The first thought that came into my head when I sat down on my cushion one day in late July was: “I don’t like my husband anymore.”
We were in the middle of a NYC heat wave, temperatures rising each day to well over 90 and into the 100s. We had finally moved back into our apartment after eight weeks of renovation and many boxes were still unpacked.
Yes, we were both tired and our patience strained to the breaking point. But, “I don’t like him?” This thought-feeling surprised me and I wanted to investigate it. Were it true, I was in deep trouble.
I couldn’t concentrate on my meditation. I needed evidence. Why didn’t I like him? I came up with two reasons, two incidents that exemplified why I was so mad at him and decided not to like him anymore – the first seed of discontent that could easily lead to separation, divorce (we hadn’t even marked one year married!) – what he’d said, how he’d behaved, what he didn’t do but should have done.
I had two perfect examples I could bring to therapy and say: “this is what he did, please make him stop; this is what he didn’t do, please make him do it next time.”
Then I realized I was thinking and not focusing on my breath. I was not only thinking, I was focused on Michael: an unhealthy practice on or off the cushion.
So I brought my attention to my breath and started to settle down. The two examples of Michael’s behavior that supported my need to be right began to slip away. I didn’t want to lose them. I didn’t want to let them go. What if, when I got up at the end of my sit, I forgot what they were?
I kept roping them back in. I saw so clearly how I hung on, how I hated to let go. I realized I was angry and wanted to stay angry, gather up the evidence, justify my fury.
I brought myself back to the meditation cushion using Tonglen practice. I breathed in anger and breathed out love. I didn’t feel love, but I continued.
Anger – In; Love – Out. Anger – In; Love – Out. The two thoughts I wanted to remember floated away. I tried to tuck them away into a corner of my brain. Anger – In; Love – Out.
I slowly began to stop struggling. My belly softened. As did my heart. I still didn’t feel the love, but I no longer fought against the possibility.
If the two reasons for my anger were gone by the end of the sit, so be it. I continued breathing in and breathing out: anger, love.
I relaxed more. I felt neutral about Michael by the end of the sit. I remembered the two pieces of evidence with little to no emotion attached to them. I felt I could still talk about them to Michael and not carry the anger into the discussion.
I didn’t write them down. I saw no need. I trusted my memory. Two days later they are gone! Try as I might to get them back (and I do try because it’s my habit to hold on to resentment, grudges, hurt) I can’t find them.
I vacillate between wanting them back and feeling happy not to have them in my brain and body, irritating me. I’m sure you can guess which one has the most energy in this mental tug of war.
So, off to the cushion again to come back to neutral.
I’m beginning to like my husband again.