Originally Posted by Tigerman
The short story about why I don't think abundance is all around is that my experience has taught me that too many of the people and institutions I deal with on a regular basis are not up to participating in or supporting mature and balanced interactions; e.g., not involving double-standards, not coming at things from a selfish perspective, interested in accepting situations for what they are and realistically dealing with the attendant limitations and consequences. Unrealistic expectations, insecurity, envy, laziness, and a sense of entitlement are far too prevalent. That doesn't mean that I can't still get a lot out of life, that I think everyone is morally terrible, or that every interaction with others is subpar. However, it does suggest to me that to the extent that the things I want to achieve are dependent on the cooperation of others (and pretty much everything in life is like that in some way), "abundance" doesn't really describe the situation. That said, what should matter most to me is how I'm doing things and the efforts I make to align my actions with my values and priorities. Am I working to be the best I can in the imperfect situations that are just part of living in the real world? So, the fact that I don't believe I'm surrounded by abundance doesn't really place any interesting limits on me.
I feel like I made decent progress with detaching the emotional hose. Not a perfect performance, but much better than what I would have done in the past. The wife and kids get back from their trip last night and she's just bushed. She's also cranky. A lot of that has to do with being tired, as my wife is one of those people who is badly affected by fatigue. Plus she's stressed from taking care of the kids for almost three days while I was at home. So, she's quiet and largely withdrawn last night. No problem, I have things to do and the evening passes without incident. I felt a little bit of the old anxiety of "does this mood have anything to do with me?", but I recognized it for that and just set it aside. It'd be nice to not even have that feeling, but getting to that point is off in the future.
However, I knew she was going to wake up still cranky. And she did. And our youngest was a bit sick, meaning that she was going to stay home from school, which blew up my wife's plans for the day. That sort of change and interruption is another thing that really throws her off. So, now she's tired and cranky, still working through the stress of her trip and now stressed yet further from the motherly instincts that kick in when a little one is ill, and agitated from the disappointment of having her plans for the day suddenly messed up. And then my oldest asks her why she's being so crabby. Which is yet another trigger, as I know my wife feels like she's been made the emotional center of the family and that everyone is always on the lookout for how she feels (I know my past behaviors definitely played a significant role in things turning out like this), and this is a major weight for her. So, it's an emotional tsunami at this point and she's totally walling herself off from everyone and everything, except for with the sick little one, as she's in full-on nurturing mode with her.
Now, I could have just totally not engaged with her, went about my morning business, and just left for work after quietly taking on a more active role in getting the older kids out the door for school. But, since I knew a lot of stuff was piling up for her, I thought it would be the decent thing to do to see if there was anything I could do to help her. And that triggered the following response: "Why am I getting attacked this morning for being how I am? The oldest was after me about it as soon as she got up and now it's you. Why does everything that goes on here always come down to how I'm feeling?" I didn't get emotional in reply or let the growing anxiety drive my response, although that clearly would have been the old standard course of action. Instead, I simply said, "Hey, I just wanted to make sure you're okay and see if you needed anything. No big deal. I wasn't looking for anything from you." Then I walked away. About fifteen minutes later she had calmed down a bit and came out to hug me (fortunately, no mention by either of us of what just happened), and shortly thereafter we said our usual good-byes for the day with no lingering bad feelings.
Now, part of me thinks that I shouldn't even have checked whether she was okay and needed me to do anything to help her out. After all, she's responsible for her happiness (etc) and if there was something she wanted/needed me to do, she should have said something. On the other hand, knowing how she shuts down when any one of the factors in play is present, and knowing how overwhelmed she's probably feeling, I also figured that she maybe could use some help, but couldn't articulate that and that I'd just suck it up and try to be at least outwardly supportive and concerned. I can't get paralyzed by trying to scrutinize every single decision I make or action I take, though, so I'm not going to worry what was right or wrong about that. In the end, what matters is that I didn't let the anxiety take a hold of me, didn't fixate on her mood in some "we have to fix this now" way, and didn't get into some post-game analysis of the situation once it resolved. Plus, I think it was good to clearly tell her that I wasn't looking for anything from her in the situation - wasn't needing her to feel good so that I could feel good, wasn't trying to fix her or change her mood, etc. In fact, I'd love for that to sink in with her, although I have no idea whether it will.