“Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing, there is a field. I will meet you there.” Rumi
Whack! Whack! The noise must have been loud and disturbing coming from her young son’s room. “What could be happening?”, my mother must have wondered. So the story goes, she walked into my room and there, lying on the floor, were slats from my crib which I had banged out with my hard head and me crawling out of the confinement, escaping. I wanted “outside”!
The earliest story my older sister recalls about me is my yelling, “I want outside!”, even when I was outside in the big fenced back yard they’d prepared for me. There are two things going on in the world, according to some noted psychologists: Abandonment and Engulfment. The fear of being left behind versus the fear of being smothered by the excessive attention of someone else.
I guess I made it clear in the earliest days that abandonment was not my issue. Now, all these years later, the issue is the same. While I love and value my close relationships, the thought of being captive to anyone else’s needs, desires or demands makes me want to escape. I’m sure I’m not alone in this fear! And, lest we forget or deny, there is the component to relationship where attending to the needs and desires of another is exactly the thing to do.
How then do we maintain healthy relationships over time? With help from some very wise people, I found the middle ground between the two, abandonment and engulfment. There is a meeting place where our universal fear of being abandoned and our personal fear of being engulfed meet, a place beyond being right and wrong, beyond arbitrary concepts of my way or the highway. I’ll meet you there.