+ Pop Quiz Aug 09 14692337_sSomeone recently told me the next chapter in the story of a life-long difficult family relationship. Though the two people will continue to be connected, my friend revealed that she was “done” being in the relationship as she had been in the past, done with all the hurt and difficulty that the relationship caused her. She was determined to both shift her way of being in the relationship, and to diminish the effect of the parts of the dynamic that weren’t changing.

I can really appreciate this, having experienced it myself. There have been a few situations and relationships in my life that taught me powerful lessons, but which were also incredibly hard. As with my friend’s relationship, there arrived a point at which I declared myself “done.” I had learned all I wanted to learn from that particular source. The pain, frustration and hurt that came with the lessons were exhausting, and though I knew I might continue to learn more, I didn’t want to keep going to that source any longer. I remember thinking, “I’m done going to this life school.”

These are challenging situations to be in, and it is difficult to discern when enough is enough. In all of my “life schools” I was also receiving some positive benefits that made it harder to step away. I would hope that if there had been nothing of benefit, I would have gotten myself the hell out of there much earlier than I had! But, it isn’t always easy to extricate ourselves from relationships (sometimes with family members– can we, for example, “divorce” a parent?), or from an imperfect job on which we rely for income. So, sometimes the break isn’t a complete one; sometimes it is a shift in our relationship with the job or person or situation.

But, the “life schools” I’m recalling were great learning centers for important lessons that I honestly wouldn’t trade. I didn’t always revel in the learning process, but the ultimate insights were invaluable. I am who I am because of them, and the pain I experienced learning them is part of me as well. They help me resonate with other people’s pain and challenges.

I’ve been repeating to myself a statement I lifted from Martha Beck’s newest book, Steering by Starlight. Her statement is, “Remember, you are creating your best life, one in which you have no unmet needs and no fear.” I’ve amended it slightly to this:

“I am creating my best life, one in which all my needs are met and I am living

with ease and effortlessness.”

As I memorized this statement, I found myself sometimes mis-speaking and saying, “I am creating my perfect life….” But, I realized that “best” was a much better word to describe the life I want to create than the word “perfect,” so I’m staying with Martha’s text on that one. “Perfect” implies flawless, without a glitch, without any of the difficult work that is part of life. While I don’t consider myself to be a glutton for life’s hardest lessons, I do cherish the insights and growth that have accompanied them. They are part of a “best” life, but not part of a “perfect” one. So, I continue to correct myself when I confuse my words. I’m going with, “I am creating my best life.”

A friend has joked, “I knew life was going to be full of lessons, but do there have to be so many pop quizzes?” I guess so. Apparently, it is part of our best life. So let’s just keep showing up and learn what we can.

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