May 3 - "J-Walking"

Sometimes you have no idea of where you are going to end up when you first begin a conversation; generally I have found that this is an excellent design…otherwise, I have a feeling I might have done a lot of u-turns instead of discovering the treasures that are just down the road. One example of this happened on a night when I eagerly had called the eClubSoda line at 5:28 PM as I typically do. I rejoiced as I heard the welcome beeps as one by one our wonderful members joined the call. It is my privilege each night to facilitate the conversation as our courageous members express the steps they are taking along their journeys to fulfillment.

About halfway through the call, I must have said something that piqued someone’s curiosity, and she asked me to tell them more about what I had just said. I am sorry that I cannot remember exactly what the topic was at the time, but that part of the conversation is actually quite insignificant right now. What is more important to me, however, is that this magnificent group of people heard an invitation to development in what I had said that I could not yet hear…and to them it was important enough to pursue. Lovingly, they asked me open-ended questions, gently leading me from where I had been to where I needed to go to learn more about myself and more about what life wanted me to see.

I heard many of the ideas we had shared together over the last few months being returned to me as precious gifts intended to help me learn more about why I felt so reluctant to make requests of others. I am such a beginner at making requests that yesterday I almost allowed my most passionate dream to be tucked away so that I could avoid the stretch it would take for me to develop in this area.

But my comrades had learned their lessons well. They continued to offer what they saw, and they gently, but in a committed way, asked me to go deeper into my fear until I understood it better. Then they asked me what my plan was in order to make sure I was able to kick this habit of avoidance! Wow! I felt very supported in my higher intentions.

The warning chimes were madly ringing letting us know that our time was about up. But before I hung up, I heard myself promising to journal...a little “J-Walking” as we called it...and to construct a list of individuals with whom I could practice making requests. I tried to get away with a short list, but they insisted on a long one!

I left the call realizing that I was in a complete state of terror. I felt like I wanted to cry.

“Me, making requests? Oh, no, not me,” I thought. I even felt a bit trapped.

Somewhere deep inside of me I heard a small voice whispering, “Journal...please. Just take this time and journal. And, why don’t you do it…right now?”

And that is exactly what I did. And I was stunned. I was stunned by the depth of the memory. I was stunned that it took me just five minutes to remember a moment when I lay in the darkness, my parents outside fighting, the police at the door, and I was lying in my bed alone. I was terrified. No one even opened my door to see if I were ok...ever. I had heard sirens and loud knocks on the door, and the police were in my house. I didn’t know if they were going to take my beloved, though drunken, father away, or both my mother and my father. I didn’t know when I opened my own door if I would be alone or if they would be out there, angry that I was emerging from the darkness. So rather than reaching out for the help that I so desperately needed in that moment, I pulled the covers over my head and wept. My dog lay by the bed, and I eventually joined him on the floor. I couldn’t ask him for help; he was scared, too. And all I knew for sure was that since I didn’t know where to go for help, I would stay where I was, overwhelmed and afraid and almost alone...and very, very quiet.

No one had ever taught me that there was anywhere to go for help or even how to ask for it if I had known where to go. I was frozen in the fear and the terror of that moment. I realize now that whenever I have even thought about making a request, I have revisited that same fear. It unconsciously has prevented me from reaching out. Avoiding the fear has kept me in a place of overwhelm, terror, feeling alone, and very, very quiet.

Once I knew what was operating my fear, I was able to step through it to the place of discovering where to go to ask for help. I know the mechanics of making a request; I just have not known how to break through my resistance. Up until then, I had just automatically gone “under the covers.” I began to see that I could do it differently. I could do it by first naming the fear…with the help of my friends…then exploring the fear through “J-Walking”… and then creating a plan to practice making requests. I have since refined my intention and started to practice making these requests in partnership with others.

Words cannot express my gratitude to the members of eClubSoda for their healing listening and loving questions that night. Thank you so very, very much! I felt surrounded by support and safety and love. I will never forget it, and I will never be the same. You have touched me, and I have grown.

There is a poem by Roy Croft that I memorized in college a very long time ago. It is entitled simply “Love.” The poem reminds me of the people on eClubSoda tonight.

It goes like this (I have taken license with the format to conserve space):

I love you, not only for what you are, but for what I am when I am with you.

I love you, not only for what you are making of yourself, but for what you are making of me.

I love you for the part of me that you bring out;

I love you for putting your hand into my heaped-up heart

And passing over all the foolish, weak things that you can’t help dimly seeing there,

And for drawing out into the light all the beautiful belongings

That no one else had looked quite far enough to find.

I love you because you are helping me to make of the lumber of my life not a tavern, but a temple;

Out of the works of my every day not a reproach but a song.

I love you because you have done more than any creed could have done to make me good,

And more than any fate could have done to make me happy.

You have done it without a touch, without a word, without a sign,

You have done it by being yourself.

Perhaps that is what being a friend means, after all.

What distinction might you be missing that may be keeping you from making your greatest contribution to the world?Do you have a committed group of listeners to help you identify what you need to know that you may not yet be able to recognize by yourself? What does being a friend mean to you… after all?

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