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Monica Bielanko
A chronicle since 2005 of my marriage & move to Brooklyn in my twenties; becoming a mother in my thirties; moving to Pennsylvania and learning to amicably coparent after divorce in my forties while living 3 doors down from my ex-husband in a small country town.
That's What She Said
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Sunday
Aug052012

How Does He Live With Me?

A couple days ago I made a pretty stark realization.

I should preface the sharing of my realization with the sidenote that I've been reading a lot of books on Buddhism lately. This one called The Heart of the Buddha's Teaching by Thich Nhat Hanh, this delightful Vietnemese Buddhist monk dude. The book is basically a bigger mind-blow than, oh, I dunno, my first comprehension lo those many years ago that yes, the vagina actually tears during childbirth. Tears. Like paper. Then they stitch it up. And then you have, you know, stitches. In your vagina.

Which, by the way, please know that I fully realize listening to someone, especially someone like me, talk about a book called The Heart of the Buddha's Teaching by a guy called Thich Nhat Hanh is a bit like listening to David Hasselhoff solemnly expound on his musical inspirations and yeah, all this SERENITY NOW Buddhist talk can be as appealing as eating a bowl of cancerous moles (with skim milk!) if you don't give two shits for this kind of thing but please be assured that I am alternating chapters of The Heart of the Buddha's Teaching with rampant and wanton sessions with Star, In Touch, Us and People and I am very much up to date on the whole tragic KStew saga and so I am really not all blissfullly zenned out so much as flirting with peace. And speaking of Serenity Now! - perhaps that's exactly how you should view this whole foray into Buddhism - kind of like Frank Costanza's relationship with Festivus because I probably have way more in common with Frank than I ever will with Thich Nhat Hanh.

I was reading this hate forum ALL ABOUT ME! one night in April (For fun, obviously, I mean, what's more fun than reading comment after comment about what a douche you are?!) after I had taken a trip to NYC in March and most of it is just really creepy and weird and even the person who left the comment I'm going to tell you about was an epic asshole but they left this fantastic comment wherein they mock me by being me and condensing the contents of this website into one paragraph. It was so very spot on I burst out laughing. Even though it was sandwiched near a comment calling me a drunk (Not yet, but close! I'll for sure keep you posted!) and a comment about my terrible writing (well for Chrissakes, STOP READING THEN) even I had to laugh. Okay shit, hold on, I've got to go find it and put it here.

Got it! Right. So this is someone mocking me and what it's like to read this site.

I am in NYC and it is amazing and I want to take more time off and I can't wait to get back home and I am turning over a new leaf and I don't like the internet and I don't want you to criticize me and I am open for change and you are right about what you said but I am not angry or defensive and I am just defending myself and so you have any ideas about what to write and here is a link to an argument I started on Babble but I don't do it for the page clicks and I love my husband but I don't like to have sex with him or sleep in the same bed and I wouldn't exploit my children but I live in Bumfuck Nowhere, PA and I am hitting our car with a shovel but I think I want to be a Buddhist and I love my life and I hate cubicles...

Yes. YES! Maybe I am an okay writer after all because if that's what you're getting from reading this blog then I have done my job well because that is EXACTLY what it's like to be all up inside my head. The other thing I took away from the Monica Mockery is that at least I'm trying, man. The little full-circle, crazy train arch of that paragraph neon signed to me that at least I'm trying to shake shit up, trying to figure out what's making me unhappy and maybe even do something about it. Isn't that all I CAN do? So mock away, my creepy friends. I appreciated the insight.

So yeah I am flopping awkwardly about, tumbleweeding this way and that, casting my fishing line out into this grand ol' world and seeing what takes hold be it Buddhism or snake-handling or what-the-fuck-ever helps me get through the day. It takes a long time to deprogram your brain from The Great Mormon Brainwashing. Twenty-plus years, people. Twenty-plus years of believing in that shit. Really believing in the whole damn kit and kaboodle. God - CHECK. Jesus, his son - CHECK. Joe Smith and his Golden Plates - CHECK. Moses parting the Red Sea like a David Copperfield television special - CHECK. A whole damn kingdom waiting around for me to rule when I die - CHECK. You thought your world sucked when Timmy Jones from next-door told you Santa Claus was bullshit, that your parents had been lying the whole time, so think how you'd feel when finally realizing - in your twenties - that this whole Happily Ever After you've been fed from birth is absolute horseshit.

