Saturday, April 6, 2013

Lessons in the night

Waking in the middle of the night, I found myself revisiting an angry interchange I'd had earlier in the evening with my husband.  I'd wandered into his office to ask if he could start cooking (he's taken over all the dinner chores since my back went out) and I noticed he had a whole bunch of windows open on his computer.  "That's all you've done all day, wiki-surfing?"

"Pretty much," he replied.

"Oh my God, I'd kill myself," I'd tactlessly replied. "If I'd spent a whole day like that, with nothing to show for it."

Thinking it over later, I was initially feeling sort of snarly and superior about what I see as his internet addiction.  But I'm learning that that snarly and superior feeling usually has a sad and personal underbelly, so I turned it over to see what might be lying under that particular rock.

And really, it's the heart of a major difference between the two of us -- a difference that's been his gift to me throughout the years we've been in this relationship.  Whatever the failings of his parents, he somehow grew up knowing he was loved -- and he has shared that unconditional love generously and unremittingly with me every day of this wonderful life we've had together.

I, on the other hand, somehow grew up convinced I had to earn that love, and so I am always driven to perform.  Hence the productivity: the painting, the acting, the daily blogging, the tidying, the volunteer work -- all those admirable accomplishments stem not from some magnificent work ethic but rather from some piece of me that does not believe it has any merit unless it has achieved... something. Anything. I need to be able to say, "See, I did that today," or something in me feels it has no value. And though my back is better now and I'm finally off the meds, the enforced inactivity of these last few weeks -- I'm still not able to go for long periods without resting -- has been extremely trying.

So of course I would snap at him: he, who has all the strength and energy I crave, can sit happily surfing at his computer all day with nothing to show for it and feel no remorse, while I, trapped in a temporarily unresponsive body, am reduced to a small child, terrified, because I have nothing to show for my day, that I am therefore unloveable.

I can't believe it took me all this time to figure that out.


Maureen said...

You did figure it out, and that's has such value, is what matters now. Some people never achieve that kind of clarity of self-understanding. One of your traits I most admire is your ability to step back at some point and look objectively and sometimes painfully honestly at your actions and then work through their implications and cause and meaning. That takes presence of mind and heart and will.

I empathize greatly with your back pain. It's one of the worst kinds to suffer, I think; I know it all too well.

Louise Gallagher said...

As you wrote on my poem this morning, Diane, I needed these words this morning.

Thank you my friend!

You and your beautiful words and art and soul a gift in my life that never stops giving.

Debra said...

Wow! Powerfully insightful and beautiful! Learning and being willing to see our shadow self/side isn't easy, yet we can learn from it and ourselves if we will but allow it to teach us. What a wonderful example of being able to see the root cause of the disturbances and then to move foward. Thank you for sharing!

Diane Walker said...

Many thanks to each of you for your kind thoughts and support; your words and your presence here are such a blessing for me...