Tag Archives: conversation

Oh What a Night

Last night I checked on my passport a final time in preparation for today’s trip to Canada for a baby shower with a good friend.  Imagine my surprise to discover that my passport had in fact expired two months ago.  My first thought was, oh, she is going to be furious at me.  Mistake number one.

There was no other option but to message her about what happened and apologize.  We generally text with each other so it never occurred to me to call her.  Mistake number two.

There was no answer, so I texted again twenty minutes later.  No response.

Waited up until midnight in case she got her messages late.

Went to bed with my phone so I wouldn’t miss her message.

Worry grew and grew with each passing hour of no response.

Texted again at 9 am this morning.  Waited an hour and still no response.

My anxiety was really ramping up by this point.

She’s not speaking to me!  Oh no!  It was just an oversight.  Nooooo!  This seems familiar to me.  I remember two past friendships that were ruined by similar thoughtless mistakes on my part.  But that was in high school and there was hell to pay for those mistakes.  And it clearly left an impression on me.

Then something else came to the surface of my boiling thoughts and memories.  My mother does this to me.  She does it to everyone, really.  Innocent and thoughtless mistakes can never be forgiven.  Ever.  Because her feelings get so badly hurt.

Grudges will be carried to the grave.  Ten, twenty, thirty years later, an innocent and thoughtless misstep will be thrown back at the offender like a lightning bolt and nothing can ever be the same again.  Healing and forgiveness never happen.  An uneasy truce can be established and that’s the best one can hope for.  That or the end of the relationship.

I sent one more message to my possibly former friend at 10 am and the phone rings immediately after.  She wasn’t mad.  She just hadn’t checked her phone in twelve hours.

I told her what I thought was going on.  No, no, no!  She was not mad at me.  She wouldn’t get that angry over something so small.  Don’t worry, get some rest, do some yoga.  It’ll be okay.  When I tell the others at the baby shower about your passport, they will probably laugh.  Who even thinks about a passport for Canada anyway, right???  It will be fine.

Maybe there aren’t any mistakes.  Maybe things get mixed up sometimes and then you work it out and get past it.  And then you leave it in the past once and for all.

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Filed under anxiety, family, friends, getting along, history, social phobia, stress, Uncategorized

In Defense of Me

I had a little text exchange earlier today.

My sister sent me a picture and two videos of the kitten she is giving me in the fall.  I did not want a new cat as I have three and that is enough.  But my sister cleverly sent a picture first and then asked me if I would like to have a new kitten.  She would pay for all the shots, the spaying, and bring her to me from N. Carolina since they were coming up anyway.  It was a cute cat, and my sister always gets her way, and one of my cats is 19, so how long would I have to wait to be back down to three cats anyway.  So, I said yes.

Now my sister sends regular updates via text, which is considerate, I suppose.

Today I felt compelled to thank her for her efforts which are allowing me to see my kitten grow up even though she is hundreds of miles away.

Instead of responding with a “you’re welcome” she texted back with “You’re welcome to come down and see her and bring her back with you.”

Gahhhhhhh!

Why would I want to drive myself all the way down to Asheville, NC to pick up a cat (that I probably shouldn’t have said yes to) when you’re coming up to New York anyway in September???  In fact, all of this was your idea to begin with.  In fact, about a hundred whyshouldI’s raced through my mind when she responded the way she did.

The safest answer I could come up with was, it wasn’t in the budget to make a big trip this year.

Her answer:  Budget?  It’s a couple of tanks of gas!  We have plenty of room for you.

Gahhhhhhhh!

This convo was exactly like nearly every exchange with my mother.  No matter what I say in answer to any question, large or small, my answer is up for grabs, correction, improvement.  How did these people get so far into my brain?  Why do I have to defend everything all the time????

It’s the boundaries again.  I never learned good boundaries.  Neither did they.  But they are okay with it and I am not.

I can not be okay with poor boundaries.  I will never get better if I don’t firm up the boundaries.

And why am I still thinking about it and turning it over and over in my mind an hour later?

I get so stuck sometimes.

I probably should have sucked it up weeks ago and turned down the kitten even though she is super cute.  But I didn’t and now I am entangled.