It's the mindfuck of your life, is what it is. A hole in your universe the size of a solar system.

So when I'm floundering around in the Buddhist waters like a fat, clumsy sea cow foraging for algae (me: exploring Buddhism) I think we should all cut me some slack. Would you rather I slipped back into Mormon Monica Mode and offered to send you some free Book of Mormons BECAUSE I KNOW MY CHURCH IS TRUUUUE?

Thought so. Okay then.

But I'm getting way off track, as I do. I began this here missive with a proclamation that I recently made a stark realization. I did. The realization is that throughout the entire day I am constantly evaluating Serge's activities. Why didn't he load his coffee cup in this dishwasher? Why does he turn up the TV so loud? Why does he yell at other drivers, as if it's going to do anything. Why is he taking a 45 minute shower (Dear God, do I really want the answer to that)? I am telling you, a constant evaluation of what he happens to be doing and then I judge him. Judging, judging, judging. Why do I do that? I know why.

Kind of.

When you're with someone all the time it naturally happens. Well, maybe not naturally, but you can't help but notice how they spend their time because you're always there to notice as opposed to if one of us left the home for ten hours a day to work somewhere else. And then when you both do the very same thing for a living you can't help but start keeping score. I was with the kids for five hours today and you were writing the whole time, IT'S YOUR TURN for kid duty. I unloaded the dishwasher last time. I made dinner yesterday, IT'S YOUR TURN. I changed three poops this morning, IT'S YOUR TURN, one of us will finally say when the ripe stench from Hank's dipe is so bad you can almost see the wavy cartoon lines of stink emanating from his ass.

But I don't think this keeping score thing is exclusive to people who both work from home together. I think it's a common problem in a lot of marriages. Could take the form of whose job is harder, who makes more money, who does more housework - whatever.

I do more than keep score, though. Like I said, I note what task he's up to and quietly pass judgment. Or sometimes not so quietly. But in the end, it's all just my opinion, my thought that he's doing the wrong thing, which doesn't make the way he's passing his day wrong, just my opinion that it's wrong. Which seems so simple but it's hard to mindfully understand that on a day-to-day, minute-to-minute basis. We end up thinking our opinions are reality because they're all that we know. And in a way, they are reality, just our reality.

I am certain I'm not easy to live with. Not even just "not easy" to live with, I'm probably hard as shit to live with. For the longest time I've unconsciously adopted the impression that my way was obviously the right way. But, increasingly I am realizing that I am the wrongest motherfucker on the block (suck it, grammar police.) The wrongest. Not necessarily wrong for those day to day judgments, but for silently thinking that I am always right, that my judgment is best. And then I read a passage in the book I mentioned earlier that made my brain leak out of my ears. It's talking about liberating yourself from narrow views and goes on to explain how, in Buddhist belief, you are the reason for your negative opinion of someone and not necessarily the actions of the other person.

"The object of our mind can be a mountain, a rose, the full moon, or the person standing in front of us. We believe these things exist outside us as separate entities, but these objects of our perception are us. This includes our feeling. When we hate someone, we also hate ourself."

Because what we are hating is the perception of that person our personality has caused us to have. Our personality is inextricably linked to everything we perceive. We have to try to look deeply at something without imposing our ideas on the nature of it. Are you with me? Did I lose you? Would you rather be spooning a big bite of milky moles into your maw?

What I'm saying is, there is no "reality". There is no true Serge. Or maybe there is but we can never know it because we view everything through the filter of our perception and most of us aren't even aware we do that. Like me, we think our view of something is right or correct. But it's not. It's just our view. There is your perception of him, and yours and yours and yours (and they're all different because you're all different people who come from different backgrounds and have differing opinions that shape your perceptions) and then there is mine. My perception of Serge. The only "reality" I have of my husband is my perception of him. And if I don't fix my broken perception then my view of him is completely fucked and if my view of him is completely fucked then our relationship is completely fucked and if our relationship is completely fucked then everything is completely fucked and I don't even want to continue that line of thought... And my perception IS broken. I had started to view him through a mist of misplaced anger and resentment and if you're viewing someone from that mindset then of course your perception is broken and you will never see the forest for the trees... or the beautiful man for all your own bullshit all over the place clouding the view.




