I’m not quite sure how this posting is going to come out, so I haven’t even given it a title yet. I’m not even sure what I want to say. Just know that I have to say it. So I guess I’ll start by recounting what sparked my need to write something, and then I’ll see what unfolds.
A few days ago my husband and I had a minor quarrel. It was more like a very tiny spat in the bigger scheme of things. I was going from one thing to another, my usual meandering self, and he was playing a game on his X-Box. All was well, or so it seemed. But as I meandered from one activity to another I became aware that I was getting irritable. As I stood at the kitchen looking over the counter at him playing, the irritation burst out in words: “You’re getting a bit obsessed with that thing lately!”
As soon as they flew out of my mouth, like poisonous arrows in the air, I regretted them. But the dice was cast, and as he replied a little testily to my accusation I knew I was going to hold ground – come what may. That awful need to be right sat right in my throat. It didn’t last very long, thank God. I am very grateful for the great love that Richard has for me. He gently reminded me of the time I spent (obsessively?) reading books and he never complains, and I backed down. But the whole thing left a bitter taste in my mouth and a yucky feeling in my heart.
The next morning during my quiet time, I had to take a look at that little scene and examine where it had come from. And I realized that it was the second “exploding irritation” that I had initiated in the course of a couple of days. The other one was less of an explosion and more of a “passive-aggressive” attempt to bring Richard’s attention to something – a fault of his. Even in that instance I was aware of that wretched need to be right. And today in the remembering of these incidences, I am reminded of a very short poem by Ruth Harms Calkin titled Confession.
It suddenly occurs to me
That the most severe conflicts
In our marriage
Seem to come when I insist
On exposing my husband’s faults
Instead of confessing my own.
So what was going on here? It hadn’t been a “severe conflict” but I had been taking my husband’s inventory instead of keeping my own. I prayed and I prayed, and out of the blue, floating across my consciousness, came the phrase “I’m out of kilter”. And I immediately remembered a dream that I had had just over a week ago.
Here I need to explain that I very rarely remember my dreams these days. In my “old life” I would wake up in the morning and remember every detail of all my dreams. And most of them were quite dramatic and very colorful. But since making huge changes in my life, my nights seem quite dreamless. At least I do not remember them. And if I do I’ve discovered that it usually means that something is off balance in my life, that I’m a little off center, “out of kilter”.
So what I was remembering was in fact just a fragment of a dream. The fragment went something like this. Richard and I were “somewhere” (didn’t recognize the place), and he was sitting at a table. A phone rang and he answered it and within a few moments he had put his head in the hand that wasn’t holding the phone, and his body sagged. After he hung up I asked what was wrong and he said, “Our daughter is in jail.” I had snapped awake instantly.
And there I had it. Fear – the underlying cause of all my irritation that had quietly been building. I hadn’t shared my dream, or fragment of dream, with anyone. I guess it had seemed such a trifling thing at the time that I thought it didn’t need attention. I should know better. Nothing connected with my daughter is trifling for me.
I have done a lot of work, spiritual, mental, and emotional, around my daughter. I guess the lesson learned here is that there is always more work. So before I go to bed tonight I will share my dream fragment with my husband and tell him that I love him very much, and also reaffirm the apology that I have already made to him for my barbed tongue. Life is too short to allow fear and irritation rob me of my joy. Oh, and I need to find a title for this writing.