Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Mutual Accountability

One would think I’d be happy….. After all, I am home an hour early from class…..have more time to get my work “to do’s” done, study, and get ready for my outing this evening with The Man. One would think……

The problem is, however, that I am quite unhappy about it. Of all the classes I took this semester, this was the one I was most excited about….the one that grabbed me and said, “oh you must take this class.” It was love at first course-catalog sight. This class had the potential of being a perfect match…a soul mate of sorts….. We’d read works such as Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, Hemmingway, Kafka, and O’Connor while discussing threads of sin and redemption. I dreamed of passionate discussions, new insights, and connecting with others through sharing of opinions. Reality hits…….no one is reading the books. When I say no one, I mean maybe five people out of 25 are actually capable of opening a book and reading it. It’s like reading someone’s profile, thinking you’d have a great connection, and then realizing in the first 5 minutes that you have been duped. Yes, he said he loved art and fine food, but he failed to mention that to him that meant comic books and Bravo Italian Kitchen.

I did a lot of thinking on my drive home….mostly thinking of how this applies to life and to relationships. This class with all its potential is now my most dreaded class. It’s not because I have a bad professor….he actually has great insights and a great knowledge of literature. I dread this class because it seems pointless……pointless because no one really engages. Most people are checked out……or checked in….to facebook….to email… their doodles on paper. There is no interaction….we just co-exist in a classroom for 3 hours a week. Hmmmmmm……sounds a lot like my marriage.

When two people don’t engage with each other, it feels lonely… feels empty… feels like one big, fat rejection. I cannot say how many people I speak to who are lonely in their marriages. Yes, they have tried counseling…..yes, they have tried date nights…..yes, they have tried more sex…..but the problem is that they are not engaging with one another. I remember asking the X early in our separation if he wanted a divorce. The X said “no,” he wasn’t ready for divorce. The problem was, however, that although he was not for divorce, he really wasn’t for marriage either….he was ambivalent....just biding his time. I wonder how many people are out there who are in a relationship who aren’t ready to leave, but are simply co-existing until something happens……either they get too old to care or until the other person gets sick of it and leaves first. **NEWS FLASH** If you do what you have always done, you will get what you have always gotten. If you refuse to engage and invest in the relationship, you will not get returns….things will not get better….things will not change…..ever. If this is you, why not figure out how to truly and heartfully reconnect with your spouse….no strings attached….record of wrongs thrown out the door… life together an honest try. There are a lot of people who say they “try” to make things better with their spouses….but I am sorry, just like the fellow students in my fiction class, showing up does not equal an effort. The fact that your body warms a bed in your home does not equate a try.

It really twerps me off knowing that I busted my fanny to read the material due for class and look around and see that the majority of others could care less. This is not a required class - it’s an elective….so if you aren’t going to do the work, why waste our time?

Some would say they are only hurting themselves and that I should just feel proud that I am doing the work. The problem is that their ambivalence hurts the whole class. We cannot have class discussions of any sort…..they disrupt the class with their own goings on…..or simply try at any point to get completely off topic so they can talk. During counseling, my X didn’t do the assigned work, was not willing to look inside himself and his family life to discover the junk he brought to the table and was, quite frankly, ambivalent about our marriage. His lack of engagement spoke volumes about his true priorities and feelings….and it hurt….a lot. Eventually, I quit counseling….what was the point? There was no mutual accountability….no iron sharpening iron… growing together….we did what we always did……and grew……apart.

In Crime and Punishment, Razumikhin describes Raskolnikov, “He’s magnanimous and kind. He doesn’t like expressing his feelings and would rather perpetrate some cruelty than express in words what’s in his heart…sometimes he’s terribly uncommunicative! No time for anybody, everything’s in his way, while actually he’s just lying around, not doing a thing. No jokes, and that’s not because he lacks wit, but as though he had no time for such trifles.” To me, this is the picture of a person withdrawn from a relationship….someone who would rather be petty than explain what is on her heart…someone who clams up, gets frustrated with everyone wasting her time, and losing her sense of humor….someone who is not real anymore….she is just existing.

In relationships, we are mutually accountable - - we are accountable to be real with each other….living and sharing real lives….even if it is messy for a while. We owe it to those around us.

So…..lesson and reminder to myself…..engage… not withdraw. When life gets a little (or a lot) messy, resist the urge to withdraw and keep my distance. When life gets busy, engage in the present moment not on my “To Do” list. My self-protective tendency is to hide my heart away… not let myself hope for good things when it’s risky… lie to myself and say that “I just don’t care.” When I refuse to engage, I am not just hurting myself, I am hurting those people who are investing in a relationship with me.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Birthday Symphony

Mid-week I found myself meandering though the aisles of the Carmel Public Library looking for that perfect cookbook - - that cookbook containing the recipe for my birthday dinner. I held one book and then another…..and another. Finally, my hands rested on the one - Chez Jacques by Jacques Pepin. I thumbed through the book and found it…the recipe!! Beef Stew in Red Wine Sauce (or boeuf bourguignon). Mmm…. heaven!

Although I can make a beef stew in my sleep, this recipe is somewhat different in its approach and therefore, made the perfect recipe to experiment with on my birthday. Flipping through the book, I found a recipe for a tapenade……NOW we’re talking!! I love nothing more than to eat and drink while I cook. The thought of a pungent tapenade on a crisp warm baguette and a glass of red wine just about put me over the edge!

The beef strew recipe called for 2 pounds of flatiron steak - - a luxury for sure! I typically use a chuck roast or stew meat……but Jacques said flatiron and flatiron it will be. I went to Vine and Table to choose a wine to accompany our dinner. Jacques mentioned for this recipe, one should use the SAME wine to cook with so a good, yet inexpensive, red wine was in order (the recipe called for an entire bottle in the stew). I chose the Rosemount Estate Mudgee Hill of Gold Shiraz for its full body and soft aromatics. Actually, this wine has become a staple at my house lately.

I rushed home to get the house in order before The Man arrived. Walking through the door, my house seemed a little chilly. It had been quite the cold week, so I thought nothing of it. I walked over to the thermostat and turned it up a couple of degrees.

Continue reading at the  Vine and Table Wine Blog