Do you have the right perception of your lover or is it clouded with your own issues?

Reader Comments (56)

This post was so confusing to read I just scrolled to the bottom to leave this comment.

August 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterK

I didn't find the post confusing at all, Monica. I think we all go through phases of letting all the little things about our spouses build up and become a giant mess of wrong and annoying behaviors -- there's great evidence of this from your first post about the fan issue several months or a year ago. I also think you're completely right - it's much more about our own perceptions and self-righteousness. I'm not the world's greatest Dr. Phil fan, but there are several things he says that I think are spot on. One is, "Would you rather be right or happy?"

When I go through a phase of judging and judging and judging my husband some more, it's not productive. I just build up frustration inside of me, because I'm not going to pick at him for all of these stupid little things. I know that would be even more unproductive. I went through some weird health issues last summer/fall that made it difficult for me to exercise. Once things finally got back to normal and I started exercising again, my mood improved so much and those little things about my husband stopped bugging me so much. Do they still bug me at times? Yes! Of course. But they don't take over and I don't seethe with frustration over them.

People have commented before here that spending more time apart during the day might help. I realize that's complicated because you're both working from home and it's not like you can just up and rent a small office space. But maybe you set up a schedule of who's on duty for the kids and who's 100% focused on working for the day. Maybe just putting a desk in the corner of Serge's garage space for whoever is working to use on a work day. Because I know for sure that the dirty diaper score board is destructive as hell!

Best of luck sorting it all out. And good for you (both of you) for working so hard at it!

August 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKristin

It's a good one, K, and worth another try.
You're not the only one, Monica. It's a hard realization, and even harder to try and begin to crawl out of the mindset. Cheers to the effort (In my mind, my perception of myself is clinking glasses with my perception of you) ;)

August 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKate

Right there with you, Monica.

August 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterZS

Love this post, and it's very timely for me. I've been struggling with my perception of my husband, and our marriage lately. Then yesterday I had an epiphany that I'm CHOOSING to focus on the fact that he leaves his dishes in the sink, and manages to leave crumbs wherever he goes and why, for the love of god, are his dirty socks on the dining room table?!?! In fact he is the kindest, most considerate, open-hearted, loving human being on the planet. I can choose which reality I focus on: one way is going to drive a giant wedge between us, the other is going to help me be more grateful for this wonderful man.

But really, WHY ARE HIS DIRTY SOCKS ON THE DAMNED TABLE?? ;)

August 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKate (another one)

I love reading your authentic posts Monica, screw the person who made fun of you, I know its hard, I have somewhat of a public presence too for my job and I try not to read comments, it hurts my feelings.
Keep writing!

August 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJulie

(PS: I have to note that the paragraph of criticism failed to mention how your house burned down, how you saved your daughter from imminent flames, and how you likely have been struggling with PTSD as you try to piece your life back together following the crisis....but, I suppose acknowledging those events would require/cause the hater to view you as a human being, worthy of compassion.)

August 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAlex

I just spent 34 hours straight with my man and we argued for about 3 of them. Then he actually said, "I wish we could have had a tape recorder in here so you can see what you just sounded like". And then after realizing that he was probably right I lamely said, "You're right, I don't know how I come across". So maybe if we all imagined ourselves being taped all the time we would think a little more before we throw out careless accusations or verbally attack our loved ones. Just a thought.

August 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterBonnieLee

I get it, I so get it! Glad you wrote this, ma'am, my eyes are opened to the bullshit I put on my husband.

August 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDawn

This is a great post and very timely for me too. Lately, I have been very much concentrating on the negative around me. Even when someone (usually my MIL) is trying to help me, I am seeing it as interference, going into my personal space or criticism. This has drawn my attention to all the negatives in my husband and has literally made me loose sleep. i just lie in the bed for hours, thinking about all the injustices there are against me - how I do so much more in the house, how is mother is coming way to often, etc, etc, etc. I've had a faint feeling that all that I am feeling ain't all that right but couldn't vocalize it. Thanks for the post! This has put my recent feelings in perspective.

