July 6, 2021: the whole pot

Wow. I had the most amazing counseling session today! I'd taken the call in an empty cul-de-sac, roasting in the 9AM morning sun. I wept tears that are, by my count, 32 years old. I got to the root. My counselor helped me find it. Later, maybe tomorrow, I might write a bit more about the specifics of what I found, and, surprisingly why it is so important to reconnect the snow-globes. (It'll make sense then. I promise).

At the end of the session, I'm sitting in my car, now at 10AM, with a sense of utter relaxation unlike anything I've ever known. I think I must have felt this relaxed, if I ever did before, prior to age 14. Maybe as a baby. What an incredible gift to have this teacher at this time.

There's homework to do, and now I know how to do it. I am so thankful to our counselor for teaching me what she has learned. This made a major difference in my day, for sure. I have a new sense of courage about processing the old wounds that I wasn't able to process in years -- really, for my whole adult lifetime. My body, my energy field, is physically lighter! This is funny to me because I had discovered a track called Levitating, a fun little pop to listen to on Spotify. It teaches the new term, 'mah suga-boo'.


Returning to work, the tests came right away! I thought I might just bliss out for awhile, but when I checked my email there's a new message from the love of my life, and I read it. 

Then my co-worker comes in and starts going on about how climate change isn't real, in the middle of a historic heat wave breaking all records in recorded history. I had 2 perfect opportunities to apply what I've learned through A New Earth and Training in Compassion

It worked! I found I was able to pointedly disagree with something I consider bullshit (climate denial is a lost cause) with zero negativity, which I've never been able to do before. It was a new way. I was calm, but also animated. I held the person I was looking at, without getting lost in my own mind, my own views, my own clinging to those views and the sense of identity, the right-ness, all that. 

Sweetheart, the email I read was hard, for me. 

I get stirred up! 

In fact, just yesterday I took about 20 minutes of my day to type a passage from Training in Compassion on this very subject, not even knowing what today would hold. I meant it for this blog, but haven't posted it. 

It includes, "Nothing is more common than the person who does spiritual practice for a long time with great commitment and intensity but completely forgets about it as soon as he or she gets singed by the heat of human relationship."

So true! It's to be expected. We want to be Christlike, but find ourselves yelling. Or, as Ram Dass famously said, "If you think you are so enlightened, go and spend a week with your parents!"

With my co-worker, I found I could hold the person I was speaking with as the most beloved, and all the talk is all the talk. Personally, I know that climate change is real, and what I believe doesn't change the reality of the hard facts there. "Climate denial is a lost cause." - Gerald Kutney

I was able, at least in some initial way, to isolate myself away from 'what I know' and merely stick to the facts, the part without the I. Before, I'd personally stand up for those facts because I identify with them. I've worked hard, too hard, on climate-change related issues. I've lost not one but two families over this, at least in connection with it. I've sacrificed more time and money and life into this cause than anyone else I've personally met. It's just what I've chosen to do. 

From that place, I'd become personally heated when the debate came up, about the supposed reality or non-reality of climate change. I'd do "battle" with conversation partners going on about what they believe, and I'd be like, who cares what I believe? Can I believe the thermometer down one degree? Can I believe thousands of PhDs into being wrong? Can I believe away drought and whole towns afire, somehow believe them rainy and intact? Who cares what I believe. It doesn't change the numbers and the numbers don't lie.

I'd roll on about it, changing color, blood pressure, mood, and raising my voice. Emphatically, let me assure you. Because I have the best intentions, let me assure you. Because I'm right, let me assure you all, the facts are on my side. Of course I'm right. Notice the I.

In all that right-being, I'd lose the person I'm supposedly talking with. This precious human life, and everything we hold in common from our nostrils to the red of our blood becomes secondary to my self-experience, me asserting what I know is "right". I would trade my conversation partner for my self, I would trade their importance for my own importance. You do this. I do this. Humans do this. It's what the untrained mind does. It's the news. It's the police blotter. It's the divorce rate. It's one way we injure each other. 

