I don’t need this? or Do I?

I bought this card to send to my brother...and it just seemed perfect for today's post!
I bought this card to send to my brother…and it just seemed perfect for today’s post! It says, “The first step towards change is awareness” Nathaniel Branden

Jack and I got into a huge argument the other day. Both of us were basically saying, “There is something seriously wrong with you!” This doesn’t happen all that often (we have minor and petty grievances, against each other, on a regular basis) but this one was big. I took a drive and found the old default tape playing (in my mind). It goes something like,

“This is a problem that cannot be solved. We are just too different. Jack might be a good person (although at the time I am doubting this statement) but we are not compatible. I made a mistake marrying him, it was too fast, I wasn’t listening to my guidance back then when we got together. I was too desperate, lonely, should have known better…..”

And this talk could go on and on, and in the past it has. But I now know that this “tape” is my mental escape hatch. When I’m really angry it’s where my mind goes.

But one day I unmasked it and saw it for what it was: fear. And this fear is saying, “You are trapped (in something bad) and you did it to yourself.” This tape didn’t start with Jack either. I can remember feeling the same way in my teens, except the person/people who I wanted to get away from, were my parents.

What I have seen, during these times of anger/fear, is the one I want to get away from is me.

It is the thought that I am trapped, that traps me. And it is true. I remain trapped until I change my thoughts. Mind you, at the time, I do not want to change my thoughts. It feels like the hugest exercise in self-will to think a different thought, and thinking a positive thought about Jack? Well that feels like a slap in the face. But I do it anyway, because finally, even when I’m in the middle of a fit, a little voice says, “You know that you can’t live like this, and you are going to have to stop it eventually, so why not now?” This starts the process of changing my old self-talk, and then Jack and I also talk: we talk about our fears, we talk about our old tapes, and we talk about what we are doing right. At some point in all of this, we usually end up laughing at our own foolishness/humanness.

As I was writing today, Jack said, “Feel free to share my “tape” too. So here is a snippet of his default tape:

“I don’t need this! I should have stayed single. I don’t need this thorn in my side. I have plenty of friends, I’ve got a great dog. I want to be able to come and go as I please. I don’t have to answer to her. Being single is a lot easier…..”

One common thought is, “I don’t need this!”….and yet we do. We do need this, because this is life. This is pushing us to the edges of our small, little, self-defined boxes. And this is giving us the choice to stay small or to expand into more life….and we are both so grateful to finally have this awareness, and to be able to laugh at ourselves.

“The only nice thing about being imperfect is the joy it brings to others.” Doug Larson


36 thoughts on “I don’t need this? or Do I?”

  1. Mary, I love the quote: “The only nice thing about being imperfect is the joy it brings to others”…that is going on my frig in very big letters.
    How often I’ve said: “I don’t need this”. I remember my MIL at 88 yrs of age saying, as himself’s two children and her grandchildren were running around the house screaming obsenitites at each other. “What shall I do” she asked on the telephone. I told her to take out her hearing aid, go to her bedroom and let them at each other. And still more, I reach back into “I don’t need this” here with himself. And yet, in marrying him two decades ago and more, I had taken on a commitment that, to me, was worth dealing with when not understanding his behaviour (a highfunctioning neurological disorder). The challenge was in changing me and how I reacted and thought. It was time not to run away from it but to deal with it. Still, why is it that my intitial reaction is always: “I don’t need this in my life”. And, I don’t. But the alternative doesn’t bear thinking about. Each time, it is worth dealing with. Besides, I’ve learned to stand up for myself and have a voice in the matter, something as a child, I grew up without.
    SandyP in Canada

    1. Sandy, I laughed out loud at that quote! Definitely saving that one, together with the snippet of Jack’s “tape” that rang so true to my own: “I don’t need this . . . I’ve got a great dog!”

