Step aside. And experience a miracle in the making.

I began the practice of “stepping aside” only after years of stepping into business that was clearly not my own.  I had mistakenly assumed that helping others make their decisions was an important “calling.”  It showed them I cared.  It was my way of remaining important to them.  Or so I thought.

From childhood on I had virtually always felt on the edge of abandonment.  By girlfriends.  By boyfriends.  By husbands.  Thus I felt the constant pull to live “in the middle” of everyone else’s life.  That way they couldn’t forget about me.  They couldn’t go off, leaving me behind, the way Marcia, my best friend in the sixth grade, left me behind when she chose to ride her bike off with Mary after school rather than waiting for me to join them.  It stung.  It happened again and again.  And I carried the fear it would continue to define my life well into my thirties.

The joy I experience now, having finely put to rest the fear of abandonment nearly forty years ago, still remains one of the triumphs of my life.  Perhaps this seems like a strange triumph, at least one not worth crowing over, but it’s huge to someone  like me.  Some one who simply had no boundaries between herself and literally everyone else.   It wasn’t until 1971, in fact, that I even had a glimmering of what I was doing.  What I had always done, in fact, in the presence of others.

What jarred me into a new perspective was a passage in a book by Jesuit Priest, John Powell.  The book was Why Am I Afraid To Tell You Who I Am.  On page 38 of the edition I was reading a truth rang out, louder than a train whistle.  Powell shares a story with the reader about an experience he had while walking in New York City with a good friend.  The friend stopped to buy a newspaper from a street corner vender, a stop he made daily and one that Powell observed him make myriad times.  The vender was always gruff and never said thanks for the generous tip his friend always offered him.  Powell, in exasperation, finally asked, “Why do you give him a tip?  He is not worthy of one.  He is rude to you.”  His friend quietly replied, “Why should I let him decide what kind of day I am going to have.”

I knew, instantly, this explanation was the key that I could use to unlock the shuttered house I had lived in for so many years.  I still remember the awareness I had, as though it was yesterday, that my life could change immediately if I utilized this “nugget” of information as a guideline for my own relationships.  However, we often have to hear a message many times before we can actually adopt it as a tool we can apply to situations that we experience.  The seed had been planted, nonetheless.  Although it lay dormant for years,  it was never forgotten.  Never.

Dancing around the many others in my life, seeking both attention and any opportunity to choreograph the experience for all who were present, was my life’s work.  Or so I thought.  Allowing others to create their own dance was far too frightening for me.  What if they selected a partner other then me?

And then I began to see life from a different perspective.  I learned the value of stepping aside.  I rejoiced, truly rejoiced about the freedom I felt, a freedom I had never known before, a freedom I was no longer willing to give up.  Life, now, is a joy.  Stepping aside has made it possible.  Perhaps you will want to consider trying this exercise too.



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