So, phew. Today was a great step honoring the person. I was able to hate the sin, never the sinner. And my co-worker treated me with the highest regard; he didn't express discomfort but wanted to keep talking -- even as he started to agree. Amazing. All it took was consciously and presently sitting, calming, soothing myself, but honoring this fellow human above all, and especially above the subject matter. It made all the difference.

The email, now that I could not immediately handle. I got all tossed up emotionally. Especially when I read, "I just don't choose to give it my energy today."

I'm like, feeling so caboose when I read it, but it wasn't long, Sweetheart, I am writing this to you -- it wasn't long before I caught onto your wisdom. "Of course! Brilliant! Choosing what to give our energy to is action, no longer re-action. Action is power, and reaction is wasted energy. That is exactly the right attitude to have!"

Unfortunately, this required me trying again something new after all the abovementioned new-ness I'd already done in the day. 

Days past, weeks past, now months and years past, if I heard stuff I didn't like from the woman I love, I'd shut down on whatever I was doing, or supposed to be doing. Months past, for example, when I read a message from my wife, I'd experience elation, and more often despair and pain, and I couldn't do a lick of work. Workdays would pass me by. No one pretends not to notice, people do notice and, while I'm glad to have a stable job, it's become a lot less stable over this. 

I love my wife so much, and in the past I'd needed to understand the situation, control the situation, control the timing, control circumstances around my child, this long list -- I had to do something. I'm wired for action, for communication, for progress. I could not set any of it aside. It'd eat my whole day. I didn't know how to let go. I didn't know how to process emotion; I only knew to feel it. (That's better than where I started.)

Today, God said Respond in the afternoon, but not now. Good advice! I would need to have a generous, loving frame of heart, and right then I was all tossed up and adrenalized. I knew it's time to learn how to choose not to give you, this, us -- any more of my energy. Just do my job instead.

It was fits and starts. 

I kept opening the laptop. 

I took notes on what I was thinking. 

Yep, my energy was still leaking away.

And I thought, wait, this doesn't make sense. How can one person in a relationship choose not to give it their energy, and the other half in that relationship can't even muster the muscle to do the same? 

What's the imbalance? 

Well, probably the two people aren't the same in some way. Wait for it: they're different people

A saying goes, "One person always loves a little bit more than the other." I learned this as a French curse, but Google doesn't seem to know. It's just a colloquialism. Something people say. Probably because it's true. What are the odds that two different humans would love each other exactly the same?

It must be different, if even slightly. We do not love each other in the exact same way. Doing so, or even trying would be narcissistic, boring, and impossible.

So I'm thinking, look, maybe it's no struggle for the love of my life to set this aside and give her energy to other things she values. Perhaps she loves me in a way where that's somewhat easier, or perhaps she loves others in a way that makes shifting to them feel more natural. Maybe she doesn't want to jump in. It can be whatever she says it is, and she's not here to ask. 

I love in a way that is different and overwhelming. I get sucked in. I couldn't concentrate on anything else, much less simply choose to give energy to other stuff. This caught me. Say what?

So what if I backed off a bit? 

What if I cared less, just for now? 

What if I said, right now I don't give a fuck? Not that I'm going cold on you, my love -- I'm not even sure how to write all this. Maybe it's more like being on vacation from a job. 

"Yes, I see, thanks for calling me about that issue. But right now is my 3rd day of vacation, and you have to understand, Pete, that just for now, I don't give a fuck. Try me next week. That's when I'll be back."

Like a 15 year old learning to drive, I slowly, self-consciously and second-guessingly reclaimed my time. I tried all sorts of things on. If she don't care, I don't care. If I'm this unimportant, then it's all unimportant. She's got a job to do, I've got a job to do. I love you now, I love you later. I'll be baaaack.

I even multi-tasked, which is insane, because I believe truly multitasking is impossible. I have one attention, thank you; so I picked two stupid things to do, neither of which require any thinking, and did them both. One was being on hold, or transferred, for an hour, with health insurance. The other was telling a computer I read documents that I didn't actually read, and don't even have to read. Nice! Now what was I worrying about earlier?

So! That was the contents of my day! I hope it was interesting to read. We've covered tears over 32 years old, muh suga boo, and a French curse that is neither French nor a curse, so far as I or Google know.

