Monday, April 19, 2010

Writing About My Life, But Not My Wife

Friday afternoon I got a surprise phone call from Xanthia, a woman I met five years ago at an FIC organizational meeting in Los Angeles. She’s been interested in community for years and gives me a call every now and then to catch me up on her journey toward a more cooperative life. It’s been a sweet connection in the outer orbit of my life as a community networker. 

In addition to telling me that she'll be retiring soon and moving to northwest Tennessee to live with her sister, she inquired about how my partner, Ma’ikwe, was doing with her challenges with fibromyalgia (see my Dec 14 blog Adventures in Hydrotherapy) and having a section of the roof blown off her house (see my April 7 blog The Roof Is Risen, Indeed). It turned out that Xanthia has been reading my blog and was sympathetically tracking some of the struggles that Ma’ikwe has faced in recent months. I was touched by her caring and surprised that she was following my writing so closely.

A couple days ago Ma'ikwe and I got into a tender exchange, one aspect of which is her ongoing frustration with the frequency of my critical comments about things involving the construction of her house. (It's not that I never voice compliments; it's that there's too much criticism at a time when she mostly needs support.) This dynamic is not, unfortunately, peculiar to home building, yet the house is definitely a lightning rod for this less attractive side of me.

This flare up occurred in the context of a prior difficult exchange about a different (yet energetically connected) topic that we had not yet finished digesting, and I've been swirling about how to respond—even as we get set this morning to start excavating for Ma'ikwe's cistern, the construction of which I am managing and will call for me to be on the site every day. This week I'll be focusing intensively on making sure that the cistern is solidly constructed, even as I'm a bit shaky about my relationship with my wife. While I'm optimistic that we'll get through this OK—with the foundation of both the cistern and the relationship intact—it'll be a dance.

At the end of the first difficult conversation (on the topic I'm being vague about), Ma'ikwe asked me to not blog about it. As my commitment to my marriage supersedes my commitment to this blog (by only eight months mind you, but it does
come first), I agreed. While there are any number of occasions in my life when I've chosen to not disclose a thing or to discuss it openly—and felt good about that decision—it generally rubs me wrong. I have a deep-seated mistrust of taboo topics and have come to the view that not talking about things often results in greater relationship damage than the decision was meant to prevent.

Given all this, I am uncomfortable letting others decide for me what I'll write about, and that includes my wife. While I believe firmly in discretion and discernment—in being sensitive to how disclosure will land with others—I bristle at censorship. Taken all together, and my dread of a potential future where I'm periodically wrangling with my wife over what I can write about, I think it's for the best that this be my last blog about dynamics with Ma'ikwe. Then we can lay that irritant down. Luckily, there's still plenty of other interesting things that catch my attention and I'm not worried about running out of material.

In the future, Xanthia, you'll just have to ask about Ma'ikwe on those phone calls.

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