November 2017
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what I learned from my relationship with ashley / mentoring and equal friendships


processing more of my feelings from the breakup with Ashley... I've moved into the final step: assessing what I've learned.

Our relationship was a mentor/mentee relationship for a very long time, which was fine, since I was conscious of the fact that in that sort of relationship, I could not expect anything from her, or ask for anything. During that time, the only thing I got from the relationship was the joy of watching her start to stand on her own two feet. And that was enough -- I knew how it felt to transition alone, and I knew how much guidance would have meant to me when I was first learning to be myself, so I gave to her as a sort of gift back to God/dess for helping me with my own metamorphosis.

(And it's hard to explain what exactly I'm talking about with this 'transition' -- basically, a transition from letting life happen to you, to happening to life. It doesn't fit in linear terms well... the practical part of it was helping her break free of a very abusive relationship with a guy she had planned to marry.)

The problem came in because I had never done this before, and so I didn't really put a lot of thought into WHY she would want to change (beyond breaking up with the guy). I just assumed that she had the same reason as me -- a deep desire to grow and develop for its own sake. I think she did have that desire to some extent, but I think her main purpose was to become what she thought of as a 'better person.' I think she had me on a pedestal, and felt that in order to become this 'better person' she needed to imitate me in every way. I thought she wanted to grow for the purpose of growth itself, but now I think that she wanted to grow because then others would admire her the way she admired me. And I think that while admiring me, she also thought I was 'better' than her, and she resented me for making her feel inferior, even though that was NEVER my feeling or intention. (I believe all humans have infinite worth, and how can one infinity be more than another?) My initial reaction is to want to beat myself up for not seeing this earlier, but that would do no one any good -- and I did start to see it nearing the end, and confronted her about it several times, as gently as I could.

Also, nearing the end, I saw how far she had come and how much she had grown (and I still say it's a lot, even though it's not the same as I initially thought) and I wanted to become real friends with her, move out of mentor/mentee into a more equal relationship. I think that was when she began feeling uncomfortable with the relationship, even though she said it was what she wanted more than anything else in the world. I don't think she was ready for an equal friendship; it panicked her that I was inviting her up onto my 'pedestal.' She didn't want to lose that sense of having someone to turn to for answers that were 'greater' than what she herself could find. I think that when the moment finally came that I needed her to support me, she freaked out because it was a reversal of the roles she was comfortable with.

I now realize that with a mentor/mentee relationship, you can't go straight into an equal friendship, there has to be some distance first, a clear marking of the end of one. The mentee has to come out of the viewpoint of learning from this other person, and be at the point where s/he values her/his own opinions as much as the opinions of her/his former mentor, and that takes some time and distance. Obviously we should keep learning from our friends, but it's a different kind of learning.

This hasn't put me off of mentor/mentee relationships but it has taught me that I will go into the relationship with the expectation that we will NEVER have an equal friendship, and then I won't start hoping for something that can't happen until after the relationship dies. That means a certain amount of distance, but I think still enough room to just have fun. I will also be sure that the person wants guidance to find answers for themselves, not just the answers.

So what I've gained: I'm better able to see when a person wants growth for itself or for other reasons; I understand more how to be a responsible mentor; I learned that when mentoring, I need to be careful to stress breaking from ANY ideal, rather than forming a new one; I learned more how to give without desiring return (because for the majority of it I didn't even desire return) which will benefit all of my relationships; I helped a person get out of an abusive relationship, which benefits the whole world; I learned again that being honest will sometimes cause short-term devastation but after the dust settles I will be far better off. And I learned that my friends love me for ME, and that I am not replaceable or duplicatable, and that I can trust them to be truly honest with me. And as a side effect, I gave up my fixation on having a close-by friend, and poured more energy into the wonderful people who are already in my life (even if I can't hug them every week), and it's been incredible how those relationships have grown.

look closely at my icon -- you can see the shed skin of the dragonfly, and since she is now winged, that is the last metamorphosis: she is a full adult

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Comments
sidheblessed ══╣╠══
I love that you always try to learn something from all the painful tins you've been through, rather than just being sad about it.
belenen ══╣analytical╠══
it's the only way to move on, for me at least. Once I can believe that I gained some things from it, I can let go of the things that I lost. ♥

and thank you lovey!
wild_root_fruit ══╣╠══
This was precious - thanks for sharing!
belenen ══╣vivacious╠══
you're welcome and thank you. ;-)
sabr ══╣horses : hawk : fabio╠══
belenen ══╣loving╠══
in_withbothfeet ══╣Gaining Courage╠══
Well, aren't you awesome!

