July 15, 2014
GUILTY AS CHARGED
She recommended I read the book, Delivered from Distraction, about Attention Deficit Disorder. Just the name of this type of brain-wiring disturbs me with labels of “deficit” and “disorder”. Labels aside however, I realize with just a quick scan that though undiagnosed, my husband is living inside the ADD textbook. This is information that will deliver me from “crazy”. It will also challenge me at the core of my own “brain-wiring”. The first time the possibility of my husband being an ADD dude was suggested our marriage was beginning to come apart at the seams. I read enough for it to save our marriage. But that was some years ago and the details of information fade over time leaving only impressions. And fundamental wiring resets back to default mode and…oh my.
Shit hits the fan. Regularly.
Walls go up. Trust wobbles. Old tapes start up, repeating old beliefs about value and worth, tangling up the past with the present.
So she tells me to read. She recommends the book. I get it from the library. I scan the chapter titles and turn to the one about the mates of those with ADD. And I read:
“…tend to fall in love with, live with or marry someone who is controlling, critical, demeaning, belittling and very well organized…”
OMG! He did! I am sweet and kind, loving and altruistic. Sometimes. I am also a perfectionist and value excellence, organization, beauty and cleanliness nearly as much as life itself. I have a brain that can scan a scene and see every nuance of everything that might matter–from the dirt in the corner to the crooked picture on the wall, the moods of the people and the way the room is arranged and decorated–the beauty and the base. I also have the ability to consider the big picture of a situation and quite quickly comprehend what is needed to fall into place and very possibly by when if the goal is going to be achieved. I am intense and quiet and serious much of the time. It has been quite a journey to learn to relax. When those around me don’t value excellence and perfection, or whose disorganization and mess impact my life, my space or my plans, the flip side of my sweet and adorable self rears up; what did the book say…controlling, critical, demeaning? Yeah.
Because I am also an Aquarian 4 on the Enneagram personality profile, (which by the way means that life should be perfect and beautiful and organized and artsy-fartsy and after all, is really all about me) so when I’m frustrated and feel disempowered or helpless I’m wired to resort to either deep depression (anger turned inside-out) or rage (anger turned right-side-out)…all that controlling, critical, demeaning, frustrated, exasperated, confused, bemused energy flung at the target with the energy of a pro-pitcher…bullseye. Home-run. Whatever. You know what I mean.
“…what they really need is someone who sees the best in them and helps to bring it out. They need someone who sees more positive in them than they might see in themselves. They need someone who loves them for who they are.”
Yes. And not just need. He deserves to be loved, unconditionally, for who he is–the wonderful admirable qualities–of which he has many–and the other stuff. Don’t we all need this? We all screw up. Even us perfectionists. Maybe especially us perfectionists. We all desire to be known truly and fully and loved for who we are. But our culture conditions us from the time we can toddle that love comes with price-tags and conditions. There are rules to be followed. Break the rules, lose the love. Don’t pay the piper, the song is silenced. It is no surprise that the young people I work with when asked what the Golden Rule is most often respond quite confidently, “Treat others the way they treat you.”
Long ago I set an intention to put my feet on a path to learn to love–deeply, truly, unconditionally. As I have walked this path, I have discovered that “nice” isn’t enough. Nice is like frosting; it can look good, maybe taste good, but can be covering over cake that is inedible. Nice doesn’t have to be genuine. Love does. I’ve also learned that forgiveness and appreciation are key to genuinely loving both the folks at home–which sometimes are the most difficult to love without condition–and strangers on the street and corrupt political leaders and cruel men and women out in the world who seem to care nothing for the misery they create. It’s easier to find forgiveness for and send blessings to some corporate CEO I’ve never met than my husband who found more interesting things to do than the tasks that he promised to get done 3 months ago…five years ago…uh-huh. I can curse the CEO knowing that the negative blast of energy I’ve discharged does nothing to help the situation and probably contributes to the dark juju spreading through our world. Oh well. But curse my husband and I can see the tear I’ve made in the fabric of his spirit–the wretched unraveling of the seams of our relationship–the heavy energy I’ve created in our home; the wound I’ve made in my own heart.
As I’ve walked this path it takes me higher up and deeper in. I discover the roots of old things in my heart that prevent love from thriving. Wow are they stubborn to remove! I find toxic waste dumps in my psyche where I learned to store the anger and hurt from a lifetime. Removing that has taken time and care and persistence. I am learning that I must forgive myself and love myself before it ever can really work to forgive and love another person. That lesson is sticky.
I’ve also come to understand that loving someone can be as simple as making a choice in the breath between the seconds of stimulus and response.
“Between stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.” – Viktor E. Frankl – Man’s Search for Meaning –
And sometimes, love is as easy as smiling.
Smiling is like turning on a faucet…humor and love and happiness begin to flow.
I’m practicing smiling. I find it makes being cranky more difficult.