My answer that shut down the exchange: I would have to fly.  That’s a hell of a drive and I’m not up to it these days.

She had nothing but an “oh, okay” for that one.

Score!

Such small successes in this journey, but I’ll take it.

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Filed under anxiety, boundaries, bullies, decision making, decisions, dysfunction, family, getting along, growth, history, honesty, journey, pressure, progress, self-care, self-respect, Uncategorized

“Ripen into Your Authentic Self”

The phrase “ripen into your authentic self” was part of my horoscope from Rob Brezsny this morning and it was one of those aha things that I just love.

I’ve been having a little bit of trouble with a family situation lately.  We haven’t heard from our oldest son in over a year and it is bothersome.  Luckily with the internet I can keep faint tabs on him, but still.  This is the kind of situation that most parents dread and are confounded by.  I am no different.

Fortunately, I found a recent blog post he wrote–the sign of life I’ve been wanting.  The subject matter is one I am quite uncomfortable with personally.  However, it is not a surprising subject.  It is consistent with the kind of person he has always been.  Which makes his absence from our lives quite understandable.  He is being considerate of our feelings as well as being true to himself.

I was pleased to see that he is a fantastic writer.  And a person with integrity.  His interests are not interests I can share, but I can respect them.

I feel very proud of him.  But it is still strange and uncomfortable for me that I cannot just call him and say, awesome blog, tell me more.  I have to give him the kind of space that most parents would be uncomfortable with.  And I miss him.

It’s hard to know what to do with a relationship of this nature.

But the thing we have in common, and that all people have in common, is the desire and need to be our authentic selves.  And for many of us that takes a great deal of time.  Some people never accomplish authenticity.

I had to learn to get out of my own way to even begin ripening into my true and authentic self.  I think my son had to learn the same thing and over a year ago he made his move.

So here is to all of us finding our true, authentic selves and the peace that it can bring.

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Filed under blogging, boundaries, emotional health, family, getting along, growth, healing, honesty, human nature, love, self-care, self-respect, Uncategorized, wellness

Blast From the Past

I was Halloween shopping at Wal-Mart last week when I heard a familiar voice call to me.  I turned around to find an elderly man sitting in one of those motorized scooters and, though the voice was familiar, his appearance threw me for a loop.

It was Doug!  He had been a contractor at my old place of employment and back then, he had been a very large and very intimidating man.  From the very first day I had to deal with him I was very uncomfortable.  He came into our office every single morning and every single evening to do his job.  He was foul-mouthed, bossy, angry and left a mess for us to clean up every single time.  Nobody liked working with him.

However some employees knew him outside of work.  They didn’t have to work with him like I did.  He was a gentleman around them and they clearly liked him and would stop to chat him up when they saw him.  They knew him from church.

That was so odd to me as I found not one thing to like or appreciate about the man.  My only experience of him was as a sexist bully.

Eventually he was fired when he pissed-off someone who mattered more than those of us who had been complaining about him for a couple years.

So in that moment at Wal-Mart, I had to make a decision.  Should I be short with him and try to get away like I would have had to back in the day?  Nope.  He has no power over me any more.  So my decision was to talk with him as if the way he is now was the way he had always been.  It was still an odd conversation.

When he talked about how surprised “we” had been when I quit my job, I wondered how he could possibly know about that since he had been fired and no longer worked there before I left.  When he said I was missed, again I wondered how he could possibly have known that.  He was speaking about my quitting the same way people who really had liked me have spoken to me about it.  The truest and most tactful thing I could say in that moment was that I missed a couple people there but not too many of them.

It was an odd encounter but it made me realize some things.  For one thing, I guess that he has both of those people inside of him–the miserable, selfish, and aggressive person I was stuck working with and the polite, friendly, interested church-goer who is capable of making a positive impression on someone when it suits his purposes.  I wouldn’t have thought something like that was possible!

For another thing, I don’t have to be affected by either of those versions of Doug.  I don’t have to waste valuable energy trying to figure this person out.  I don’t have to like him.  I don’t have to approve or disapprove him.  He’s got his place in this world and I have mine.  I don’t have to be affected because I have boundaries now that I didn’t have back then.  Boundaries are so very important!!!

