“That is your fault.”
Said the deep voice behind this sentence.I looked at my uncle with creased eyebrows from my lack of understanding while he pointed his index finger in my face.
“It’s your fault.” He repeated, with his finger still right in front of my nose. “It’s your duty to remind him that he has to watch what he eat and drink. Not because you want to control him, but it’s for his good.”
Him – referring to my dad.
“I told him that.”
My dad looked down, sitting motionless in his chair as people were walking around us in this noisy restaurant, which is having mainly patrons celebrating Father’s Day. We too, as our extended family gather to celebrate for every fathers in our family.
We were talking about how my father, at the age of 65, is still drinking ice-cold colas daily, and how helpless I was whenever I failed to make him understand that drinking coke, if not cold drinks, is detrimental to his health. Especially for his age. He doesn’t seem to want to understand, for his excuses will always be, “The weather’s hot.”
I thought I could use some help from my uncle by telling him how I was at my wit’s end, but the topic soon changed into it becoming “It is your fault”.
After some fake laughs (we aren’t really close. In fact, our families meet around once to twice every year), my uncle went on his way to talk to family members sitting around other tables, and I sat on my chair, thinking about what he had said.
Was I in the wrong in not trying to talk my dad out of his habits? I don’t think so. If I were, I wouldn’t be even asking my uncle for help, and I DID try to talk to my father.
Then I heard the same uncle talking at the other table, saying something along the line of, “It’s your fault for…”
That got me thinking. Is the world just about right or wrong? My brains started to talk to each other.
One time, I was talking to my editor, who happens to be a life coach. We talked about how I was desperately looking for a solution for my wife’s smartphone obsession. I told her how it difficult it could be at home for me, because my wife’s attention was always either on her phone or TV. She asked me how was our relationship when we were dating, and I told her, “We dated before the invention of smartphones. And we lived apart during the early dating stages; TV wasn’t accessible during our “we” time. So those weren’t issues to us then.”
She further asked what I would have wanted, if my wife were to do as I wished. I said, “Stop looking at her phone and pay more attention to our family.” She then asked, “Was there no attention from your wife at home?”
I pursed my lips and thought about it, and frankly, it would not be fair if I had said there wasn’t, so my answer was, “Yes, but maybe not much.”
In my mind, it was my wife’s fault because all she knew was to clear the next stage with her smart phone. I affirmed that it was a right on my side, and a wrong on my wife’s side. Then my editor said this, which jolted my brains a little.
“Have you asked her, or thought about whether if she is trying to escape something?”
I looked at her, and I said nothing. Lips still pursed to the left.
“Or have you asked yourself, if you have paid more attention to her when she was looking at her phone, and you did not realise that it was you who did not pay attention to her when she wasn’t? Perhaps it isn’t about her on her phone, but your attention towards her whenever she was playing games.” Those sentences were thrown right into my face like pouring cold water on to a sleeping person.
Those questions silenced the two bastards that had been talking non-stop inside my skull.
Was my wife in the wrong, because she’s “obsessed” with her phone? Or was I in the wrong, because I tend to notice her only when she’s frantically trying to bust that candy in Candy Crush? In the latter, was I only noticing her behaviour, and not other aspects of her when I should be? In other words, was I paying attention to her, or her habits?
Is the world only right or wrong? Is it really that simple?
I looked at myself with disgust, and as usual, the same way I pondered over things started to work its formula on myself. Was my wife noticing me as her husband, or was she noticing my habits? If she was noticing my habits, what were my actions that she was paying attention to?
It is (bold and italicize because it was a deliberate attempt to use 2 tenses in this sentence. Check elsewhere, grammar ninjas!) a two-way road, and it should never be about me. Deep inside, I was telling myself how desperate I was when I thought I couldn’t have the attention of her whenever she was with her phone. My perspectives were on what I wanted. But the wrong could be stamped hard on my forehead by her, because as her husband, I wasn’t alert and sensitive enough to notice what she was trying to sub-consciously escape from through her gadget. Now, who’s right, and who’s wrong?
Our marriage was never a smooth one, and it never will be. I finally learnt that the focus shouldn’t revolve around who’s in the right, or who’s in the wrong. It should be about knowing the reasons behind our actions. As a husband, could I have been more mindful about what she’s trying to hide? And in her attempts, was there anything I could do to address her behaviours? Was it the kids? Could it be our finances? Or the family that we live with together under the roof? What were my efforts in this marriage with this woman, whom I vowed to care and protect for the rest of my life, other than appraising her by looking at the checklist of duties that I had expected her to fulfil?
Writing this down definitely made me realised how much I love, and should love her.
We never had a perfect family with abundant resources (read: money), but we do, and we will always hold our hands tight as we rode on the endless waves of obstacles. Question is, why am I now loosening my grip, just to point at the fault that I thought I recognised? Right or wrong, does it really matter?
Yes, it does matter.
It matters when I realised that my attention was on her habits, and not on her. I was wrong.
It matters when I realised that I did not make good on my part in giving her the sense of security she deserves. I was wrong.
It matters when I realised that I wasn’t mindful of the environment that she was subconsciously trying to escape from. I was wrong.
It matters when I realised that I had been placing my feelings above hers. I was wrong.
I was wrong, because I thought the two sides exists in front of me, instead of knowing that they should only exist in myself. They were never meant to be implemented on the ones we love. I was wrong, because reflection is an image in the mirror, and the mirror reflects nothing but only us when we stand in front of it. We hang the mirrors in our hearts to look at ourselves, not to point the fault of the person we hold dear.
It’s never on her; it’s me.
The world isn’t two sided, because the Earth is without sides.
Andy Lawson is the average man on the street that you’ll not even trouble yourself looking at him if he passes by you. He’s sensitive to bullshit, and he hates mediocrity in most people. He is the author of his self-published book: Facts and Fiction of Fengshui: Facts that Masters are NOT Telling You. He doesn’t have Facebook or Twitter, because he hates to be associated with people who tend to be passive-aggressive online, but he does have a very limited set of vocabularies, terrible grammar, a twisted mind that makes himself God in his own twisted world and an ability to communicate with people who wish to be his friend.