I’ve long believed that relationships are our mirrors into ourselves, bringing out the best and the worst, but always the potential within us. There are few people I’ve ever truly disliked, yet I’ve had the wisdom to ask what it is about them that I don’t like in myself. The answer wasn’t and isn’t always clear.
When tension began to grow in my marriage, I looked first within myself to see how I was creating and affecting and directing the relationship. I changed many of my own thoughts and behaviors, using the opportunity to grow. I stopped reading into and interpreting my husband’s behavior in ways that were harmful to me. His behavior had nothing to do with me — I could accept it or like it or neither. Perhaps my fault in this was that I was so busy taking on the task of growing myself that I forgot to pause and communicate that I wasn’t willing to accept the impact of certain of these behaviors on me or my (our) family.
Meanwhile, as I’ve begun to more actively focus on healing myself after the split, I’ve enlisted the help of Debbie Ford‘s wise Spiritual Divorce. In following the exercises at the end of one of her chapters, I listed all the qualities in my ex that I disliked or hated. There were really only a few, but they were kind of big buckets. Then I contemplated the judgments I made about those characteristics and, finally, I mused about how those very qualities exist within me. I was surprised at how easy this was…until I was lying in bed that night: suddenly, I thought of approximately a dozen additional character flaws that I positively hated about my ex!
I made a mental note to revisit these qualities in the next couple of days and to follow through on the exercise of searching within my own psyche for how these characteristics manifest within my own behaviors. I have yet to follow through. These must be the sticky ones…