I am taking a six month class in skills designed, basically, to help me keep my emotional shit together. Unsurprisingly, the first unit is on mindfulness. I got into the class thinking, “Mindfulness, I’ve been doing this for over two years. This will be easy peasy lemon squeezy.”

I am here to tell you that week two has not lived up to it lemon squeezy potential. I have a lot of practice in observing without judgment. I also have a lot of experience describing my feeling states and being somewhat non judgmental about that.

Apparently, there’s other stuff. One of those things is doing things effectively. This has to do with thinking about my goals, at least that’s what I understand so far.

The instructor explained the whole thing. Meanwhile, I can tell you using my describing skills that I felt confused followed by elucidated followed by the realization that I was elucidated and not just confused, but in a different way. Then I think I got it but we will see on Wednesday when I check in about my homework.

And you know that I practiced on hubby. I can go through an interaction with my husband thinking, “Hm, that hurt my feelings and I don’t think John meant to do that. But wow, I am hurt and angry.”

That sounds good, doesn’t it?

Except that often what comes out of my mouth is, “Why did you say that?”

I am here to tell you that asking someone “Why did you say that” or “Why did you do that” when you are hurt, angry, or scared, will get you no where good, fast.

And yet I find myself saying this over and over. It is utterly not in keeping with my goals to be a peaceful loving wife who communicates well with John, whom I love dearly.

Another thing I might do is say nothing and think to myself, “This is not a big deal. Don’t start a fight.”

But in that case I did not accomplish my goal of communicating a hurt that was important to me and I risk getting resentful about it.

So I tried something new. John did something I didn’t like. And I said, “Honey, I am not trying to punish you or fight with you. But I am feeling anxious and angry about x and wondering if we might talk about it?”

It was not the easiest conversation but it was much easier and it was not a fight. But then I got very hurt and angry about something else. In time, he apologized for what he said and sincerely, but I found that I was still hurt and angry. I couldn’t let it drop. But it took me awhile to understand why I couldn’t let it drop. He had said something that might not upset someone else but because of who I am and what is important to me, it hurt. I was still upset because what he’d said had surprised me and I wanted to know that he understood why it was upsetting. I wanted reassurance that he still knew me and what is important to me. I said, “I’m sorry, I am still really hurt about this. I am sorry that I can’t let it drop. I need you to say, x, y, and z.” And then he said those things and he said them sincerely. We had been stuck in one of the arguments that go around and around. And then I felt so much better.  We had a very nice evening after what had been a tense couple of days.

The best thing about this class? I got confused because I encountered some new ideas and skills. That means there are more tools out there for me to learn. This is very reassuring to me.