“Friends are enemies sometimes, and enemies friends….”
This powerful line from Rumi’s poem, Checkmate, always sounded Shakespearean to me.
As in, people can secretly hold grudges, scheme plots to overthrow kingdoms or stab someone close to them in the back.
Those aren’t really friends.
They’re enemies, obviously. They’re tricking innocent victims in their own vicious lunge for power. They care nothing, truly, for other people unless those people help them climb higher.
Danger! Enemies on the loose! Watch out for those evil dastardly people!
But I realized something far closer, and much more subtle about this poetry awhile ago.
And how it applied to my own life.
A man I knew, every time we ran into each other, would shower me with positive oooohs and ahhhhs at the marvelous accomplishments I reported happening in my life. He would ask me all kinds of questions.
“Oh….you’re writing a book? Wow, fabulous. I want to know all about it. Who’s your agent?”
“We MUST get together to swap business building techniques!”
“I’d love to have you join me to present a program to the tech company who just hired me…..I think we could expand beyond the company with all your followers, you really draw a lot of people.”
I had an uneasiness every time we spoke.
I couldn’t put my finger on it.
When people took pictures, he’d quickly put his arm around my shoulder.
Every single thing “seemed” normal. Nothing was really weird.
Except….I didn’t like him!
In fact, he drove me freakin’ nuts!!!!
Have you ever seen that cartoon of the male french skunk Pepe Le Pew who is constantly grabbing the female skunk who is trying to squeeze out of his “loving” arms?
It was like that only teensy eensy tiny.
Now here’s the thing.
I would think over and over, “What’s wrong with me? Just be nice. You only see him once or twice a year at the same event. Just chill.”
Then, when reading this poem at a retreat, his face came to mind.
And I got it, suddenly.
Who would I be without the belief that I need his approval? I need to be nice? I need his friendship? I need to be polite?
Who would I be without the belief I have to figure out why I don’t like him, or analyze myself, or get myself to be more accepting?
And also, who would I be without the thought that he’s creepy or weird or slimy, either?
I would just have a simple “no”.
I would RISK HAVING A PREFERENCE.
No agonizing over what’s right or wrong. No confusion, or wondering, or trying to find a good reason to say “I’d rather not get together for any business-building conversations. I’m not interested.”
I wouldn’t be trying to look up in the imaginary rule book in the sky what the Nice Thing To Do is, in this situation.
As if I couldn’t trust my own gut.
I wouldn’t even be in a position to have the urge to avoid him. I’d be up front and direct.
I wouldn’t have to find MORE things that bother me about him, or dig up something, just to justify saying “no thanks!”
I’d honor myself.
So I said “no thanks”.
And felt the relief permeate my whole body.
No idea what it will be like next time I run into him.
“Honest communication begins with you communicating with yourself. It means responding with what is true for you, regardless of how someone may react to your answer. First you have to discover what is really true for you. A dishonest yes is a no to yourself.” ~ Byron Katie in I Need Your Love–Is That True?
I feel grateful for this person, who may or may not show up in my life again soon. I love that there’s no danger.
There’s no knowing.
If worry appears, or anticipation….that’s OK too. It’s exciting. I know I can trust myself to respond. Later. When it’s required.
Right now, the future isn’t actually here. DOH!
That’s true love. True love to me, true love to him.
The rest is none of my business.
Much love, Grace