I think it shows a lot about your character that not only do you choose to learn from any experience, you do so in a way that doesn't leave holes or dependence. I mean, I guess that's the point in growing, but it can be so easy to confuse the importance and purposes of individual accountability. It can be so easy to place all the blame on another person, or to feel accountable for his or her actions, etc. But it is such a healthy balance when you're able to account for your own experience, feelings, and actions, as well as develop a nonresentful and respectful understanding of what likely occured with the other person. Just to be able to put it into perspective, see where and how you stand, what things really meant (it takes a lot of distortion/assumption cleansweeping before getting to this point, I think)...

Mentor/Mentee relationships are tricky tricky. I'm glad you learned what you did through your experience. It's interesting because when you take the mentor away from the mentee, the mentor is just as human of course. I think that it is a blessing to experience one or the other, and even more so to experience both. I believe that part of our responsibility or, our natural inclination, to flow with the rest of nature is what leaves a clearer trail behind us, ultimately for others to follow (& then a chain reaction). I mean, it's sort of like how some view "karma" but not really. If we do all we can to flow with nature and grow, rather than fight against it, then we add to that positive force and it is therefore stronger for everyone else to feel/absorb. It doesn't even necessarily have to be a specific person, but we all have influences that have no doubt helped to shape us in certain ways, and had it not been for the positivity and clarity of others before us, we wouldn't have had that same chance. I can sometimes hear it in the wind or rustling of leaves. Not as in, they're actually talking to me, like, literally, but in that... every bit of energy exerted into the world thus far has somehow made its way up to this very moment and currently part of it is every tree rustling, etc... and that holds such value for me, with living in the moment and appreciating every breath. And if we fight nature and harm ourselves, it will deter the energy in a way that won't leave such a positive impact on certain things...

Not to say that we can't all learn our lessons and seek inspiration from anywhere else, but part of what makes the choices/experiences/people we do come into contact with and choose to grow from is that it helps shape us in a uniqe way... I don't know how to explain this. Just, that in a way I think of everyone as being made up of bits and pieces of other people, and the other people who influenced those people, etc, until we're sort of all one in the same. And that "one" is the wholeness in the first place, sort of like what I would consider "God" if anything.

free2be ══╣╠══
Don't mean to but in, but your words struck me...

"...I don't know how to explain this. Just, that in a way I think of everyone as being made up of bits and pieces of other people, and the other people who influenced those people, etc, until we're sort of all one in the same..."

That's how I see it too.

And it's not only bits and pieces of other people, thoughts work that way too!

Each thought has associated connections or energies to related thoughts (our own or those of others)...it's all kind of knitted into one big thing...wholeness. It seems to "go" as far as the amount of energy available can enliven it.
belenen ══╣interconnectedness╠══
I believe that part of our responsibility or, our natural inclination, to flow with the rest of nature is what leaves a clearer trail behind us, ultimately for others to follow

I SO agree. yes, yes, and especially the part about hearing it in the rustle of leaves. I believe even the smallest of actions ripples out and affects the whole world, every single thing, even if the change is unnoticeable. a lot of unnoticeable adds up to VERY noticeable.

every bit of energy exerted into the world thus far has somehow made its way up to this very moment... everyone as being made up of bits and pieces of other people, and the other people who influenced those people, etc, until we're sort of all one in the same

I believe every person reflects a facet of God/dess, and as such, we are all pieces of the same puzzle, we are all completely unique and yet ONE because we are all part of one another. We like to think we are independent forces, but we are affected constantly by one another, no one is separate. And we need each other, we need every single person.
in_withbothfeet ══╣"Healing the Inner Child"╠══
...But anyway. I know how it is to seek a mentor, or wish you'd had one. I sure do. I long for it still. But you're right in that an equal friendship can't occur, atleast not right away. I think that's why a lot of therapists don't tell their clients about any similar experience shared in terms of problems, because it can freak the client out. Suddenly, there isn't one, entire, objective force helping him or her fight against the negativity. It's sort of like how kids often see their parents as some sort of superhero until that image gets shattered...

