If I was honest with myself, I, too, wanted to sit on the couch and rest for a bit. Or read. Or do almost anything except turn the guest room.
Maybe I knew that it would be a mess after our latest guests had vacated. Maybe I was feeling guilty for the bounty I ate at the church potluck and guilted myself into the physical activity of cleaning the room. Maybe I just wanted to get it out of the way so that I could plop down on the couch and not move the rest of the afternoon.
Whatever my motivation, I started turning the guest room and he didn’t.
He did sit on the couch, space out, and relax.
And my irritation grew as my efforts uncovered used Kleenexes under the dresser, hair in the drawers, used BandAids under the bed, and bits of food and food wrappers along the baseboard.
Every few minutes, I’d call out to the living room and tell him about each discovery. I’d ask if he knew anything about furniture repair–we were going to need it. If I passed by the couch, I looked at him, reclining and buried in his phone and I felt my feathers rustling. I know I was giving him the stink eye.
He asked if I was annoyed that he wasn’t helping me and I didn’t say anything.
Then he did come into the room, help address the situation for a few minutes. And then he was back on the couch. In retrospect, I should have joined him.
I should have allowed myself to rest instead of running sheets to the washer and dryer.
But I didn’t, and as I started vacuuming and asked him to move a piece of furniture after he had just sat back down, he did, but announced that he wasn’t going to sit down again today because clearly I didn’t want him to.
After I finished vacuuming, I found him stewing upstairs. He was tidying up his workbench.
I’m irritated with you right now, he said. You don’t want me to relax, so I guess I’ll have to relax and take a break somewhere else.
What does that mean?
It means I’ll rest another day.
I thought we had a good morning this morning.
You can rest if you want.
I don’t need your permission.
Are you still upset with me?
Yes, I am still a bit irritated.
I went back downstairs. I had promised to visit some shop owners that afternoon, and while I was hoping he’d join me, I was irritated. I grabbed a book and my laptop, and for a few moments thought I wouldn’t return until late. Maybe he’d worry about me and feel sorry for not helping me or being more thoughtful. But that’s the pre-recovery me, I thought. Surely, relationships can stand this type of squabble. It’s not outside the realm of normal–one doing something, or not doing something, that annoys the other. This doesn’t have to be a big fight. Space and a few hours may do.
When I finished at the shop and returned home, he was gone to ferry his daughter once more between her friend’s house and hers, I folded laundry and started cooking an early dinner.
He came back shortly thereafter and we both apologized for earlier. Space and a few hours appeared to have eased us both. The evening continued with a lot more sitting on the couch–together.
This morning, he commented that it was a good weekend.
A good weekend, in spite of our little squabble yesterday, I noted.
It’s not that I want to seek out skirmishes like this, but I do find it helpful to walk through deescalating them, which includes diffusing myself, and learning that couples can argue and still love on the other side of disagreement.
Today’s meditation is about “being right.”
In recovery, we are learning to strive for love in our relationships, not superiority.
Recovery is not about being right; it’s about allowing ourselves to become who we are and accepting others as they are.
This concept of accepting others as they are–without condemnation because they’re not doing things the way I would do them, is a challenge for me.
It’s tempting to rest in the superiority of being right and in analyzing other people’s motives and actions, but it’s more rewarding to look deeper.
In my deeply ingrained behavior of trying to control the people and things around me, I can get pretty judgmental. I caught myself doing just that when I was cleaning the guest room. At one point, I even asked him, “Did we ever leave a room like this?”
Silently, I became aware that I was judging.
Just like I was judging him as being inattentive, lazy, and unhelpful as he sat on the couch and I cleaned. In reality, he’s not any of those things. He wanted a break just as much as I did.
But somehow, I failed to recognize that in myself or give myself permission to relax when I wanted, and so, by extension, I didn’t give him permission–no!–I didn’t accept him wanting to rest in a moment I was compelling myself to work.
It seems a very silly thing now in retrospect.
And part of my not accepting his decision was not accepting my own wants and needs. I wanted to plop down in a chair and read for the rest of the afternoon. But whether motivated by food guilt or other means, I didn’t.
When we fail to accept ourselves, we cannot accept others as they are. If we cannot accept ourselves where we are, we can’t accept others where they are.
By failing to practice acceptance, we’re still holding on to the belief that somehow our wants and needs are wrong and, if wrong, should be ignored, suppressed, fought, or denied.
And we all know what that leads to–codependency.