communication woes

It's pretty amazing to me how two people that have spent so much time together can have such a disconnect where communication is concerned. Matt and I have been together since 1997. I've lived with him for 16 years and it's pretty darned amazing that we have communication issues. I would have thought that being with someone for so long, we'd really know what each other was saying, both verbally and non-verbally. Not so. What seems to happen most frequently is that we say something and it gets translated in some other way than the original meaning or intention. This is so perplexing. The work that I am doing is to try to make myself really clear. I've been practicing all sorts of ways in which to do that. Most recently has been non-violent communication: to make an observation, state a feeling (using I-statements), state the need that is not being met and make a request - knowing full well that the answer might be "no" but at least the conversation is clear and pointed only to "I" (instead of "you.") It works well because it keeps the victimization out of the conversation. (ex: "I am so angry because YOU..." or "I am so HURT because YOU..." or even worse: "why can't you be..." or "what's wrong/the matter with you?") I'm working on some pretty heavy duty stuff with Matt at present and making requests. I'm not saying I'm a pro or master of this NVC thing but I am really speaking honestly and from my own place of experience, observations, needs and requests. It's amazing how even when this happens, something else gets heard. What is a girl to do? I can't really do anything for the external stuff - just can keep on changing the weather patterns internally. I used to feel so hurt by not being understood. Now I'm just sad by it. (It's a big difference to go from being hurt --a.k.a. putting the blame on him for something-- to realizing it's my own sadness that I feel.) I'm sad because I really want to be understood: I want to be heard, valued and validated in my experiences... In this desire to do what I think is best for the situation/for the kids/for me/for Matt, I would like to seen as a person who has a good heart and sees the best in people and in life. When that doesn't happen, I really get sad and confused as to what went wrong in the translation and then I try harder to be even more clear in the future so that I can be understood better... It can be rather exhausting at times. "Damned if you do, damned if you don't" - that's what I mutter to myself after yet another conversation goes awry... I realize that isn't a very enlightened thing to say... I'm really trying to be understood and I am finding that whether I try with my best words or not, I can't really change how I am seen, heard or interpreted. I suppose that can be said for communication with anyone, it's just really difficult at times with Matt... I am sad when I am not understood. I have a clear need to be understood in my requests... This, too, shall pass. It is not always so fun in the process though. This is where these tools in my tool belt come in handy. In the video I watched for Eckhart Tolle, he talked a bit about guilt. This is what he said:

"Human beings act out of their conditioning. Conditioned by culture, upbringing, to think/feel/behave in certain ways. When you see how you create suffering for yourself and others, you move out of the conditioning. Don't equate the conditioned mind with who you are. "I did that therefore I'm bad." Don't be the role, be the awareness. Guilt keeps you trapped in a very narrow sense of self. (Human unconsciousness is the narrow sense of self)

"Thought forms that arise, emotion forms that arise are not the awareness. They are the conditioned pattern. Don't live in that conflict of mind that has a good person telling the other part of self that he/she is bad. Are you present to internal and external reality of now? The good thought and the bad thought are just thoughts.

"Polarities of good/bad and high/low are in thought patterns. Allow yourself the imperfections. If you fight them, you make them stronger. Don't look for yourself from any thought that comes into your head. You don't have to follow every thought when you are aware. The thought drifts out and the awareness remains. Find a spacious relationship with your thoughts.

"Thought is not a problem. Be there as the witness to what goes on inside you and then change happens by itself. The mind will always have good/bad, up/down and you don't have to act on any of those things. Act from aware presence.

"Awareness is not needy - it doesn't use a person or situation for an end result. Conditioned mind uses everything and every moment/person as a means to an end. When you act out of awareness you do not want anything. True love does not want anything. It is selfless."

I've experienced a lot of guilt in this relationship and I take responsibility for what I chose to believe as good or bad in myself based on things said and experienced, etc. When I heard Tolle talking about how we live in conflict when we listen to the mind as it says some aspect is good and some is bad about ourselves, it really spoke to me and propels me to move past that. I'm ready to change the record, dance a new dance, sing a new song, etc.

I'm holding myself and Matt in a clear space right now. I pray that from this moment onward, we can move past our filters and translations and get into clear communication, seeing the goodness and the Divine in each other and move past this really difficult spot right now.