On Sunday afternoon my back went out.
This was kind of surprising, since I am not prone to back pain and moreover have not done anything that normally would have triggered it. There was suddenly a stabbing pain in my lower back that made it difficult to get up, walk and do all the million little movements one would do moving around the house.
So over the next 24 hours I treated my back pain conservatively – giving it a rest, keeping it warm, taking some Tylenol. It did not work.
The next day I tried acupuncture (on myself, which does not work anyway) and then moved on to some stretching and shaking exercises to release the blockage. Nothing. I went to my Pilates training in the evening and only did the very easy exercises, hoping that the use of the abdominal muscles would balance out the over-activity in the back. It did not work and the back strain continued to hold me in an iron-like grip of throbbing, clamping, stubborn pain.
At night I would explore it, be with it, accept it, love it, ignore it, hate it and lastly fall asleep with it. In the morning it greeted me, feeling like a hungry horse biting in my flank.
So today I decided to get to the bottom of things and started an enquiry into my own back-pain.
It felt like someone had stabbed a knife in my left flank and turned it.
So I sat with that impression for a while and suddenly it became clear what this was about. On Sunday morning I have had a final conversation with a business associate about ending our professional relations. That came hardly a surprise since things have not been at their best for some time now, and when he suggested we part company, I readily accepted. The conversation was not a pleasant one, as he got upset and did not hold back with blame. However, I felt calm and collected and even tough I have been sorry how things had developed, I did not take things personally.
However, when I sat with this feeling, I discovered something else under the layer of calm reason – anger. I enquired further and there it was – a sharp sense of getting blindsided and betrayed. That surprised me because I did not feel that was true. Yes, I had noticed diverging ideas about the approach and I had felt already for a while that changes were imminent. A parting did not mean the end of the project and the way the business was set up, it even allowed for a quick decision. So where did that sense of betrayal come from, that translated in a feeling of getting a knife stabbed in the back ?
So I looked at the relationship with that person and what I saw primarily was that I had invested a lot of time, thought, dialogue and work. I probably had not started the project without him, but soon it flourished and really started to take off. I had noticed his vanishing enthusiasm, but did not really enquire. To me it was a pilot (we had agreed to that) and it soon became clear to me, that if we ever took it further, we would have to change quite few things in terms of structure and administration. So I just let it run, thinking it would sort itself out eventually.
But then I started to understand my own role in it. Even tough I had noticed things were coming apart, I did not address them. I had many excuses, most of them in the odd behaviour and the more and more careless contributions of my business partner over the past few weeks, which made me think – this partnership is not going to last. But then again, I did not see the necessity to talk it over. I did not do this on purpose nor did I did not try to advantage or outsmart him. I just took care of the business and let the partnership run out and waited for the day he would throw the towel. Which he did – and at that time he was hurt and vengeful and it was not a pleasant way to part.
In the end, nothing really has happened. There was no big investment nor was there a big mess. It was an experiment and we all learned from it. I moved on and he will too and there have been good reasons to part. We both have made our experiences and we both made errors in judgement and I can see mine clearly. But what hit me was that my part in it was that I simply did not stick with the truth, but bent a situation in such a way that – unwillingly yet very effectively – I set myself up that in the end someone would walk out on me and I could feel blindsided and betrayed. Like getting a stab in the back, which is a pattern I have met many times in my life. It has to do with my own expectations – and what I do so they are not met.
So I sat there and it was revealed to me what we do to each other. I suddenly understood the difference between power and empowerment and I also realised that all we want to do in this life is to help others. We do see the light in others, we know what it takes to empower them, but we hold it back – simply because we don’t want them to. And that feels like a stab in the back.
And the very moment I realised that, the pain was gone.