A few days ago I walked away from a client.
A huge chunk of my income has come from this client and, volatile as the relationship may have been, bills must be paid. But the fellow has a penchant for abuse. After a few weeks or months of being utterly charming, entertaining, funny and interesting, after sharing a few glasses of wine, some late-night chats, some witty emails, he will suddenly turn. Like a lightswitch that suddenly, one day, zaps your hand when you try to turn the light on.
I will be peacefully minding my own business, walking the extra mile on one of his projects, and a piano will fall from the sky. Interestingly, he catches me by surprise every time. He's really, really good at this.
It gave me a glimpse into the world of the battered wife who stays and stays. Who defends the batterer, listing all his good points ... you know, those ones that no one eslse can see.
And so we had trundled merrily along. Him giving me work, me doing the work. Him emailing me questions about photography, asking advice on photo ideas. Me generously dispensing the info he needs. And then it happened. The freight train smashed through my wall flinging abusive emails against my head.
Two days of defending myself, trying to diffuse with humour, with logic, with good, common sense, with appeals, and I am left feeling exhausted, beaten by Friday evening. Sitting staring at my parter and asking 'What on earth is wrong with me? How is it that I invite this into my life?'
And his answer? 'It's not that there's something wrong with you. It's just that you let these things carry on for too long. Most people would walk away after the first or second time. You try to see the bigger picture, make excuses for people, forgive. You don't carry grudges and so you can move on.'
So I sipped a glass of red and thought about things like self-esteem, self-worth, abuse, the price we pay for the things we have, which, of course, led to thoughts about bills needing to be paid.
And then I thought about the laws of attraction. Energies. Lots of thinking for a Friday evening.
And I thought: It's time for some self-respect. I can continue to take this abuse. I know it will come again. Or I can walk away. Walking away leaves a vacuum. A vacuum must be filled. It will be filled. If I clear the space, something will (somehow!) waft in and fill it.
So on Monday, with my heart beating hard, I handed back a project and closed a door in my head. The door that has this fellow's name on it.
Later that same day a lovely woman phoned and asked me to take photographs of her and her new puppy. Shortly after that, some boxes of wine (to photograph, not to drink!) were delivered. The next day someone else phoned and a little more work dribbled in.
I created a space and the space is slowly filling.
Dear Adam: Thoughts on Being a Parent
3 years ago