August 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterIv

Great post! I get all judgy and gripey sometimes and after a while my husband will say "Do you realize how you're talking to me?" or something to that affect, and sometimes I really don't. Other times I do but I don't realize that it's not really him (usually) that I'm upset with, it's just my own depression and anxiety or bad mood caused by something else and I take it out on him. It helps to think of everything he does for me and all the great things about him (of which there are many), and sometimes it helps to just get away from him for a little while and regain a more correct perspective/better mood. And sometimes we get all mad and upset with each other, but unlike every other guy I've ever known, this one INSISTS that we talk everything out, right then and there. It's really difficult sometimes, but all that talking is what keeps things good between us.

August 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterElizabeth B

My issues are a near constant hurricane over our relationship. Holy crapper. My man, Matt, and I were discussing this very thing a few days ago, so your post is ever so timely. Thanks for that. Thanks for the book title as well, anything with Buddha in the title always seems so glamorous.

August 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterHeatherC

I love that you are into Buddhism! Stop making excuses for it because you are afraid you will be judged by your readers. You are awesome and your process is authentic and universal.

August 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterShannon

Whew, made it through to the end, very intutive those Buddists must be onto something !

August 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterUtah L

I think you were a bit overstimulated by NYC & Blogher. But that is OK. The post did ramble but you have a bunch of shit going on up in there you needed to dump.

I think our perception of people, ALL people, will always be clouded with our own issues, and our morals and ethics. If we all felt the same way abut everything and perceived everything the same way then what would have?

Good for you for realizing you have your own shit to deal with in on the inside. That right there is a HUGE step.

Keep it up.

August 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterREK

just chimed in to say that i love that you're into buddhism, and to recommend from the bottom of my heart, the book "zen mind, beginner mind" by shunryu suzuki.
http://www.amazon.com/Zen-Mind-Beginners-Informal-Meditation/dp/0834800799
buddhism doesn't have to be about permanent nirvana whilst floating over a lotus flower (i don't think), for me it's just about accepting the ebb and the flow, the change in all things, and going with it. pretty hard, and wonderful. best of luck in your spiritual search!

August 6, 2012 | Unregistered Commenteranother monica

I also have been going further into Buddhism lately. I find that meditation, and hearing Buddhist teachings really helps me get perspective, and have more room/peace in my own mind and life. Like there is a part of me that can see things a bit more. I still react of course, and still am annoyed, angry, disappointed, judgmental....but I do find myself losing it less. I liked this post a lot...I think you could apologize less to your readers...but it's scary and brave to keep revealing yourself in the midst of the pubic eye. I am not brave enough to do it. Go Monica!

August 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLena

This post hit home for me! My husband and I have been through a lot in the last year with our first child being really sick, and I have changed into such a different person and cannot stand so many things about him now. I feel horrible, because I married him this way and the things I hate are parts of his personality, not just leaving dishes around. Reading "When we hate someone, we also hate ourself." gave me the whole leaky brain as well...

Thank you for writing this! I have new motivation to get my shit figured out, and I wish you luck in doing the same, and in whatever way you need to do so. You are a great mom and wife for continuing to question and work on things!

August 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMeg W.

Hey Monica, I tried email you this question since it has nothing to do with your post, but the email link just kept snidely laughing at me and popping up a little logon box over and over again.

So Monica, I know you live somewhere in PA. I am traveling with 3 of my 5 children (I'm not sure vacation is the right word for what I am doing) to PA next week - Lancaster, PA. Is that anywhere near you, and if so, do you have any suggestions for what I can do to entertain the following fruit of my loins:

21 year old, super geeky and smart son
17 year old son who is deaf, has spina bifida and uses a wheelchair, and oh yea, keeps looking for love in all the wrong places
and
17 year old daughter who is deaf blind and uses a wheelchair, and if she didn't have disabilities would be pregnant, in juvie or both.

Any suggestions would be appreciated!

