To celebrate my 60th birthday, I’m writing 60 essays of gratitude for people who have helped me along my path, at least in a way that stand out! Today, I’m remembering Jean, who was a perfect mirror for on of those Limiting Beliefs that I had about how my life was and would always be! Read on and see if you can relate!
Jean Butterbaugh was my apartment mate for a year when I worked at Woodland Altars Outdoor Education Center in southern Ohio. The camp board had decided that year to have staff live off the camp property, and found a NEW apartment complex in the tiny town of Peebles, about nine miles south of the camp. They proposed that I share a brand new apartment with Jean, the volunteer office manager for the camp. The best thing about that was that Jean was NOT one of the staff I supervised!
Jean was truly a very easy-going, unassuming person. She took people at face value and looked for the best in everyone. That’s how I know that MY view of her as a housemate was fabricated out of my own belief systems and projections. By projections, I mean those opinions, criticisms and assumptions I lay out on other people that are really parts of myself that I don’t like and can’t love.
Soon after we moved into the two-bedroom apartment, I started feeling very self-conscious about keeping ALL of my stuff in my bedroom, even though some items would have been good decoration or compatible with a welcoming ambience for our living room.
I had a beautiful basket of woolen yarn I had spun and dyed in a rainbow of natural colors. I loved having it nearby to remind me of the colors of the fields and forest where the dye plants had been gathered. And my small stereo system could have benefitted both of us! But, I remember having a distinct voice in my head saying, “Only HER stuff is worthy to be out in the living room!” And it was! Jean had books and other things out in plain sight. I don’t even remember if we had artwork on the wall, even though I owned a couple of beautiful pastels of local birds done by a local artist!
This belief got in my way of talking easily with Jean, really getting to know her and talk about what really mattered to me and listening to what mattered to her! I was so preoccupied with making sure I never left anything out in the living room and thinking, “Watch out! Be sure none of your stuff is out here, Regina!” that I had no space to just BE there!
Whew! It was a blessing, probably for Jean as much as myself, when I got to move back out to camp into a mobile home on the property where I lived by myself. I surrounded myself with the crafts and artwork that I enjoyed – and Jean was off the hook for my energetic wall! I unconsciously made sure that I didn’t get any HELP moving my things, too! I was so sure that no one would want to help me move that I didn’t even ask my co-workers!
Now that I can see this all in hindsight, and through the lens of Radical Forgiveness, that teaches me to look for the hidden beliefs that have created the drama in my life, it’s amusing how attached I was to that story that “I have to be INVISIBLE! No one should have to see what I enjoy, what’s valuable or expressive to me. I have to keep my preferences and self-expression to myself.”
Well, thanks Jean, for being willing to play that role for me and for somehow stepping around my awkwardness! Thanks for doing that healing dance with me. My soul is laughing with gratitude and letting go of that belief!
So, what do you think? Does this story of projecting my own limiting beliefs on my housemate ring any bells for you? Please leave your comments and stories below.
Read more about Projection and other mechanisms we unconsciously use to keep us separated from others in Radical Forgiveness, Making Room for the Miracle.