same way as before, a new, more real and authentic experience awaits.
So I ask, as a point of reflection and pondering, who is it that you are caretaking? Who do you put your life on-hold for and concern yourself about their well-being above your own and keep yourself small as a result? Who do you use as an excuse for not living your life? and what justifications do you keep telling yourself about why you do it so you feel like you have no other choice?