My ex-husband has an expensive lawyer who likes to read my blog. (Hi Barry!) I know this because when my ex filed a protective order against me, claiming he was afraid for his life and the life of his family, Barry printed out copies of my blog. Apparently the strategy was to present my writings to the juvenile district court as evidence of emotional instability.
The things that Barry highlighted were feelings of insecurity, anger, and fear. Apparently he hoped these human emotions would be substantial enough to support my ex’s claim that I am a violent and dangerous person.
Unfortunately for Barry, while I am an emotionally expressive person, I am not unstable. The judge dismissed the charges against me, and I was free to go celebrate my 40th birthday (no joke it really was my birthday).
When the judged asked my ex-husband what he wanted, I was really listening. After all, he must really want something to file a frivolous claim against me. What would compel a man of such stature, education, and intelligence to file this claim against the mother of two of his children?
As a trained mediator and born collaborator, I think a lot about my involvement in this conflict. I volunteer at the Mediation Center of Charlottesville, and I get to see couples like my ex and me from an outside perspective. They are angry, indignant, justified, frustrated, exhausted – you name it, and they feel it. Sometimes one or both parties will spend the entire two hours repeating the same story. It is clear, from an outside perspective, that the parties are attempting to get a need met and falling short of their desires.
Where there is human conflict and suffering, there is always a misunderstanding. As a culture we believe that misunderstanding is external and that something substantial exists between the parties. If this were true, then fixing conflict would be a simple and logistical process. Both parties would convey the external items they want and both parties would make compromises to get the portions of their external problems resolved.
But conflict does not exist outside of us. Couples who cannot resolve conflict are not struggling with who should get the Swaziland coffee table, instead, they are driven by emotions. And in their external focus on wanting the “coffee table” they forget that the emotions are internal and therefore insatiable. After all, we have all had the experience of going after something only to discover that getting it didn’t make us feel better. Whether it is a chocolate milkshake, the PhD you thought would transform your life, or revenge on an ex-spouse – the satisfaction of finishing it is short lived, and the discomfort of emotions continues.
I always think carefully about what I share on my blog. After all, I am sending a message out into the world, if someone reads it – what do I want them to hear? In this case, I hope you will wake up and realize that your emotions are not connected to what you thought they were about. It is not your childhood, the really horrible experience you had when you were 9, or your spouse’s needling. Emotions result from thought in the moment, sometimes you see it and sometimes you don’t. The train of thought goes something like this:
- You think about the horrible thing that happened to you (everyone has at least one thing they can think about).
- You feel justified in your anger, dis-ease, righteousness or grief (or place favorite emotion here).
- You hate feeling this way so you look for a way out. (People vary eating, sex, yelling, you name yours here.)
- It magically “works” or it frustratingly “doesn’t work.” Either way it doesn’t really matter; there is no real connection.
- The process starts again.
Explore the process for yourself. Notice that sometimes you are faced with the circumstance, person, or series of events which you thought would always be an “issue” and they don’t bother you. Notice that sometimes you think of the “problem” and then it moves on without an effort. Notice that there is no direct correlation between how you feel and what is happening in your environment. Don’t take my word for it. The benefits are in checking it out for yourself. Human beings experience thought in the moment and thought is changing. The freedom and ease that result from seeing this? It is worth every investigation.
Join Jeanne Catherine and graduates from the most recent Transformational Leadership Group: Lisa Eller / Cali Gaston / Emma Campbell / Wendy Vigdor-Hess! Saturday, June 7th from 10:00 am – 12:00 pm at The Three Principles Training Center. Divine Play, 313 2nd St. SE, Suite 208. Bring a dish to share after for a potluck lunch!