Taking stock, taking a moral inventory, as the Alcoholics Anonymous Big Book would say, seems an appropriate approach to New Year’s resolutions. I have challenged you and myself in regards to goal setting, care taking and usefulness, but taking a moral inventory is something deeper; something possibly spiritual.
In order to take a moral inventory one must look inward. As a mother, the first place I begin is in a very deep and heart wrenching place; parenthood. Not that being a parent was not the greatest gift and happiest time of my life, but as any parent will tell you it is nothing if not a guilt ridden institution. The what-if’s and if-only’s can become a lifetime burden. Hind-sight is twenty-twenty as they say, and in my case ever so. I often tell my husband, “I wish I could do it all over again, knowing what I know now, having lived what we have lived.” My husband, ever the man to not look in the rear view mirror, retorts, “look at how amazing our children are, if not for the mistakes and life experiences they had, good or bad, they would not be who they are today.” He is correct and on some level his words calm me, and I move on. But I still ask; did it have to be so hard, did they have to learn their lessons due to our inequities – because of us?
If someone were to ask me what the number one thing I would change if I could go back. The answer would be to recognize my own power. If I had known the power I had as a woman, as a mother, as a partner; I would have made better choices. I might not have compromised quite as much and stood firm on things that might have worked out better for me and therefore my family. As I realize this I am aware that, unfortunately, this is still the disease of many relationships.
It begins in our families of origin. We feel “less than” in so many ways. We may not have received the positive messages we should have. We possibly failed to learn to love ourselves in the best way possible. This leads to compromising of what we know inside to be best, in order to satisfy “other.” This is equally true of both members in a relationship. It is not gender unique! There will be times in the relationship when one partner may have more power and later it may be the other. Or, there may be specific areas where each partner is more powerful. Combine this with poor communication skills and what you have is a formula for the very least trouble and the very worst disaster. It is a miracle we survive fifty percent of marriages! Maybe we need to be a little more proud of our successes when relationships last, as they certainly are a testament to fortitude if nothing else.
Now, after many years, I marvel at our ability, my husband and myself, to talk openly about the inequality that existed in the past. Experience has enabled our ability to dictate the “new” rules of our relationship. There is a kinder gentler approach tempered by time and maturity. If only I had known then what I know now? But then again…maybe my husband is right. I also would not be who I am today if not for the trials and tribulations of our past. As I have often quoted in the past Limp Bizkit says it best, “life is a lesson, and you learn it when you are through.”
So this year I resolve to look forward and vow to use experience to make the better choice but to embrace the past as my best teacher.
Tara Ubelhor M.Ed., LPC