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Being too helpful versus letting go....
June 14, 2002
2:37 pm
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scherza
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In the Fullness of Time
by Patricia Lynn Reilly

During a chaplaincy training seminar, we were told this story: A camper noticed a moth pushing, straining, and struggling to get out of its cocoon. It was a disturbing site to the camper. When she could take it no longer, she extended the tiny slit-opening of the cocoon. The moth was freed. It fell to the ground and died. The camper was devastated. Her intention had been to help.

Inspired by the story, I investigated the moth’s life. Its life-cycle from egg to adult moth is orchestrated by a remarkable inner mechanism of "right timing" that leads to each new transformation. This inner timing allows for the emergence of the larva to coincide with an adequate food supply, for the outgrowing of each of its skins, for the location and creation of the cocoon, for the length of its state of lethargy, and for the perfect timing of its emergence as a fully-formed adult mot to, coincide with conditions adequate for its survival.

The struggle against the walls of the cocoon supports the moth's metamorphosis by strengthening its wings and releasing fluids to enhance its coloring. The camper, unaware of the trustworthiness of timing and the sacredness of struggle in the moth’s cycle, cut open the cocoon. This premature release led to the death of the moth. Swirling in her own discomfort, she intruded in the moth’s life process. Yet the moth was content in the midst of its own trustworthy process, a process essential to its development.

Like the moth, each of us is an emerging healthy adult whose process is orchestrated by a finely tuned inner timing. In the fullness of time, when a behavior begins to hamper, press, and squeeze us, we twist and turn until we burst out of the old skin and are freed at a deeper level of our existence. Each time a memory or feeling is ready to be acknowledged out of decades of denial, it gnaws its way to the surface through a dream or a sensory memory, through a movie, or by reading the stories of others. In the fullness of time, it is remembered or felt. The trustworthy timing of our Inner Wisdom leads us to each new transformation when we are ready.

Across a Respectful Distance
When we are caught up in the swirls of others, they become a burden to us. Settled and grounded in the serenity and responsibility of our own lives, we become free to support others in ways that enhance them and do not dizzy us. Practice the following ritual to support you to befriend your own life and to honor the lives of others across a respectful distance.

Acknowledgment 1: "I am not responsible for the swirling thoughts, feelings, behaviors and actions of_________. I become dizzy when I step into his/her swirls."

Acknowledgment 1 reminds us that we are limited and finite, that some things cannot be changed no matter how hard we try, no matter how desperately we want to rescue, fix, or work things out, no matter how genuine our concern or profound our love. Some burdens are not ours to carry: The life choices of a loved one. The moodiness of a friend. The addiction of a co-worker. The struggle of an adolescent. The depression of a relative. The changing nature of life. Acknowledgment 1 reminds us of the organic consequences of stepping into the swirls of others. We become dizzy.

Personalize Acknowledgment 1 by naming the particular person and the nature of their swirls, and by outlining the particular ways you become dizzy: "I am not responsible for the swirling thoughts, feelings, behaviors, and actions of _________. I become dizzy when I step into his/her swirls: ___________, ___________, ___________, and ________."

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Acknowledgment 2: "I have come to believe that a Deeper Wisdom is at work in his/her life and in my own. The Deeper Wisdom restores me to the serenity of my own life and will remind me of the way home to myself and to the fulfillment of my own personal responsibilities."

Acknowledgment 2 invites us to remember the god of our understanding. The use of "deeper" acknowledges that a woman’s journey is one of descent. Instead of looking to a god or higher power outside of our lives, we look deep within to reclaim forgotten aspects of ourselves. The use of "wisdom" acknowledges that in our descent we rediscover the original Wisdom that orchestrated our days and development in the very beginning of life. We have come to believe that Deeper Wisdom restores us to wholeness and to a loving relationship with ourselves and others.

Personalize Acknowledgment 2, naming the swirl and using the metaphors in harmony with your own spiritual beliefs: "I have come to believe that a Deeper Wisdom/God/Goddess is at work in _________'s life and in my own. Deeper Wisdom/God/Goddess restores me to the serenity of my own life and will remind me of the way home to myself and to the fulfillment of my own personal responsibilities."

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Acknowledgment 3: "I turn __________ over to the Wisdom of his/her own process. I will not violate ________’s intellectual, spiritual, emotional boundaries. Across the distance, I choose to honor and respect ________’s journey, the trustworthiness of its timing and the sacredness of its struggle."

Acknowledgment 3 invites us to take responsibility for the ways we have trespassed the lives of others. When we get caught up in the swirls of another we assume we know what is best for them. We trespass their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. We are invited to lay down burdens we were not meant to carry, to "turn them over" to a wisdom deeper than our own, to let them go into the wise flow of life. We choose against intruding in someone else’s life-process. We cannot know the Deeper Wisdom for another person’s life. Acknowledgment 3 invites us to accept that "even between the closest human beings infinite distances continue to exist." (Rilke) It invites us to love the distance by seeing the "other," whole and against a wide open sky!

