It is a quiet morning. I slept in, and managed to do so in spite of a ringing phone next to my bed, left turned up from the night before. I woke minutes before my exhausted, distressed traveling partner arrived at my door. At this point there is little about my leisurely morning that differs from many other leisurely mornings; I have my coffee, and this safe and quiet place, and I am writing.

There are differences; each day, each moment, each experience differ subtly one from another, however similar in most regards. Today, some differences are small (I spent the morning writing notes on holiday cards, checking addresses, and getting them into the mail – as usual, at the last possible minute). Other differences are more significant; my traveling partner is sleeping in the other room, exhausted but feeling safe and able to sleep in this quiet space. I am ‘standing watch’, quietly writing and drinking my coffee. We care for each other in the face of any challenges the world throws our way, and today he earnestly needs to rest, to give in to sleep, until he wakes rested and able to reason clearly. My vigil affects the content of my thoughts and the emotional tone of the morning. I take time for me, too, ensuring I don’t inherit my partner’s stress (which could potentially render me less able to be rational and supportive). Quiet mornings are excellent for meditation. Meditation is excellent for maintaining perspective and balance in the face of stress.

Today balance is important, most particularly that balance between honest recognition of difficult circumstances in a relationship, and not over-stepping the boundaries as friend, lover, and partner by dictating decision-making in a ‘you need to…’ or ‘you have to…’ sort of way; there’s no win in doing so. The outcome of telling a loved one what he or she ‘must do’ about a problematic relationship is rarely anything other than later stress and agita over the outcome, whatever the decision-making may have been. So, I do my best to simply love my partner well, and listen deeply, and answer only the questions asked, and to do so honestly but without attempting to persuade or influence – to ‘be here’ for my partner, without making demands on his decision-making, whatever my own opinion may be. I sometimes feel as if I am holding a very detailed map… pointing at the map… and saying ‘you see where this is going?’, but it is truly not for me to make decisions about a relationship I am not part of, or to plan the route on a journey that is not mine.

I pause for a moment of compassion for the Other in the equation, feeling complicated emotions myself – a soup that includes concern, sadness, frustration, anger, and a very real helplessness. I have no power to improve things in any way, and no words to share that could change how many verbs are involved, how many choices are being made – or not made – or to ease the suffering, so much of which is self-inflicted. I take a few deep breaths, and think back on other years, other relationships, my own challenges, and as I exhale I let it all go. This one isn’t about me.

Storm-tossed, damaged, emotionally flooded - there is still a chance to begin again.

Storm-tossed, damaged, emotionally flooded – there is still a chance to begin again.

Today is a good day to practice those practices associated with listening deeply, with non-judgment, with acceptance and compassion. Today is a good day to practice those practices associated with not taking someone else’s experience personally; we are each having our own experience, truly. Today is a good day to avoid diving in to ‘fix’ something that isn’t mine, and that I haven’t been asked to fix. Today is good day to ‘be here’ for a friend, a lover, a partner – and to understand that sometimes just being here is enough.