I woke this morning, before 5 am. The world is still dark. I make coffee, do some yoga, have a shower… still dark. The season is changing. I sip my coffee standing in the open patio doorway, feeling the chill breeze coming across marsh and meadow, peering into the darkness as if to see something known, but invisible. Something present, but not yet revealed. I enjoy the moment-as-metaphor quietly.

I sit down to write, and when I log on I receive an end of day message from my traveling partner, unnecessary, welcome, and heart-warming. He lets me know he is safe for the night, and settled in somewhere to sleep. He tells me he loves me. I read the words some minutes ago, and I am still smiling.

Today is a busy one. I woke early, and on some other day might have chosen to go back to sleep, if I could. Today, I could have, but choose instead to get up, get the day going, and be ready for the day ahead. Choices. Turns out to be a lovely morning to take note of how much later the sun is rising these days, as summer slowly turns to autumn.

Signs of autumn approaching, on my walk yesterday.

Signs of autumn approaching, on my walk yesterday.

I find myself caught up in my thoughts, this morning, disinclined to write them down, share them, or dissect them for greater clarity. I let them drift through my awareness unhindered: thoughts of love, thoughts of work, thoughts of grocery shopping, all equal in the moment that they command my attention, none so urgent that action is required. I sip my coffee, and listen to the distant sounds of construction crews nearby, starting the day. I hear the commuter train, further on, and the sounds of garbage trucks. Monday mornings are noisy, apparently, though I hadn’t specifically noticed before. (That I recall.)

My thoughts return to the weekend that is just behind me, landing rather gently on occasional moments of unsatisfied, unresolved, rather inconsequential ire that I had brushed aside, rather than deal with it frankly. What to do about those now? Actually… nothing. It’s incredibly poor form, hurtful, and not productive, to resurrect “old business” during new discussions, most particularly if unrelated. Even when the circumstance is definitely related or part of a series of things, I find it both rude and unhelpful, to have old business brought up as some sort of confirmation of a pattern of behavior – whether there is a pattern of behavior to discuss or not. Why? Well, mostly because it tends to fuel argument, discontent, and hurt, and seems to make it much more difficult, rather than less, to resolve conflict. It often leads to the sorts of “always/never” discussions that leave reason behind, but also don’t allow emotion to be felt, experienced, accepted, embraced, and understood – together. Old business tends to increase the likelihood that participants will cling to “being right”, rather than finding harmonious accord and simply loving one another. “Being right” is not especially important to love. I’d rather love well and deeply than be right.

I think this over more, recognizing that “feeling heard” is something I need. How often has the urgent desire to feel heard, to feel recognized, to feel understood, pushed me towards detailed documentation of a specific “issue” (for me) that put me at a disadvantage, or hurt me emotionally, such that I was then less able to actually talk about it, because I was so focused on proving it? It was a huge milestone to come to the understanding that emotions are 100% subjective experiences, based on our own individual perspective, and are not subject to argument or persuasion (or “proof”) at all! “You don’t feel that way” is not a thing that a person can say and be truthful about; we are each having our own experience. I know my own heart – and, if I’m honest with myself, only my own heart. All else is conjecture, assumption, supposition, guesswork, rumor, or second-hand information. (Calling our lover a liar when they share their feelings is… yeah, not very loving. 😉 )

I often find that discussion of emotion gets very complicated when a lover reflects emotions back at me, like a fun-house mirror. It’s not uncommon. I say something hurts me, my lover says it back – and sometimes as though they experienced it (or said it) first. There have been times when that has felt deceptive or manipulative to me (and times that it has been). There have been times when it has been a revelation that we share such a similar experience of each other. That, too, is subjective. I’m quite certain I’ve taken a turn on the very same behavior, myself, at some points. “The way out is through.” I only know one resolution: deep listening, compassion, non-judgmental acceptance – of self, and of each other. Arguing most definitely does not “work” – unless by “work”, we agree to mean “causes hostility, confrontation, undermines our affection for one another, and builds lasting resentment” – in which case it works very well. (I dislike arguing, myself, and find no value in it.) “Giving up” and “letting the other person win” is also ineffective; love is not a competition, and if the struggle is to be right, we’ve already lost. Love is not about being right.

So… I lose if I give up, and I lose if I strive to “win” or secure the accolades of “being right”… So, what then? Deep listening. (Oh, and stop trying to “win“!) Really listening, without waiting to talk, without holding on to mental notes about how that other person is wrong, without grudging them the chance to talk about how they feel, without resenting them for the feelings they have, and without taking their experience personally – really listening, to their words, and doing my best to understand what they seek to communicate, without criticism of how they choose to attempt to do so. Loving kindness helps, too. It’s worthwhile to at least go into an emotional discussion accepting that my lover is “with me”, not against me, and that their intention is something other than causing me pain, or creating conflict. It’s not always easy. Previous relationships that have failed on the rocky shores of emotional abuse or manipulation still have some power to affect my ease with love, or color my assumptions. Here too, there are verbs involved, and I slowly learn to choose differently.

I smile, sipping my coffee. My thoughts drift from the challenges to the things that feel so easy. The sky begins to lighten on the horizon. Commuter traffic becomes a background hum that is more continuous. I think about love’s delights, and also distractedly wonder if I would be more comfortable if I put on a sweater… My thoughts shift to the subtleties of comforting and being comforted, and what matters most to love. I think about my “Big 5” relationship values, and test my assumptions, again: Respect, Reciprocity, Consideration, Compassion, and Openness. There’s always benefit to more practice. I’m very human. I consider my relationship with my traveling partner; he’s very human, too. I smile, thinking of his smile. I finish my coffee.

Today is a good day to listen deeply, and to love without reservations. Today is a good day to test assumptions, and respect Wheaton’s Law.