Gran's Apple Butter Blog

July 6, 2011

Going Home, Excerpt: Lost and Found (6/IV)

Filed under: Authentic self,Book Series,Books,Codependence,Front Porch Rambles,Going Home,Gran,Lost,Relationships — Mary Batson - FrontPorchRambles @ 10:59 am

Chapter 6 ~ Lost and Found

     Remember Tina, Gran’s apple-butter-makin’ pal? Part of Tina’s journey included finding herself, before she could start communicating with herself. Gran said she and Tina were both experts at this process, ‘cause they’d lost and found themselves more times than either could count, and that was just on Monday afternoon before dinner.

     According to Gran, you didn’t have to worry so much about getting lost, as you did about getting lost and not even realizing it. Once you knew you were lost, you were already on the way home. But what was this really about? Gran said it was about losing yourself in the people around you.

     For instance, at one point in her life Gran calculated that, on average, at any given moment, she had anywhere between ten and two-hundred-and-thirty-three people in her life who each knew exactly what she should be doing, when, where, with whom, and why – all with very good reasons to back ‘em up. But she figured something had to be off when she realized that very few of these people agreed, and they couldn’t all be right.

     No matter what she did, she’d disappoint one and thrill another, someone would be mad, and someone else would have hurt feelings, and so on down the line. For years Gran had tried to find a balance between all these conflicting roles, trying to keep everyone happy, trying to please Person #35 and Person #72, who were, for all intents and purposes, diametrically opposed. (Try this sometime. It isn’t easy.)

     Gran got so good at this she could anticipate needs before others even knew they had ‘em.  As you can imagine, she gained quite a following this way, always taking care of and “doing” for others. But a few decades of this began to take their toll. Gran started getting tired, and she started feeling resentful, a little angry that she was always the one on the giving end. It hadn’t occurred to her that she could receive just as much as she gave. That she had the right to ask for her needs to be honored in return. That maybe she hadn’t really had to do all that stuff in the first place…

     That’s when Gran came to the stunning realization that she no longer knew who she was. When someone asked how she felt, she couldn’t answer. What did she like? What did she want out of life? Still no answer.

     Once again, in Gran’s well-intended but misguided attempt to give of herself, she had crossed the balance beam to giving up herself. Even all her houseplants reflected this, with drooping stems and fallen leaves that told her it was time to go home and stay home – to take care of herself for a while, to get her own house in order before she took on any more care-taking jobs for others.

     And so she did. It wasn’t easy at first. When Gran started saying, “I love you, but no” to people who had begun to count on her as their personal servant-therapist-chief-cook-and-candlestick-maker, she lost a few friends. But that helped her learn the difference between a real friend and a business account.

     The beautiful part, Gran said, was how true friends revealed themselves. Yes, the change in Gran’s behavior led to a few intense conversations. But they were good clear-the-air conversations, with both people healthier afterward. Sometimes clearing the air took more than one conversation, and sometimes it just took time. But, in the end, many of the “caretaking accounts” Gran thought she had lost turned around to reveal themselves as real, true friends – and that was a beautiful thing.

© Mary Batson, Going Home, Front Porch Rambles, and Gran’s Apple Butter Blog, 2010-2011. All rights reserved.
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