    2. It’s my reaction too Sandy. My ego has a fit when I’m face-to-face with it (of course in the moment, it has masked itself, and I think it is “him” or “her”….but it is always a part of me!) Thank you so much for your continued, loving presence. Love, Mary

  2. You are just so REAL, Mary, laying it all out there. Love that about your posts.

    The methods you use can be applied to any relationship between humans: husbands and wives, brothers and sisters, parents and kids, cousins, friends, anyone. You took a segment of your life and made it a teaching moment for all of us. Good job.

    1. Thank you Suzanne, and yes, every relationship that has challenges (and that would be all of them!) has something in it for me and for my expansion. It really helps when I remember this. Love to you, Mary

  3. Mary, you and Jack are simply so very generous of heart to share your human ups and downs with us. It’s what makes us all relate to you and each other so well. I have found myself using the “I feel trapped” phrase many times until I just recently realized the trap is of my own making, my thoughts that perpetuate the perspective I continue to feed. And the little cages, even prisons we find ourselves in, are largely self constructed and I really do believe each one has a key right within our reach, unlike the jailer’s key far from our grasp. It’s right there for the taking – reach out, open up the door, let in a new light. I am trying very hard in this area right now in my own marriage and it’s amazing the changes I am noticing just changing my own attitude about things, so thank you for this very reaffirming post. Mary Solomon, still hearing “All you need is LOVE” in my head!

    1. After listening to that song – I remembered it is in the movie “Love Actually.” I watch it at least once a year, especially at holiday time. Just requested it from the library. Absolutely LOVE this movie – especially the music.

    2. Thank you Susan. This was a particularly fun post to write as I could feel how many of us share these thoughts. I love the feedback and honesty of our community here, Love, Mary

  4. Sounds like a perfectly lovely , healthy, human relationship to me! Hugs and much love to both of you.

  5. Oh how many times have I made that same statement, “I don’t need this,” and yet… Thank you Mary for your fresh look at life.

    1. Thank you Terri! Thoughts of happiness and fun to you today, Love, Mary

    1. I sent that card to Bob, and he had a good laugh too. thank you for your loving presence in my life Marian, love, Mary

  6. Thanks for you wise word sharing Mary! I remember a person once told me that “every person has at least 5 traits, 3 lovely ones and 2 annoying ones. No matter who you are with those 2 annoying ones are going to pop up on occasion, just remember that you also have those 2 annoying traits. Learn to live with one another!” For some reason I always remembered that when I was annoyed with my hubby (he is gone now) but it helped a lot. It’s hard to imagine that you have any annoying traits Mary! I hope you and Jack are able to laugh about things now. I love you both.

    1. Oh JoAnne, the thought that you find it hard to imagine that I have annoying traits brings a big smile to my face! I love the idea of the 5 traits and am going to spend some time with this. Sending a big hug your way, Mary

  7. Thanks for sharing this Mary. I think this might at the root of my resistance to getting involved with someone new. I was married for 21 years and divorced now for almost 5. I love my new life. I love the independence I have developed. I never thought I’d be able to take care of myself but I’ve found new skills. Feels great. When I think about getting involved I fear I’ll have to give that up. Maybe there’s an old tape playing. Maybe I don’t have to give up what I have now. Maybe I just need to find a new “way”. I have some stuff to think about! 🙂 As always…your posts make me think and look at myself. Like you do. 🙂

    1. I love that thought Caran (of not giving up anything but opening to a new way). Life is ever expanding if we are ready. Love to you, Mary

  8. My husband, Wm died three years ago. We were/ are two very special individualistic personalities in a bond that was both beautifully tied by our artistic natures and yet , because of each our own differences , at times our marriage was very trying, especially through seven years of his illness. There were times I thought I could not BEAR his stubbornness , self -centeredness. But now, with him no longer with me I realize how much these qualities of his helped him survive AND were part of what I loved about him too. I could get so stuck and trapped in the moments of my discontent and stress with the situation , our differences seemed so huge. It has been so hard to live alone . The truth of what you said just jumped out at me: we DO need “this”.. We need to get through those moments of friction (hopefully without too much hurt). There is a part of me that simply knows that disagreements happen in every single marriage , and as you brought up the subject of forgiveness the other day.. How important being a good forgiver is in any relationship. Wm’s always reached down into his heart and quickly said ” it’s water under the bridge”. ( he was much quicker and better with this than I was , thank goodness ). That phrase seemed to banished all ill feelings right then and there and our day was a fresh new day together .
    I am so grateful to become more and more aware , through your posts , of that inner dialog that can trap us . Of the old tapes and conditioned ways of reacting that just don’t work . There IS a way out.. As other posters have said : thanks for sharing your human -ness.
    And thank you Sandy P , Susan A , Kathye , Mary S ~ and all, for your interesting perspectives .
    From Bobbie – in the snowy CO mountains.

