Friday, March 20, 2009

Assumptions

I've talked about this before—how we tell ourselves stories about the people and events in our lives and then believe they're true. This week I had an epiphany that reminded me that no matter how sure we are that we're right our stories could be mistaken.

My ex-husband is often late for things. He doesn't like to follow rules. He encouraged our children not to do what people told them to—or follow rules if they didn't want to.

For years I told myself he was immature and/or passive aggressive and it drove me nuts! How could he handicap our son (Down syndrome) even more than he already was.

But...this week I woke up and had an epiphany. I know my ex-husband grew up hearing about relatives who died in Nazi concentration camps—and about those who escaped. He told me once that the reason he never wanted to own a house or other property was because some of the ones who died died because they owned property and wouldn't leave. These stories—he said—were why he put other people ahead of family.

Well, I woke up (having watched Life is Beautiful the day before) thinking: What if? What if my ex-husband grew up hearing about this relative or that who lived because he or she was late to some place they were supposed to be? What if he grew up hearing that this person or that lived because he or she refused to follow the rules and do what they were told to do? What if--?

What if so many of my assumptions were wrong and he was driven by an (unconscious or conscious) imperative that said because our son was handicapped it was even more essential that he not do what he was told because under the Nazis he would have been one of the first taken away?

It changes everything. And nothing. Problem behaviors are still a problem. Relationships that don't work still don't work. But...all of a sudden anger evaporates. Instead of feeling as if I was hostage to his behavior, I can see that perhaps he's hostage to the stories he heard and the emotions/behaviors those stories engendered.

And I may be completely wrong. It's all just speculation—another story I've told myself. But it doesn't matter. Because the real lesson is that there COULD always be reasons for anyone's behavior that may never occur to me. It's a reminder that it isn't necessarily about me—even when it seems to be (whatever “it” is in terms of someone's behavior). It's a reminder to hold compassion even for—maybe especially for—those who do things that upset or hurt me. It's a reminder of the importance of looking within and looking at where my own behaviors and assumptions come from and to challenge those that don't serve me.

It's a reminder that so many assumptions we make are just stories. Some have more evidence behind them than other but....still they are just stories. And stories can be rewritten—especially the ones that keep us trapped in hurt or anger or a mistaken sense of limitation.

Here's hoping you have your own epiphanies and rewrite some stories of your own this week. Sending blessings and safe and gentle (((((((hugs))))))),
April_optimist

12 comments:

Kahless said...

Yes, all of our behaviours have a root in our childhood, I think.

I think you have hit the nail on the head for the reasons for your husbands behaviour.

mile191 said...

April...I have been on a journey. And what you wrote here has really given me peace:

"It's a reminder that so many assumptions we make are just stories. Some have more evidence behind them than other but....still they are just stories. And stories can be rewritten—especially the ones that keep us trapped in hurt or anger or a mistaken sense of limitation.

Here's hoping you have your own epiphanies and rewrite some stories of your own this week. Sending blessings and safe and gentle (((((((hugs))))))),
April_optimist"

May I quote you here and link to you. I am full of pondering and reflection today, and it seems like I am writing a dance as I journey through others blogs, I am so thankful for you all.

April_optimist said...

Kahless, The funny thing is that once I had this epiphany, it didn't matter if I was right or not...

Mile 191, Of course you can quote me and link back here! And I'm grateful you stop by and read and take the time to post a comment.

gypsy-heart said...

Wise and powerful post!
We are all products of our history..it is up to us how much power we allow the past to have..eh?

You sound good, my dear. I have enjoyed following your thought process and your journey. :)

jumpinginpuddles said...

we also wondered things after seeing the same movie, and we have also learnt assumptions based on nothing but our fear is not good enough to be the truth, to not do soemthing based on assumptions means you miss out on soooo much

Marj aka Thriver said...

Sometimes we hold our own key to being held hostage, don't we? I gotta work on the compassion part a bit more! ;)

I wrote about slavery for "Free The Slaves Awareness" day today. Check it out, won't you please?

April_optimist said...

Gypsy-heart, Thank you.

Jumping in Puddles, Yes! And who wants to miss out on any more than we already have?

Marj, Off to take a look!

Petit fleur said...

Great post! My husband is always telling me that I have conversations with him in my head and then behave as if they've actually happened. He's right. I do.

I agree with you. Usually the things that drive most of us are about OURSELVES... So, while we're worried that somebody will notice that big pimple we have, they are too busy worrying about their shirt having a big coffee stain to notice or care!

Thanks for blogging. I really get a lot out of it.
pf

Marj aka Thriver said...

I'm so glad you submitted this one for The Blog Carnival Against Child Abuse. Another great post, April!

Patricia Singleton said...

Assumptions can definitely get us into trouble with others. This was one of the best lessons that I have ever learned.

April_optimist said...

Marj, Thanks.

Patricia, Absolutely!

April_optimist said...

Petit Fleur, How familiar that sounds! I really have to catch myself when I start telling myself negative stories about what someone else is doing because otherwise I do things that are counter productive. OtOH, if I just wait, I often discover the story is actually a positive one or that hte behavior has nothing to do with me.