Last night I was hanging out with H. He’d had a dough week at work and needed to talk out some things. I’m an idea person and a problem solver, so he values my opinion and asked me if we could hang out and chat. Though I’d had a day of meetings that could have been frustrating, I still felt like I just wanted to decompress and enjoy the semi-alone time with my youngest son. I really thought about it and decided hanging out didn’t need to be a big deal.
Since I’ve been living apart from H, I’ve learned to quietly observe my behaviors, responses, thoughts, and emotions as they come up. Before the external noise from my being so enmeshed with him had obscured my view. In fact, I don’t think I’d ever really learned how to observe such things at any other time in my life, let alone learn from them. The “mental white space” that I’ve craved so much my whole adult life has truly been the Rx for introspection and transformational change and I am grateful for it all.
Every now and then, something will come up in terms of my reactions and I surprise myself in good and not-so-good directions. H had asked me about something in the middle of a conversation that was unrelated to the conversation we were having. He is all over the board like this and it drives me insane. My reaction is a combination of mind racing, efforts to reorganize my thoughts and still digest the previous comment that in no relates to the comment at hand. I’ve learned to direct him back to the conversation at hand and refrain from the “hey look, a squirrel!” types of digressions for my own sanity. In this case, it came up so quickly and my brains scrambled and I froze, again.
Old habits die hard.
Because my brain was focused on the conversation and not the side comment/question, I deflected and didn’t truthfully answer the question. Not because it mattered whether I answered truthfully or not, but because I didn’t want to have a splintered, all over the universe kind of draining conversation. My mind was focused where we were, not on the left-turn-no-signal question and I wasn’t willing to be re-routed.
The fact that I wasn’t truthful bothered me all evening. It wasn’t something of consequence but I was more intrigued by the fact that I defaulted back to the “duck and cover” mentality that has obscured ME for too many years. After more introspection and willingness to see the root cause of the problem, I have concluded that this is exactly what I should be doing at this time in my life. I’m like a toddler in some areas of my emotional growth and I now have the space to recognize some of those growth opportunities. I observed it for what it was and am in the process of figuring out how I can be more authentic in the future. I need to be more authentic for myself and for anyone with whom I have a relationship (of any kind) so it’s not an indictment of my behavior, it’s a gentle call to action. Change it.
House had it right: everyone lies. The important point is to ask “Why?” and be OK with whatever underlying muck is dredged up thereafter. I’m not terrified of that “stuff” anymore because I see the importance of staring it down and now know that it isn’t really as terrifying as I’d made it all out to be. How ’bout that?