The Chinese Wall
In business, when there’s a conflict of interest within an organization, the accounting department will establish something called a Chinese Wall, which is essentially an information barrier. Like the brain barrier, it lets nothing in—especially if it could potentially harm the other entity or the organization as a whole. Forgive me in advance for this metaphor, but marriage is much like this and I recently ran smack into the wall, not really understanding yet that it was there. Now, I’m a woman who has studied the Teachings of Yogi Bhajan, especially in regard to the women’s teachings, back and forth, side-to-side, every which way—I wrote a book about it for God’s sake!--and still, I found myself running smack dab into the wall at full speed. And now, bloody and bruised, I’m not only enraged that the wall exists, I’m even angrier at myself for forgetting it was there.
It’s proof that you can know this stuff intellectually, you can have it nailed down, so you think, and then life happens. And until you experience it, it’s all fruitless information. It’s not wisdom. Although I’m certainly not on the other side of the wall yet and so have no idea what lies on the other side, I have some experience with the wall itself at this point. So know that I’m reporting from the front lines—not from the safe distance of the peace treaty already signed, sealed and delivered.
Once in every woman’s relationship to these teachings and to 3HO in general, she will confront the uncomfortable truth within herself that these teachings put in your face and won’t go away until you accept it or turn to the side (not necessarily rejecting it outright, but not necessarily drinking the kool-aid either). That truth is this: As a woman, I am entirely responsible for my experience—100%. I am the creator, the sustainer and the destroyer or deliverer of everything in my world. Period. Now, this is tremendously heavy to take on; but it’s also tremendously liberating. Because once you own it, you can change your life. But until you own it, it feels like a curse—and not that monthly gift, but the daily duty of taking responsibility for our own experience. Yuck! Who wants to do that? Nevertheless, this is the work. And for the most part, I can report that I reached that point where the Truth was in my face and I eventually surrendered to it.
Now to the Chinese Wall that makes a marriage. Here I find myself once again with the truth shoved into my face demanding that I swallow it and I’m just as mad as I was the first time. I’m just as full of outrage and disgust. I’m just as terrified of what will happen when I surrender to it—if I surrender to it. But here’s the real rub: you see, in a marriage, you don’t have a choice, if you want to stay married, that is. What is this mysterious Chinese Wall you ask? Well, you know how you, as a woman, want to communicate and listen and share your process? Men want nothing to do with it. And the especially sharp and pointy part of this for me personally is that my definition of love has always been “to be seen.” But how can I be seen if I’m not heard; they are intrinsically linked in my mind. And if I can’t be heard, and I can’t be seen, then how can I possibly be loved? How can he possibly love me when he’s unwilling to listen to me, see me? This is the narrative in my own head, mind you. Meanwhile, my loving husband just looks at me alternately confused or disgusted by my commotions—and the love we do genuinely feel for each other comes dangerously close to being lost.
Yogi Bhajan once said that if a man truly loves you, he’ll never listen to you. So here’s the bitter pill I must learn to swallow. Love in a marriage is nothing like we think it will be. It’s nothing like we want it to be. It’s another animal altogether—and the Chinese Wall is a part of that animal. And from here, at the base of it, all broken and battered, it seems to be the very heart of the beast. Back in high school, when I played volleyball (very poorly), we had a play that we laughingly called the Husband/Wife play and it referred to that moment when the ball dropped invariably to the floor between two available, capable and ready players—no communication.
Communication in a marriage is still a mystery to me. And who knows, perhaps someday I’ll have something wise to say or words of council to offer. But for now, here I am, licking my wounds and wishing, hoping and praying that the wall would come down, all the while knowing it won’t. It can’t. It’s a load-bearing wall; it is his strength even as it is my weakness. Meanwhile, I chant Rakhe Rakhanhaar and hope for a way to place my prayers, my hopes, and my wishes in the cracks of the wall and trust that somehow, someway, they will be heard, as will his.
Labels: love, marriage, relationships