In my book, Above the Clouds, I share about my journey in the first three decades of my life, all of the lessons I learned, many of the people I met, and a lot about the painful transformations I chose into. One of the experiences that I am forever grateful for came through my willingness to bring down my acidic walls and hateful energy that was directed at one specific person. This excerpt from Above the Clouds describes how things began with a woman who became one of the greatest influences in my life and grew to be one of my dearest friends:
My first [life changing] experience came in the guise of an adversary. She was a teeny-tiny petite, sexy, confident forty-something woman with strawberry blonde hair, raspy voice, raunchy sense of humor and a quick, biting wit. MaryAnn. That is, “M-a-r-y-no space capital A-n-n-my own personal flair,” MaryAnn. The first day she showed up at my work, she turned me upside down with her declaration, “I am here to lighten Martha’s load.”
Well! That load was the load for which I was responsible to lighten. I was venomous! And being “nice” was not anywhere near the realm of possibility for me. I snapped at her every time she turned around.
No. You cannot borrow that pen.
Keep your stuff on that side of the desk.
I don’t know (even though I did and was only saying that to be difficult). Why don’t you look it up in the “help” section?
Finally, after two weeks, she looked at me and said, “Angie, I’m not really sure why, but I think I have offended you somehow.”
I melted. “Actually, no. You haven’t. I was thrown off by you being here. I didn’t know Martha was hiring someone else and I felt like I was being kicked to the wayside.”
She understood completely. MaryAnn became my rock. When you spend 40-some-odd hours a week with the same person in a small office, week after week, there is a certain bond that grows. Really, it would have to because you spend more awake time with the people at work than you do with your own family members at home…
Her willingness to confront me about my bitchy attitude was a slap in my face in that moment that came so unexpectedly and swiftly, that I had to wake up. It was a jolting awareness that I was being less than loving to another human being and, for me, that just wasn’t acceptable. But it wasn’t the confrontation me that melted my walls. It was the way she confronted me that woke me up. She did it from a space of curiosity and accountability. Rather than blaming me and pointing fingers at me and calling me nasty names, which – let’s get real here – I had been really horrible to her for two weeks so she had a right to call me nasty names, but instead she chose to approach it from an “I” stance. “I think I have offended you somehow…”
Since that day, over a decade ago, I have had countless times that I have thanked all that is holy for the fact that I woke up to the truth of my actions and chose to be accountable for where I was and to eventually apologize to her for my appalling behavior. From that experience with MaryAnn, I opened up to her wisdom and experience and began to grow exponentially through her tutelage. But, more importantly, a lifelong friendship that I cherish began in that moment and my life has been so enriched because of it.
Because she was willing to lovingly, gently stand up for herself and call me out of the boxing ring and because I was willing to step down, open my eyes, and snap out of my crap, we have developed a relationship that is a transformative force in this world. Together, even over the years where we had no contact, we have evolved in our individual paths, coming together every now and then to collaborate and stretch and laugh. Having MaryAnn in my life as a catalyst has guided me to be more of everything that I already am.
Our relationship has brought out the best in both of us and has allowed space for us to clearly see ourselves in the other and in the mirror that reflects between us. And now, our paths are coming together to join forces and create a powerful forward movement of healing. I love that I get to watch her soar, stepping into her power and, surprisingly, losing track of her biting cynicism. It is a riot to hear her say, “Angie, I don’t know what’s happening. I can’t find my cynicism anywhere! I used to think I was so funny. Now I think I was just really blocked!”
There are times in our lives when we are faced with a situation that seems unfair or a person that just pisses us off without doing anything at all. Some situations cannot be healed within. Sometimes we cannot find the truth about the “unfair” aspects when we are embroiled in the circumstances and, to get a clear head, it requires we step out of it and get beyond the ring of dust created by the explosion within. And, sometimes we cannot get beyond whatever it is about somebody that continually sets us off.
However, every one of these experiences is an opportunity for us to get real with ourselves and to look beyond the situation or the person to get to the truth of who we are and to be accountable for our experience. This space of accountability automatically releases us from the unfairness and the pissiness because it gets us looking within ourselves, instead of outside of ourselves.
When you choose to be accountable for how you are experiencing the situation or another person, you are opened to the divine space of a shift. And, on the heels of a shift, you just may find yourself in a connection that transforms, enriches, and uplifts your life and becomes a blessing for which you are forever grateful.
I always welcome your thoughts, questions, and comments.
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