I have a tentative theory that my level of anxiety or general feeling of being ‘drained’ after hanging out with people is in direct proportion to my willingness to be my true self with them. I’m learning that the energy expended in keeping up a facade or the ‘persona’ is taxing and actually quite destructive to my own emotional energy as well as the relationship as a whole.
The problem is that while I feel quite comfortable now ‘exposing’ my shadow self on this blog, I’m still learning how to be truly authentic in face to face interactions. Because, let’s be honest, reading about me yelling at my kids is a lot less confronting than actually witnessing me unleash. Mind you, one could say I am completely ‘authentic’ in front of my children, allowing them to see the warts and all craziness in all its glory, but this doesn’t necessarily translate into elevated emotional energy levels at the end of the day!
I’ve been convicted this week about relying on Dave to be my center for working out my emotions. Last Friday he crashed a bit and, as usual, instead of being the calm pillar of strength that would have been useful for him, I turned into a moody wreck. If he finds something hard, I suddenly realise that it is catastrophic and any sense of level perspective I could offer Dave vanishes.
I think both of us were unprepared for the buffeting that would result from Dave working for Tribe. Dave gives everything his all and envisaging better ways to run things and move forward is his ‘normal’ mode. The problem is that not everyone lives life thinking through values and rhythms of life to the same extent and he quickly becomes frustrated with the slow pace of visible growth and change in the community. One big distinction of Tribe is that everything we do must be freely chosen, to limit the destructiveness of control, but that doesn’t alleviate the frustration and disappointment of seeing people freely choose not to show up or make regular catch ups a priority.
On the other hand, I couldn’t even imagine life without Tribe now, and we both firmly agree that it is the best community for our family to grow up within. Even if it does mean extracting pairs of clinging arms from Dave’s legs while he tries to update the community on the weekly goings on, prying cables from Hudson’s sticky hands, hauling Eli and Hudson back to TribeKIDS after we just dropped them off, and transporting a car load of often drained and exhausted people back home at the end of it… We know it won’t be this way forever!
Our fortnightly Tuesday night dinners with Nick and Laura, the 18 months of memorable and amazing chaos that was our house sharing experiment with Alex and Monica, the accountability group, wine tasting parties, incredible weekends away in Mount Martha, tears and exposure of fears at House Church, dinners dropped off in plastic containers when times have been taxing or new life has arrived, play dates, theological debates, the Ball Game, spa nights, the Progressive Dinner, slow cooker curry lunches, friends who can read how you are going with a mere glance at your face…. all of these amazing things would not be a part of life but for Tribe.
Life is meant to be lived to the full- messy, chaotic and beautiful. When it feels like I’m being pushed to my limits, something magical happens and my boundaries are increased, painfully at first but then looking back it only looks like growth. Even today, in the midst of a crazy week, I feel like this intensity is becoming the new normal now. Eli and Hudson racing through the house yelling ‘chase me, chase me’ and shrieking with delight, quilts pulled from beds to the living room floor to dive onto and snuggle under, Ivy’s wide grins any time you catch her eye, Hudson’s sweetly whispered commiserations to Ivy when she is upset and his cheeky sideways glances when he is gently trying to feed her the dregs from her bottle, Eli’s attempts to suppress groans of frustration upon losing his Minions iPad game, relentless requests for cookies or snacks, the jangle of the Jolly Jumper, washing colourfully draped over chairs and racks, brothers reaching out to each other for impromptu cuddles, pans bubbling away on the stove, 2am makeshift beds on the floor of a sleepless Hudson’s room, and the back and forth squeak of the pram wheels as they travel across the floor following the chaos. This is life. And it is amazing.