I felt a shift in my own energy field on the night of Christmas Day. After a lovely gathering, we had our hearth to ourselves. We ate nurturing food, cozied into our Hygge kind of life, and while the kids played a new game of Christmas Monopoly with my husband, I spent a fulfilling hour cleaning. The night was dark with the snow reflecting sparkles of christmas lights. The kids enjoyed playing with their new stuff, my husband loved learning all his new games and reading new books, and since I didn't actually get a book this year (!) my way of enjoying my stuff was akin to cleaning. I spent a wonderful hour putting everything in their new places including my children's beautiful new magic. My husband joked that it was OCD but I retorted that it's my way of playing. I thoroughly enjoyed it. When I extrovert I need my outer world pristine in order to reconcile the chaotic inner world which stems from dealing with so many minds, hearts and voices. As an INFJ, the less input in my life, the healthier I am. Minus a few key voices of course.
I am glad we celebrated in November actually (CLICK HERE.) It WAS magical and perfect. The "real" christmas also had a few moments of it's own. The day after Boxing Day something odd happened. I woke up hopeful. I realized I made it through! I LIVED till after Christmas. Which to be perfectly honest I wasn't expecting. It was such a relief. My symptoms were less too and have been for awhile. What also helped with this new, fresh, breeze of hopeful awakening was that I ended up stepping back from people, commitments and personal mentalities that I realized were not serving the love flow in my life. None of the people I stepped back from were awful people. But I knew to be optimal, I needed to let them live their own lives whilst I lived mine. I knew I have limited energy. We all do, but with chronic illness my energy stores are heavier. People are beautiful but the ebb and flow of their energy is a swirl that I allow to swish around for a season, but I listen to my gut when it says it's time to for them to float away. Unfortunately, kindly stepping out, is almost always seen as a rejection, thus I try to do it with a lot of validation. Usually there have been a few moments leading up to the key second when I know it is time. I leave in either spirit or body, wishing hopeful things for both them and I. Some I step back from mentally and they won't ever really know that door is half closed (but to me it makes all the difference) while other cases it may be more obvious or intentional.
I find boundaries tough because of my high levels of empathy and perspective taking. It's like that quote that says, "You know too much psychology when you can't stay mad because you understand everyone's reasons for doing everything." It's both awesome and depressing to have that level of understanding. It tears me apart regularly but eventually I still have to make a choice despite that understanding. For years I allowed that knowledge to control me and open doors to every suffering, hurting, or random person into my inner life. I felt obligated to ease their struggles or at least make them feel important or validated. Then I was given a boundary book by my counsellor and everything changed for good.
Maybe a metaphor would work better? I am the rose bush. Writing that sentence makes me laugh as I am not naturally inclined to flowery speech. I can admire it generally but it is not my natural wording choice. Anyway, stay with me... I am a rosebush because I bloom after the thorns are in place. The thorns are an essential part of my being along with the soft, fragile petals.
My healthy growth is promoted by the previous months pruning. It is not enough to trim a branch or two. In my normal Autumnal seasons, it is time to cut my branches down to the barest they can be. Even in my blooming season, a light trim is required for more abundance. Blooms that were beautiful for their season are thanked but then they are chopped and discarded for future beauty. Piles of dead weight sticks are taken to the burning pile to transform into warm energy before being released into the air. Suddenly their dead, life sapping energy becomes something beautiful away from my host. They transform. I become renewed and they become reborn. But for awhile we were both an essential part of each other.
My thorns protect the soft layers of sensitive beauty. If I didn't have the thorns, I would no longer be the rose. I wither eventually and have my season of laying dormant in the dark, but when I bloom, the enhanced joy of being, is packed into every moment. I would not want it any other way.
I require sun to thrive. Protected spaces with optimal light. I may be sensitive, picky, finicky, prickly but I also hold secrets, fragrances, beauty and essence. I feel the most hopeful when I honour both.
My husband is at his best when he has a supporting structure but he's far prettier. He blooms and creates stunning, friendly beauty in his season. Once supported his trunk becomes strong. But he requires that support in the first place to be optimal. Wisteria is also poisonous to small plants and animals once ingested. A warning that beauty misused or taken advantage of will have it's own methods of pushing back.
Thus, in his own way my husband implements boundaries but his require more time, and though serious when implemented, he does not require consistent trimming and pruning back. Each time he is tempted to be like the Rose, I remind him that he would not thrive that way. Perhaps he needs to give time? He may be served better by patiently waiting. Yes, he is also allowed to prune out the dead weight but his will have different definitions. His thriving conditions are different and thus need to be respected as so. He should set his own guidelines. We all need to understand the individual complexities that make up our health. Like each species of flower, tree or bush, we each need to grow from our own specifications.
Both my husband and I made some alterations to the "care and feeding" of our souls this season. There is pain when the Rose is trimmed. Initially I feel the other's stance deeply and I have to consciously shut off this part of me a few days later for my own health. But then, when the new growth starts, immense hope is found. With my husband, it takes longer. Which is why he needs to be a tad more careful about making any trims to his life. He needs to have boundaries but because of his extroversion and sensitive, sweet, chatty soul he also needs to be aware of the future consequences of those boundaries. I am introverted and thrive off of a hermit life. I NEED this to be free and kind and the best version of me. He needs people in a certain supply to get the same joy. The consequences of setting boundaries may mean that the person never flows back into his life. They may not recycle into the air again. They may just float away permanently. I am generally ok with this if our time was left somewhat in peace. My husband needs to be sure.
see THIS post) and I still hold to this stance, but this year, I do feel the need to reassess and tweak my branches. There is not much I need to do differently but there is some growth that is always required. I wish to remember gratitude daily. I wish to remember that it's ok to be the rose and not the sunflower. That it is ok to step back to thrive. I feel the most free with the least amount of people possible in my life. Yet, with those few I am loyally theirs in the ways I can be. If given space I bring beauty to the table. Constricted I begin to lose life. I was allowing too many voices. All of which were beautiful, but not all were conducive to positive communication. I was becoming a people pleaser again and it was bogging me down. A struggle I may always have to balance.
I taste spring. I can feel in in the air. Which is odd because in our area it will be months away. January is supposed to have averages of minus 20 and 30 degrees celsius. Yet, I can feel that hopeful zest of new beginnings and of tantalizing fresh starts. But those fresh beginnings come from dead earth renewed. The tiny buds of beauty begin from a season of hibernation. The warm sun is around the corner. It may be months away but it is ever glowing in my soul. If I died tomorrow I would be happy I felt it. I would be thankful that THIS is my life. It may be complex, short, and riddled with moments of painful pruning but it also has given great beauty, fragrant calm, and budding LIFE.
How do you latch on to hope within your own context, persona and individuality? Happy Hope Hunting...
Song Choice: There are a lot of Rose songs you can look up but I actually wanted to leave the song, "Won't let you Down" by Meagan Trainor because it's first and foremost a song to self and then to those we avidly make the choice to love with commitment: