It really is complicated, and it’s causing discomfort – like a pebble in my shoe. The pebble moves around a bit and there are periods of relief, but lately it’s been sitting in a tender spot and doesn’t seem to be in any hurry to move on.
This latest state of discomfort started with a conversation back in December, just before I left on my winter road trip to British Columbia to spend Christmas with family.
I was telling a friend about some of the people I hoped to see along the way, including some of my work clients I’ve never met in person. I was startled by her quick response – but you are still married.
My instant reaction was an emotional – what’s that got to do with anything? I felt like I was being wrongly accused of something.
I haven’t been able to get this conversation out of my mind and it has become the proverbial pebble in my shoe.
There are two things troubling me about the conversation – the thought patterns behind her comment, and the trigger behind my reactive response.
My weak and ailing marriage fractured more than two decades ago and I have been on my own for at least half that time. The relationship is dead and buried. Divorce is not a reality only because I have been reluctant to address it, (the reasons behind that need to be explored, another day) so I am not sure why she thinks the lack of a divorce is a relevant issue.
Also, as I’ve shared in other posts, I have major trust issues with men and have been actively avoiding any chance of another relationship. My friend knows this too, so – where is her thinking coming from?
I feel bad about my reaction to her because it is not one she has ever seen from me. I expect she felt a little like she’d been punched. That’s the trouble with triggers, reactions to them are unpredictable and often painful to the person on the receiving end.
As I think about all of this, I am reminded of similar conversations with other people in other settings. Conversations that were distressingly perplexing because I couldn’t figure out the reasoning or motivation behind them. In every instance I felt like I was being wrongfully accused of something. And, in some cases the conversations became quite emotional.
Maybe that’s the trigger, feeling wrongfully accused. I will have to think some more on this, at a later date.
Now, after a week of letting all of these thoughts simmer, I expect my friend has moved on and forgotten all about this brief conversation, and I need to do the same.
The exercise of thinking and writing my way through this issue has been more than beneficial. The proverbial pebble in my shoe has ceased to be a bother. My original thoughts on this subject have been replaced by today’s much more coherent offering and I am left with new, and healing, insights into both sides of the conversation.
It occurs to me that the thoughts expressed by the other party in these conversations may have stemmed from the space they are in personally, and had little to do with me at all. Maybe I need to stop making everything about me. Maybe I need to pay more attention to the pain of others and give greater consideration to things going on in their lives.
The benefits of understanding have also been reinforced. Understanding why seems to take the heat out of certain thoughts and emotions and allows me to move on to a healthier place.
This has been a productive exercise. It looks like I will be doing it again soon.