Wednesday, September 30, 2009

I did it My Way

When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change. Dr. Wayne Dyer

C.C. and I had an argument the other night. Nothing earth shattering. Not even all that important. What was significant was the opportunity to learn, to grow, to deepen intimacy in our relationship.

Now, this argument would never have happened (in a restaurant, or anywhere else for that matter) if he had seen it my way in the first place and not got triggered by his own stuff butting up against my stuff. And, it would never have happened if he'd just read the script I had prepared in my head and known his lines. I mean really, I was willing to feed him his lines and everything if he'd just stopped and listened in the first place!

Oh, and it would never have happened if he'd just done it my way.

Go figure. He refuses to do it my way! Doesn't he know I've got the answers for him and 'us'. I've already written how it should all unfold in my head. Doesn't he see my brilliance? Can't he read?

Seriously, I have spent a lifetime digging into myself, unearthing my psychic aches and pains, my emotional roadblocks. Doesn't he see the wisdom of my experience? The brilliance of my path?

In a word. No.

And that's the thing. He cannot see it my way because, well first off, he abhors arrogance and secondly, he sees it his way in the first place. And while, in Huckleberry Finn's world, 'never the twain shall meet', in my real world here, they will meet when I get over trying to force feed my way down his gullet.

In the process of tripping over my ego, I did learn a thing or two.

One. When making a grand exit from a restaurant after stating (calmly, I might add) that you are going to grab a cab and see your own way home, make sure you're not wearing a cast. And if you are wearing a cast and have removed the boot that lets you walk on said cast (because it weighs your foot down at the table), ensure the boot is attached to your cast. You know, that dramatic moment just loses its umph when you stand up, turn and with chin raised high, start to sweep away and end up hobbling two very noisy and ungainly steps before tripping over your feet.

Two. When deciding to take a cab home, ensure you have a cell phone to call said cab. Oh, and a house key too.

Three. Don't let pride stick you in the back, forcing you to walk home (read that hobble).

And four. Find the humour, regardless of how ridiculous you look hobbling down the street in the night, dragging your wounded pride behind you.

Yup. I did look rather silly. And I was laughing. My grand moment vanished in a poof of wounded hubris that forbid me from returning to the restaurant and eating my words. Instead, I gorged myself on 'being right' so that I could make him 'wrong' as I stumbled home.

Fortunately, I'm pretty tough. My foot hurt -- duh! But, my pride started to back down as soon as I began to see the ridiculousness of my position -- though I did walk all the way home anyway as I refused to turn around, go back and ask for help of any kind. I'd foisted the walk on myself. Stumbled onto my own petard and stuck myself with a long walk home all because -- he refused to realize the error of his ways and do it My Way.

Now, let's be clear here, I have no problem getting along with myself. With me, I always get to do it my way. But in relationship, my way becomes the high way to discord when I ignore reality -- In any interaction between two people there are a lifetime of responses conditioned by past experience. Our individual perceptions, what we hear, think, feel, see, can shade every encounter when our need to 'be right' (with its quid pro quo of making the other person wrong) or 'be heard above all else' or 'be the one to have the last word' override our desire to listen deeply to the gentle heart song of the one we love. Shaded by the emotions clouding our vision (and judgement) we can become mired in rules of engagement most often found in three year olds. Treating each other with respect, being honest, truthful, caring, go out the window of rational thought as we immerse ourselves in doing it our own way, because, our way is the only way we know how to protect our wounded selfs, our egos, our hearts.

In the heat of the moment, I sometimes forget to step back far enough to give the other room to breathe. In the rarefied air of my insistence that I have reached the summit of relational knowledge and am leaning down the mountain to drag the one I love up there with me, I forget he's got his own path to navigate. Damn. If he'd only just trust me enough to let go of his fears, his issues, his needs to find his own path, he'd see the wisdom of my ways and.... do it My Way.

My schtick is to have C.C. recognize how brilliant and knowledgeable I am about human development and relationships. That's my schtick. It's just a story. A need carried forward from childhood long ago that eggs me on to believing, I know the truth and there's only one way to do the relationship dance, and those steps belong to me --and I'm willing to share, of course I am, but you must do it my way. Follow and you shall find enlightenment. Digress from my path and you will be damned to the eternal darkness of never seeing the light of doing it my way -- get the theme here? My way knows best.... take your path at your own risk.

Now, I'm laughing at myself here -- because I know the profound truth for me is -- I create what I fear. I fear that C.C. will not respect my 'brilliance'. In my fear, I pound my knowledge into the delicate fabric of our relationship like a peasant woman standing in the river, pounding the soap out of the wash.

My hands grow rough and cracked washing soap out of cloths against a rock in a hard place and my heart grows cold flowing in a river of frigid self-righteousness edged with fear of never been seen as knowing it all -- even when I know in my heart of hearts, that know it alls are bullies. There is no place called, No It All -- so why do I keep looking for it?

In walking home, reminding myself of how much I knew, I discovered how little I knew about letting go of my need to be right.

I also learned, hitting someone over the head with the rock of my insistence I know the only way to get the clothes clean is not very productive. It's much easier to heat water to a gentle temperature to ensure my hands don't get scalded. It's far more effective to gently swirl the clothes around, letting the movement of the water wash the soap free with each rinse as the clothes rub up against each other and clean the residual of the soap out together.

The gift from the evening is -- I uncovered a truth about myself, a limiting belief that was keeping me stuck in the arrogance of believing I 'knew the way'. What I discovered is liquid gold flowing in my warm and beating heart. It overflows with love, for me, C.C., my life, my world around me.

In this beating heart, I am smart enough to know, no one else can validate my path or my learning. That's my job. And in that truth, I uncover the wisdom to know, intimacy will never deepen when 'my way' is the only place I make room for someone else's wisdom to be heard.

Oh, and I also learned how not to make a grand exit when wearing a cast!

(Click HERE for a wonderful slide show of Frank Sinatra singing, "My Way.")

The question is: Is your way blocking you from seeing there are many ways to connect with someone else's heart song and create sweet music together?

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