What do you do when someone you love is hurting? Do you jump in and take over the situation so they are rid of the pain? Do you step back or shy away because you don't have words or actions that seem up to par to deal with the issues at hand? Do you listen intently, with love, and let that person fight their fight?
I used to rely heavily on one of the first two methods. I wanted to be the one to "save" the person. "Fix" the situation. "Heal" the pain. I don't like using "quote" mark, but in this case it is appropriate. I was not saving, fixing or healing anything. If that person would not let me take over, or I didn't know what to do, I would just sit and do nothing. No calls. Nada. It wasn't that I was mad. I just felt so ineffective and overwhelmed. I would shut down because my method of handling things was not of use to the person I so desperately wanted to help.
In both of these scenarios I was getting in the way of that beautiful person experiencing life and fighting for themselves in a way that only they knew how. I was keeping my dear one from learning all they have to learn in this life in order to be ready for the next battle. In other words, I was mucking up the order of the universe.
To sit back and just listen is so difficult. It does not come easily to me. It is something in which I have had to diligently work. I'm getting better. I find myself biting my tongue a lot and reminding myself that it is not my fight. There are times I even have to go to Blaine or my mom, and tell them to look at me and tell me it is not my fight to fight. Hearing the words aloud helps.
I have been thinking about this lesson I had to learn. I experienced this learning mostly through the ordeal of helping a friend leave an abusive relationship. I could not do these things for her. I could not rip her out of her house or demand she leave. Oh, I tried to do that. But, it did not work. With the help of my dear friend Jill Farmer, I discovered that I had to let my friend be strong, make her own decisions and let events unfold in her time. I took a step back and let her do her thing and you know what? She was amazing. She did it. I held her hand, but I did not push or drag. I was just there for support. Listening is all she really needed. She is a stronger woman from having fought that battle on her own. (Please look up Jill Farmer. She is a dear friend, an amazing certified Life Coach, and an invaluable resource on how to get unstuck in life. Click on her name to go to her website).
I have been thinking about this lesson lately because I have several people I love who are in pain at the moment, emotionally or physically. I want to jump in and take over, but I am instead choosing to be an ear, a shoulder, a meal ticket or whatever else that person needs for support rather than trying to fight their fight.
Here is the image that was conjured in my mind this morning as I was thinking about a particular person that is on my heart: I am not the lead climb, I am the belay.
Blaine works for an action sports photographer that specializes in big wall climbing. (i.e. The people Corey takes pictures of climb big ass mountain walls, using mainly their fingertips and toes (big wall climbing), are the best in their field. Corey, therefore, also has to be an amazing climber because he has to get to where they are on the wall, with 30 lbs. of camera gear and shoot amazing photos). I hear and see the photo stories of these epic adventures all of the time. They are currently climbing in Alaska, above the Arctic Circle.
Here is the dynamic of a climb: You have your lead climber. The one that is going up the wall. He/She is the one that is attempting to ascend the route. Then you have the belay. This is the person, below the lead climber, that has the ropes in hand and lets out slack when needed. They are also the person that stops the climber from falling if he/she slips or lets go of the rock. Then you have a whole support team that is there to pull up supplies, document the event through photos and videos, ground crew, production and editing support back at the office, sponsors to pay for the trip, etc. It is a major production. All these people work together to get that one person to the top of the rock. But, ultimately, it is all up to the lead climb. No one can scale the rock for them.
I know you see where this is going. Your friend approaches you for help, asks you to belay. You agree. Everyone ropes up, clips in and gets ready for the climb. But, not before assembling a whole crew for backup. Now, you're ready for the climb. The friend asks, "On belay?". Your response is "Belay on." Your friend, "Climbing." You, "Climb on." This is climbing protocol. It is your way to tell your friend, I have your back, I am here to catch you if you fall, I am connected to you, I am here for the duration and not going anywhere. But, my friend, you have to make the climb.
You have to choose the route, where to place your hand, where to place your feet. If you slip, or choose incorrectly, I will stop your fall. But, you will have to climb back up. I can not do it for you.
This is the relationship between the climber and belay, me and the person I love who is battling right now.
Oh, did I mention that the belay has to be anchored in and solid? If the belay is on shaky ground, unsure or not anchored properly, when the climber falls, it is no good for either one of them. In order to be effective and help the led climb get back into position after a fall, the belay has to be strong and stay put. They can not fall or stumble with the climber. This part is important for me to remember.
So, next time a friend approaches you with a rope and says, "On Belay?" Make sure you are on solid ground, make sure your ground crew, office crew and sponsors are lined up before you rope up and clip in. Remember that it is not you ascent that is being documented. You are part of the support. You are there to shout encouragement and stop catastrophic falls. Once all these things are in place and you are in the right frame of mind, then you can say, "Belay on."
This blog is a stream of conciousness from my head to the keyboard to the screen. There will be talk of random subjects. If you have delicate eyes, proceed with caution. I like to talk about controversial subjects and sex a lot. So, take heed my friends. This is not a blog for debate, but for love and sharing. If your views do not match my own, love to you, but don't bring the rest of us down. That's all I'm saying.