August 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDeborah

I think if I had to work from home with my husband and our two boys around all the time I'd lose my mind. It would be so flippin' EASY to lose perspective. Good on you for trying to look at things from a different angle. Do you find it easier to be able to read things from Serge's perspective (through his blog posts) or does that make it harder?

August 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLBH

Makes total sense to me, and I think it can be summed up quite easily by saying (as my mom used to when I was younger): "if you're not happy with yourself, you probably won't be happy with anyone else"

August 6, 2012 | Unregistered Commentersam

We might share a spirit. Also, I love you for posting this and being real. Like you, I was raised in the church and now, 20+ years later, I'm trying to find some sort of clarity in it all. Buddhism has drawn me in, and I'm trying to re-center my perceptions..of everything. You and I both know how difficult that can be when every thought, decision, and action have been rooted in religious doctrination for so. damn. long.

Keep on keepin' on. We'll figure it out one day. Or maybe we won't, and that's the beauty of it all.

August 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLindsey

Thank you. Thinking...

August 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJen

One day, in my twenties, I realized that judging people and being jealous were probably two of the most exhausting activities I could involve myself in. That was it. I was done waisting negative energy. The end.That isn't to say that I don't get annoyed at my husband, or covet my neighbor's shoes or whatever-but I don't let it seep into my brain and make me crazy. It takes a lot of work, but you can unlearn your normal behaviors. You just have to really want to change, not just talk about changing.

August 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterTeresa

Really great post! I'm really glad you wrote about your process for all of us who really appreciate your writing and honesty. I feel like both you and Serge have given me a lot to think about with my own life and marriage. Thanks for sharing. It really hits home.

August 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAmy

Oh lordy. Monica, you and I are SO VERY DIFFERENT and SO VERY THE SAME. How is that even possible? I'm not married (in a LTR though) no kids, (though the bf has two teenage daughters, lord help me, one lives with us) and all of this made so much sense to me. Not just with my boy, but also with his 16 year old. (btw 16 year old girls are heinous, good luck with Vi) I've just found out she "hates me". Don't all 16 year olds hate ALL adults? But, this post came at such a good time. Am I seeing her as she is, or am I taking my own hurt and letting it cloud how I view her, and in turn, pass it back to her in snarky ass comments and douchebaggery (no, I ain't too proud to admit it). So, basically, I puffy heart you right now, Monica, as this may have just saved MY relationship from doom and fuckery as well. So yeah, thanks. :)

August 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKyleigh

Excellent post. You make perfect sense to me.

About a year after my husband and I moved in together, we hit a rough patch. It got to the point where I couldn't even remember why I was originally unhappy with him. I just found myself creating new insults and injuries in every single thing he said or did. I found myself shutting him out, taking out my frustrations on him, starting each day with the notion that I was unhappy with him and it was his job to change it. And then, one day, he said something to me and I responded coldly, and I saw this hurt look on his face. It really struck me. I took a moment and thought about how I would feel if he had reacted to me that way, and realized that I would be crushed. I don't want to crush him. So why was I doing it? I felt terrible. I apologized, we talked, and things got better.

Now, 10 years later, whenever I am frustrated or angry, or feeling any other sort of negative emotion, I take a beat and ask myself how I would want him to treat me if our roles were reversed. Then, I treat him the way I would want to be treated. I realize this sounds juvenile, so very "golden rule," but honestly, it made all the difference in the world.

August 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommentereRose

Monica, you are amazing, and reading your posts is always such a pleasure for me.
My husband and I also work from home and are thrown together 24/7 so I understand exactly what you're saying.
It takes a pretty thoughtful person to come down from a high horse and truly examine their behaviour, and you deserve a virtual standing ovation for that. Many of us never really face ourselves.
Incidentally, and like quite a few commenters here, I'm attracted to many of the Buddhist principles, and have been doing Buddhist mindfulness meditation for a couple of years now. The teachings about wisdom and compassion, and especially how our egos rule us, make a lot of sense to me, whereas a great deal of coventional religion does not.
Your mockers are also working out of their own perceptions.... it's very evolved that you can take their silly comments and make something positive out of them. NAMASTE!

