I told him what I had written yesterday: that I didn’t want to show off. He interrupted me, saying, ‘You should show off. This is our celebration.‘ He explained that leaving and returning are natural parts of the process; they make the celebration possible. I had left because I could take no more. I was being challenged every step of the way and it became increasingly difficult for me to be here. From the inquisitive, deferential person I had been at the beginning, I had become cocky, argumentative and confrontational. There had been no other option but for me to go.
As we prepared food together, Karaj continued, telling me that whilst some of the other members of the group, in the years following my departure, had simply stopped coming, my exit had been a clear and conscious one. I had challenged Karaj’s authority and we both knew it was time for me to leave. It is common for there to be a confrontational phase. Without it the process cannot reach completion. (Karaj added that people from a good family, with a good script have no need to rebel.)
After the confrontation, comes the separation. It took me years to process the anger I felt towards Karaj. Others, faced with the same challenge, may never succeed. This means there is no guarantee that the relationship will continue; but if it does it is likely to be stronger and more appreciative than ever. At this point in our conversation I read a piece from the journal entry, ‘The Collaborative Process’, written 13 years ago; a full three years before I left. I came across it on the eve of my departure for this visit, as part of the proof-reading I have been doing for the book I plan to publish:
Karaj […] explained that there is a process which people go through when they work together. Initially, progress is good but then the discussions, which have been hitherto creative, turn into arguments. Enthusiasm is lost and the progress is halted. Eventually the individuals come together again and the work can be completed.
Who knows where things will go from here. We may never see each other again once this week is over, but even if that is the case, after only one day back in the house where my life took such a decisive turn, I already feel as though I have come full circle. This week is an acknowledgement of everything we did together. A reaffirming of four years of hard work, unprecedented development and the pain and joy we experienced throughout. It was the toughest time of my life but it was also transformational. For both of us. Ten years on and it is finally time to celebrate.