“If you can’t change the circumstances, change your perspective.” ~Unknown
I was the one who was the designated driver in high school and college. I wanted to be in control of how I arrived and left a party. Besides, the taste of alcohol did not please, so it was a win-win situation in my mind.
Then, a decade later, I found myself dating someone who was addicted to drugs. I thought if he could just hang around me, see how I found joy without being altered by substances and bask in my love, then he could stay sober.
In the midst of it, I didn’t see that I wanted to have control over him.
I didn’t see that my annoyance with his victim mentality, blaming external relationships and circumstances for his situation, reflected my own victim mentality and judgment.
And the joy I wanted him to emulate from me was really just tears of the clown, because I wasn’t aligned with my true self.
Pain is a Mirror Image
The pain I felt was a mirror to his pain. He felt shame and judged himself harshly for using; I felt shame and judged myself harshly for not being where I thought I should be in my career, and for the way I looked as I packed on the pounds of responsibility he never asked me to take.
It wasn’t until I gave up on wanting him to change that I found peace. I realized I wasn’t in pain because I loved this person. I was in pain because he wasn’t acting how I wanted him to act. I was in pain because I deemed a specific path to joy and expansion, and he wasn’t taking it.
Accept the Other, Accept Yourself
After I realized that I could be at peace by accepting who he was and his choices, I could finally accept my responsibility for our relationship and for bringing him into my life. I decided to love him for the being he was, and most importantly, to love myself.
My relief was astounding. I started meditating daily and allowed myself to listen to my truth. I let go of the weight of trying to be his savior, and that translated into inches off of my body. It was like dense matter had seamlessly transformed into light.
When I began to love myself, I empowered myself to make healthy choices. Since I knew I couldn’t change him, I figured out that it was my preference to no longer be around that environment. So I decided to leave it.
I understood that he used drugs to obtain relief and to be soothed from his troubles, which is what we all try to do in different forms when we experience that contrast from where we are and where we want to be.
But I was closing that contrast gap for myself, and where I was and where he was energetically could not be in the same space for too long. I was still there for him as a friend, but as I grew one way our phone conversations became less and less.
This man has been one of my greatest teachers. He recently passed away, and ever since I learned of this, I have been hearing one of his favorite songs consistently on the radio, Levon, written by Elton John and Bernie Taupin.
This teacher of mine used to sit in his favorite chair and laugh and cry to that song. The protagonist, Levon, was a man seeped in tradition. He was born poor, and once he started making money, he became attached to it.
My ex saw himself as Levon’s son, who would blow up balloons all day (how his father made money) and watch them fly away. The son was a dreamer who wanted to go to Venus.
My friend, my love, did fly away in his physical form. I don’t know the circumstances that surrounded his death. I think he finally found in the non-physical what I learned to do in the physical—to love himself and find relief.
Getting to That Better Feeling Place
If you too are waiting on someone else, hoping they’ll change and realize their “potential,” and you’re feeling miserable as a result, it may help to do the following:
1. Realize that the only person you can change is yourself.
You can be a guide and an example, but ultimately change comes from within.
2. Accept the situation didn’t “just happen to you.”
You made a choice to enter this situation. When you accept responsibility for your part, thoughts, and reactions, you will be empowered to transform.
3. Accept the person for who they are and where they are.
By doing this, you will be living in the present moment and not putting blame for what happened yesterday and creating stories about what could happen in the future.
4. Connect with the feeling of relief.
Realize that underneath it all, the person is just trying to feel better, even though it might be in a harmful way, and you don’t approve of their choices.
5. Write down your dreams and preferences.
Focus on your inner world and what thoughts bring you to a place of joy. Decide how you choose to live and what’s healthy for you.
6. Be consistent.
And after you make this a consistent practice, the situation must change—either the person will start moving to where you are, or you will exit each other’s lives.
I certainly needed to take these steps and learn these lessons. I learned from him to go to Venus and dream. To listen to my true self and to follow a path that was aligned with thoughts of joy and smiles of inspiration.
When I became clear on my dreams and aligned with them, that gave me the motivation to move by the ocean and to take the first steps to leaving a legal career behind. I finally accepted myself. I finally felt like I knew who I was.
I am so grateful for where I am now, and I thank him for nudging me out of my comfort zone and for helping me learn acceptance, allowance, and awareness of who I really am. And now when I find myself thinking thoughts of those opposites, I can now blow up balloons, put those thoughts in them, and watch them fly away—with a smile, in my favorite chair.
Photo by Liz