August 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterTamsin

Monica, my god - that someone has the time in their day to actually absorb you and your writing that much that they can write the above! You must be doing something right! To take the piss, to be angry, to diss you - no matter what that person is writing - THEY CARE. Maybe in some disturbed needing to get out more, or get a life way - but you have tapped into something in them.

For the record, I LOVE your all over the place thinking. That's me on an average day - whizzing over between joyous and depressed, hyper and calm, filled with ideas to utterly devoid of them - in fact this can happen in 5 minute in my life.

Years ago I had a broken heart so I raced out one night and drank myself into a stupor. Then popped an E. I came home all messed and loved up with the world and The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success fell off my bookshelf and hit me on the head. I read it and it totally made sense - in every way - that I wished I could embrace. I think I'm a gonna dig it out again now.

Keeping reading, keep writing. And yes, my husband does my f'ing head in most days too. But only because he has to live with me - the control freak OCD whizzing nightmare described above. Big love Sx

August 6, 2012 | Unregistered Commentercrummymummy

I went to that site and read what was written which seemed pointless and cruel. However, one post did stand out to me:

"Monica seems to forget that the strangers you hate for criticizing you are no different that people you don't know that are supporting you; they are people that don't know you and only relate/repelled by the you that is being shown to the public. The internet is not a therapist. A good therapist will help you and it takes a lot of work. It is easy to figure why you act the way you do; it takes more work to curb your behavior to make life better. There are no shortcuts and turning to strangers for support can only hurt you in the long run.
 
Monica-step away from the internet. You don't seem to like much anymore and realistically the Mommy blogging community seems to be exploding with dysfunction right now. It is only a matter of time before the marketability of Mommy bloggers shrinks and when all of your eggs (income, feelings, parenting and marriage) are in the same basket, it could be disastrous. Stop trying to brand you and your husband; it appears to be very stressful and the fact that you have entwined your careers is a bad idea. Have an experience, revelation or discovery that you don't write or tweet with strangers because you appear to be quite rudderless and you might feel differently about it in a short period of time. Stop giving strangers control over your life. When you blog about your daily experience, you become The Real Housewives of Nowhere PA."

I don't know why you keep mentioning GOMI and giving them power over the happiness in your life. While Buddhism is a beautiful thing to explore, you do seem to have social anxiety and sensitivity to public perception that are at odds with the sharing nature of your blog. I find less and less happIness in your writing and, by your reaction to BlogHer, you seem increasingly uneasy with social interaction.

August 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterGOMINO

I really love reading about your explorations of Buddhism... but at the same time, as a lifelong Buddhist - it's a bit rough to see you being so self-deprecating about it. Your realizations are inspiring, but your constant assertions that you're still reading People magazine are fairly off-putting to someone who has been a practicing Buddhist for decades who would like her spiritual identity treated with a little more respect. It's like if you were writing about Mormonism and declaring that you're totally still drinking diet coke.

Be who you are and don't give up what makes you happy, whether it be People magazine or Diet Coke, but don't water down your beliefs to try and make them seem less threatening to others.

August 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSonja

I used to go around taking cell phone pictures of all my husband's "sins" and would send them to him one after another while he was doing 12 hour shifts as an inner city cop...that sure made him want to come home! Have you read the book 356 nights by Charla Muller? It helped me see that my own perceptions had to do w 1) sex or lack there of 2) the time of the month and 3) feeling disconnected. The more I feel slighted by his messes, i am really feeling disconnected from us as a team. Amazing how feeling connected (through sex or going out just us w no technology or kids) takes away the urge to be bothered by his mess (and takes away the urge to take those pictures).

August 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLoves2read

@Sonja - Hey, thanks for the comment. I totally hear what you're saying... But I am being who I am and I'm not trying to water down my beliefs. This is where I am with the whole thing and I don't think my assertions that I still read People should threaten your Buddhist identity nor do I think that it in any way disrespects Buddhism. Hearing anyone wax poetic about newfound religion, in my experience, can be a bit like watching Grandma's home movies, is all I was trying to say. If you and I were to have a private conversation about Buddhist practice perhaps I would be more direct and serious... However, this is a blog post that I knew would be read by more than just one person and so I was trying to strike a balance between the humor and seriousness with which I am currently exploring Buddhism. To each his own journey, right?

