Rite of Passage 14 –A Journey Resumed –
1959 I am twenty-five years old
Q. It’s so easy to blame someone else for causing pain but did they strike the first blow? Did you ever seek to justify your withdrawal from someone you blamed for hurting you?
A raised voice is commonly associated with anger and a need to be understood by someone who doesn’t appear to be either interested…or even listening.
My darling Treena, as a result of her early years on stage, had great voice projection…especially when she needed attention.
At the beginning of our (almost) sixty years of marriage I didn’t understand what was going on. My ‘limited’ point of view, as a young husband, was that she was cross or at times angry and I was the reason why!
It was during my three month “shape up or ship out” season that I began to pay attention to her strident tone and take it to heart.
What was behind the volume and what were the words revealing about her innermost feelings? Up until this time the world had revolved about me; mostly, and what I needed to do as the “man of the house”.
Treena, during those days, had been largely silent, other than when the word “truth” was used. That was her all-purpose analysis of anything vaguely questionable.
“Truth?” she would enquire—and that meant that the answer had better fit the bill!
I do believe that we were amongst the last of the old school that saw the man as the leader, the breadwinner and the one whose opinion was not only to be followed but also believed to be right.
So…what about now?
I have had the great good fortune over many years to be a sailor of both small and larger sailboats. On a boat there can only be one captain, there really is no room (or time) to debate what needs to happen, “NOW”!
To some extent I have come to see marriage as Captain and First Mate—not for any other reason but knowing how to handle responsibility for the lives of all aboard.
If there is an angry outburst by a family member it should never be responded to…in anger. That’s a great way to be distracted enough to ‘run aground’!
A raised voice on a ship or in a home is a form of alarm and should gain the responsible “leader’s” attention that there is an immediate need.
Several years ago I started to hear Treena’s raised voice as a “cry for justice” and I was the one to whom she had come to have something settled with a complete understanding of the way she perceived the issue at hand.
In a court of law judges seldom shout back at anyone. They desire, for the most part, to reach a wise conclusion and rule dispassionately according to the law.
That’s the way it was over our last years together and it worked wonderfully…most of the time. Occasionally, taken by surprise, I shouted back. Each time I was immediately ashamed and set out to make it better between us…by listening.
Isn’t that what life is about—to make things better for those we love?
This week I read Treena’s poem Who