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B. To Me And Back Again

Change your attitude, change your life.
For some years, I'd made slow progress changing mine.
I was a man who put a on a brave face
While caught up in powerful insecurity and self doubt.
Feelings of anger, unworthiness, and desperation were too often with me.
I had deeply ingrained habits of
Taking everything personally
And reframing questions into accusations.
Very much an "all or none" kind of guy,
I found myself building strong boundaries,
Then tearing them down again,
Feeling like they never settled anywhere useful.
I was constantly at war with myself and those around me.
My life was filled with situations and questions
That felt unpleasant, intractably complex and impossible to resolve.
For me, the present moment seemed uncomfortably tied to the past
And dangerously affecting the future.
B. did things differently.
I'm sure he must have gotten angry or frustrated
I just never saw him in those states.
Tribulations seemed to roll off him.
He could be caring without being consumed.
He seemed to follow a calling but without obsession.
He was sometimes visibly confused,
But not threatened by the unknown or the unclear.
Proving a point, or his own worth was unnecessary.
He seemed okay with ambiguity or intensity.
He was always willing to press his luck,
To try something new
Without fear of losing what he had.
He set good boundaries
That separated will from won't and can from can't.
But they were squishy boundaries
That could stretch or flex if necessary.
Never taking anything personally,
He always seemed to be a centered self
Who was not self-centered.
For B., "now" always seemed like the beginning of something good.
When he came into my life,
He inspired in me a vision
Of a newer, simpler, happier life.
Together with him I felt more able.
I would look at what I feared.
I would press my luck.
Most importantly, I would let go.
Questions became questions once again,
Amenable to simplification and resolution.
I began growing in new directions.
When he moved away, my old habits returned.
It was terrible
Finding myself caught up in the old unhappy ways.
In time,
With help from friends,
I resumed my inner transformation:
Looking at what I feared,
Pressing my luck,
And most importantly letting go.
I could say, "One day I arrived."
But that's not quite right.
Life is a journey, not a destination.
Furthermore, it's important that I make clear
That the inspiration I took and describe
As attributes of B.,
Are, more than anything, my own perceptions.
B. often tried to tell me that he was nobody special,
That I was making more of him than was really there.
Most likely so.
Is the most accurate description of what I found from B..
I now stand calmly and happily by
What I've made of myself
As a consequence of those perceptions.
One day I found myself starting a relationship
With a man tangled in his own feelings of anger, self-doubt, and more.
As I listened, and tried to open my heart to this man,
I felt curious about what B. felt
As he opened his heart and listened to me.
Unfortunately, my own inner peace was still too new and somewhat fragile.
Somehow my new friend
Inspired in me a fear of problems
Instead of a vision of solutions.
Much as he deserved support,
Much as I wanted to support him,
The effort of processing my insecurities
While behaving supportively as he faced his problems
Proved unsustainable.
I fled.
I remember how B. broke the news to me
That he couldn't be my boyfriend.
He did not flee.
I wonder what I will do myself
Next time around.

13 December 2004

by Bill Cattey