August 6, 2012 | Registered CommenterMonicaBielanko

Hey Monica,

I had a similar realization when my husband had a bit of a mental breakdown and was told to stop doing EVERYTHING by his doctor. Which left me to pick up the slack. I work at home and he is the stay at home dad to our two kids, so I was pretty much at a loss for a while. I could NOT criticize him anymore (cuz he's sick!) and instead of trying to determine who's turn it was I just had to do it, without complaining (cuz he's sick..). It was tough getting thought the daily routine all by myself, but it was even tougher realizing what a total shit I had been to him up until then and to just STOP watching him and STOP criticizing him. Its been 4 or 5 months and he's started taking care of the kids again and doing housework, but I am trying to have absolutely no expectations, and the wonderful thing is that I am so grateful, so happy, and so PROUD of him when he actually does. Because he's doing things of his own volition, not because he's being guilted into it. And it really shows with his attitude towards me and the kids. It's still frustrating for me because I feel like I am doing SO MUCH MORE than he is, but when you really think about it, most people are doing the best with what they've got, and they are most productive when they are happy and have emotional support. Anyways sorry for long comment. Just wanted to let you know that the realization to stop watching and criticizing my husband and stop keeping tabs has made an immense difference.

August 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLaura

Good for you, Monica...soul searching is a wonderful thing!

August 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterHanni

Have you ever thought that maybe you're testing Serge? As in "how much will he take from me before he hits the door and leaves like everyone else?" I was guilty guilty guilty of that in the first few years of my marriage. And in October we will celebrate 26 years. Also, as someone old enough to be your older sister, ok, mother ( and I would tell my son the same) don't read the mean stuff. You teach your kids to avoid things that hurt, be kind to yourself and do the same. And you should never stop evolving and learning about yourself. This has been a summer of tremendous personal growth for me learning how to be a Mom and caregiver to my own mother. Life is fluid and you just have to flow with it.

August 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterBeth

To each his own journey, of course, but in my experience you're selling yourself short when you couch your own insights in-between ragging on yourself. What I'm trying to say isn't that you're disrespecting Buddhism or a Buddhist identity, but you're doing *yourself* a disservice by prefacing sharing a major realization on a new path in your life by saying that you still like nachos and beer - like you're afraid of alienating your audience when what you should be focused on is being true to - as you say - your own journey.

(As for being Buddhist in a predominately Christian blogging world - yes, I *constantly* worry that if I'm "too outspoken" I'll alienate someone - but y'know, I've come to a place where for me, I accept that someone else's reaction isn't anything I can control and therefore not something for me to spend time worrying about.)

August 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSonja

Sing it SISTER!! I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this post! It was like I could hear you reading it out loud, in your own voice! I could practically see you walking around with this lightbulb that is turned on above your head. New beginnings, (re)freshed starts, new home, new discoveries. I'm loving this!

August 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterShannon B.

I realize this is a sure sign that I spend too much time on Facebook, but I wish there were a "Like" button beneath the comments here! I would have Liked pretty much all of them! Look at how much good you're doing here. Ignore the naysayers and keep on doing what you're doing, Monica.

August 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKristin

By the way, I want to add that I am really, really glad you haven't given in to the haters because I love your writing (and Serge's!) and always look forward to it. You've given me lots of inspiration and amusement in the past.

August 7, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLaura

I love how in one breath one of the commenters here says that the internet is not therapy, then proceeds to give you six paragraphs of advice!

I had a semi-popular blog in the very VERY early days (started it pre-9.11) and I don't think I could deal with the amount of hating on other blogs for fun and meta-criticism that's out there today.

I keep coming back here and I love Serge's writing and...just keep doing what you feel. Also, I find it incredible people judge you for your marriage struggles. Are they not married? Or do they just want you to not discuss it?

August 7, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMTSH

PS Also wanted to say that after being a reader on your blog for a while, it's easy to see that you and Serge are both not just beautiful people on the outside, but quite awesome on the inside as well. Everyone struggles in some way or another, but it's how you decide to deal with those struggles that define who you are as a person. You guys are struggling, yes - but your affection and love for each other comes through and you're really trying to work things out, personally and as a family. I have faith that as you work on your Buddhist positivity, you'll see each other's "coolness" and appreciate each other more and more and your struggles will lessen...

