There are many things we do and say in this world; and it can be exhausting to realize that a huge majority of them have an impact on the people in our lives as well as ourselves.
I have made no secret of the fact that my ex-husband and I... well, to put it nicely, we didn't play well together. Since our separation, we have gotten along much better, causing me at one point to say that if we acted like this during our marriage, we'd still be together. But, habits in a relationship are ingrained deeply and do not change regardless of the myriad of circumstances that change around it.
Three months ago, I had the unusual experience of being able to visit my daughter for two weeks. Unusual in both the sense that I don't often have the money to fly myself & my son out for two weeks, and even more unusual in the fact that I was to spend those two weeks staying with my ex-husband and my daughter in their home.
Many things were instantly familiar; the banter in the car ride from the airport, the furniture when we got to the apartment, the food my ex had planned for our 'welcome dinner' and the type of music and movies that he enjoyed & wanted to share with me when I was there.
I had ample opportunities to spend time with my daughter and see her in her day-to-day life & what she was up to. I enjoyed all the amenities that I'd been doing without, such as satellite TV, movie channels and a dishwasher. All in all, it was a very pleasant visit. All the same, I couldn't wait to get home to my single-wide in the country with hand washed dishes & the aerial TV antenna.
I wasn't sure why I was desperate to leave the relative Shangra-La of my daughter's home until I got back to mine. For all the things that had changed with myself & my ex (the biggest being our mutual sobriety!) our dynamic hadn't changed at all, save that we were now polite, and not flicking lit cigarettes at each other in rage.
I realized this most acutely last night, when he got on the phone during my nightly call to my girl to speak to me about our daughter. Under this guise, he proceeded to give a run-down of my mistakes and shortcomings going all the way back to when we were dating some twelve odd years before; supposedly in an effort to illustrate how I was not living up to his standard of motherhood--to a child that lives 1200 miles away from her mother.
I allowed him to scold me like an errant child, until it finally dawned on me that this was not about our daughter, but about him continuing our set-pattern, IE: his verbally beating me down and me submitting to the ego-whipping. Something within me acted before my conscious thought caught up, and I hung up on him in the middle of his listing my transgressions. Afterwards, I sat on the couch, phone in hand, and tried to turn my boiling anger down to a simmer and see what was really going on. Our communication dynamic was the same as it had been for so many years, that is to say scolding and verbally cruel. It had just gotten quieter and no one was slurring.
I was pleased with my subconscious for no longer accepting the old ugly and cutting it off at the knees with the push of a button. And while I realize and accept that I have made many mistakes throughout my life, I have also made some really good choices, and that the more I follow my heart and take my past experiences into account, the more good choices I make.
I can refuse to keep allowing myself and others to beat me over those past mistakes and the ones I will make in the future. I can also learn from them and move on toward more 'right moves' by keeping a few things in mind. First, what you say and do affects someone else most of the time and yourself always. What you put out into the universe will always come back to you be it ugly or beautiful. You don't need anything physical to beat someone up, hurtful words can do way more damage than broken bones & bruises and their effects almost always last longer. Lastly, and this is important, so pay attention... the more you allow beatings, the more they will happen, and you don't have to accept being beat-up by anyone especially yourself.