Chaos, emptiness, community

Hello! If you’re here looking for evidence against me, you will find it; but please read to the end.

When I heard people’s woes, and felt I was doing them some good, sometimes they would get some relief. Even being listened to and respected, not treated as a fool, is a good feeling. Someone did that for me once, releasing years of resentment with one sympathetic phrase. Yet sometimes they would just get more and more angry, and it seemed they were a bottomless pit of resentment or anger. However much I earthed, there was always more. Always I had to let go of the pain after the encounter. I did this quickly, a conscious letting go, remembering I was doing some good by listening as well as professionally. Perhaps it helped that I was not close to any of them.

In June, I feared that my benefits would stop, and with the energy and motivation I felt I did not feel I could look after myself. I am alone. That was terrifying. I had just had another reason- these reasons can appear to be “mistakes” when I am less depressed but real, cogent reasons when I am more depressed- to doubt my abilities. Norethisterone did not help. I don’t like to think I am one of those bottomless pits, I have some basic trust in the world and in myself, but I do get close to it sometimes.

I did something you objected to, you did something I objected to, and in mid November we finally got round to discussing it. It’s like a dysfunctional family. The Quaker meeting are closer to me than my blood relatives, the nearest thing I have to a family.  Rather than both regretting the other’s hurt, as I do and I think you do, we affirmed our own, making the breach worse than it was to start with.

In Scott Peck’s model of group work, which he called “Community building”, we move between four stages. The first is Pseudo-community, where we make small talk. Then Chaos, when we tell each other what we think, confrontationally. You statements can be particularly liberating, as in “You never listen” and “It’s all your fault”. Possibly, Joan Didion’s overheard “You are driving me to murder” goes too far.  That can lead to Emptiness, when we let go of impossible expectations of ourselves, others and the World, and finally Community, where we delight in each other’s beauty. Ideally the Quaker meeting should cycle between Emptiness and Community, but because we are frightened of conflict and don’t do Chaos sometimes we get stuck in Pseudo-community, with the conflict beneath the surface, festering.

“Chaos” is close to “Storming” in “Storming Norming Performing” but Peck objected to Norming, calling it Organisation, a way of making rules so that the chaos would not bite us. That prevents true emptiness or community.

I would not say I am sorry to attempt to avoid bad consequences for myself. The idea disgusts me. But I am sorry you were hurt, and sorry that there is distance between us. I find you a beautiful person, I want you well and happy, and I would like trust between us.

I feel for every Quaker there is a tension between being the person who is vulnerable and cared for and the person who is doing the caring. All of us are both. In families, parents and children can have conflict as the child becomes the one caring, who then perforce has the authority in the relationship. With Quakers, there is no such defining moment. In the silence of meeting we are all vulnerable. We are all wise and strong. In other human relationships we tend either to be the one being cared for or the adult, caring. Or adult and adult, free.

If there is a way of communicating care for each other, we will come together. If there is a way only of communicating blame, we will move further apart. Where I still suffer consequences, I find it harder not to blame.

Tina observes that I sound joky, then nearly tearful. I am childlike, wanting unconditionality. It is as close as I get to family, and I want unconditional love.

Blogging, I am pushing a boundary, after it had been tested and clearly specified. No blogging. I think of watching an aunt and young child at Buddhafield, clarifying a boundary. We had the idea in Community Building of “sticky chaos”, where the problem just lasts, and chaos which clears the air.

“That’s black and white again,” she says.

A Friend wrote on facebook that “Acceptance is not resignation”. Acceptance of a situation includes seeing beauty in it. I have no mask. I have no sword. I love you.

She refers me to Carl Rogers’ paper on Reality. I go to read it. He says everyone has a different perception of reality. Well, duh. But then he says, if we explore open-mindedly the many different perceptions that exist we would enrich our lives and be better able to cope with reality. Full acceptance of everyone’s separate view would lead to commitment to each other as rightfully separate: “I prize you because you are different from me”. That can be scary, though.

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