Beginning of Day Three.
The stress has definitely gotten to me. My mind is filled with intrusions from the greater part of life.
My mind is particularly nasty.
It constantly brings to the forefront not just the things I worry about, but most often precisely those things over which I have no control.
I think Ginger’s passing may have triggered more deep seated issues.
I try to be “Zen” about the issues – I realize I have no control and try to let go.
Not working so much. I worry, because it’s part of who I am.
I realize I cannot control the emotions and actions of others.
I can try to influence, but in the end I have to realize that they will do as they will.
I suppose the best I can do is simply prepare for the inevitable phrases:
“I didn’t mean to hurt you…”, “It’s me not you…”, or whatever.
I suppose I could rationalize away some of my worry by accepting that I cannot predict the future.
The problem is – I can.
No, I’m not clairvoyant.
We can all predict the future in small ways. Most often with human behavior.
Why? Because we have seen it all our lives.
We’ve seen how certain patterns of behavior lead to others.
We often know what someone is going to do before they do themselves.
Why? Because they are caught up in the moment of the doing, they aren’t observing themselves or the effect of their actions on the world around them.
Predictions become more accurate the better you know someone.
You’ve encountered this with friends and family members.
Sometimes you know exactly what they are going to say before they say it.
Sometimes you’ll finish each others sentences. And so on.
Sometimes you’ll know their hates and loves before they admit to them.
It’s telegraphed in body language, vocal inflections, speech patterns…etc.
Patterns of behavior can lead to long term predictions.
I’m not really sure how to best describe this phenomenon.
For example, someone starts to complain about their job.
Sometime later they stop working on work at home, then they start showing up late to work, then taking “mental health” days – and eventually they are either going to quit or get fired. Either way the path to leaving that job was setup and traveled over this course of weeks or months. During this time the individual would affirm their commitment to their job, not admitting that they want out.
As an observer though, you knew where they were heading a long time ago.
They same holds true for any endeavor – especially interpersonal relationships.
Often times you can tell where someone is headed in a relationship long before they admit it to themselves.
Many people have experienced the loss of their SO in bits and pieces, rather than all at once.
That slow reduction in intimacy, the gradual distance in interactions, the casual neglect given to the needs of the relationship, the exhibition of NRE.
Then one day, it’s just gone.
Sometimes the body is still there, but the emotions are somewhere else.
And the worst part, to me anyway, is that you can see it coming.
It’s like having your foot caught in the middle of a railroad track.
You’re stuck, you can see the train coming for miles.
You jump, shout and wave your arms, but you know that you’re too small for it to notice.
You know that the pain is inevitable, the death is coming.
BUT, you have a choice – you don’t have to wait for the train to hit you, you can take action!
All you have to do is sever your leg, and the rest of you is free.
Sure, you’ll be maimed for life – but you’ll be alive.
You know others have done it, should you?
Change is inevitable, one way or another – can you deal?
It’s comforting to know that one can always opt out. Completely.
I was thinking this morning on what it means to “nurture” and “support”.
It occurred to me that many individuals confuse responsibility and obligation with being nurturing.
When you choose to have a child you become obligated to care (literal not figurative) for that child. At the least you must perform actions as required by law.
Feed, clothe, maintain its health, educate it – if only out of self-interest so the child doesn’t remain dependent on you any longer than necessary.
None of those actions is nurturing, they should be natural actions of any mammal for its young. Of course we only have to watch the news about how horribly children are abused to see the lie in that assumption.
What then is nurturing?
Nurturing are those acts you take that enhance the emotional, intellectual, and spiritual status or development of another. Nurturing can be as simple as “Good Job!”, as difficult as an intervention for an addict, or as painful as holding the hand of the dying.
Nurturing means being there for someone else when you DON’T have to be.
Some people mistakenly believe that every act of self sacrifice is nurturing.
However sometimes self sacrifice falls under your aforementioned responsibilities and obligations. For example, going to your child’s parent/teacher conference instead of out to see a movie. Not nurturing, just obligation. Or not spending $75 on a new pair of shoes so you can buy school supplies. Not nurturing, just obligation.
What then is “support”? Support is the action part of nurturing.
A quick clarification – “Moral support” isn’t support. It’s wishful thinking.
It is akin to saying “I wish you well and success in your endeavors” – lip service, not support.
Support are those tasks you undertake to assist another in the completion of theirs, without actually doing theirs.
Frequently this can be thought of as a team, people supporting each other towards a common goal.
Like nurturing, people often assume that they are “supporting” someone simply because they said, “I support you”.
For example –
Spouse 1: “Honey, I have a really big and very important project I’ll be working on for the next two months. I could really use your support on this.”
