Thursday, October 16, 2008

Until we meet

About ten years ago, I met a man I'll call "Mark." He was the brother of a good friend and had just moved back to the area with his wife and 3-year-old son. Nice-looking guy, talkative, somewhat charming, rather opinionated, and an ordained minister who was currently not working in the field.

He was also one of the most challenging people I've ever known. He put PsychoBoss firmly in her place as a second-rate nightmare. There are names, pigeon-holes, to describe him which I won't use here. Even at the time I saw God throwing down the gauntlet with Mark: Here, deal with THIS!

The lesson was, I can't. I certainly couldn't have "Mark" in my life and keep my own emotional see-saw stable; the injection of him into any situation caused more difficulty and strife than anyone could reasonably handle without more skills than I had...or have now.

There was a series of other situations going on at the same time carefully set up by Someone to teach me this lesson over and over and over, but "Mark" was the Red Flag Waving at the top of the pile. I was in our pastor's office often in that period, in tears, broken, wondering why I couldn't fix stuff, make people understand, solve problems, etc. And the answer was, I can't. I can't without a great deal of external help. The further answer was that I don't have to; not everything is my problem to solve. Walk away.


It's not easy to walk away when something breaks. I was raised to go find a broom and start cleaning up. "Don't just stand there, DO something!" My mantra with "Mark" eventually became, when I was not reacting emotionally to his games, "Don't just do something, STAND THERE!" And then walk away.

And so, I am. Again. For different reasons, and much sooner.

There is a relationship which was damaged several months ago by thoughtlessness. I've alluded to it online multiple times, obliquely. There was a further extraordinary appeal. It was further damaged by my chickenshittedness about dealing with the situation directly with the individual. But the damage caused me to open my eyes, and I looked around to find that I was only the latest collateral damage in the wake; there were other floaters. I started to dog paddle to the outer reaches of the wake where I have spent several months observing.

I don't like what I've seen. I don't like what seeing this is doing to me. I don't like that I've got a fish-eye lens on this person all the time, even when I claim irrelevance.

So I'm walking away. It takes epoxy to repair some things and I only have one side of the formula. Without the other agent, there's just no point.

I'm grateful for the good times, aware of my debts, but trying very hard not to be ashamed to admit that I just don't have the skills to deal with this situation. And so, I'll walk on without this person, at least for now.

Here we go round the prickly pear
Prickly pear prickly pear
Here we go round the prickly pear
At five o'clock in the morning.

Between the idea
And the reality
Between the motion
And the act
Falls the Shadow
For Thine is the Kingdom
Between the conception
And the creation
Between the emotion
And the response
Falls the Shadow
Life is very long
Between the desire
And the spasm
Between the potency
And the existence
Between the essence
And the descent
Falls the Shadow
For Thine is the Kingdom
For Thine is
Life is
For Thine is the

This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper.

-- from "The Hollow Men" by T.S. Eliot

What happened to "Mark"? Eventually--after several years of negative influence--he was formally requested by our church's leaders to leave our congregation. His wife and children left him and he degenerated both mentally and physically; he died about four years ago. I'm sure God has enfolded him into the Kingdom and "Mark" is whole and happy now in ways he could never achieve here. His sister and I remain friends.

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