There is a little Napoleon that lives inside of me.
The incident in second grade is as vivid for me as if it happened yesterday. By the teacher’s reaction, I knew that my behavior was inappropriate but I didn’t know why. She never explained, at least to me, and I was left feeling confused and unsettled. I don’t think she ever contacted my mother; the “problem” was never mentioned. Although on second thought, parenting was low on the list of priorities. We were feral children.
And so it remained for me to figure out.
It’s taken a very long time.
On the day to which I’m referring, I was assigned to the “safety patrol”. The duty included keeping everyone quiet and orderly as we waited for the bus to take us home. Once the bus arrived, everyone was to walk single file to get aboard. And to do it quietly. No talking or, God forbid, laughing or joking. Complete silence. We’re talking second grade here. Probably about 25 to 30 little bundles of light and energy.
Well, I just began pulling kids out of line right and left and ordering (shouting?) others to “Be quiet!”. “Shut up!” was often a favorite saying in my family of dysfunction so it wouldn’t surprise me if that’s what came out. It was only a matter of moments before I was stripped of power and left awkwardly dazed on the sidelines.
Now anyone who knows me, knows I take my responsibilities most seriously. Some might say overly so. It was as inherent to my nature then as it now. They also know I’m a very black and white thinking type of gal. A good portion of my “work” has been to allow those shades of gray and other colors entrance into my thought processes.
Rigid is not good.
Not in body and not in mind.
Everything in nature needs to bend. Needs to be yielding and flexible to survive.
This theme of pride, control and rigidity has run in and out of my life creating havoc whenever I was riding its wave. The good news is that I really think I’m working it out.
The stronghold. The blind spot. What I haven’t been able to see about myself.
There are things we know and there are things we know we don’t know. For example, I know that I know how to cook. I also know that I don’t know how to speak Spanish.
But… most important to learn are the things we don’t know that we don’t know.
This is not a typo. It’s a saying I first heard way back in my self-help days at a Landmark Forum. A kinder, gentler version of E.S.T.
Much of my soul-searching has been like this: sometimes when I gaze up at the night sky I can see a star off to the side in my peripheral vision. But the moment I turn to look directly at it, it disappears. Gone.
It’s become more important than ever that I learn how to lead without dictatorship. To direct others with the understanding they are not me and may have their own way of accomplishing a task. And to offer correction with respect and dignity.
To love those around me as I would love myself.
My new position is challenging me to stay self-aware but with the focus on others. A challenge that is only happening because of my sobriety.
Today I turn 62. Today I am sober.
Today I have 117 days by His amazing grace.
It’s been a long tunnel.
I can see the light.