    1. Thank you so much for sharing this very beautiful and powerful part of your journey Bobbie, and I am so grateful for your presence here. Love and a warm hug to you, Mary

  9. So many times I could be that boy with the bow & arrow aimed at my man! Thanks to you and Jack for sharing this. You are so real and honest Mary. You’ve helped me more than you’ll ever know. Love, Cindy

  10. What a great post! Thanks for being so honest. Having never been married, it’s nice to know that married people also experience those nasty ‘tapes’ in their head when there is a conflict. My favorite item in Jack’s tape was “I’ve got a great dog.” When the tapes are running, we all turn into kids, stamping our feet and saying “I don’t need this.” :o)

    1. Thank you Susan! …and when I was asking Jack to tell me which part of his “tape” he wanted to share here on the blog and he said that (about Luke) I laughed out loud. Hugs to you, Mary

  11. Great post. “I don’t need this is a huge catchall phrase for many situations and marriage is not the only one of those situatuons. It can be work, our children- what ever. And yes these situations usually just blow over. 🙂

    1. Thank you for your insights and thoughts about this very human (yet limiting) tendency! love, Mary

  12. Great post. Except the quote at the end – I think the nice thing about being imperfect, well allowing yourself to be imperfect, is that it makes your emotional life easier. Making your emotional life easier makes your life easier.

    1. Thank you Kathryn (the way that I took that quote was as a joke…like he was sort of poking fun at himself!), and I agree with you that it certainly does make life easier to accept/allow ourselves to be imperfect. Love to you, Mary

  13. Mary….how easily you see into my mind and how wonderful it is that you help me explain some of my thoughts to myself!! Thank you. Sandy M

  14. Mary, this one was just like me! They’re often right on, and they speak to me loud and clear, too. But this one was so fitting in every way. And the to
    wait times have been shorter, too.
    It’s so great someone else out there is speaking about it, someone who lives it so real. ( I wonder if Peter would be able to tell how the experience was for him, though, and let all of is know too!)
    But I knew I was going to write to you even before I read what Jack said. It was what you said and felt that made me feel so grateful that I had to tell you.
    Love, Manny

    1. Thank you Manny, I really appreciate your thoughts and send you a hug on this very chilly morning, Love, Mary

  15. I wish that everyone, just once, could listen to an audio tape of their argument! Or listen to someone else’s ‘fight’. It is painful. Yes, what goes on inside of our head, and might not come out, is hurtful to us but can ultimately help us grow as Mary points out. But what comes out of our mouths, never to be taken back inside…yikes! Arrows slung, words that draw blood…perhaps really meant for ourselves but directed at another whom we supposedly love. In the first few years of our marriage, some 30 years ago, we lived in a duplex below the owners of the home. We new the owners well and liked each of them, saw them day in and day out, were there when they had their first baby. Then one night, as we lay in bed, they began to argue. We could hear/feel every word, every accusation… the anger, the tears, the fear, the hurt…all of it. Playing out directly above us…Each one at times the bully, then attempts to be the peacemaker. I clearly remember thinking that night that no one deserves to be yelled at ‘that’ way…no one deserves to be treated ‘that’ way and it made a lasting impression on me…and then the next day, both of them walked out the door, immersed in their daily routine, as if nothing had ever happened (nor been resolved)…it was quite a lesson to learn as a young married couple. It takes a person with a huge heart, a wide open heart, who is willing to whittle away at and through that kind of energy and to change it…Life is one big gold mine…

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