This Pilgrim’s Progress

Tryst Coffeehouse in Washington DC

Note to self: when deciding to walk to Chinatown, don’t pass through the Adams Morgan neighborhood where the siren song of a wonderful, vibrant, coffeehouse/bar/lounge named “Tryst” is too tempting to avoid.

It is a beautiful, breezy Saturday morning and I going to freestyle this post.

I had a moment with Caroline, my ex, where I successfully followed my “respond, don’t react” mantra. Our youngest daughter, Lexi, is coming to DC next weekend. She’s being wined and dined (actually, just dined. She’s only 20) by a bank that’s offered her an internship for the summer.

A while ago Lexi made it clear she wanted to celebrate my birthday while in town. When discussing logistics with my ex, Caroline was hesitant about inviting herself to my birthday dinner.

I graciously said, “Of course you can join us. No worries.”

Caroline blurted out, “It’ll be my treat.”

I paused. Caroline made  restaurant recommendations but I wasn’t listening. I was hurt Caroline ignored my kind gesture.

Finally, I gently interrupted her and just as gently, said, “You know, a more appropriate response when I said you’re invited might have been thank you.”

Caroline began stammering, “You’re right. I’m sorry. I don’t know why I said that. Can we just start over?”

And so we did. We began discussing restaurant choices.

W hen the call was over I relished the fact I recognized my feeling real-time, responding without reacting to my initial hurt. I also catalogued the fact that despite apologizing, Caroline never actually thanked me for the invite.

In other news, I am putting my interest in Buddhism to the test tomorrow. The book, Radical Acceptance by Tara Brach, has been extremely helpful in my work toward mindfulness. Ms. Brach is a PHD in psychology, as well as the founder of the Insight Meditation Community right here in Washington, D.C.

Tomorrow, I’m attending a day-long workshop Ms. Brach is leading. My dear friend Frannie told me about it a couple of weeks ago and I immediately signed up before I could talk myself out of it.

I honestly don’t know what to expect. I received an email about it yesterday that said: “Wear yoga-type clothing and bring a water bottle with a resealable lid. We ask that you bring a vegetarian lunch or take the lunch break to go get food nearby in Chinatown.”

So I’m nervous about the day and I’m excited to hear Ms. Brach in person, and meet others on their own journeys. Duality at its finest. Apprehension and anticipation playing nicely.

I’ll definitely write about the workshop on Monday. Right now, I need to somehow tear myself away from this rocking coffee shop and get the ingredients for the cold sesame noodles I’m making for my lunch. Normally I eschew most carbs but I do love sesame noodles so what the heck.

Stay in touch. Connect.

PS I couldn’t find an appropriate clip but this one cracked me up.

5 thoughts on “This Pilgrim’s Progress

  1. Great that you were able to acknowledge your response and react to it so well.

    Can’t wait to hear your thoughts on the workshop 🙂

    Thoughts occurred to me as I read about the conversation with Caroline. I assume she has become used to ‘providing’ – perhaps her first thoughts were that in being included she was putting you to additional expense. Did she imagine that her offering to pay was a kindness; a way of acknowledging her appreciation of being included? Perhaps she may have said thank you after the event, regardless of whether you had raised the issue. (Rhetorical, I’m not expecting you to respond to those questions.)

    Sometimes I think being able to say a simple and genuine ‘thank you’ is the hardest thing; we each have such complicated and convoluted stories that prevent us from feeling simply this most genuine of emotions and then actually be able to share it without wrapping it in baggage and defence strategies. (I’m thinking now of so many occasions – recent ones – when I’ve been very thankful to B but not actually said that simple word.)

    Thank you – for encouraging me to think about this. I’m going to look for opportunities today to respond with a simple and heartfelt ‘thank you’ – without all the window dressing 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks so much. It is actually more complicated on the economic front. The fact that I haven’t had a job for a while (a long while) means that my ex is the primary breadwinner and so the offer could be construed as something malicious. I don’t think it was. I think her lack of gratitude was a result of the shift of our relationship.

      When a couple, we didn’t do each other “favors.” We were just being a couple. Sorta like the justifiable women get when their husbands characterize as time spent with their children as “babysitting,” when in fact they were just doing their job.

      Now that we’re no longer a couple, I think my ex-wife’s disdain for being indebted to someone was awakened.

      At least that’s one theory.

      Thank you.



  2. Well done to you for moving forward in your own journey and self-development. Fundamentally this is all we can do. We can only change ourselves, and only truly know our own thoughts and motivations unless others explain theirs to us. We can only work to do the best with where we are at, and with the information we have, at any given moment. While it is a positive thing to try and understand the motivations of others, we also have to accept that we are often only guessing at clues. That is why effective communication is one of the greatest skills you can have. Hope you find the workshop enjoyable and helpful. It sounds interesting.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much for your thoughts. One of the concepts articulated in Radical Acceptance that parallels your thoughts is, “when we react to something with negativity, our anger is not over the other person, but with our reaction. While we can’t change the other person, we can change how we react.

      At least that’s what I think it says. I may need to make sure I have that right.

      The effective communication paradox is fascinating to me. I feel like I’m good communicator on paper. I feel like I am adept at picking up nonverbal cues from people. And yet, understanding my own vibe is still a work in progress. But like I’ve said, there is progress. Yay me.

      I still have a ways to go but I feel like I’ve made great strives. I’m just finishing up a post as a follow-up to the workshop. Soon!

      Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts!



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