...is to bow a ceaseless obeisance to the heart.
Mr. Yeats speaks truly, though incompletely. The heart needs to communicate to the head as well. It needs to be a complementary relationship, as so much of our lives revolve around communication. Between co-workers. Between friends. Between lovers. Between you and the clerk at the sandwich shop. Any miscommunication can cause problems, misunderstandings. How much clearer can I make it that I do NOT want mayonnaise on my sandwich?? Yet when it comes to communication within yourself, people tend to ignore the importance of it. I know I did.
For years, nay, decades, my head and my heart, my thoughts and my emotions, did not communicate. Well, that is not entirely true. They did communicate, but it was like communicating via letters sent on wagons across the United States back in the early 1800's. Just as Aunt Martha received a letter requesting medicine weeks after her nephew George died of pneumonia, so did my thoughts process my emotions well after I hurt someone I loved by my emotional response to a situation.
Since I began seeing a therapist about a year ago, that lag time has seemingly decreased, yet still exists. The challenge before me is to move towards that alignment, that mindfulness that has been missing from my life. Finding a in-the-now, non-judgmental focus on my thoughts and emotions will hopefully allow me to put my best loving and supportive self out there for the people I care about. And keep me from ending up like George.
It is this journey towards this mindfulness that makes me realize that my last post, where I speculated why Jane walked away, was not entirely fair to her. That speculation and thought process came from the part of my emotions that had not been in sync with my thoughts, at least in a meaningful way. It came from those emotions that are still reeling from the swift and extreme ending to a relationship that had, less than a week before, provided hopes and promises of growing love and marriage and children and life.
So, when I said that Jane was not willing to make sacrifices to her other puzzle pieces to build a relationship with me, I left out an important component. Me. I did not provide Jane the support she needed, allowing her to be herself and not worry that she was making me sad or hurt. This key omission seems to be a big part of why Jane felt she could not fix us. She saw nothing that she could do to continue to follow her path, her passion, and at the same time keep me from getting hurt, which, in turn, hurt Jane. And I did not help matters with my responses. In fact, I did the opposite.
My reactions made her feel bad about her passion for her job and her life choices. Obviously, I did not do this in a direct or purposeful manner, but the end result was the same. In response to my raw emotions, I would express a sadness I did not understand, had not taken the time to understand. I allowed that head/heart gap to exist, thus causing me to miss what was there: that I was being self-centered. My mind did tell me that I needed to be more aware of what Jane needed from me but my emotions were telling me what I needed from her. They were not aligned, and that caused Jane turmoil, caused me angst.
So, by not practicing mindfulness, by trying to get her to meet my needs that were based on emotion not connected to cognition, I hurt someone very important to me. Knowing what I know now, I wish I could have done it all differently. I wish I could have let Jane know by more than just words, by coupling my words with actions, that everything in her life that made her who she was, both past and present, was special and valued by me. Making it clear that because her choices and journey were important to her, they were important to me. I missed that truth. Even when I intellectually recognized it, I often missed it emotionally.
And over the past month, when I was having such a hard time with the loss of her, I was only seeing how I lost this person with whom I experienced such joy, such excitement, such love. I was not seeing those times where my emotional needs wore on her and I was not providing a mindful me in supporting her and relieving her life pressures. I was missing what Jane was seeing, and the result was my not understanding why she felt we needed space. And I did not understand why, after all we had been through and all the love we had for each other, she could just cut ties and run, with no looking back.
I kept wanting a better answer that she gave, but no answer except for the one that had us being together would have sufficed. As a friend put it, I wanted to be right. Right about my idea that that our love was enough to fix things. And that is what I would be able to understand.
But I am not meant to understand, not fully. I am meant to accept. Accept that Jane is following her choices, her path. Accept that this is her journey, and if I love her, which should be obvious if you read my earlier posts, I need to support it as I should have supported her better when we were together. No matter how much it hurts not being with her, and not knowing what she is thinking or feeling. No matter how much I miss her in my life.
As for my journey, I am realizing that achieving mindfulness is not as simple as changing my way of thinking. That is the start, but a great deal of people’s thoughts and actions are hard-wired over years of repetition, and lack of recognition of habits being formed. As you get older, you tend to accept the idea that you cannot change, that habits cannot be broken, or the idea that you just need to think your way through things. But nefarious thing about habits is that they can exist without you knowing how or why. Our brains use habits to create efficiency so we are not overwhelmed with constant barrage of stimuli. They find patterns and create habits that require little thought to free up space for us to pursue other lines of thinking. Unfortunately, the brain does not differentiate between good and bad habits. And habits, once created, never truly go away. The good news, though, is that they can be replaced, overshadowed, by newer habits. And recognizing what makes up a habit is the first step towards replacing it. I highly recommend reading the Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg, which breaks down the science behind habit formation and adjustment. It is an absolutely fascinating read.
And so my journey continues. If I am successful, I will continue to reduce the distance between my emotions and my thoughts, and practice mindfulness, and identify and replace habits that are detrimental to my wholeheartedness with habits that add to it. If I am not...screw it, I will be. The ball has started rolling downhill, and there is no going back now to the way I was. All I need is continued recognition of my flaws and the courage to take action, to admit that change is needed to experience growth.
I want to grow, no matter how painful it is. For me. But also for my boys, so I can help them achieve now what I am only beginning to try to achieve after 40 years.
Mindfulness. Wholeheartedness. Love. And a rediscovering of my sense of humor about life.
Dogs and Cats by the Head and the Heart
I will sweep my garden
Underneath the cupboard
Lives a mouse
And he discovered
There was nothing there
Nothin' there to discover
Fallin' from the sky
There are raindrops in my eyes
And my thoughts are diggin' in the backyard
My roots have grown but I don't know where they are
Don't know where they are
I don't know where they are
My roots have grown but I don't know where they are
Cats and dogs and rooster calls
Telephones and pay phone stalls
They take away
The lonely days