This morning, Jordan and I were getting ready to go on vacation (a covid-safe trip, to his family’s house on the coast).
He left to pick up our rental car. I was in a fantastic mood, cleaning the house, getting everything ready to leave.
When Jordan came back, he was quiet. He didn’t give me much attention.
I knew he hadn’t eaten yet, that he was just in “doing” mode and he was hungry.
Logically I understood this. But my body still started to tense up, to freeze.
When I was little, vacations meant my dad would be extra stressed. I would always feel rushed while we were getting ready to go, while we were on our way there. Explosions of anger could happen at any moment, when my dad would snap. I never knew what would cause them exactly.
But my body learned to be prepared. To look for all the warning signs. To walk on eggshells at the first sign of tension, to do whatever I could to prevent it from happening.
This is a pattern I’ve noticed repeat itself with my past partners. Even just my boyfriend turning the music off in the car used to trigger me, because my body would prepare to get yelled at – because that’s what happened during my childhood.
I’ve noticed it on every vacation with Jordan – the way my body wants to tense up and play out the same story I’m familiar with.
So this morning, I felt myself tense. I noticed my mind wanting to collect evidence that Jordan was the same as my father.
Piece by piece, my mind noted: “When he came in the door, he was quiet. He’s pulling back. He’s probably mad because you made yourself breakfast and didn’t make him any too – that’s where you messed up. Be quiet, don’t set him off, don’t make any sudden movements. He’s stressed because he had to go get the car, this is a stressful morning for him, we’re getting ready to go. Make the entire process easy for him.”
And deeper than that – I started to get annoyed that he was stressed. That he was ruining our vacation before it had even started.
I noticed what was happening. So I interrupted it.
I said to Jordan, “Can I reality check something? You were just hungry when you came in, right – you aren’t annoyed at me?”
He laughed, his eyes lighting up with surprise and then recognition of my pattern (which we’ve talked about a bunch). “Yeah, I was just hungry,” he said. “We’re not in a rush, I made sure we have a lot of spaciousness, I’m not annoyed at you at all. I love you.”
Here’s what’s most important – if I had continued letting my mind do its thing, I would have ended up playing out the pattern.
I would have continued imagining – literally totally making up in my head – that Jordan was annoyed and stressed.
So I would have altered my behavior, treating him as if he were stressed, while resenting him for being stressed.
My resentment would have showed eventually – maybe I would have snapped at him, I would have gotten irritated by feeling like he was rushing me.
I would have communicated through my energy that I didn’t trust him and I was annoyed at him.
And *I* would have ended up causing him to get annoyed and pull back from me. Proving my story correct. WHEN HE WAS NEVER ANNOYED IN THE FIRST PLACE.
We do this constantly, in our lives – we search for evidence that our stories are true and our beliefs about the world and about people are correct. So we act in ways that cause them to come true.
The work is in taking complete responsibility for your patterns.
It’s in getting to know them so deeply that you can call yourself out, interrupt them, and not let them rule your life.
It’s in sharing them with your partner, so they understand what’s happening for you too – without expecting them to take responsibility for them.
It’s committing over and over again to the responsibility you have in creating your life.
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