I did testing and customer service for a long time in the very, very early days of PC software, back when everything was new and raggedy. I even worked on a Columbia running MS-DOS 1.2, which is why HCF seems goofy to me.
My job in the company was to break new ground, in development, in implementation, in marketing. I figured things out and taught other people the procedures I created.
Sometimes, to get the results you wanted, you had to take a bit of a circuitous route around limitations, design crocks and bugs. We called this kind of solution a “workaround.”
I was the master of the workaround, finding ways to do the impossible with ease.
As I listened to Christine Montross’ “Falling Into the Fire: A Psychiatrist’s Encounters with the Mind in Crisis” I realized that my entire life has been a workaround.
The psychological damage I took early in life was real and profound. I didn’t know how to heal it, even as I was called to transcend it.
What I did figure out, though, was how to work around it. I created solutions that let me do the work I needed to do, even if they weren’t solutions that found me the peace and connection that I required. My own ocean of pain and damage didn’t go away, wasn’t drained, but rather it was managed by a huge engineering project, creating cofferdams and overflow canals, sluice gates and drainage basins.
Being able to manage my own flow makes me much more able to survey and model the flows of others, able to see the tides inside that they want to ignore until they are flooded by them.
It’s a great skill to be able to create workarounds. And when faced by a world that you cannot change, it is a very useful approach.
A life that is only made of workarounds, though, is limiting. It is a reactive life, where you don’t feel ownership or agency, one where you have no place of comfort or safety.
Because you still hold your difference and pain, people find it enormously simple to project their issues onto you. Having your own stuff visible rather than having it compartmentalized away brings up their stuff, as if your choices were about them, when, as Greer Lankton said “It’s About Me, Not You.”
The ultimate workaround is in that Morey Amsterdam joke about the fellow who buys the cheap suit.
I understand why I learned, from a very, very early age to master the workaround. My parents and society wanted me silent and compliant, unchallenging and pleasant. They demanded that I come into their world, but refused to come into mine.
I understand the workaround. I just don’t understand the fix. And I despair of ever finding that which can repair and mend me, choices that will let me be myself in the world, especially since that self is so twisted out of shape from a history of working around having to wear suits that never fit, so away from working around the needs of her own heart to serve others.
I’m happy to share the techniques of the workaround and have that accepted.
I’m happy to share my own flow, too, but somehow, when I show it, people just want a workaround, working around my battered old heart.