“Before I can actually support you in this task,” she said, “there is something I need to clear up between us.”
For a very long time, because I was afraid of feedback and conflict, it never occurred to me that everyone is 100% responsible for their own experience on this planet; how they feel, think, believe, speak, behave… all of that is something they have to be accountable for, as I do for myself. It seemed easier, at the time, (rolling eyes, now) to just be 200% responsible for what was going on in the relationship. This meant that everything was mine to fix.
The truth is, nothing in a relationship is just one person’s “fault.” A relationship is between two or more people and each of those people has 100% accountability for everything that is going on in the situation. Paradoxically, nothing that is going on in the relationship is about the other person.
I’ll let you ruminate on that for a few moments while I get back to my friend and the Big Talk that was about to happen…
When she said that she needed to talk with me, I felt my heart constrict for just one brief moment. Grateful that I have practiced for nearly 15 years to be open to feedback and I have gotten more clear about remaining only 100% accountable for what is going on in the relationship, it only took a couple seconds before I remembered that whatever she was going to say was not going to kill me on the spot. It might hurt, but I would live.
I haven’t always known that.
We found a quiet place to talk and she revealed that the reason there was “weird energy” between us was because she was holding me in a space of judgment and she needed to talk it through with me to process it.
I am all about supporting healing processes. Now, I am all about supporting the clearing of the air and I am all about hearing another’s judgment and allowing it to be their judgment; it does not have to become my truth. However, even with all of that, I was not prepared for the judgment that would come at me in the next second.
“I look at you and see this woman who is so overweight and I wonder why it is that YOU get to lead all those women tomorrow. I struggle with my own appearance, but you are way bigger than I am, so I don’t understand how it is that you get to get up on that stage…”
In the minute that followed, while she spewed words at me, I experienced a myriad of emotions and sensations. In the first moment, I was utterly stunned and completely unprepared for that judgment. There was a dull ringing in my head and my breathing got really shallow. Never, in a million years, did I think my weight was going to be the thing that needed to be cleared up between us. And… for one instant, my old self kicked up and began mentally wailing and asking, “How, for the love of all that is holy, am I going to fix me overnight?!”
While I reeled with that, I paid attention to her words. The ringing made it difficult to hear, so I had to focus intently; I had to really listen to her words and, by damn, the listening hurt! It was clear that she had no idea that she had just eviscerated me. She was oblivious to the fact that she had, literally, just said to me that she felt I didn’t have a right to lead women because I was overweight. She was so lost in her own experience of “getting clear” and talking it through that she was not aware enough to hear how her words could be affecting me. So, I stood there, listening to her, absorbing it, holding space for myself, and wondering… how do *I* feel about this?!
When she was done, she felt better and the air was clear for her; she was in a space where she could do what I had asked of her to support me. She was smiling and hugging me and thanking me for being such a safe space to heal. She felt relief. She was strong again and felt like a load had lifted from her shoulders. She felt confident in herself, now, and able to conquer the world.
Me, though? Where was I?
It was an interesting experience to hold space for her to get clear about something that was so personal to me, something that could have been received as an attack on my personal self. In the past, her words would have unhinged me and sent me spiraling downward into a dark chasm of self-betrayal, disbelief, and sabotage. I would have allowed those words to undo my progress and they would have been the only thing in my head when I stood on the stage to talk to an auditorium of women, resulting in the total loss of my own words and the ultimate dooming of my presentation.
However, as we walked out of the backroom where we had had the Big Talk, I felt strangely light. Sure, it did hurt to receive her judgment. Sure, it did give me pause and result in my own questioning. But, I realized that her judgment was about her and it wasn’t mine to make my own truth. Because it did hurt, I allowed myself time to be with that pain and learn from it. I asked myself, “Is it true that I shouldn’t be leading women because I am overweight?”
I allowed space for that question to bounce around in my head for a bit before realizing that it wasn’t my body that is here to lead women; it is my spirit and soul that is designed to lead humans to remember who they are and awaken them to their Light. And a split second later, after I remembered that, I saw with blinding clarity that anyone who holds me in a space of contempt because of how my body is shaped is actually not in alignment with my message, which is: Love, Healing, and Allowance. Anyone who cannot see beyond my frame and receive my message is not mine to awaken.
When we are are in a space of judgment, we have come to a conclusion about something. When we are in conclusion, we are at the end. A conclusion solidifies that which we have judged, thereby closing off all other avenues. Therefore, if someone is in judgment about me – or anything – and they are unwilling to clear that judgment, they have closed off any other options.
Because my friend was willing to get clear, she moved through that judgment and opened up to the fact that she was holding me in a space of less than her because of my body type, but the harsh reality of truth was that it was her own belief that she could not lead women because she was judging her own body to be less than perfect and she was actually holding herself back because of that.
If I hadn’t been open to receiving her feedback and allowing the space for her to heal, that energy would have festered between us and it would have terminated our relationship. Every judgment carries destruction within it because of the finality of it. When judgment settles in, it destroys everything else that does not match the conclusion within the judgment. The only way to clear the judgment is to recognize it and move through it.
Did it hurt to hear what she had to say? Hell yes. Did her judgment of me hold me back? Hell no. It could have, though, had I chosen to make her judgment my truth. Because it was a relationship I wanted to continue, it was my responsibility to listen to her; it was not my place to take on her judgment and make it who I am.
When a friend, family member, business partner, or lover comes to you and says, “There is something I need to clear up,” that is about both of you because they are experiencing something that needs to shift in the relationship. You have a part in that. Listen. Learn. Receive the feedback. Then question it for yourself, to find the part in it – if there is a part – that is yours, that you need to shift. And then do it.
Relationships are a mirror. The other person is often showing you something within you that needs to shift or reminding you of an old pattern that you have shifted. Any time you point your finger outward and blame the other person, you have left accountability. My friend pointed her finger at me and blamed me for being fat and we would have stayed there had she not been willing to be accountable, move through it, and find the truth in the matter.
As I said, a relationship is never about just one person and, conversely, it is never about the other person. You find the balance between the two through accountability. That is where successful relationships reside: in 100% accountability.