The Questions That Changed My Life (chapter 6)

There was part of me that knew I would leave my marriage, I just didn't know when or how.

In my heart I always new our relationship never fit me. I saw no other way to the life I desired other than divorce and at the same time I was not ready to leave. I had no idea what I was waiting for. I just wasn’t ready yet. So I stayed.

After the incidents in the hallway and being catatonic in the kitchen I began to make some changes, if only internally at first. These experiences let me know I had to change. I wanted a life that was different, but I had no idea how to create it. All I could identify was that the way I was going about trying to create a love-filled life was just making me more miserable. 

I began by simply witnessing my thoughts. Until I tried this, I didn’t realize how many thoughts I had. I had thoughts about my life, thoughts that were reactions to things people said. I had judgments about what was right and wrong. I had thoughts about my own behavior. I had thoughts about how much I hated fighting.

It was like being the observer of my own life. I was witnessing myself in my marriage. I began waking up to my thoughts and feelings. I realized I was not my thoughts because I could witness them and then choose my actions.

I could take time before I responded to any thought I had. It allowed me to have a lot of control. Instead of trying so hard to control the actions of my husband, trying to make him kinder to me, I could choose my reactions to whatever his most recent complaint was.

Then I started to take new actions outwardly. Instead of reacting to something my husband said that wasn’t true, I simply witnessed my thought. I didn’t fight to change his mind. I didn’t try to defend myself. I began to think to myself ”That is not true.” and I let it be. I kept my mouth shut. I was learning temperance.

My husband would often tell me what I was thinking and what I was doing. He would tell me why I was doing it and most of the time he had it completely wrong. I used to constantly fight him about it, but now I was simply letting him state his case and not respond.  

When he told me “You are angry.” when I wasn’t, I wouldn’t correct him. Or he might say, “You have got to be right.” I wouldn’t say a thing. I knew I didn’t have to be right. I wanted respect yes, but I didn’t "have" to be right. I also didn’t "have" to convince him of anything.

I began to realize that no matter what I said to my husband, he would most likely argue with me. It was safer to just keep all my thoughts to myself. This was liberating. It finally allowed me a period of time in my life without defending myself, a space without anger and fighting.

I started to become gentler with myself and less judgmental. I began to realize I was doing the best I could. I might not be happy, but I was trying. I started giving myself credit for at least trying.

When I realized that my responses were likely to cause a fight I pulled back on any conversation that might lead to conflict. Although my approach didn't end the fighting between us, it definitely lessened the amount, the intensity and the duration of our fights.

I also began asking different questions internally, to myself. I used to ask myself: What else could I do? Why isn’t this working? How can I change?

I also had a lot of why questions:
Why cant’ I change this?
Why can’t I get it right?
Why is nothing I do good enough?
Why did this happen?
Why do I feel so bad?
Why doesn’t he change?
Why am I so stupid?
Why do I keep trying?

The only answer I had to these questions was "I don't know". I don't know if he will change. I don't know what else I can do. I don't know why I feel so bad. I don't know how to feel better. I don't know if I should stay or if I should go. I don't know why I stay. I don't know if I should keep trying. 

These questions had me caught in a cycle with no end. I was trying to figure out something that was either too complex to answer or something was beyond my control. There was no way I could determine if someone else would change, so the answer to such questions was always out of reach.

Well they were not “wrong”, they were just dead end question. The questions I was asking kept me stuck. The questions I was asking had me going around in circles trying to find a solution somewhere outside of myself.

When I began to witness my thoughts, and I found my mind lingering on these types of questions, I did my best to let them be. I would search for another way to ask the question. I would look for a question that I could answer decisively.

The new questions had real answers, such as.

Do I want to fight? No.
Does this bring me joy? No.
Is this the relationship I want? No.
Do I expect more out of life? Yes.
Do I deserve to have what I want? Yes.
Am I willing to do what it takes to get what I want? Hell yes!
What gives me joy? Dancing and friends.
What do I want in my life? Joy and inner peace.
Am I willing to have this experience in my life? Yes.
If this is the only life I have, is this how I want to spend it? Not like this.
What do I want most? Love.
What could life be like, if I dreamed a life for myself?

Answers to these questions came easily. I want peace. I have always wanted peace. I didn't want to fight. I hate fighting. I am not joyful. I want to know joy. And if I allowed myself to dream I would enjoy a peaceful, satisfied life.

If I were to dream a life, I would be in a relationship with a man I adored and who adored me and we would be gentle with each other, respectful and kind. We would have a family together. We would laugh a lot, travel together and simply enjoy each other.

If I were to dream a life, I would know what peace is, above all else. Not a fake peace where everything is dandy all the time, never any worries, never any problems. No, I desired a real lasting peace. I would know peace amid the storm.

This quest for peace became my vision. This quote. It guided my quest for peace.

“Peace. It does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble or hard work. It means to be in the midst of all those things and still be calm in your heart.”

I began to believe, at least in my imagination, that something better than the life I was living was possible. It was all a fiction playing out in my mind, but in that place of infinite creativity and possibility was exactly where I began to build the foundation for the beautiful life I have today. When I decided to pursue peace within it all began in my imagination. It all began with a vision.

As I began asking new questions, I also began asking questions in new ways. I began asking questions I could answer. I began to use these question to envision the life I desired. I made a vision board, something to look at each and every day that held visual representations of the life I imagined. The photos reminded me of the person I knew I was, and of the joy and light I had within.

When I began this process of spiritual growth I found that the only answers I needed were answers that came from within. The answers that felt right were found within, from my soul, or higher self. there was some wisdom in me that knew exactly what I needed to grow.

As I practiced this I found that my higher self always provided me the answers I needed in a gentle and supportive way. I didn't need anyone else telling me what I needed to do to grow or to heal. I instinctively know what you need. I didn't always trust it, but that inner knowing didn't seem to care if I trusted it or not. Regardless of how I responded the answers were always steady like a calm knowing.

I began to allow myself to be lead to my own answers. I let my heart, and my inner wisdom, be my guide. I began trusting the messages that come to me as clear answers.