I've never grown up with a mentor but I found someone over the past few years who has sort of been that for me, my professor. But, only in some ways. Well, basically, I trust him and would basically take whatever he says for serious consideration and accept it... just out of the trust that he is always out for my best interests and is far more experienced and wise than I am. I might not understand everything he says, but it always ends up having a point. Now, obviously he is not infallible, and to complete the path after walking it alongside a mentor requires coming to a time when we do have to be able to trust our own opinions and values as much as our mentor's. I think that can happen when we see the humanness in the mentor. It is natural and it is necessary...
it's a huge responsibility, too. For the mentor. It's like one of the most vulnerable times for both, I think.

I know that I have been a mentor to a younger girl I know, although right now is a time of giving space. But I know the mentorship won't be over. She's only 14, I'm 19... and she's seriously so much like me, she could be my sister at heart or something. She goes through a lot of what I have, and it's so hard to explain but I *feel* the blaring warmth of all her potential. But when she learned of my eating disorder (she also has one) she completely freaked out and had a lot of trouble coming to trust me again. it still isn't quite the same, but I know deep down in there somewhere, it is. Atleast the part that existed to begin with; the trust and love and sense of self and faith... even if not realized... of one's ability to grow and become her own person.

Well, anyway. I think it takes a lot of courage and strength to be both a mentor and a mentee, for a lot of reaasons. But I'll wrap this up right now and say that your analyzation is very interesting...

And it makes a lot of sense. Do you think perhaps that might explain part of the "closed-circle" and "siding" with Lily thing? Because when our special mentor type person is no longer that to us, it can be a lost and scaary time. In a way she may have been trying to keep you separate from her as a defense mechanism, and siding with someone *can* reveal a desire to keep a distance from the one person. Not wanting that person to be mortal. But also not feeling "strong" enough on his or her own... because when we're ready to both separate *and* stand strong on our own, it means not needing *anybody* to rely on for a sense of self.

I don't know Ashley or Lily, and I am *NOT* assuming this is the case. It could be anything, and it's not my place to try to decide. Out of respect for them as people in general and as people I don't even know, I just want to add that disclaimer as well as say that I think it can be a typical human reaction or experience and it doesn't mean someone is inherently immature etc it is just part of the learning process.

And that basically all we can do is take responsibility for ourselves... and therefore know that anyone who does follow in our path will see some sort of direction we can be proud of or truly believe in.

And I'm proud of you :)
belenen ══╣exuviate╠══
YES. I feel like now I understand the whole counselor-distance thing. It's not just to allow the counselor to conserve emotion, it's to help the counseled to develop themselves without idolizing the counselor. I don't approve of the extreme distance endorsed by most therapists, but I acknowledge that a certain amount is just plain necessary.

I think the 'closed-circle' thing was... a desire to prove to herself that she was 'as good as' me? or maybe subconscious revenge because I connected more with Hannah, which possibly upset her and made her want to make me feel cut out? I don't think it had much to do with the actual mentoring, though it may have had to do with the pedestal. I really don't know of course.

anyway, thank you for sharing your thoughts and being proud of me ;-) I love your comments ♥
chillychilly22 ══╣╠══
You've guided more than one person to become more themselves. :)
belenen ══╣vivacious╠══
awwww yay! XD
clown_frog ══╣╠══
I don't really have anything to say on this, except at least you feel you got something good, you gained something, from all this.

Just wanted to make sure, you don't feel you have a mentor type friendship with me? Although I do take things from you, like a more open type attitude, I feel that I can learn things from many people just in the general course of friendship (or even without any friendship), it is just the way of things. I don't put you on a pedestal, look to you as any kind of mentor or aim to be more like you (there is a different between working on gaining qualities or developing oneself, and wanting to be someone). And I hope I give at least something back... Anyway, I just wanted to make sure. I'm furrowing my brows at the computer in concern. Prefer the thought of equal friendship.
on communication, social justice, intimacy, consent, friendship & other relationships, spirituality, gender, queerness, & dreams. Expect to find curse words, nudity, (occasionally explicit) talk of sex, and angry ranting, but NEVER slurs or sexually violent language. I use TW when I am aware of the need and on request.
Expect to find curse words, nudity, (occasionally explicit) talk of sex, and angry ranting, but NEVER slurs or sexually violent language. I use TW when I am aware of the need and on request.