As a young girl I often heard my Mom say things to my Dad, or to no one in particular, such as: "What happened to all the bananas, I just bought a bunch yesterday and they are all gone!" My Dad was a big guy, and yes, he did eat a lot of bananas! Or when my Dad, who loved to entertain and cook Italian food for his family and friends, invited over twenty people into our home for a meal, my Mom would react with anger, "Why does he always do this!!!!- he is going to take over my kitchen!" My parents would proceed to cook together, arguing as they worked. In my Italian family a lot of the bickering was over food: what to cook, how to cook it, and who was going to get the credit for the results.
I "learned" at an early age that my Dad did not do things as my Mom wanted things done and she frequently made this known to me and my brothers. For many years of my marriage I found myself repeating this behavior with my husband. My husband, the gentle, patient man that he is did not respond. That is, at least for a while. You could say I was lucky. Maybe not. As Charlie began pointing out the criticism that I directed towards him, he also reminded me of my Mom's reactions to my Dad's actions.
At first it was difficult for me to hear this truth. I was young at the time and was not sure how to change my reactions to my husband, and at times I did not want to. It was comfortable, this behavior of mine.
This past May I turned fifty and decided that I wanted more love in my life. I wanted to love myself and my husband in a deeper way. Using the works of Byron Katie, Loving What Is, and developing a daily practice of mindfulness- paying attention to each moment and "falling behind" and just watching the incessant chatter in my mind- I began to make a shift. The more I was able to notice my thoughts, the ones that criticized and complained about my husband and myself, and then question their validity, the less these thoughts would pop into my consciousness. Or if they did appear in my mind, I taught myself to laugh at them. More and more I noticed the little, sweet things that my husband does for me and my son. The way he lovingly makes breakfast for us, or while we are driving together in the car he reaches over to me to hold my hand. I focused on the good, on love, and practiced gratitude each and every day for all the blessings I was given. A shift took place; my heart opened wider and wider. The more love and acceptance I gave to him and myself, the more I received. Then one day recently I woke up feeling like the newly married bride, excited for the day with her new husband- only it was twenty-three years after the wedding!