Personalize Acknowledgment 3: "I turn __________ over to the Wisdom of his/her own process. I will not violate ________’s intellectual, spiritual, emotional boundaries. Across the distance, I choose to honor and respect ________’s sacred journey, the trustworthiness of its timing and the sacredness of its struggle."

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Examples To Inspire You

Step 1 Acknowledgment: I am not responsible for the swirling thoughts, feelings, behaviors and actions of my alcoholic son. I become exhausted when I step into his swirls to try to rescue him. I neglect important work responsibilities because he consumes my thoughts.

Step 2 Acknowledgment: I have come to believe that there is a Deeper Wisdom at work in his life and in my own. He will find his own way in the fullness of time - not to be orchestrated by me. The Deeper Wisdom will restore me to the serenity of my own life and will remind me of the way home to myself and to the fulfillment of my own personal responsibilities.

Step 3 Acknowledgment: I turn my son over to the Wisdom of his process. Across the distance, I honor and respect his sacred journey. I will not violate his boundaries by opening his mail, listening to his conversations, or monitoring his money.

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Step 1 Acknowledgment: I am not responsible for the swirling moodiness of my young adult daughter when she arrives home from a job that she hates. I become exhausted when I try to convince her of how much happier she'd be if she found a new job. I neglect my own need for a walk and forego a break from her children after a day at home with them.

Step 2 Acknowledgment: I have come to believe that a Deeper Wisdom is at work in her life and in my own. She will change things when she is ready or when she is miserable enough. The Deeper Wisdom will restore me to the serenity of my own life and will remind me of the way home to myself and to the fulfillment of my own self-care responsibilities.

Step 3 Acknowledgment: I turn my daughter over to the Wisdom of her own process. I will not violate her boundaries. Across the distance, I choose to honor and respect her sacred journey.

Written by Patricia Lynn Reilly. Copyright, 2002. Excerpt from e-book "A Deeper Wisdom: The Twelve Steps from a Woman's Perspective" and from "I Promise Myself: Making a Commitment To Your Life & Dreams" (Conari, 2000) Available to purchase from http://www.openwindowcreations.com.

June 14, 2002
8:03 pm
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time4change
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hey scherza this is so out of the norm for me to read something so long but I really liked this. How many people in life will live their lives and go through total hell just because they can't learn these concepts. The more we practice them the easier thay are to live by.

June 14, 2002
10:25 pm
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nikka
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Thanks, Scherza, for both copies. This is good and so is Patricia Lynn Reilly. Life is about acceptance, at least when we live it fully. We confuse acceptance w/ inhalation. :)But acceptance is merely seeing and letting be -- the moth exiting the cocoon. Some things require only notice, no comments. Love you.

T4C -- So right. That's true of anything. Now, weren't you a more accomplished alcoholic just before you stopped drinking than when you first began? Practice always makes perfecter. *smile*

June 15, 2002
12:33 am
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time4change
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oh yes nikka you can say that for sure, very much practice. Also what is important to us we will not forget. I hear people say, and have said my self many of times I just forgot to call you, just an example. BUT if it's important you don't forget. Would I have ever gone to the grocery store and forgetting to buy my beer, NO but I might have forgotten the milk are bread. It's as simple as making priorty in changes and acceptance in our life. My sister is the best at saying "I just don't have the time" but I bet she would be the first one to MAKE time to go pick up winnings from the lottery.

June 15, 2002
12:11 pm
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nikka
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Too true, T4C. I have always remembered what's been most important to me. I don't forget to shower these days, but sometimes I forget to do paperwork on time!! hahahahaha

Sure, I'll have another. Thanks.

June 17, 2002
2:57 pm
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scherza
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Glad you all liked this. It struck a chord for me...and resonated in my heart. Both as the rescuer and as the rescuee. I feel abandoned when left to struggle with my cocoon...I have difficulty watching others struggle with theirs.

Just the other day I saw a young woman with a small baby on the side of the freeway with an overheated car...in 100+ degree heat in the middle of rush hour traffic. I pulled over to help. She didn't speak English and she was terrified. My 15 year old daughter was with me. We reassurred her that we would take her and her little baby daughter where ever she wanted to go...to get her safely out of the heat and the 8 lanes of traffic.... She hesitated...climbed in...and gave us a street corner to drop her off onto. Her baby looked slightly dehydrated. I mentioned that it was ok for her to breast feed in the car...I had a blanket...and some water for mama. She refused all help...except the ride out of the heat. She didn't look me in the eye once...she looked down. We got her to the street corner...a neighborhood I was familiar with from years ago. Three apartment complexes on that corner. She kept saying, "muchas gracias...muchas gracias...muchas gracias..." as she ran out of my car, huddling her baby along with her. I honored her boundary of not wanting any more help...even though it hurt my heart to do it. My daughter watched it all with amazement. She said that she never knew that people actually lived like that. My Christian daughter said that she was going to pray for her....and would I send her positive energy, too.

My kid is the greatest!

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