This past weekend I got to see how my belief that I knew how to communicate was the very thing that prevented it. Over the years I have studied relationships and communication through various paradigms, and I consider myself pretty well versed in being responsible in my speech, willing to admit where I’m wrong, and committed to maintaining connection over winning an argument. The astonishing quality of my friendships and marriage are testament to this.
But boy oh boy did I see how mistaken I am.
For any of many possible reasons, one morning during our blissful four days of camping with perfect seclusion, gorgeous scenery, ideal weather, and fun together, Sweetie woke up in a funk. The mood seemed to even out over the day, so that by afternoon I was caught unawares when the Funk reared its head in a comment that I considered out of place. I watched myself then become increasingly confident in my rightness to point it out and demand that my sweetie revise his thinking. If only he’d consider the wrongness in his interpretation of what he was experiencing, not only would he see the folly of his judgment about me, but HE would assuredly feel better! See how justifiable is my argument – I have his best interests at heart!
As you can imagine, that didn’t go so well.
Once I realized that I had an attitude about my sweetie’s attitude –!!– I could see that the real work is actually mine to do, not my beloved’s. I wanted him to change his focus and thus his perspective – but that’s my job, to shift whatever interpretation I have of him, or what’s going on, to remain connected to the deepest truth of my being: I am meant to abide in love, and I love this man. Loving him is Who I Am, not something I feel, and whenever I use ANY excuse to step outside of loving him, I suffer. The work of Byron Katie and Abraham-Hicks is coming clearer and clearer to me (as clear as a ton of bricks on my head!!), and the lesson is nowhere clearer than this. When my beloved and I get off track, when discord arises, when I believe I’m right (about some way he’s wrong), the end result is that I hurt all over. I absolutely cannot bear to hold a judgment about him, find fault, separate myself from living in wonder and appreciation of him. So really it’s completely self-serving to recognize that I never, ever have any justification for believing that he should be or behave in any way other than exactly how he is, and that it’s my job to alter my perspective so that I can remain in an attitude of love.
It (only sometimes, now) surprises me to hear myself speak of love and relationship in terms that sound dangerously close to dissolution of my free-willin’ self. It challenges my painstakingly cultivated sense of autonomy to let everyone else off the hook, and engage all these tools of responsibility and compassion, myself; to locate the fault in myself whenever I feel wronged by another – not as a declaration that I am wrong, but that I’m entertaining a thought/perspective that is erroneous. In Touching Enlightenment, Reginald Ray states that “this journey toward realization…is a process of unmasking, taking off the armor, becoming more and more nakedly ourselves” (p. 234). In forsaking a thought that takes me out of the state of love, I’m not giving up the self that is my True Self; I’m surrendering the one that clings to judgments and mistaken beliefs –the primary one being that there is anything more important than Being in love.
Really??? Who would choose fame or fortune, being “right” or “realistic,” over the opportunity to live a life in love love love!??!!