Who sits at your conference table?
By Mama in the Middle on December 17, 2012
I remember reading a book several years ago wherein the author described a conference table in his mind. He stated that he had this conference table in his mind and those who sat at it were constantly judging and critiquing how he lived his life. In his mind, these people sat around a conference table judging him..."Oh Johnny got an A on his report card! Great! But why isn't Johnny playing football?"
The idea fascinated me because I certainly identified with it. I thought about who was seated at my conference table and how they got there. It's ridiculous, really - the people who I had allowed space.
A man I once loved, but had never loved me. A man who had played games with my heart and left me broken, and wounded so badly that it took 7 years to heal sat at one end as well as his wife, sister-in-law and entire extended family. They took up a large section of my conference table.
As I examined how they earned their spot on the table, I have to admit it was rather cult-like. The man in question would tell others my flaws (real or perceived) as truth, then allow them to beat me up for them. Once, thoroughly beaten, he would swoop in and build me up. A really sick dynamic that continued for years.
Interestingly, after I stopped talking to him, I continued to struggle with their perceptions for another decade and only recently realized it really didn't matter if Wendy saw me as a drama queen, or John felt I was searching for rescue. If they hadn't taken the time to know me, but had simply swallowed the informed perception as truth, why was I banging my head against the glass trying to change their perceptions of me and furthermore, why the hell were they at the conference table in my mind?
In one fell swoop, I kicked them all out.
I felt euphoric and free in ways I had not felt since childhood. No longer was I battling an image created by a man who never really cared about me. Suddenly, all of that energy was freed up to explore other things.
Who else was at my table? An aunt who always seemed to disapprove of me. BAM! kicked her out with no comment.
Slowly, I removed everyone negative from the conference table and even decided that the furniture had to go. Why such a formal place to sit in judgement?
Instead, I installed bean bag chairs and a Keurig and I invited my friend from High School to snuggle up with his wife and throw out accolades. I gave my childhood pastor a lazyboy and a big box of books to thumb through, and I installed my son's Godmother in a place of glory -- lazing in a hammock in a sun-filled sky.
When I marched my life choices and decisions in front of these people, who actually loved me... I felt a completely different sense. Instead of battling to prove myself, I found acceptance.. and I learned that there is a difference between excuses and acceptance.
Excuses exempt you from being perfect because of some reason, but assume that you should have acheived perfection. Acceptance says you are perfectly you and that's all that matters.
Excuses point out the warts and explain why they are there, acceptance sees the warts as another aspect of you.
"Bonnie made a mistake and got into a relationship with a dangerous man."
The old conference table would have ripped me apart. "You did this because of your insecurities. You did this because you are weak and you caved in to loneliness. You did this because you FAILED. A relationship only fails if BOTH parties give up on it, you COULD have made it work. You SHOULD have made it work. CHRIST WOULD HAVE MADE IT WORK, WHY AREN'T YOU AS STRONG AS CHRIST?"
New menagerie of love and acceptance says, " It happened. You were vulnerable to another human being and they screwed you over. That sucks and it's okay to feel shitty about it."
As I moved forward, slowly installing removing and readjusting who is allowed in my mind and under my skin, I keep one thought in focus. Does this person want what is best for me? If not...then I'm not allowing them a place here.
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