I Am More Than My Wiring – I Have the Power to Be the Love I Wish to Receive
“Will you cuddle me?” my husband asked.
“No, I’m reading,” I say, a bit put out that he cannot see I am otherwise occupied.
Jesus Christ, I sound like my mother, I think to myself.
I remember when my husband and I visited my mother at her home on Oak Island, North Carolina. I had been sick for a few years with an as yet undiagnosed illness. I was exhausted, and the trip to visit her was a stretch for me. But it was an attempt to reach out to her.
My husband and I are at her house sitting on the old plaid couch waiting for her. “Mom, let’s go for a short walk to the beach.”
“In a little while, honey, I’m busy,” she called out from her bedroom.
“Do you need any help?” I holler.
My mother lives alone. My father had died years before. This was her summer cottage, where she escaped from cold Pennsylvania winters. My husband has never been there before. I haven’t been there in more than 15 years.
We wait. And wait. I page through some magazines. I walk around my mother’s cottage living room and look at the bits of her life there. Pottery she has made. Paintings of my father’s. Shells and sea glass from the beach.
Several hours later, I blow up. “We are going to leave,” I scream, crying. Mom comes into the room. I continue, “We came all the way here to see you, and you aren’t even going to spend time with us?” “What is so important that it can’t wait?”
I am confused, tired, upset, and angry. My heart hurts. I feel like a kid again. How did I regress so quickly?
“I was trying to hook up Magic Jack. I need to get it taken care of,” she explained. (Magic Jack was my mother’s way of getting free telephone service through her computer.) “Why are you so upset?”
I couldn’t describe to her how she was. How she missed every cue for connection. How she got caught in being right, with a touch of indignation. I could only blather on about how I came all that way to see her, and it seemed as if she had no interest in being with me.
My mother was innocent. She did not know who she was, how she behaved. She was merely following the dictates of habit and her nature. She was not easily able to see another perspective. This story between us is an old one. It goes back to the beginning of our relationship.
Creating intimacy in relationships
Similarly, I am innocent. So is my husband. He wanted to connect. I was happy to be in my own separate space for a bit before trying to sleep.
I put my book down and turned over and pulled myself against him. He is warm, and soon his breathing evens out. He is asleep.
I am grateful for him in my life. I am thankful for his love, for his connection. I am grateful for his support and companionship. I want him to know that. To feel it. And he usually does. My gratitude allows for more intimacy in relationships and intimacy in marriage.
There is a delicate line between each of us in a relationship. A thin silver strand that links us, connects us, and yet lets us know we are separate. We can pay attention to this connection, or we can reside in our more insular reality. We can forget the fragility of what is between us, the need of our hearts to feel loved and precious.
He doesn’t know, wasn’t pushed away at that moment when I wanted to read. He accepted my separate space and was willing to wait. It was I who was impacted more strongly.
Because of the family I grew up in, because of how we were not valued, one of my triggers is not being seen, not being listened to. Not being noticed. I can take things personally as if what he missed, or didn’t see or hear, is because he doesn’t care.
But he does care. He cares a lot, and his care nourishes me. I want to stay attuned to that, mindful of it. I don’t want to take it for granted or push it away. I don’t want to be impatient or forget that he has needs too.
I want to remember that his needs do not mean I am not seen or loved. We are simply two different continents, and in each moment, we can close the door between us, or open it. We create intimacy in relationships.
I am aware. I have the capacity for self-reflection, insight, and a new response. My awareness is like a fine living net that reaches over and gathers together the different parts of myself, my reality. It allows me to see what is. It allows me to watch myself. It isn’t that awareness stops me from my immediate response, but that with it, I can see myself: how I responded, what I missed, what I want to change. My awareness is a gift.
We are not our wiring, our habits, reactions, and defenses. Yet, we live within our wiring. With awareness, I can see how I am wired and begin to change it. My wiring can evolve to match who I wish to be, instead of staying stuck in the habits that developed as I was growing up. I can change my wiring to allow the better parts of me to come forward, to take the front stage, and run the show.
My disconnections are much more subtle than my mother’s were. I do not have Aspergers. I have spent years in therapy, years becoming a therapist, and years studying human connection, support, and communication. I have learned how to be myself in a way that allows truer relating. I have spent a lifetime correcting the deficits of my past.
In my earlier life, I had to learn human basics that others grow up with, like hugging and saying, “I love you.” These simple acts of support and contact were not part of the family I grew up in. They did not come naturally to me. Initially, they felt foreign and uncomfortable; shameful actually to be so vulnerable.
Despite the subtlety of the interaction between myself and my husband, I can feel the part of me that takes it personally that my space and separate needs aren’t being respected. How my wiring automatically pulled me into that perception instead of another one, like “How sweet of him.”
Love is a living, breathing thing. It occurs from moment to moment within and between us. At any second, we can look at ourselves and change our course. We can find the balance between me and we. We can create intimacy in relationships and intimacy in marriage.
This is the power we have. The power to express. The power to change. The power to be the love we wish to receive.
Learn how to create intimacy in relationships here.
Read some of my other writing here.
Try some other articles to help your relationship here.
This was first published on January 14th, 2020 in P.S. I Love You, a Medium.com publication.