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.
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?