Copyrighted by Lorna Tedder. Originally published in Third Degree Ebb and Flow.
WTF? Is there no one left in my present? Have I cleared those out? The Universe now is dredging up long- lost, decades-old relationships?
That’s the way it seems. The Gods are going way back
into my ancient past to show me my old relationships so I can see clearly now. There’s a wealth of contrast between then and now, but it’s an important point of view, here, looking back and seeing the type of people I used to at- tract into my life and the people who reiterated my child- hood deficiencies and insecurities while they used my own fire as fuel.
It’s not that I’m against long-lost friends coming back into my life—I’m not, at all—but it’s the particular ones who are showing up now from my college days and even back to my high school and junior high days. How can I go for decades without seeing or hearing from certain people and then a half-dozen of them show up on my doorstep within a few months of each other? That’s no coincidence. It’s not a matter of everyone turning the same mid-life crisis age at the same time either, as these people range from 38 to 62. No, that’s the Gods trying to get my attention so I’ll notice the patterns and break them.
And I am breaking them. This is more, I think, about my seeing the life-long patterns and being careful not to launch myself into new relationships—to replace those that are now behind me—that will be just as parasitic, manipulative, and vindictive as ones of my past. It’s about recognizing users, abusers, and the terminally clingy and seeking only healthy relationships in the present and in the future, even if my relationships are much scarcer now than ever before. I recognize, too, that the people who are most likely to believe I think they fit in the earlier categories are the ones least likely to have been considered for that dubious honor, but such is the nature of many genuinely caring people. The unhealthy ones rarely recognize themselves.
But out of the blue, a girl who made my life joyless in junior high school finds me and tries to re-engage our old friendship, telling me how she’s grown-up and sorry for the misery she heaped on me when I was a shy and sensitive kid. She’s in a bind these days, coming out of a second divorce, and needs her friends, and I guess there are so few left that she’s had to dig into our childhood to find someone who might have cared about her once. She may have grown up and she may indeed be sorry for the way she treated me—I’d completely forgotten her
existence—but as a grown-up, she’s still the same person underneath, still looking for someone to take care of her and insisting that if other people were responsible adults, she wouldn’t have been out cheating on her husband and running up credit cards just for revenge. Hmmm. Yeah. Is there any wonder my alarm bells went off when she mentioned perhaps relocating to my current town—a place she’s driven through only once—or maybe staying at my place a while until she could find a job and maybe I could get her a good job like mine?
My unofficial roommate from college showed up this summer, too. I say “unofficial” because although she was always at my apartment and came and went as she pleased, she never paid rent. Though she was older than me by half a dozen years, her mother always held me responsible for her whereabouts, more than once calling me at 4AM to find out where she was. Early in my marriage, I saw some issues that bothered me and confided in her. All I got was judgment, and so without any support, I kept the issues to myself rather than working on them. But things have changed for her and she understands now. She’s now been there, too. Alone and reeling from an abusive mate, she’s back in my life and we’ve spent some time sharing our separate histories. I confided something in her, hoping for her support. I got the opposite, and she doesn’t even realize it. When I called her down on it, she backhandedly reiterated the lack of sup- port, basically explaining—as others have so often—her love and concern for me and why she thinks I should take the opposite path from the one I’m on and how she wants the best for me (as she defines best). She’s judging my relationship with Spirit and with myself, but she would probably consider herself saving me from myself. Like I haven’t heard that before.
I vented my frustration to Dorothy Morrison while we were hanging out at authors’ row at the Florida Pagan
Gathering. I’ve learned a lot from Dorothy over the years, and she’d asked about some of my life changes, so I opened a vein. Not just the college friends and the people from high school and younger, but the pattern of con- trolling relationships, manipulators, users, etc, throughout my life. Dorothy’s take on it was that I’m at my core a very loving, compassionate, and good person and that people think they can use that to their advantage and want power over that and that they think I won’t slap them down. Her comments make me wonder if being a total bitch to everyone I meet would build in some cushion to keep manipulators and users away.
But I like being compassionate and loving and I don’t want to change that. Maybe that’s the need for me to see these patterns and how far back they go. So I can have healthy present and future relationships free of people who feed off my energy.
In the past, my relationships have generally meant giving away my fire, having my kindling stolen, or having someone pee on my flames. From now on, I want only relationships that share my fire and are willing to warm me with their own.