Here's a selfie I took last night and send to some girlfriends before I went downstairs to head out to a romantic Valentine's Day dinner with my partner.
After coming off a week of energy expansion with Emotional Mastery I was really looking forward to some quiet intimacy time with my partner. Where we live this time of year seasonal allergies can be a killer and my partner's been struggling with his. When I went downstairs my partner was trying to find his wallet and looking distressed. After being together so long and building up my own body-based intuition he doesn't even need to say a word: he was on the fence about going to dinner In the past I would have gotten really annoyed or angry not knowing that below that I was just feeling scared about plans changing and feeling disappointed. In the past I also would have sat him down and interrogated him until he admitted the truth of what I could feel in my own body. In the past I also would have tried to save him from his own emotional discomfort either by giving him the answers to his own self-doubt or by getting so mad at him he could focus on me being the villain. Instead I asked him, "Do you think you'll be able to be present tonight for dinner?" He sighed and said, "I'm checking in." I felt my heart drop and the anger (remember that's protecting the vulnerability) rise up but I held all the sensation and waited for his truth. Then he said, "I'm afraid of disappointing you but I really feel awful right now with my allergies. I'm feeling self-conscious about being in a restaurant sneezing and wiping my nose." In that moment I felt sad and suspended. I felt myself spilt into two. I noticed a more evolved mature part of me that was understanding and compassionate that could say something like, "OK my partner is sick. This wasn't planned but it happened and it happened to happen on Valentine's Day." I noticed another tender part of me that really wanted a romantic night out. This part that painted her nails and put on a dress and even put on lashes for the occasion. Holding those two parts felt heavy and I was triggered. So there we were, both triggered with no where to go. Actually we did have places to go. Destination #1: Allow our triggered, regressed states to lead us into an emotional hole so deep it would take days for us to crawl out and get back into connection. Destination #2: Do our best to rise above the trigger and communicate the needs inside of them. Allow each other to really show up as adults for ourselves and each other and land on a decisions we could both accept. He shared with me he needed to feel safe to say no that I wouldn't emotionally kill him or hold it against him (yes, this was a very destructive thing I did in the past). I could receive and respect that. What I realized I needed was to get back into an emotionally sober stance. I told him he needed to direct this thing we were in because I worried he was pulling for me to rescue him from his fear of disappointing me. The truth was I would be disappointed if he said he needed to stay home but the growth and recovery is not shielding him from this very authentic experience I was having but not harming him with it either. After some time, he decided to order Thai for us and eat it at home. We'd do Valentines at the house and go out for a romantic dinner on Friday. I was disappointed and said, "Ok." I surrendered. Here is where the alchemy happened. When he went out to grab the food I looked at the dining room table. That part of me that wanted to restaurant experience with my partner tugged inside of me and I got the idea to set the dining room table up real nice like a restaurant. I put down our fancy table cloth. I got us sparkling water with lemon. I dimmed the lights. Something inside me felt softer. Then I remembered I hadn't finished writing my card to him yet so I finished it and my heart softened and opened even more. When he got back home with the takeout he was surprised and grateful for the set up. We ate the take out, talked about our days and ate the desert I had bought earlier in the day. There were a few awkward silences but we made it through as adult. It was our Valentines. We were together. We love each other. We're doing the relationship work.