When you swim in the ocean, you never know when you’re gonna get a snoot-full of saltwater. Gloucester fishermen tell tales that, if you swim far enough, there are whole islands of garbage out there. And just when we figure it’s safe to go in the water, a rogue wave comes out of nowhere (we think) and BAM! we’re underwater.
That sounds like most relationships to me: Unpredictable, loaded with garbage. So what’s the first thing newlyweds say to each other? “Come on in! The water’s fine!”
Unlike rogue waves, our rogue arguments often come from a predictable place, we just don’t know it.
Look at it like this: Another term for “floating garbage” or “rogue waves” or “a snoot full of salt water” is “family of origin issues”. We first learn about the world, and the people in it, from the behaviors we copied from adult caregivers (usually parent[s]). And because children want to belong to family, more than they want even a train set or their own jungle gym, they’ll keep following behaviors, attitudes, thinking patterns long past childhood. Our experiences in family of origin stay with us, consciously or unconsciously, for the rest of our lives. That accounts for how we view ourselves in to our world — invisible disability, partner, and all.
So, you wanna know what’s behind those stupid little arguments you have with your partner or your kid? Go dumpster diving!Wanna know the reason you push yourself past your physical limits? Go dumpster diving!
Here’s an example. When I ask David to fix something that won’t work, this is, without fail, what he says: “Did you turn it off and turn it on again?” We’ve been married almost a quarter of a century and never. ever. not even once have I ever said, “What a concept! Off, On. Brilliant! Why didn’t I think of that!”
The reason it makes me crazy is that I know I know that no matter how many times I try (and fail) with the on/off thing, all I have to do is call David. You know why. I’d almost prefer things were broken. He’s patient and kind as he explains, yet again, about on/off, with no clue that I feel like a 4 year old being taught about the magic that goes through wires.
Truth is, I don’t hear David at all, I hear Mom, criticizing me in a not-so-patient way for not-knowing-which-way-to-put-the-key-in-a-lock-can’t-you-tell-by-looking-at-it? No wonder I feel small.
Is that really true? Did Mom really say that?
Doesn’t matter: I’m swimmin’ like it does.