What in the world does a geode have to do with relationships?
In my DAYONE application on my tablet, I have a specific journal set up just for my Ideal Life exercises. I created a little template which lists the two questions and two bullet points for each daily category, so I don’t have to type them out every day. Each time I do my Ideal Life exercise, I add a little image for the category, usually the same one, to the journal entry. Mostly I do it to make it look pretty. Sometimes I will also include a screenshot of a quote that I found inspiring, or an idea that I had.
All of my go-to images for each of the themes are fractals. Most of the fractals are from nature, although there are a few notable exceptions.
A fractal is (usually in nature) the idea that something in its greatest iteration is a callback to its tiniest iteration. Think, pebble and mountain. Human arterial structure and capillaries. The valve structure on a seashell. This is also used in architecture and art because of the visual harmony that results.
I use a geode to represent relationships because I am a socially functional introvert. I pretend very very very well to be at ease in social situations, even to the point that I am often called “effervescent” or “bubbly”, but being around people is a drain on every single one of my internal resources. I don’t know how to rein in that bubbliness. My poor family suffers the consequences of this drain (when they aren’t the ones draining me.)
I use a geode to remind myself that the most precious relationships are the ones at the center. They are the intimate, closest ones and they are the ones I need to protect most fiercely.
Learning to function differently
My over-commitment outside of the home was impacting how I behaved with my most precious relationships over the last few years. Trading on and off with my husband so I could go out and have activities and relationships meant I would come home exhausted psychologically from taking on everyone else’s worries, tragedies and frustrations.
The great lockdown of 2020, when I was able to stay almost solely focused on those precious little crystals at the center of my geode, was actually a relief. I could stop feeling guilty about not wanting to go to a party or participate in some kind of activity where I would inevitably wear myself out emotionally.
Not that I can’t have friends. I have friends and a carefully curated few activities. But now I know who my “safe” friends are: the friends who energize me and understand me so that I don’t have to pretend and subsequently wear out.
But before I can start spreading myself thin again, I need to learn to put protective barriers up so that I don’t take on other people’s burdens as my own. I generally do not know where other people end and I start. My little family is the perfect Petrie Dish for this kind of experimentation. I need to stop wearing myself out on others so much that I can’t function for my family.
However, I am very cautious about what activities I agree to, to the point of putting a moratorium on new commitments for 2021. (I have a whole day dedicated to commitments in week three of my Ideal Life Exercises.)
In my Ideal Life
This category is going to require a lot of internal change. Whereas other categories, like Personal Style, are visible and can be changed as quickly as taking off a yellow sweater and putting on a green one, relationships take time and a ton of self-examination.
In my Ideal Life, I am a person who:
- knows how to say “no”.
- doesn’t get caught up in other people’s drama.
- can listen without trying to find solutions.
- accepts a “no” without overanalyzing.
- doesn’t have to constantly entertain everyone.
- is on top of birthdays & anniversaries
- feels no need to make excuses when I want to leave.
- isn’t afraid to speak her mind out loud.
- knows that people who are angry are not necessarily angry at me.
- is thoughtful about gift giving.
- doesn’t immediately assume I’ve done something wrong when someone important wants to talk to me.
- stays in touch with the people I love.
So. What is working? Ha! The single greatest thing that is working in this area is that I am getting practice having little humans tell me “no” and learning to not overanalyze. I am learning to not take on their emotions about not being about to wear their favorite camouflage pants that are lacy with holes and can no longer be repaired. I am getting practice setting boundaries, because little humans would sometimes prefer to leave the house naked if they can’t wear their lacy-with-holes camouflage pants.
What isn’t working? I am not a good correspondent. It isn’t that I don’t care. I care very very much. But life gets in the way in so, so, so many ways. I overestimate the amount of time I will need for a phone call, and underestimate the amount of time that has past since the last time I made a phone call. I stink at buying gifts and getting them out the door in time.
Every single time I invest five minutes in this category, I am reminded that sometimes we need to take a few steps backwards in order to get onto the right path. There are aspects of my life in which I need a clean slate…not that I intend to replace all my friends and start over. However, all of my relationships were built on a faulty, shifting foundation, which was that of my fragile self-worth.
Having the opportunity to step back and work on myself, in the safety of my little family, has helped me solidify the foundation so that all my relationships, existing and future will benefit.
In my Ideal Life, I am a person who has healthy relationships.