The last thing I realized is that I have been very powerless throughout most of my life.  Many people have taken advantage of me in order to benefit their own situation or at least make their lives easier.  Those people tend to become my enemies.  Casting people in the role of enemy has often been my only recourse–a boundary of sorts.

As I heal and gain power within myself, I am also gaining skills and that may help me to repel the people and behaviors that would take advantage of me.  Only time will tell but right now it’s looking pretty good.

 

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Filed under boundaries, bullies, decision making, emotional health, enemies, first impressions, getting along, growth, healing, history, human nature, progress, Uncategorized

Truth!

On Super Bowl Sunday I learned the truth about something that happened twenty-three years ago.

Back then a decision was made without my knowledge or input and which affected my life in, what I have supposed to be, a negative way.  Of course, I’ll never know for sure that there might have been an easier and more satisfying path than the one I am on.  But I think it was a good possibility.

As stories were being told around the dinner table before the football game started, there was one story I had never heard before.  I thought I had heard all the stories, the funny ones, the embarrassing ones, the somewhat scary ones.  But this one was new to me.

As soon as the story was told, I knew in my heart that I was hearing the reason for why that decision was made twenty-three years ago.  It made more sense than anything else I had been told prior to this moment.

Actually, it makes “that decision” seem quite sensible on some level.

If I had been told at the time it happened, I like to think I would have been understanding.  I usually am supportive when people tell me their troubles.

I still would have disagreed about the decision that was made as a result.  But it seems to me from this vantage point that perhaps a compromise could have been reached.  Maybe it didn’t have to be a jump off the cliff kind of decision.  Maybe clearer minds might have prevailed.

Of course we always did fly by the seat of our pants, due to lacking any kind of problem-solving skills and emotional maturity.

I’ve always been a big fan of truth.  But I don’t always have the truth to work with, which really burns my butt sometimes.

Now that this thing was told, and now that I know what this thing was and the whole world failed to explode, I have to wonder if we have gotten onto a new path.  It seems like maybe we have.  This feels new on a very deep level.

I have not actually tried to talk about it since the telling of the story.  People tell me things when they want to tell me, not when I want to hear it.  I was raised by poor communicators and I have collected poor communicators for much of my adult life, which makes sense.  I plan to just wait and see.

It would be nice if it turns out that the truth really does set you free.

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Filed under anxiety, boundaries, decision making, decisions, dysfunction, emotional health, family, getting along, history, honesty, human nature, journey, planning, progress, Uncategorized

The Cat’s in the Cradle

Before I begin this post, I want to say that I am not looking for advice or a solution.  This is truly just a sorting-my-thoughts kind of essay.  It is still just very hard for me to know what to do when people in  my life don’t cooperate and don’t explain things to me. Some of the most important people in my life are so incredibly frustrating for me to relate to.  So here goes….

I want us to visit our son in California.  It has been three years since we were there.  Money is a big issue and is the reason why I decided not to go in 2015.

People ask why he doesn’t come here.  Well, he hates it here.  And money.

The last visit from him was in 2004 when my father died.  I will always appreciate that he came for the funeral when what he really wanted was to visit while my father was still alive.  Unfortunately, the end came faster than expected.  One day I’m calling him to say, hurry home.  And the very next day I’m calling to say, you can take your time, he is gone.

I suppose it is time for me to let go of that guilt.  Nobody told me how fast these things can go and I just didn’t know.

We have pretty bad communication with each other.  It has always been that way.  I can put a really good spin on it.  He calls for our birthdays and holidays!  Yay!  Those calls have been some of our best conversations!  Yay!  But this year we received no calls for the holidays and he has not returned the calls we made to him.  It has been over six months since our last word from him.

Our letters have not been returned so he has not moved someplace new.  That damn silence, which I have such a hard time with, is back.

I remember his adolescence was a whole bunch of silence.  I would yell at him, “Talk to me!!!!!  What is going on????”  Of course, that just made it worse.

While I can see the good things in his life, and there are several, I will probably always wish our relationship was simpler and felt more natural.

I am proud of how smart and independent he is.  I admire the kind of person he is.  But it is nearly impossible to c0nnect.

