The One Where I Whine

I don’t even know where to begin this post, or even what I am going to actually write about. Consider this my least thought out post ever (and that’s in a world where I never actually think about what I’m writing till it’s on the page)

I am a pragmatic person. I am more emotionless than emotionfull. I usually see what’s in front of me and I put one foot in front of the other and I march on…

Obviously the past year and a half has thrown a big wrench in my carefully orchestrated thought process.

I remained pragmatic, but I began to let my emotions take center stage…My head and heart have been battling mightily this pandemic season…I was not the same OCD like person that I always was. I became a new and different version of this sort of crazy person…

I think I always appeared to be a somewhat strong person. I rarely ask for help. I just push on and get things done.

But the thing is, are strong people the ones who don’t ask for help?

Or are strong people the ones that DO ask for help?

All I know is that I asked my family (meaning my Husband and Daughter) to cut me some slack.

Did they?

No.

Not really.

Because I have always been the person who doesn’t ask for help. I have always just done what needed to be done.

And they had absolutely no idea how to help me. They only had the wherewithal to continue to ask me to help them. They didn’t actually think I needed any slack.

They assumed that I could continue to carry everything.

And I did.

I got up every morning.

I did what needed to be done.

But I saw myself becoming more insular. I started to shut myself off from everyone around me. I needed to take care of myself and I realized that o one else was ever going to help me. Scratch that. I realized my immediate family had absolutely not idea how to help me, even when I asked for it.

I’ve spent a lot of the past few months, since my ER visit, trying to show them that I am a vulnerable person. That sometimes I can’t bare the weight of everything.

They don’t like it so much.

Is there a moral to this long and whining tale?

I don’t know if I would have done anything differently if I had a time machine…I don’t think I would have changed my personality so that my family wouldn’t take me for granted…

But I do wish I had made them see that I was 150% human…and fallible…and scared…and all the emotions that I pretend I don’t have…

And as I write these words my Husband says he “needs me for 5 minutes just to make sure he has everything he needs…”

And I still wonder when anyone will ask what I need…

Thank you for listening…I needed to write and publish

Put the Fun is Dysfunction

My sister and niece were in from Seattle last week. They stayed with my parents. Apparently our parents were, let’s just say obsessing about something, so my sister sent me a text:

Was our family always this dysfunctional?

Of course the answer is yes and no. My parents have gotten more set in their ways as time has gone on. But, there was always lots of crazy going on in the house.

Whenever I’ve written about my family I get a variety of responses from readers.

  1. I shouldn’t talk badly about my parents
  2. I should get over my past
  3. I shouldn’t expect my parents to apologize
  4. What would I say if my daughter said things like that about me

Which leads me to my conclusions:

  1. those who have had a relatively functional childhood can’t understand those who didn’t
  2. just because someone turned out relatively OK doesn’t mean they don’t have demons
  3. Sometimes the person who never speaks ill of their childhood is far worse off than those who complain because they are pushing their feelings aside
  4. if your child tells you how your actions affected them, you should listen with an open mind

I think that people should learn to move on from the mistakes of their parents. I firmly believe at some point you have to stop blaming your parents for your failures.

However

It doesn’t mean that parents are blameless.

The actions of parents do affect the person you were, the person you are, and the person you will become. Your background matters.

I know that I have made some mistakes with my life because I was trying to get my parents approval. I tried to do the things they wanted me to do instead of what I wanted to do. Bottom line: This made me a very unhappy person.

In order to become a more content, more stable person, I needed to admit to myself that my parents were wrong about a lot of things. They made mistakes.

This does not mean I love them less. I just accepted that they are human and flawed. They thought life should be lived a certain way- they weren’t trying to hurt me. They were doing the best that they could.

But this doesn’t mean I won’t talk about what they did, especially to them. I don’t need an apology when I talk to them. I would like them to listen with an open mind. Listen to my point of view. I don’t expect them to like the criticism. I do expect them to love me enough to hear my out. I hope that they love me enough to listen.

Is there anything worse than someone you love not listening to you?

Lack of communication is one of the largest problems we face as humans.

If your kids are talking to you, you need to listen.

Which leads me to the next point:

What if my daughter said the same things to me.

First off: I know I have made parenting mistakes. I’ve probably made more mistakes than done things right. My daughter will tell me if I’m doing something that hurts her. I admit, it hurts to have your child be truthful with you about your parenting.

It really hurts.

Sometimes I want to cover my ears and not listen.

But I realize that if I am to have an adult child/parent relationship with her, I need to listen. I need to hear her out. I need to acknowledge that I have, at times, been a lousy parent. I need her to get things out so that we can move on to a better relationship. I want to have a good relationship with my daughter as time goes on. We can only have that relationship if we communicate.

We do need to accept our pasts and move on. But we also need to acknowledge the feelings that come along with it.

