Inspiration arrives at any given moment, while engaged in the most mundane tasks. This morning while I was transferring laundry from the washer to the dryer, the words “Detach with love” echoed in my ears. Knowing exactly what that was about, I was puzzled about what it might have to do with wet towels and clothes that would soon be tumbled about and emerge warm and toasty in about 3o minutes. Even as I am typing these words, I can hear a sweatshirt zipper clicking against the inside of the appliance.
Lately, I have been letting go of expectation of outcome with people in my life. I have recognized that when I feel angry, sad, frustrated or disappointed when someone doesn’t do or say what I would prefer them to, it is because I have been invested in having them behave in a way that suits me or meets my needs. We all have images of each other, how we desire to interact based on previous times, words and experiences shared. The reality is, we are constantly changing and re-negotiating the terms of our relationships. It can be a bit disconcerting at times, since we do need some sense of consistency with the people around us and yet, there is a call to go with the flow or get washed ashore, sprawled face down in the sand. I can still completely love the people in my life, without being attached to their choices. I can choose to step back from interactions if I feel I am doing more symbolic laundry than they are.
I remember times in my life; 15-20 years ago when I would be so laissez faire that I would accept even the ‘unacceptable’ since I felt powerless to change much, at the mercy of others’ whims and expectations for how I ‘should’ behave to please them. I let things slide rather than take charge of what I could control. Now, as a therapist who works with those in recovery from addiction, the Serenity Prayer has become even more powerful medicine.
“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I can not change.
The courage to change the things I can.
And the wisdom to know the difference.”
As a recovering co-dependent, I am learning that what I can control, I must. I need to take responsibility for my choices and actions and no one else’s. I have discovered that most people don’t do the best they can. They do the best they are willing to do in any situation. I am abundantly aware that when I set intention for something to be so, I must take the steps to follow through. If I want clean, dry clothes, I have to put them in the machine, add detergent and then step back as the washer does its thing. Once the cycle completes, if I don’t want moldy, yucky garments, I need to transfer the laundry into the dryer and let it run until they are done. If I want neatly folded and hung wash, I have to take the steps necessary to see that through to completion. Have there been times when I haven’t immediately done those tasks? Yup and then I needed to deal with the consequences of having to rewash or have piles of laundry to contend with. And yet, I am not obsessed with the outcome. Detachment and not caring are two different things. I am not standing over the washer and dryer, fretting and moaning that it is taking too long. When people take longer to do what I wish for, either out loud or in my head, I want to have the same degree of patience and let go. When I detach with love, all my relationships are cleaner and fresher~