So, we’ve been trying to work out a visit for 2016.  Since he is not responding to our calls and letters, I might have to conclude that he is not up for a visit and also is not up for telling us that.

I suppose it’s nice that he is possibly trying to spare our feelings.

Maybe he has things going on that he doesn’t want to tell us about or burden us with.

It could be anything really.

I feel like such a martyr for even writing about this.

And maybe he will call soon and I will find out I worried for nothing.

This is just way too much maybe.

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Filed under anxiety, boundaries, decision making, depression, dysfunction, family, getting along, human nature, planning, Uncategorized

Stodgy Stuck Up and Not Fun at All

I had a nice Christmas Eve at my cousin’s house. I even drank a little wine which I seem to have developed some kind of liking for. It used to be that alcohol pretty much tasted terrible to me but if I wanted to get drunk, I would just tough it out and either ignore the taste or bury it with orange juice or Coke. Even with this new found liking for alcohol, though, I still don’t drink much. Or enough. Wink, wink. If I were a drinker, I might still have a job.

My cousin’s neighbor joined us later on that Eve. I’ve met this neighbor many times before. We never hit it off or anything but I can live with that and we have conversed in the past so it wasn’t a problem her coming over.

We ladies had been chatting for awhile when she turned to me and said she wanted to tell me something and she hoped I didn’t mind and she didn’t know if she should or not and if she said too much, please, just tell her it was too much and that she had stepped over the line and to stop.

Here we go. This kind of thing happens to me all the time. People often feel compelled to tell me exactly what thought just popped into their little heads. People have said some pretty unusual things to me over the years.

This time I smiled because I kind of suspected what was coming. Then she said that when she first met me, she thought I was very stodgy and not much fun. This made me laugh out loud. This is not news! I am aware that I make a certain kind of first impression. People who can only see surfaces are frequently left with a very basic and somewhat unfair impression of me. It became even funnier when my cousin piped up with, “People say that about ME, too!!!” A fellow traveler! Thank you, cuz!

I don’t know if the neighbor lady was relieved at my “fun” reaction to what she said or if she really didn’t think about the conversation that much at all. The only reason I care to think about this, and write about it, is because it reminded me of previous similar conversations people have had with me and my realization that I would NOT say such a thing to someone. I would not say, basically, “I used to not like you but now I do. Before, you fell well short of my requirements but now I think you’re A-okay.” Why, thank you! What a sweet thing to say. Wink, wink.

Well, it hurts my feelings when people tell me these things and I know not to do that to someone else. At least not on purpose.

As a kid, I was considered stuck-up by several of the school cliques. The popular kids couldn’t figure out why I wasn’t popular; they thought I should be, but I was not. Yes, somebody told me this. The not popular kids didn’t like me because they thought I was popular. Yes, someone told me that, as well.

On my long walks home from school by myself, passersby would say, Smile, it’s not that bad! Even though I wasn’t feeling bad and was just thinking about things on those long solitary walks. I guess I should have been tap dancing on the shoulder of the road and talking to myself.

Many years into the terrible job, one of my former co-workers said, “Man, that first day, when you first got hired, I told Lisa, ‘man, she isn’t going to be any fun at all!'” She told me this because I had finally passed the Fun Test. I was so relieved that I had passed the Fun Test. I do fit in! I thought I never would. Life is good.

Except that I didn’t fit in and life wasn’t good at all. The terrible job was really just a Red Flag Parade. Grab one of these here flags and swing it in the air with us! It took a long time for me to see it that way.

Last week I visited my mother. It was a pretty good visit. I stayed pretty laid back while I listened to Show ‘n’ Tell. At one point, she asked me if I wanted something to eat. She was hungry and didn’t want to eat in front of me. I told her to go ahead, I didn’t mind, I wasn’t hungry. But she kept asking me if I wanted something to eat. She tried tempting me with ever more delicious treats. But I truly wasn’t hungry and kept turning her down. “Oh, you’re no FUN!” Thanks, Mom.

Apparently, “fun” doesn’t mean what I think it means. Neither does “stodgy” or “stuck up.”

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Filed under family, first impressions, honesty, opinion