New Understanding

August 12, 2002

We had a good weekend. It was rough at times as I was doing a lot of emotional growing. The issues that I am getting down to are difficult to expose, let alone resolve. I fight against the changes because I am afraid of where I will be afterwards. Even though I understand that these changes are good for me and necessary for my continued emotional health, it is scary to leave behind what I have known for so long. Habits, good or bad are hard to break. Emotional habits are even harder because they are non-visual, you can't point to it and say, "that's that habit I am trying to break."

Luckily for me I have a partner who is very devoted to me and who is willing to face my anger and fear without flinching. Because I am afraid I try to bully her into leaving me alone. If I were to be successful in that effort it would be to my detriment. Michele knows how to goad me into facing my anger so I can move past it to the real emotion underneath. Once I can expose that foundation emotion I am able to grow.

This past Sunday I faced some very difficult feelings about my parents, and about how I took things growing up. Realizing how my interpretation of events colored my feelings as a child, and further realizing that those childhood emotional coping mechanisms are not appropriate as an adult has allowed me to start developing more adult responses to situations.

For example, I react very defensively when people question what I've done. A seemingly benign question like, "I don't understand why you did whatever this way," can really set me off. As a child I took questions like that to mean that I had done something wrong. I grew to feel like I was being chastised whenever anyone would ask me anything about what I was doing, or how I was doing it. Today, as an adult, I need to stop filtering my interpretation of people's questions through this childhood recognition model.

Sunday we had sweet corn with our meal and I made it first as is our habit. The corn was ready and eaten before the longest cooking part of the meal was started. When asked why I had done it this way I got extremely defensive and evasive. In the discussion that followed I finally got down to the understanding that my reaction had been one from my childhood, that the combination of my emotional state at the time, and the words used by my wife, triggered and old emotional response. Now that I know I have this response to this type of question my hope is that I can start to remove that response from my personality.

As for preparing the meal in such a way as to delay the main course, I believe that the part of me that wants to move on emotionally, deliberately setup this situation so that I would be questioned about my methods, thus triggering the discussion and growth that followed. Some would call this God, I chose to call it the TAO. Whatever it really is, it works for me because in the end I got the lesson and moved one step closer to understanding myself.

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Mark H. Nichols

I am a husband, cellist, code prole, nerd, technologist, and all around good guy living and working in fly-over country. You should follow me on Twitter.