The Dog Days of Marrriage

My wife wants a dog. I vehemently and categorically do not. I do not want the added responsibility. I am already punching far above my weight in that department. I have gladly taken on a wife, son, and a cat. I am grateful and happy to have them in my life, but I do not want any more responsibility.

She feels that it has nothing to do with me, and that I do not have the right to prevent her from following her dream.

I am learning to stand up for myself after so many years of repression. My wife is also learning to stand up for herself and say no, and I am proud of her. It’s a necessary part of her growth and evolution. It’s been a long time coming. This just happens to be the first big test, and I (and the whole dog question) is the first big target.

So here we are…a Mexican stand-off. Neither of us is willing to budge. So what to do?

I cannot deny that I am very angry about it. And I have said some things in anger over the last few days that I regret. She points out that my behaviour and attitude is inconsistent with my spiritual practice. Fair enough. She says that if I can see past my resistance that I may actually enjoy a dog.

Perhaps, but I just can’t seem to go with the flow on this one. I just don’t want more responsibility imposed on me.

And I am floored that she is prepared to bring a dog into this house that I do not want.

But as I am slowly learning, and as I have mentionned several times before in this blog, anger is my one “catch all” emotion. Once I start looking at it carefully and untangling it, I realize that there is more to it, and that there are many other emotions and feelings behind the anger.

So I start digging a little deeper, and poke around a little in the shadows.

And what I discover is that for me, this is about losing control. Feeling powerless.

Like I felt the first time, when I found myself alone with a twisted neighbour in his dark shed when I was four years old.

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Finding My Voice

Repressed. Stifled. Buried.

These words describe most of my life. Not in a poor me way, because it has certainly not been all bad (far from it), but these words do describe the backdrop that has colored everything, and has shaped who I am today. Always this unsettled, uncomfortable feeling like I am on the outside looking in.

I am used to not acknowledging what I think, what I feel, and pushing my needs so deep that I have often lost sight of who I am. It’s ingrained. Feeling shame, but not understanding why. Not allowing my essence to flow. At work and at play. Life in general.

The truth is I have never really believed that I am OK. Broken sort of. I have learned to work around all this of course, but the lack of confidence–the root cause–has never really gone away.

As I am discovering, many of these repressed emotions don’t ever really go away. They leak out in all kinds of other ways. Anger is a big one. Many emotions funnel into this one catch all emotion. That one I have become quite good at expressing. “Anger is an acid that can do more harm to the vessel in which it is stored than to anything on which it is poured.” I understand what Mark Twain means now. The anger has wreaked havoc inside.

But I have begun the process of untangling the mess I have created. I can’t change the things that have happened to me, but I can change how I feel about them, and more importantly, choose not to let them dictate who I am today, who I am to become.

Much of this shift began when I left my career of 23 years, about 18 months ago. I have been turning over those rocks one by one ever since. To see what’s been hiding under them. And there is an avalanche of rocks to choose from. But lots more light now to shine under them.

And I am learning something very powerful through expression. Learning to release those pent up feelings in a healthier way. Talking about what I feel. Figuring out what I want and saying it. Learning to listen to….to tune in to what my emotions are telling me. To act on them and not let them fester. My wife is helping me with this…with her love, support, and encouragement.

Writing about what I feel…another outlet I could never have imagined only a few months ago. This blog, for me, has become a godsend…literally. It’s helping me to make sense of the inner chaos, to work through and express things that are on my mind. I panic at times that I won’t have anything of value to say, or even anything to say at all. But I continue to dig, and the thoughts keep bubbling up from somewhere.

And singing. I feel the shift with this one especially. I have always loved to sing, but what used to come out was sort of flat….not much “oumph” behind it. But I have always felt that there is an inner “rock star” in there somewhere, as my friend Kurt put it.

The rock star is simply me. The real me. I am in the process of finding and releasing him. Rob, my voice coach, has helped me unlock what’s been buried for so long. And what’s emerging has life. Passion. Soul. A new sound.

“Who gives a shit,” he says. “Just let it fly.” And he’s right. And now I am.

I am slowly realizing that I have something to say.

I am starting to find my voice.