My boyfriend has told me, in a non-accusatory way, that he needs me to be more emotionally stable, but I still lose it regularly. Maybe I’m a stressed-out stick-in-the-mud now that I’m in my last semester of college. Case in point: One night we were discussing housework, and I mentioned that he only puts the toilet seat down so our cat won’t fall in. I could hear laughter in his voice as he responded (playing devil’s advocate), but my hackles rose anyway. After giving several logical arguments, I started the cold, one-word answer routine. He soon admitted to knowingly pushing my buttons. Afterward I said, “Sometimes, I just want to be right.” He said, “It’s not my fault if you don’t feel right.” I bristled. Why do I feel like I have to be right? Am I childish?
Childish is just a self-protective way of saying immature, isn’t it? So yes, you do harbor an underdeveloped ego that strives to inflate itself because it is under the delusion that bigger always means better. But don’t we all? One of the benefits of an intimate, committed romantic relationship is that the ego’s illnesses become unavoidable. After all, you can’t have true intimacy without revealing your diseased ego. At intimacy’s first light, unhealthy egos act out, just as yours has done. Your challenge is to quit submitting to it and tame the little monster, so it submits to the sane, compassionate side of you.
Here’s how: Tell the truth. Can you see that you’re using these little debates to blow off your stress? Unacknowledged emotions build. If you don’t take the initiative and actively create weekly opportunities for release (such as journal writing, talking to a trusted friend or counselor, exercise or massage), those emotions will burst out in conflagrations that will singe the heart of your beloved. It’s a better choice to tell your journal about the toilet seat (or whatever) until you can, simply and neutrally, talk to your beau about it.
By the way, your boyfriend’s comment also was telling. The need to be right is a sign of insecurity and low self-esteem. In other words, you don’t feel right … about yourself. Counseling can help.
How could you quote John Ashcroft in a meditation of the week? What is spiritual about that man?
It’s spiritual to, as Alex Haley said, “Find the good and praise it!” So, in my effort to see Ashcroft anew, I stumbled onto his quote: “The verdict of history is inconsequential. The verdict of eternity is what counts.” It’s not unlike the instructions a Mayan holy man once offered me. But you might prefer the insights of UC Berkeley professor Ron Takaki: “[President] Bush has made us a narrow tribe. His is still the language of the frontier: ‘Hunt them down. Smoke them out. Wanted: dead or alive.' The frontier was a white conquest. I wish he would articulate a multicultural vision of this nation. His narrative celebrates the domination and the exploitation of the earth that’s led to an expansionist America. Now we’re dependent on exploiting the earth controlled not by us, but the earth that is controlled by Muslim nations. Sixty-five percent of the oil reserves in the world are located in Muslim nations. It’s one of the main reasons we are at war with terrorism. And they are at war with us because we are over there.”