I'm thinking about a workshop I'm preparing for this weekend. It's about communication in relationships and it's said that if you want to master something, teach it. I could definitely use the help!
I feel like I'm so clear in my own communication; but my listening skills on the other hand are so loaded with my own agenda that I have to ask myself, How clear can I actually be when one side of the communication is so unclear? The only consolation if there is one is that I don't think I'm the only one in this particular boat. I think communication in long-term relationships often becomes loaded with things unspoken, or built up over time.
It began innocently enough. I offered to make coffee this morning, and as I was occupied, I heard my husband pouring his cereal. As I turned around, I noticed he had added the rest of the box to "my" cereal, that is, the container of cereal already opened. They were two different kinds of cereal....and I had already attached some meaning into the opened cereal by thinking of it as "mine," to the extent that when we went to the store last night, I asked him to get some cereal for himself. All of this naming and "owning" of things is completely unknown to him by the way. This is all just in my head.
Cut to this morning: I see he has combined the two cereals and I ask, "why did you do that?" And he replies with "it's just cereal." But what I mean is multi-layered: Why are you messing with "my" cereal? Why don't you know me well enough by now to know that I don't like my food mixed? And if you do know that about me why don't you love me enough to care? What I hear is also multi-layered: It's just cereal becomes, Quit being so attached to your food! It becomes a judgment about me and my relationship with food, which is fraught with years and years of underfeeding myself or overfeeding myself. Food and comfort and acceptance and love all being synonyms for one another in my body-mind self.
Now, the interesting thing is that my experience of what he said is true; it is my personal truth because it's a reflection of our past communications, my own special brand of neurosis and my sensitivity. His personal truth may be different: he may have simply meant, "it's just cereal." But he may have also been expressing a greater frustration at my attachment to food being a certain way, which is a pattern between us. The art of communication in relationship is to know your own truth and validate your own truth for yourself, but act from a shared truth. That is, act from the facts. He said, it's just cereal--and that's what I have to respond to--not all my "stuff" I've attached to that very simple act and very simple statement.
So I get to work within myself on all my "stuff" and I get to be neutral in my response to him. I get to forgive him, in advance, for not loving me enough to care about my food issues, because he probably does, he just doesn't relate to them. I get to accept that in some ways he's right, it is just cereal and perhaps I should look more closely at the way I use food as comfort. And finally, I get to make a choice. "My" cereal no longer being available, I choose to go get a croissant at the corner cafe; my need for food as comfort having been met, I can now eat the "just cereal" just fine. Go figure!
Now, perhaps I shouldn't share the machinations of my mind so publicly, but honestly, I don't think many women will find it strange. Men on the other hand will run for the hills. But that's the joy of the polarity. And the work of communication in relationship is to own your own stuff, respond with love and forgive, again, yourself and the other.
Greetings from the Land of Enchantment
That I may see . . . day four
That I may see . . . Day Two
So that I may see . . . Day One
A Very Subtle Year
Friday Night Rant
Becoming a Teacher
The Internalized Police State
He said . . . she heard
The Shakti Mantra
Down on Me with Iyaanrhee-ai Shabad
Story Time: The Guru Gayatri
The Mother's Shabads
The Pearl: Maiden, Mother, Crone
Track One--Durga Mantra--from The Pearl: Maiden, Mother, Crone