Thursday, November 3, 2011

How About Now

Once in awhile I write a journal entry, and feel that years down the road, if someone should piece together the most pivotal parts of this journal, this entry would have to be included. Usually it's an entry that was written when I had a revelation--an "ah ha!" moment--a truly large step in my recovery. This is one of those entries.

Maya Angelou once said "The first time someone shows you who they are, believe them". In the past several days, this saying has come to be very important, I will even go as far as to say life changing to me. Let me explain.

The last time my husband went to counseling with me he said "This is who I am. I'm not going to change. You can either accept that, or get out". It was a pretty powerful statement, and after it was spoken, there was a thick cloud of tension in the room. Finally Kate said "I really don't think there's anything else that needs to be said. Mary, you need to think about what your husband just said and decide if you choose to accept what he is telling you, or go". I sat there frozen. Frozen, but thinking to myself "What are you thinking, Kate? There's plenty to talk about! We need to talk about why that is an unacceptable statement! Is everyone in this room (except me) an idiot?". Then Kate said "Mary, how are you feeling about what your husband just said?" My frustrated response...."This is not the first time I've heard that. He doesn't really mean it. Tonight he will tell me he was angry when he said it, and he doesn't really mean it".

But in the days and weeks since that session, a very strange thing happened. For the first time since we met...I got it. I realized that my husband had been trying to tell me this for almost two decades, and in my ongoing, tireless, 20 year battle to change him, I simply refused to listen.

When I shared this discovery with Sally, she immediately shared the quote from Maya Angelou, and told me to think about it. "The first time someone shows you who they are, believe them". Wow! What a revelation! Now this all seems very clear to me. How could I possibly have heard someone say something to me over and over and over again, and never listened? Never believed them? That is what codependent people do. We feel if we just try hard enough, we have the power to change people. We can't get it through our thick skulls, that most of the time, people are who they are, and they have no desire to change.

Tonight, after yet another incorrect assumption I made about what someone was "really thinking", I sent a text message to Sally saying "When will I ever start to believe people when they show me who they really are?" Sally's response: "How about now?"

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