This article was written nearly two years ago, and never published, so it’s not a current situation in my life.
This morning had the potential to get messy.
The plan was simple: my son’s Dad was taking him to playgroup, and then to childcare. This meant I could work solid from 8:30am—4pm, a luxury. I had Skype interviews arranged, meetings set up and workshop preparation to do.
But my son’s Dad has a history of unreliability.
I sent two texts at around 8am to determine best meeting spots. They went unanswered.
8:30am came and went with no sign of a pick-up, or communications.
My son was meant to be at playgroup at 9am; I was meant to be working—we were relying on his father.
Inside, my belly was churning. All types of feelings and thoughts were arising—the same kind of thoughts and feelings I’d been having for years now in relationship with this person.
Anger and frustration mostly, at my ex-partner’s difficulty at sticking to set arrangements. I’m always cautious about setting up anything for me when he’s meant to have our son, because of the likelihood of last minute changes. It pisses me off that he can’t be more linear, more definite, more fixed, more understanding of his actions or non-action on other people.
Why does he always do this to me? Doesn’t he know I have a life too? How can he be so inconsiderate? He’s just doing this to piss me off.
8:50am and in the midst of this drama, this angst, and these swirling thoughts and feelings as I changed up all my plans while hustling myself and my child out of the house to get him to playgroup, I had a different kind of thought.
Where’s the intimate inquiry in this?
And then another thought.
What if this was a video game?
That led to my next thought.
I’ve been here before, many times over. Maybe it’s time to finally conquer this level.
With that interruption into the swirl of anger and frustration and cycling thought patterns blaming the other for my experience, I caught my breath and surveyed was was happening from the place of the witness.
Instant shift in consciousness.
Hmmm… if this was a video game, what would I do? The set arrangements have fallen through. What’s my priority?
Suddenly I was a game player, rising to the challenge; the other was forgotten.
First up was to feed myself before leaving for playgroup; I’d planned to eat after Samuel left, but now faced with taking him to playgroup (which requires I stay there with him), I needed food.
Part of taking responsibility for myself is making sure I eat nourishing food when I’m hungry, rather than ignoring my hunger pains so I can just get on and get done. I’ve learned that ignoring the signals of my body, be they physical, emotional or energetic, takes me out of the moment and out of presence. And at the extreme, out of mind.
Second priority was to rearrange work commitments, shifting Skype interviews and meetings to fit my now shortened work hours. (Playgroup takes up three hours in the AM, my son in in care in the PM for three hours.)
This simple act of taking care of my needs meant I was no longer focused on my ex-partner and what he had or hadn’t done. I was back in the present, dealing with was was actually happening. I was exercising my power over my life.
Lastly, I went to playgroup, texting my ex to let him know he didn’t need to come any longer.
At playgroup, in between play-doughing and shape-making, train-sets and storybooks, I contemplated the morning.
I could feel that the simple act of accepting what had happened without getting swept away in anger, frustration and blame had maintained my empowered energetic state of being.
In the past, dealing with my ex-partner has often thrown me into disempowered states of being as I blame him for how I’m feeling.
I realized that this ability to stay in my power means I’m beginning to master my emotions and thoughts in trying circumstances. I’m noticing them and acknowledging them, but not acting them out. I’m letting go of directing energy at what I don’t want to be, and instead focusing on what I do want to create—in this case, a smooth easy morning blending my son’s playgroup with work.
But this wasn’t the great gift of this particular intimate inquiry. That arose later, spontaneously. Sitting on the floor, putting together a jigsaw puzzle, a piece of the puzzle dropped for me. I’ve had difficulty understanding why my ex behaves the way he does, and without that understanding of the true motivators for his behaviour, I’ve struggled to know how to respond to what the situation truly needs.
Sitting on the mat, I suddenly got it, in a big way.
It wasn’t about trying to figure out what to do so that he would act the way I wanted him to… it was about accepting the way he was and acting the way I wanted to regardless of how he made me feel.
As I had this ‘A-ha!’ moment, I realized that the reason I was finally about to see clearly into the situation was because I had let go of my anger and frustration. I had let go of the desire for my ex to be different. I’d let go of my desire to control him so I wouldn’t get messed around.
All that strong emotion, desire, attachment and control had been clouding my vision.
It was yet another reminder that acceptance opens up life in magical ways.
The gifts continued, though.
In the opening to what was, and through finally understanding what was motivating my ex on an unconscious level, I felt a flood of compassion for him. The acceptance of him as he is meant I was able to feel the challenges that he faces.
It’s bothered me for awhile—not being able to understand my ex, and also finding it difficult to feel compassion for him. If I’m such a wonderful yoga teacher, shouldn’t I be able to do this? I know, I know… shouldn’t/smoudn’t. But…
This shift into acceptance, understanding and compassion meant that when I was later able to sit and talk to my ex, I had no unexpressed emotions subconsciously tainting our exchange. I was able to clearly state why it was important to me that he keep his commitments, and without my emotionally-charged subconscious need to control him tugging at my words, he was able to hear me.
It felt like dropping my attachment or desire for him to be a certain way changed the energetic nature of our engagement.
Mostly though, it was such a relief for me to finally break a pattern of interaction that had been driving me crazy for years. And it had nothing to do with the other person changing. It had everything to do with me changing. No longer the victim, firmly in control. Mastering myself, and my life.
I’d claimed back my power from someone who’d been pissing me off for years. Sorted!
Gotta love that.
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Ed: Bryonie Wise