Splitting Things Up
In my last post I talked about how my feelings, or the sharing of my feelings and the reactions I get or anticipate getting are to 2 separate things in my mind. They have not been…
I mean to change that. Basing my decision to feel or to share my feelings on what I think the reaction or consequences are going to be for me has resulted in my both denying my own feelings, being dishonest about my feelings, and keeping them all to myself until I am triggered and ‘lose it’ in some way or another.
Last night and this morning I acted and spoke on my feelings pretty readily, not in the most composed or compassionate way to me or the other person…But I take responsibility for that. And I give the other person responsibility for knowing me and knowing what reaction that could possibly get from their actions. That last thing is a big thing.
But what I needed to really get out here was the fact that I got caught up in ‘reacting’ instead of responding, because of the part of me that believes that when I DO share my feelings that it will or ‘should’ actually change the circumstances, or someone else will change their words or actions.
I got caught up in what Tara Brach has described in her talks as “Papancha” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ar-L41QMYCM). When I felt the first arrow hit (I could feel my qualifier was lying to me, and on top of that he said he was going for a beer because of stuff going on with his ex, and he was at my house, which I consider a sanctuary from drama like I never have) I shot out 4 or 5 myself and just reeled and reacted… Shooting out more and more pain, expectation, fear, frustration at him without even paying attention to what I needed to do for MYSELF after the first arrow. “Papancha” in Buddhism is that state of uncontrolled shooting arrows, hurting myself, trying to hurt someone else in desperation…
Somehow I was able to stop for long enough to go to sleep, but then in the morning I reacted again to messages from my qualifier… I noticed, however, that this could go on and on and it would be another day where I lost hours and hours of time and peace… And I realized that I could take a second and separate my initial feelings about that initial arrow…from the ‘reaction’ I was having. And I think I should write about that…
In Tara Brach’s talks she gives lots of examples of how to slowly pay attention, allow your curiosity to power your look inward, rather than your judgment…
Last night, when I was on my way home, even before I talked with my qualifier I knew the possibility of what I might be facing when I got home. And I was anxious about that. I did not want there to be any possibility that I came back to my quiet peaceful home to find an inebriate alcoholic, to find that he had spent hours just sitting around watching movies instead of doing something to ‘care’ for the place he feels is a home for him most of the time. I didn’t want to come home to find out that he had been on the phone for the 3 hours I was gone griping about how much of a ‘bitch’ his ex is… The first arrow is that…the fact that any one or all of those things are distinct possibilities, the fact that I put up with a person filling my space and my time with destructive actions, words and energy. I allowed him to go to my house to wait for me while I was out, knowing that I could not control if he brought all or any of that to my house.
(I am sometimes confused as to whether that is the first arrow or if my qualifier actually doing those things is the first arrow. Last night I think it was the former. Over the long term, the latter is the first arrow. He did that showing lack of caring and consideration (first arrow), I did not make sure I never subjected myself to that again, showing MYSElF lack of caring and consideration (second arrow).
So, the thing that I wanted to have taken care of last night was the feeling that I did not actually want to give him even the CHANCE to repeat behavior that I am not comfortable EVER having in my house or around me. I did not respond to my own feeling earlier in the evening when he said, he was going to wait for me at my place. I said yes because of the HOPE i have that things will be different, not because of the reality that I am well-acquainted with.
I said ok to him going to my house because I wanted to be a loving partner, don’t want to be seen to give up on him, want to show that I want to trust him and want things to be different. But that all comes out of the fear of not being a good partner. I forget that I have been a good partner for years. And I forget that I am a good loving person even if I don’t yet believe he is capable to doing things differently, of caring about how is actions affect other people. The second arrow is my belief that I am somehow accountable to someone else for the first…I am somehow a bad person because someone was inconsiderate, thoughtless, neglectful towards me.
That first arrow, which triggers true feelings should be the only arrow. Attending to my first feelings should come first. Not worrying about what the consequences are for actually having feelings.
His actions feel disrespectful, uncaring, selfish, deceptive, inconsiderate. My feelings and my preferences and priorities feel as though they are unimportant to him. His tumult makes me anxious and sad, and frustrated (because it has brought him and us down for too many years). The things I do in response or in reaction to these feelings are the choices that I have. Last night I reacted. Now I want to respond. But this is a whole new thing to me.
Responding rather than reacting means – looking at the feelings of anxiety I am experiencing with understanding and compassion first of all – giving my feelings time and consideration as though they are important and invaluable to my life and my day. And responding means finding peaceful understanding for his actions (eventually) which means that I face the fact that his addiction is nothing that I caused, nothing I can control, and nothing I can fix, that his habit of griping and blaming is something that is his own… it has nothing to do with me…that he feels pain and powerlessness and that he does not know how to escape that but to blame and to drink. And that must be difficult to handle.
Responding is responding to myself with kindness – drawing the boundaries that I need. FIRST
Responding is also compassionately interacting with him – no matter how harsh the line I draw to keep his habits and behavior from affecting me.
#1 Being kind to myself. If I completely commit to that, no one can make me feel unsafe…