Now, I get to address a few of the things I read. I'll try to apply what I've learned here, since everything in my life is a great opportunity to practice what I've chosen to learn and absorb and do and become. Here goes! I love you! This might be hard! I might fail! I hope you love me anyway! We'll get through this! I promise!


The first thing that feels kind to point out is an error. When it comes to orders, there's one order that's been discussed for a long time now. Unfortunately, it does not protect any minors, it only protects one named adult, who is a woman. It has zero other scope. So, as that order stands, it does nothing to prevent contact with anyone except the female adult. This isn't my interpretation, it's right there in the text, which everyone has copies of. Soooo... keeping the order in place to protect a minor isn't what the order does, or even portends to do. If the order protected the minor, then it would also protect the toddler, yet the toddler has had contact, which would defy the order -- it's a mess, but a non-issue. The order only names 1 female adult. 

When it comes to contact with a little toddler -- if that's what he still is? -- there will of course be things that the adult parents have to discuss, and keep discussing. There might be skinned knees, and with no way to text about that, it's bad for the kid. Sure, awkward communication can happen in sneaky ways, but those ways are legally hazardous and the whole point of the order is to keep our loved ones safe, right? If that is so, if the order is supposed to keep one loved one safe, but the same order puts other loved ones in legal danger, then how do we say it's a good thing? It isn't protecting the person we want to protect and it is jeopardizing other loved ones we also say we love. What kind of love would that demonstrate?

Sweetheart, if the true goal is keeping all parties safe, then that means keeping us all safe, and being sure about it. If we are all loved, then we all deserve to be safe. To me, it can't make sense to protect some of our loved ones and then not protect others, while also saying that we love them. It wouldn't be equal or fair. 

It's hard to end this way, but I'm relieved to say that this issue is can disappear easily. We know how to do it. We know how to roll up our sleeves and getting down to the business of loving one another, in terms of real action. Actions matter. In time, they become the only thing that matters. "We judge ourselves by our intentions, and others by their behavior." - Stephen M. R. Covey

Safety has been the #1 priority that has kept the order in place. Truly loving another person indeed means keeping them safe. Yah, none of us are perfect, and we've each done things that aren't safe in our days, but it doesn't change the fact. If we love someone, and choose to endanger them, it's not really demonstrating love. In my experience, love claimed but not demonstrated becomes painful.

From that perspective, keeping the order in place doesn't continue to make sense, because it endangers a loved one, maybe more than one. And it doesn't protect the ones we truly wish to protect right now. Even if it does, or even if it did, it still defies its own purpose, by creating danger for some while not for others, which isn't really demonstrating love. It can't pass the Golden Rule, as far as I can make it out.

In order to effectively parent a toddler there has to be direct communication, for logistics, and unexpected events, and even the remote, but ever present chance of emergencies. It should definitely occur in a way that doesn't endanger adults, or minors, or toddlers, or anyone. So, in order to get the job done safely, the communication will have to be legal, open, and direct. This is the only way I can personally see, to get it done and done right, done fair, done with safety for everyone. 

This would leave a few options, some being easier done than others. If orders must stand, then even mediation would be on unknown ground, and that maybe even leads down Attorney Boulevard, which is also called the Boulevard of Broken Dreams.

In the kindest case where contact resumes and everyone finds a way to be safe and stay safe, we can use a counselor we already have, at least for now. Or, we can hire a mediator (usually over $100 an hour).

I think this would honor your wishes, which I'd love to do and include, as I read them. Your wishes matter, and I'm 100% behind them if that is what you need. It is best if that kindness is reciprocated, and my wishes get that same treatment and respect. I wish for open, not clandestine, communication; I wish for a counselor or mediator to assist the first stages (as you put it, a 'trusted third party', just like you want for visitation, and I want for communication); and that's about it. Pretty simple, I hope.

Those are my wishes because for me, they work in all directions; they honor the Golden Rule, of treating others the way we ask to be treated. Working with a counselor or a mediator ensures that both parents are treated with equal respect, equal consideration, equal fairness. The Golden Rule is a great measure; indeed, if we each were ace at honoring it, none of our current troubles would exist.

