‘Can we talk?’, Catherine says emphatically looking up from her computer. ‘Can we talk?’…what does she want? What have I done? ‘Can we talk?’…what the hell now? She is going to complain. She’s got something on me…I just know it. Why else would she ask that question? No, …actually I don’t want to talk. No way. I am going to lose something here I am sure. I am squirming inside.
‘Can we talk?’ triggers an avalanche of thoughts and feelings. Men are bad and guilty and is only a matter of time before I/we are busted for our flawed innate nature. Men are bad. I am a man. My father was a violent alcoholic. I am his only son. I must be flawed as well being his only son despite doing my best most of my life for making up for how much I fear that I am like my father.
‘Can we talk?’…. NO! Why on earth would I want to do that?
Crack a joke. Pretend to be cooperative. Take out the garbage. Ask her if she wants another cup of coffee. Fix something! Looking up I can tell by the look on her face that this isn’t going to work. This one is serious. This is trouble. Time to press pause somehow. Go to the washroom…delay. Maybe, just maybe she will forget by the time I get back.
‘Can we talk?’…just who does she think she is anyways? I’m not a child. I’m her husband. I don’t have to put up with this scrutiny. Our home has turned into a court room with this never ending trial. Will she ever let up on this control trip she is on? Get a life Catherine. Yeah, that’s it. I’m had enough of this. Maybe I should just fight fire with fire here and bark back ‘What a great way to start the day Catherine…there you go again. How have I messed up now?’
Duane, Duane Duane……come on. You know better. This is not you being at your best. It is you meeting your worst fears and then being at your worst! She didn’t create this mess. You brought it with you. You brought it with you all the way from your childhood mister. How long are you going to be driven by this fear? Where does it leave you? Really, this is your best? Fight or flight?
Step in Duane. Step in. You have no idea what is going on. Step in Duane and Stay in. Drop the defense. Tell the truth. Own it. Answer the call. Be brave. Confess your fear instead of being driven by it. Step in, stay in and look around. This isn’t a courtroom. This is your home. This woman loves you.
You are valued. Maybe you did make a mistake. That doesn’t mean the death sentence is required. Step in. Stay in. Look around. Who are you here? Who is she? Take a good look. Your partner wants to connect with you because you are important to her.
‘Yes, we can talk Catherine’; I state with a trembling voice and tears in my eyes coming through this introspective ordeal. ‘What would you like to talk about?’
Catherine: ‘What would you like for dinner tonight?
Tonight it will be my favourite…seafood pasta. Strange, I was sure it was going to be bread and water.
Most of us spend our lives anticipating harm and danger not realizing we brought it with us, planning our defense against it and never having the sensational life-altering pleasure of experiencing the very brave new world we dream of. It’s right there. Right in front of you. This is where the action is.
This isn’t where dreams die. This is where they are born.
Duane O’Kane is a Registered Clinical Counsellor, workshop facilitator, teacher and a dynamic and entertaining international public speaker. He has a lengthy background in mental health and social services…40 years and counting with 18 years in the field before forming Clearmind in 1991.