Monday 6 July 2009

Day 13 - The woman in my mirror

I washed the windows. Nope, still angry. I hovered. Nope, still angry. I ironed. Nope... I went outside to talk to Dirk while he was working on his tomato plants. Nope, still there. I prepared food for the BBQ. Still angry...

As I did each of those tasks, I kept thinking, 'Care and attention'. I was able to see myself as angry, but I was unable to get any further. I couldn't find the pathway out of anger into care and attention.

And the reason for this anger? You won't believe it ... an ice cream. Or the lack of an ice cream, to be exact! For weeks, Dirk and I have been saying we must get an ice cream cone at the weekend. As weekends come and go, we singularly fail to achieve this tiny objective!

But this time, I was really hopeful that he would stop the car and we'd get an ice cream. It didn't happen. And look at who I became...

Below the surface, this isn't about ice cream. This is about the fundamental difference between men and women: I take note when Dirk mentions anything he would like so that I can find a way to incorporate into his day somehow. It might be big or small, but I do try to do things that would please him or make his life easier.

That's not unusual - I've seen countless women do the same thing over and over again, for partners, family and friends. It's how we 'make community', how we weave caring into the fabric of daily life, so that daily life has a few more sparkles in it.

Where I went wrong was expecting Dirk to be a woman! He's not. Yet, it's so easy to forget... to project onto him the expectations of how I would act. And it's unfair, because in those moments what I am really looking for is for him to be me, not who he is. And look where it got me: an afternoon of frustration and annoyance: the only person it hurt was me. The irony is, Dirk is a very kind, thoughtful man who, had I just articulated my desire - instead of hoping he'd read my mind on that particular leg of the journey - would have immediately stopped for ice cream!

Looking in the mirror, there is so much I could learn from this – the power of [unfair] expectations, my passivity in not telling him, how stubborn anger can be… but most of all, I think it’s humility. It was such a tiny incident yet it took me hours to find my way out of that morass and back to feeling loving and open.

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