PSS Magnesium is great to add to your flaxseed - very calming! Amazon carries magnesium citrate that mixes well into orange juice (along with the flax)...

August 7, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterHanni

I adore this post; it makes SO much sense to me. Why do I care SO MUCH that my husband leaves his dishes on the counter instead of putting them in the dishwasher or can't remember what days the trash goes out? It is really possible that that says more about ME than him, for sure. We can only know life as we see it out of our own heads (which is why I always say the only two people who truly know what's going on in a relationship are the two in that relationship). So if I shift how I'm seeing something, I can shift how I'm feeling about it, too.

I needed this right now. Thank you.

August 7, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCandice

I love this new direction you are taking! Any spiritual practice you decide to partake of, whether it be yoga, Buddhism, meditation or whatever, will no doubt ease anxiety and give you greater clarity of mind. Once you are thinking more clearly you'll find those issues that are currently clouding your view of Serge will no longer maintain that control in your mind. It will happen very simply and without a lot of effort other than to practice your (meditation or whatever you choose) regularly and just reap those automatic benefits. I'll bet Serge will notice a difference as well. And as for the beer and nachos--you may not be ready to give up those "vices" just yet (if ever!). Overall, I doubt that it is going to make a huge difference in your results. Just keep doing what you are doing and keep us posted. This is great news!

August 7, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSue

You're just a typical woman. I think most of us are critical like this. It's stupid really. Just makes us miserable and those around us. You're different in that you admit and acknowledge this negative behaviour.

Check out Eckhard Tolle. His books or on You Tube. Basically what meditation or quieting the mind does is train us to use the right side of our brain more. We are all so left brain heavy and it's tiring. A little more balance and life becomes easier.

August 7, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterNiedlchen

Love the post - my head understands your train of thought and what a great topic to cover. It's hard to admit that I also let my shit out on my husband in the way of 'judgement' and although I practice yoga regularly, I too need reminders of what the source of frustration is. It is comforting to know that so many of us have a similar challenge and I wouldn't know that unless I came here every week.

Really enjoying following your journey and also curious if you shared this revelation with Serge (before you wrote about it.)??

August 7, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterstella

I remind myself that my kids and myself included will remember the games, the laughs, and the time spent together vs. dirty dishes or unfolded laundry etc.

Also, It can be tough when you spend a lot of time together. I think getting away is a good thing. Volunteering somewhere might help. I enjoy that as well and I know I am giving something back. I also joined a book group and we read one book a month and then discuss it while we eat a snack!

Also you are in what we call "the thick of it" in parenting...still have diapers and not fully communicating kiddos. It gets a lot easier with a bit of time. I think when I am overwhelmed by the sheer ammt of work I become more critical.....

Have a good week!

August 7, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterStella

@Stella - I did! Sometimes I'll surprise him with a post (if it's nice stuff) and if it isn't so nice I always ask him to read it before I hit publish. I don't think he's ever told me not to publish a post, though.

August 7, 2012 | Registered CommenterMonicaBielanko

mindfulness

August 7, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKaren

Hello

I have to agree with what a few others have said; get a day-to-day rota of who is on Kid Parade and who gets to shut themselves away for work. I really do think that if one of you were to work - even part time -outside the home, it would help A LOT, but clearly that's easier said than done. You can work it out week by week according to deadlines and other factors, but if one person gets the morning for work, then the other gets the afternoon or whatever. It will minimise the score-keeping and give each of you some breathing space to do your thing.

On another note, I cannot understand people who take the time and trouble to trash someone's blog. I mean, I am not the busiest person in the world, but I work part time from home, have 2 kids to fetch and carry, a house to run blah blah... if I read a blog and I think it's crap, I simply stop reading it and go elsewhere. It is really an elegant and simple solution! Saying if you disagree or making a good point is fair enough, debate is healthy, but why not just vote with your feet? Or would that simply not be unkind enough for them? Is it the case that the satisfaction lies in being vicious and hurtful? Wow. Imagine living with them? The fan issue has got NOTHING on that!!

August 8, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCaroline

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