I asked our counselor if she was willing to help us both, on this. She replied,

"Good morning,

...Regarding a parenting plan, I wouldn't mind helping you both if you are flexible and willing to cooperate, but if not, then a mediator is best. 

From what I have heard from other people, if mediation doesn't work, then the court gets to decide the parenting plan and you will have no choice. 

I am so happy to hear that the book you are listening to is so helpful. You sound like you are really making some big changes. I think the amount of pleasure you are getting out of the changes bodes well for them being lasting changes.

Being able to validate your wife's perspective and her pain is a huge step forward. Both of you will eventually have to own your own part of the relationship and come to understand the other's part. Is it hard to balance both "truths", yours and hers together? I am wondering if in your empathy for her pain, you loose sight of yours? How to hold both and validate both? That's the challenge.

Stay safe this weekend. See you soon.

Warmly,

..."

These are tough times, and they will pass. There are better days ahead, guaranteed. Tough times never last. The question, of course, is whether you and I dedicate to create and enjoy these better days together, or whether one or both of us chooses to pursue other roads. 

That's a scary proposition, and it can only happen for me if I know we both are creating harmony together. I can't boss you around, or tell you what to do. Doesn't that drive people insane? And could you boss others around, if it drove them insane also? I think we must work together, on the timing, the terms, the details -- if there's any together to be had. 

I'm certainly willing to go ahead with what you seem to suggest. Visitation is great, supervision is great. It's a start. Can you hear me the same way you wish to be heard? Communication is great, supervised communication is great. Normal, open, non-clandestine communication, and a counselor or mediator, will absolutely serve us well. Then we'll both be in the right, and nobody feels like the underdog. We're a team. If we have a future, we'll definitely be a team, and if that's the case, then here and now are the right way to start showing that faith in one another that we might intend to continue for our whole lives onward.

It is certainly possible to enter a non-contact order for the minor in question, as their own individual where the order names that individual directlyI believe that is the honorable and legally correct action to take. It's certainly not needed for me -- giving my word is enough for me, nothing more -- but if it's needed for others, then that would be, in my view, the honorable and legally sound path. 

Sweetheart, I love to hear you don't wish to delay counseling. But, like climate change or gun violence, it's not enough to say what we want. We have to take the risk, each time, of taking action; and action is never perfect. Still, it is possible now to take action for the sake of demonstrating we do care. "We judge ourselves by our intentions, and others by their behavior." 

I hope we go the counseling route. It's been going since May, and we're in July. If we're going to take the plunge and actually jump into the water, no time like the present! Let us speak lovingly, in a place meant for healing. It's what married couples do, it's what they show up for, when they really mean it about their marriage. 

Nobody has to get wet or jump in. We can have intentions and leave them dry. But, if we don't jump in, then it's probably time to override the order with an injunction, probably forcing mediation to occur despite the order, or with an officer present in the mediator's office or something. That's silly; it's damn expensive and far less pleasant. It's what unmarried, divorced people do. It's not us. 

And there's no guarantee that injunctions or mediation trumps the order anyway, if it's still going to stand for whatever reason today. I don't know. I'd rather never find out. If you ask me, well, you and I don't belong on the Boulevard of Broken Dreams


Lord

Grant us your Heavenly protection

Protection from evil, in Jesus' name; protection from the principalities that deceive us,

divide us, dissolve us, you undo this, you protect us all. In Jesus name,

Save us from our apartness and righteous injustice. 

Do not separate what God has joined; God help us 

Rejoin what you have joined. Jesus guard us in this process involving the 

Horror of wet glue, the steady holding while our bond repairs. 


Save us from the Boulevard of Broken Dreams, make our days not 

Green Days of Envy but crimson in love, bright red in the blood of salvation, 

White as forgiveness, illuminated as You are, illuminated as 

You've wanted us to be. 


Give us a taste of the trust we lack,

Give us the goodwill to demonstrate our love with more than words.

Give us love's behavior to prove intention;

Give us positive action, and positive reaction, and a future we can build on. 

Amen