Spouse 2: “Of course dear, you know you have my support!”
Spouse 1 returns home at late having been gone since 5am
Spouse 1: “Honey, did you make dinner?”
Spouse 2: “No dear.”
Spouse 1: “Ok, I’ll just fix myself something.”
Spouse 1: “Honey, I’m not seeing anything in the fridge except some left over curry I brought home last week.”
Spouse 2: “Yeah, we need to go shopping.”
Spouse 1 returns home after another exhausting day.
Spouse 1: “Honey, I’m really hungry. Did you go shopping?”
Spouse 2: “No, but there’s some leftover sushi from lunch in the fridge.”
Spouse 1: “Ok, but I can’t find any dishes…”
Spouse 2: “Yeah, the dishwasher needs to be loaded.”
Spouse 1: “Did you unload the pots and pans?”
Spouse 2: “No, I never got to it.”
Spouse 1: “Honey, I’m really hungry. Did you go shopping?”
Spouse 2: “No, but I haven’t eaten either, let’s just order in.”
Spouse 1: “Ok, what do you want to eat?”
Spouse 2: “Oh, I don’t know – but no pizza or chinese…”
Spouse 1: “Ok…no pizza or chinese…any other thoughts?”
Spouse 2: “No, not really. I could go for some steak.”
Spouse 1: “Steak delivery………Ok, where from?”
Spouse 2: “Oh, I don’t know, can’t you look it up on the internet?”
Spouse 1: “……………Alright, I’ll go look……..”
You get the idea. Substitute any task that Spouse 1 can’t complete because they are too busy working on the important project they told Spouse 2 about.
Spouse 1 gave Spouse 2 a heads up, Spouse 2 said no problem.
If Spouse 2 had been honest and said “I wish you well and success in your endeavor, however I will not be able to support your efforts”, then at least Spouse 1 would know they were on their own and could adjust their lifestyle and behaviours accordingly.
Once you know you can’t rely on someone for support, 1) you don’t have to deal with the disappointment of the support being lacking or non-existent, and 2) you can make all the necessary arrangements yourself.
I have more to say on this subject, but I’ve got a headache and am tired of thinking…L8R
I have failed to learn how to communicate in an “adult” fashion.
I believe the word they use is “assertiveness”, I lack “assertiveness”.
Instead I rely on passive/aggressive communication modes, or allow my anger to communicate for me.
Neither method is particular effective.
Direct honest communication – that’s the ticket – or at least that’s what I’m told.
But what kind of heartless S.O.B. must you be if you can look into the eyes of people you care about and tell them things that might even have a slim possibility of hurting them.
The counter to the “pain avoidance” argument is that humans require pain for learning. Without pain no one has the incentive to change. Of course pain doesn’t even begin to ensure change, and even if change results you can never be sure the results were what you wanted. The changes could be positive or negative from any number of viewpoints.
The change could be positive for you and negative for them; e.g. they give you the last slice of pizza.
Or negative for you, but positive for them; e.g. they dump your ass.
Or negative for both of you; e.g. they begin abusing drugs to avoid the pain inflicted.
So is change good or bad? Neither, it’ just change – but bringing about change is always a risk.
That sounds a lot like the “guns don’t kill people, people kill people” argument.
While I’m an ardent supporter of gun rights, that particular argument has always stuck me as specious.
I mean seriously, inanimate objects never DO anything!
Back to the problem of communication.
Even in seemingly routine communication you can’t be sure the message you meant to send is the message received.
He said “The dress is too tight”, she heard “You’re ass is fat”.
What he meant was “I love the curves on your body, but that dress is flattening all those gorgeous curves.”
She said “I have a headache”, He heard “You’re crap in bed and I don’t love you enough to put up with it”. What she meant was “My sinuses have been killing me all day and it feels like someone shoved knitting needles in my eyes.”
So why don’t people say what they mean?
Because being mindful of how what you say will be received is a cognitively intensive process, and because no matter how mindful you are of both the delivery and possible interpretation of your message, it can still be misinterpreted by the receiver.
Even worse, you can say what you mean, the other person can perfectly understand what you mean, and not care.
Of all possible interpretations – to me – this is the most painful. When what you have to say is discarded as irrelevant, unimportant, or not acknowledged at all. (ooh, rather like this blog…)
“Just because I don’t care doesn’t mean I don’t understand.” – Homer Simpson
Having attempted mindful assertive communications, and having had them not work (ok, fail spectacularly), I’m inclined to resort to the communications modes I learned before age 5.
After all they seemed to work.
Although I’m not quite sure how to throw a temper tantrum in an e-mail…
“You tried your best and failed miserably. The lesson is: never try.” – Homer Simpson