I love my husband, I love my husband, I love my husband. I really do. And I have great acceptance for most of the things he does. But I can’t stand it when he leaves the bath towel on the floor. This towel has been the source of many arguments in our house. It’s not a special towel. In fact, it’s just an ordinary, old towel. But I have tripped over it countless times because I am, well, a little clumsy.
As I careen toward the toilet face first, hands reaching out in front of me to break my fall, the only image that flashes through my mind is one of me doing very unkind things to my husband. Why, I think as I brace the wall and catch my breath, why can’t he just pick up the darned towel? Is it really that difficult? You just pick it up and hang it over the bathtub, out of the way. I can do it. I do it after every shower. He’s an intelligent, grown man who can hold a job, pay the bills and do thousands of other things. So why, dear God, why can’t he pick up that stupid towel?
I’m a bit of a slow learner, especially with this whole acceptance thing.
My husband, on the other hand, is not. It took me years of frustration and bruises to realize that the towel, the root of so many of our spats, was not HIS problem. It was mine. The towel never bothered him. It was so off his radar that he completely forgot about it when he left the bathroom. I, on the other hand, would know, the second he emerged clean and showered, that the towel was still on the floor. It would consume me. I would wait, hoping that he would finally get it and pick it up without me asking. I would remind him the bathroom light was on, thinking that if he went back in he might see the towel and once and for all it would click, and he would pick it up obediently from that day forward. I had no acceptance of the fact that he wasn’t doing what I wanted. Can you say “unrealistic expectations?”
Needless to say, that never happened. Instead, I had a light bulb moment. After ranting to my sponsor, my friends, my dogs and anyone else who would listen, someone (it wasn’t the dogs) suggested something that had never occurred to me. “Why don’t you just pick it up?” Wow. I never thought of that. After years of therapy, numerous 12 steps and a few 24 hours, I never saw that the towel was MY problem. And that once I got some acceptance around owning that, the anger and frustration would subside.
The serenity prayer rang loudly through my head that moment. “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,” like the fact that my husband will probably never pick that towel up; “courage to change the things I can,” but I can pick the towel up; “And the wisdom to know the difference.”
Ahhh, courage, wisdom AND acceptance.
You see, I had to accept that the towel was my problem. I was the one who tripped over it. I was the one who couldn’t stand seeing it on the floor. I was the one who brought it up to him, time and time again. Once I finally realized that, once I was willing to own complete acceptance of that fact, I could do something about it.
Acceptance IS the key to all of my problems. Sometimes I lose my keys. But I have spares, in the form of friends, sponsors and God. I just have to remember they are there and use them.