andrea atkinson response to "thoughts on wrong- and right-relationship during a pandemic"04 Apr 2020
andrea atkinson of one square world: as a person who generally is overwhelmed by personal interaction (and even more so by 1 on 1 digital interaction), your post resonates. i am the person who doesn’t respond. i am a person who is intensely present to the moment, it’s really hard for me to be pulled away from an interaction in person, i am ALL IN when I am with you. i also am a person who has moved multiple times so when i am not in your world, i am not in your world. my closest friends get this about me. They love me even when i disappear. i hope i do not cause them pain. we resume conversations from months in the past, without judgement, and just from where we left off. the relationships that end have been those convos that start with - why didn’t you call me? respond? donde te perdiste?
my experience with intense 1 on 1 digital interaction was particularly noaticable during my first maternity leave. like yes, thank you for checking in and no, i am not interested in saying the same thing to every person about how i am. I am here, right here, with my kid and new family. yes, i also feel guilty for this response.
i don’t think i like the directing to 6 other people for updates. there is something in here about the responsibility of the other person to manage their own need for information, and your (the person being asked) being ok with being a person that doesn’t respond at all. what are your thoughts and beliefs about people who don’t respond? I tend to beat myself up about not responding, but then I also forget quickly. can I be ok with not responding? or have an autoresponse set up or place to direct people that want to check on me (not putting labor on others to do it?) and admitedly i have reached out to my friends partner to make sure he was ok in a moment of panic.
maybe something about i am ok or not ok, and i am being checked on by XYZ. i really liked the post that erin sent to moon sisters about danielle’s need to not be checked in on but to reach out to her.
here are all the feelings that i feel now checking in on people, they come in waves and how i’ve managed it:
Lawrence and Danielle get sick: i check in on lawrence and Danielle worry and love for them- i love them, i want to make sure they are ok.
anxiety and worry about myself - if they have it, maybe i have it, this is serious.
my need to in the know about all things (IM A LEO OK?!?!)
I ask How are you? Lawrence doesn’t respond: i check in with other friends who i know are closer to lawrence than i am to make sure he is ok, once I know that, I give lawrence space.
i realize the energy that asking how someone is, isn’t super supportive - it takes rather than offers.
I start sending love via marco polo to Danielle and Lawrence: songs, notes from the kids, i don’t expect them to respond (maybe I should add something to this effect in the message)
Result of this: Luana gets sick - I do not ask her how she is - i send her offerings that i can JoyFULLY offer her along her along with ask about other things i can offer.
Next step to just send what i can offer?
questions to ask yourself before reaching out:
- where is this desire to request coming from? (your need to know, your panic, your fear for yourself, your fear for their well-being?)
- if it’s coming from a place of fear - center yourself and bring in love to yourself first, reach out to another friend WHO IS NOT SICK to manage your fear. The person should not need to assure you.
- if you’re being nosy - don’t reach out.
- are you closer to the person who is sick or another person who loves that person? if you are closer to the other person, ask that person how you can support THEM to support their loved one. Makes me think of that whole thing about supporting people - the person at the center is supported by their closest people, the people closest to those people are supported by people closest to them - ring theory
On extractive/regenerative caring: there are transactional, extractive and regenerative interactions. Transactional interactions come out of obligation - asking how someone is because you are supposed to and or because it’s socially acceptable. The energy exchange between these are low. you give a low level of energy and the other person receives a low level of energy (the same question will have different results based on who is asking and why they are asking)
There are two ends of the spectrum for interactions - extractive and regenerative. An extractive interaction “mines” the other person for information/resources/etc. for ones own benefit. In this case - I ask if you are ok in order to make myself important because now i am at the center of a high drama experience and can use this information to build my own social capital (or in extreme cases I’m assuming ones own financial capital?). Regenerative interaction - this event leads to resources being distributed as needed for the good of the group (in this case sending energy to a node in need of more resources for now), resources move to Lawrence to restore, renew or revitalize his resources. The event results in stronger systems for lawrence and those in his circle, so that the group continues to be able to mutually care for each other.
re: backlash - no, i think it may encourage folks to check in differently. I think A LOT of people will resonate with this.
Re cold/impersonal - yes, some folks will think this but i can imagine that those folks are caught in some really transactional relationships. It will hopefully open some minds. I love the signature line that Jessica T has about practicing presence with email (“I am practicing presence. I am practicing letting go of urgency and the never-ending to-do list. If I don’t respond, it’s not personal; it’s simply an act of self care.” — jessica
taubner ridge) - something like that can soften this if you want it softened.