Here’s My Interpretation…

Imagine you’re reading something. (for example- this blog) You read my words, and sometimes you read exactly what’s on the page.  But sometimes, do you ever start to bring your own interpretation onto those words?  Do you read the word “happy” but start to weave what happy means to you, as opposed to what precedes and follows the word “happy” on the page?

Interpretation.  Two people may read the same thing, but get two different meanings from it.  This happens often in literature:  it’s why we have book discussion groups.  There’s more than one way to look at anything (half full/half empty).  But this can get us into trouble.

I often read a word or phrase that I know absolutely nothing about.  Thanks to the internet Gods, I am able to find out the meaning with relative ease.  Knowing the meaning helps me understand whatever it is I’m looking at.  I don’t have a pre-conceived notion or idea yet, because it’s a new concept.  I start with a blank slate.  No interpretations.

But what about words we know the meaning of?  Words we hear and read and use every day?  When you use a word all the time, you start to have a definition of that word in your mind.  The problem is, your meaning may be different than someone else’s.  This can cause miscommunication.  You’re both using the same word, but you each are interpreting it differently.

I like to argue discuss things with people.  Very often, I will ask someone to define a word they are using, so I know where they are coming from.  This happened recently when I was having an argument  discussion with someone about school dress codes.  This woman argued that girls should have to adhere to a dress code so they don’t “distract” boys.  I asked her to define distract, because to me, saying something is distracting in a classroom settings opens up a whole big can of worms.

There’s a funny bit that jimmy Fallon does on “The Tonight Show” . He puts common songs into Google translate so it comes out in another language. Then, he takes the translated song and plugs it back into translate, and then has a singer sing the new song. (I swear it’s funnier when you watch it) The point I’m trying to make is, after going through translate twice, the words are not even close to the original. It becomes a bad interpretation. The same words become mangled and you can’t understand them.

Words are extremely powerful.  We must all learn to use them very carefully when we are speaking. But we must also be careful to listen to the words presented to us.  We must read things with an open mind and try not to carry our backstory into everything.  In standardized tests, students are expected to answer questions based on the passage provided: they are not supposed to bring in background knowledge.  It’s not a bad idea to go into conversations as if you know nothing.  Look at every conversation, every reading passage as a chance to learn something new.  Look at every verbal interaction as chance to get rid of preconceived notions.  Listen to the words presented, really listen, and then make a decision.

I think there are many communication issues these days.  I don’t know how closely people listen to one another, that they’re often not listening, but just thinking about how they’re going to respond.  So here’s your homework:  have a conversation (real- not on a text or an email) and really listen to what someone is saying.  Ask for clarification if you’re unsure.  Try to completely comprehend their unique point of view.  Don’t interpret what they’re saying. Listen to them.

 

 

 

Relationships: Family

Since John Mahoney of “Frasier” fame passed away last month, I’ve been working my way through the reruns.  Along with being a funny show, it was also filled with surprising bits of wisdom.  One episode has Daphne asking “Why is it so easy to love our families, but so hard to like them.”  Truer words were never spoken.

My Sister and my niece were in town a few weeks ago.  They live in Seattle (I know- odd Frasier connection), so we only see each other once a year.  As they were staying with my Mom, this meant I saw more of my Mother and Father.  Even though my parents live in New Jersey, I try to limit how often I see them.  Because, you know, it’s easy to love your family, but hard to like them.

Nothing increases my stress level more than time with my Mother.  Arguments abound.  We’ve never learned how to communicate with one another.  Every conversation turns into a yelling match, and a show down as to who can interrupt the others the most.  I don’t think I completed a sentence for four days.  It ends with my Mother saying something along the lines of “I’m not screaming.  I’m Italian.  This is how we talk.”  My Father is the opposite though- he sits stoically in the chair and says little.  And my Sister, well, she is the Queen of pushing buttons.  She is also the most sensitive person on the planet.  She thinks every sentence uttered is a personal attack against her.

Happy day.

I love my family.  I truly do.  But spending time with them is excruciating.  I had a headache for the better part of the week because we are truly unable to communicate with one another in a rational manner.  I feel like I’m walking on eggshells when we are together.  I try to stay calm, but my Mother and Sister often say the most ridiculous things.  Ok- to be fair- they may not be ridiculous if you are a stark raving lunatic, but if you’re trying to be a somewhat logical, rational person, their statements may come across as a tad antagonistic.  My Mother has opinions on most subjects.  If she doesn’t have an opinion on something it’s because she doesn’t think it’s a “worthy” topic.  Needless to say, my Sister has the exact opposite opinions of my Mother.  And she makes that known.  In fact, I believe that all the residents of my 19 story apartment building know her opinions on everything.

But I think you get the idea that the visit was mainly spent yelling.

I love my family.  I know they love me and would always be there if I needed them.  I just have a great deal of trouble being in the same room as them.

Never fear.  There will be a few more posts that detail some of the more fun moments of the trip, as I try to logically break down exactly why you can love, yet not always like your family.