The favorite part of my mornings are when my better half is getting ready to leave for work and brings to me in bed the two most important things in life. 1) Pup pups. As they climb in bed with me, he gives me a very detailed report of who has eaten, who’s gone outside, who’s gone potty and any unusual potty instances. And 2) sets a cup of coffee by the bed, kisses me on the forehead and says goodbye to the kids and tells us how much he loves us.
This morning was no different, except as Jeffrey was walking out the door, he turned around and started telling me about some work related stress that has him feeling some kind of way. He was pretty ate up about it, if you will. He’s talking and talking, and I’m listening. No, scratch that, I’m hearing him. I’m usually really good at listening…and immediately jumping in and offering my take on the situation before I’ve even heard the whole story. For those of you that don’t know, Jeffrey is an Alcohol and Drug intake counselor and was recently promoted to Resident Assistant Supervisor. He works in a treatment center full of dope fiends trying to get clean, and tries to manage the employees that have some of the biggest effects on these clients. I can only imagine how emotionally draining that could be and I don’t even pretend to think that I could do what he does. I have found that I’m pretty hard on Jeffrey when he talks about work and I’m always finding the opposition to his argument, just to start some sort of debate it seems. And as I’ve done some self-reflecting lately, I’ve realized I do this purely out of jealousy. So much of his time and energy and emotional state of mind goes toward his job and rather than be grateful he loves what he does, I have the audacity to complain about how it takes away from me as I sit in self-pity. My distorted perception tells me that he is more invested in his job and clients and employees than he is me and that the last thing he wants to hear about when he gets home from work is about how my day is going. The other part of it is that I don’t think he’s interested in what I do because it’s all numbers and I find it hard to explain what I work on in great detail mostly because I assume people don’t care. But that’s where it’s so distorted, because every day when he gets home from work, he makes it a point to ask how my day was. So It’s my own fault if I don’t offer up anything more than an, “it was fine.”
Whenever anyone calls me with a problem, one of the first things I ask them is, “How do you want me to show up for you in this situation? Do you want me to cosign, are you asking for my advice or do you just need a listening ear?” And I find that when I set the tone that way, I’m better able to show up in the way that is needed and it doesn’t allow any room for miscommunication. But, somehow when it comes to my real close personal relationships, I forget all that and just want to fix, manage and control. He usually does not let anything like this bother him. Like at all. So this morning, I very purposefully made a decision to just sit back and allow him to vent a little bit; as it felt in the moment that’s more of what he needed than some insensitive remark. I asked a few questions for clarification every once in a while, but truly just tried to let him share his experience (he might view it differently, I have no idea). So, finally…
Me: Have you prayed about it?
Jeffrey: Yeah, that’s how this all started.
Me: Well, did you finish praying?
Jeffrey: Nope. I was outside making sure Sally went poop, praying about this situation at work and then Kain started trying to eat Jack’s poop so I had to stop him and forgot to finish to pray.
Me: ……Okay, I can see how one might get distracted.
We talked about it quite a bit longer, and at the end, I tried to offer some insight into how his employee in the situation might be feeling because sometimes we’re so involved that we can’t see the forest for the trees. Not everyone that knows Jeffrey, knows his heart, and therefore may not see his good intentions. We discussed what the exact nature of the problem might be and when he wasn’t sure, he said he would think about it. But the best part about it all was that my normal morning routine of just the pups and I was very much interrupted by a most welcome heart to heart conversation. If we aren’t at work, we’re busy cleaning the house or taking care of the dogs. And in our down time, between my dog group on Facebook and Jeffrey’s game full of kings and castles, we can very easily get disconnected from each other, noses buried in our phones, even when we’re sitting on the same couch. During the whole 40 minute or so chat, neither one of us looked at our phones once, the dogs didn’t interrupt us, and more importantly we didn’t interrupt each other.
Kain was laying in my arms this whole time so when Jeffrey leaned down to kiss me goodbye, Kain snuck in a big old lick on my face. Jeffrey laughed and as he walked out the door he said, “I told you Kain ate Jack’s poop this morning, right?”