I’ve had the opportunity to learn from fabulous teachers in my lifetime, and ranked amongst them is Sam, a 6’2” convicted murderer.
A couple of decades ago, when I was a probation officer, Sam was one of my parolees. It was my job to ensure he abided by the conditions of his parole license which were intended to reduce the risk of a repeat offense.
Overseeing Sam was not an easy task. Like many who’ve had a rough start in life, he’d learned to cover up his fears and insecurities with false bravado. He was hostile towards anyone in a position of authority. So naturally, although petite and only 5’4”, from his perspective, I was not to be trusted.
Yet, Sam wanted his freedom. He wanted to make his way in the world, which meant meeting with me twice a month. And so it was that we began a rather precarious relationship. One false move on my part, and I would become the target of Sam’s anger and rage. One false move on Sam’s part and he risked ending up behind locked doors.
Long story short, we learned to work together very well. Three years later, when I was relocated, and it was time to say good bye, Sam made a point of saying “at least you didn’t pretend to like me”. It was his way of thanking me.
Sadly, previous authority figures had frequently been intimidated by Sam’s menacing attitude, and, in an attempt to appease him, had given in to his demands rather than standing for a relationship of mutual respect.
I didn’t seek Sam’s approval. Even though this meant feeling vulnerable to his disapproval and anger. Instead, I was clear about what I expected of him and the parameters of our relationship. I focused on seeing through his armor to what was deeper.
Although Sam was ill equipped to touch into his own inner world, the fact that I maintained steadily anchored in mine, willing to stand in fear and not be deterred, Sam slowly learned it was safe to be himself. Gradually, he became a willing partner in our work.
I learned many things from Sam; how all human beings seek to be seen and loved, how the most hardened exterior cannot shield inner tenderness. But, the clearest lesson Sam granted is the power that lies in being vulnerable.
By not bending to Sam’s power displays, but choosing to respect him and expecting the same in return, I became empowered to help him, and he learned to honor and express his needs in constructive ways.
When and where are you choosing to be vulnerable and authentic, rather than please others? How is it going? Come share in the comments below.
Right up my alley, I would say. Authentic and vulnerable by painting what I need to see, instead of what galleries want me to paint so they can sell it. I love the stories from your past, Fiona, especially about these criminals. I read a lot of crime mysteries, you know……
Yes, Leslie. Standing for an expression of Truth often looks like a counter position to others….and yet in Truth there are no ‘others’. All is one energy and consciousness. The willingness to stand for what is a true expression is a willingness to see through the veil of separation and align with ultimate Truth.
Hello and thank you for your perfect timing heart notes.
As i am right in the middle of this process of being vulnerable yet standing in my truth of what i am experiencing in my heart.It is a response from my heart to a lifelong pleasing others and ignoring my own feeling.
I seem to have become harsh to all those that i always pleased by not trying to do what they are accustomed to expect from me.I have to say it is hard on my fragile state of the heart but i am going with it feeling sad and lonely.
I am asking with a firm determination that i need to be respected and honored and from there true love can emerge hopefully but the first brick to that foundation has to be built on respect.This is the truth of my heart at the moment. Thank you for your open heart and ear to listen to my hearts need right now.
My heart goes out to you, Sophie. Yes, the first foundation is to turn to yourself and commit to honoring what you know to be true. Respect from others cannot truly come when there is no respect for self. If some of your people are open to change, it might help to let them know that you are seeking to be more real and true, and your behavior may be changing, but your heart is still available. Others, who refuse to see the higher level of authenticity at work in you may not want to shift with you and may drop away. Either way, you become stronger and new relationships will be built on a firmer foundation. Sending Love and encouragement. Fiona