Monday, August 3, 2009

Anger As An Opportunity

(I wrote this blog post a while ago, but I love how it shows the power of changing beliefs.)

My cell phone rang in the hotel room at 1:40 AM.

A Perfect Day
Karen (my best friend and romantic partner at the time) and I had spent an absolutely magical day driving through the White Mountains of New Hampshire and into Maine. We had WOW moments all day long, from the views of the mountains and rivers, to listening to music and Karen asking me questions about this or that lyric and why that particular song was special to me. Deepening our relationship through time and words.

We had visited a place of wonder for me as a boy -- a pond in Maine where I had spent 3 summers between the ages of 11 and 13 and where I first experienced the true power of the concept of "the cause is in the future" -- a story for another time. We fished for a few moments right from the exact spot where I had fished 32 years before and we each caught and released a beautiful Northern Chain Pickerel on our first casts.

We settled into the hotel and got recommendations on a place to eat nearby -- a sweet spot at a restaurant with an upstairs balcony overlooking the river. Candlelight, snuggles and sweet conversation.

Anger Becomes An Opportunity
Back then to the hotel and eventually to sleep. This is where the issue flared. Karen had not been sleeping well -- if at all. So on this night she finally fell asleep and was sleeping well when the phone rang and woke her up. I ran to the phone and shut it off as fast as I could, but the moment could not be undone. She was now wide awake and she had not been able to get to sleep after waking up in the night since she was a child. How could someone think to call at that hour and end her finally - achieved deep sleep? She said she was very angry, although it came across more as major frustration. I asked her what I could do for her at that moment. She said nothing, since there was no way for her to fall back to sleep after she woke up in the night. I asked "Why not?", although I surmised it might have had something to do with her having endured 10 years of sexual abuse as a child.

A Permanent Solution Is Found
At that moment there were two ways she could have gone: 1) back away, close off, not answer, or 2) answer, knowing that we would then be into me asking her more questions.

True to her amazing way of being in the world, that continually leaves me in awe and wonder, she curled up in my arms, decided to answer, even in her anger, and we proceeded to Dialogue for about half an hour as to why she was not able to fall asleep after waking up.

After that time, she was able to resolve the issue and, although she didn't say she was completely done, I asked her if she was going to be able to sleep from now on if she woke up in the night. After a couple of minutes without an answer from her, I could hear her breathing fall into a soft rhythm and I realized she was asleep.

We've talked many times since then about this issue and she has had many instances of waking up in the night since then and each time she has had no problem in dropping back off to sleep. I am constantly shocked and delighted at the power we have to instantly and permanently alter beliefs (like Karen did in this case) and therefore alter the outcome of circumstances that would have been impossible in the past, sometimes for decades. In this case, it led from initial anger over a 1:40 AM phone call into gratitude for a decades-old issue being resolved. It's an incredible gift in my life, just as Karen is, and I deeply love how much we both continue to learn about ourselves and how we then grow our friendship as well.

I'm curious what long-term issues all of you have solved by changing your beliefs.

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