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deep down, faith, family, friends

The Next Step

Today is a one step in front of the other kind of day.  Yesterday was a struggle to get off the couch day.  There is progress being made, I know, but it still doesn’t feel like it.

Things have snowballed lately.  The good mixed with the hard.  We went along with Tim on his European business trip.  Then some of our besties came up to visit.  We buried my grandmother.  The woman who I always saw as our quiet matriarch.  As we ended another successful baseball season, I got asked to coach the summer All-Star team.  Then vacation ended, our friends flew home and we went back to normal life, knowing they would be states away and months would go by before we saw them again.  Summer is looming and our daily life will look different.  Jack’s birthday was a month ago and I haven’t even planned his party yet.  We need another car and I hate car shopping.

When the positive stuff gets mixed in with the hard situations, it all seems overwhelming.  I have a hard time compartmentalizing and I tend to overgeneralize so much so that I cannot pick out and appreciate the good.  The responsibilities and to-do lists pile up for even the positive happenings and those begin to turn negative in my mind.

The other day I was thinking of how magical it would be to go live off the grid, on some farm by a lake or river.  But then I realized that I would get so tired of wearing my hippy clothes after a few weeks and would begin to salivate at the thought of ordering a pizza.  There would be gardens to weed and grass to mow and my simple chic cabin to repair.  I threw my magical dream aside and consoled myself with the ease of online shopping.  Off-trail hippy dreams are so exhausting.

Yesterday I tried to do some of the things I know help in times like these.  I sent off some one liner prayers and meditations that St. Annie likes.  Help, please.  Thanks.  Then I opened up my bible and read about how we are all in this together.  There is no us and them, it’s just us.

But today I did the same thing and read about how there is us and them.  I got mad and sent off some more simple prayers.  Why?  I don’t get it.  I thought we are all in the same family.  The whole, us versus them thing hasn’t quite worked out in all of history.  So contradictory and off-message.

I took more baby steps, in hopes of jumping out of the hole.  I folded some laundry and made breakfast.  I went for a run, following the boys as they rode their bikes to school.  I waved and yelled,  “I love you!” as they waved back and pretended they didn’t hear that last part in front of their friends.  They’ve got to keep up appearances, I know that.

Today I am going to keep moving.  Keep breathing and putting one foot in front of the other.  It won’t always be like this.  I won’t always feel like this.  Tomorrow might be better or worse, but all I can accomplish is that next step.

For now, that next step will be to hit publish.  I might try to edit this a bit, but that will probably be too much for today, just a heads up.

being an introvert, change, family, friends

No More Apologies

I was chatting with a friend and we were talking about apologizing.  She laughed and said, “We women walk out of the womb saying, ‘I’m sorry.'”  That is so true!  Why is that?  Is it just a female thing?  How do we learn to apologize for everything under the sun?

After mulling this topic over for a few days, I’ve decided to stop apologizing.

Please note: This does NOT count for instances when I am truly in the wrong.  I will apologize all day long to Tim, my boys, my family, my friends and everybody else if I mess up.  Here is what I’m talking about:

1. I will not apologize for setting boundaries that safeguard my family and myself.  This includes physical, emotional and social boundaries.  This might mean declining certain invitations or leaving early from events.  We may not sign up for every sport or academic club no matter how vital or popular the advertised skills may be.  “That’s a great offer, but no thank you, ” will not be accompanied by, “I’m sorry but we can’t make it.”

2. I will not apologize for being a lady and playing “man roles” like coaching a boys baseball team.  I’m not sorry when I plan out a practice drill that the players don’t quite get.  We’ll get it right and try again next practice.  I’ll teach those players to run the bases aggressively because when the pitchers are wild and the catchers can’t catch, we will get the W by stealing home eight times in a row.  The dads aren’t apologizing for winning, so I won’t either.  I also won’t apologize for teaching my players humility and compassion towards the other team.  It’s fun to win but empathy is a skill they will value long after they realize making it to the major leagues is a pipe dream.

3. No more apologies will come from me when I decline to attend another event or meeting when my schedule is already full.  And I won’t apologize when my “full schedule” doesn’t seem full to someone else.  My brain and body need recharge time.  That’s just who I am.  The Crazy Lindsey comes out when I haven’t had a chance to get back to normal frequency levels.  Believe me, nobody wants her here.

4.  I won’t apologize for being quiet in a world that doesn’t see the strength in that.  I also won’t apologize for my child’s slow to warm up demeanor either.  Susan Cain is teaching me that 50% of the world is like us shy ones, we just live in a culture that only values the other loud half.  We need both the quiet and loud, the sensitive and thick-skinned, the yin and yang.  It’s the combo that is successfully complete.

5. Financial decisions we make as a family don’t need have apologies attached.  Quite frankly, we don’t need to justify any decisions we make for the four of us.  Our family is, for the most part, an open book.  If there are explanations requested, we’ll oblige, but we aren’t sorry about well thought out conclusions.  We love to verbally process and philosophize with our trusted small circle.  They don’t need fake apologies from us and we don’t care if they make different resolutions for their own families.  Differences aren’t threatening, they make this world more colorful and beautiful.

6. I won’t apologize for my wardrobe choices.  First of all, everybody who knows me, understands that my husband has better fashion sense than I do.  If left to my own devices, I will be in jeans and t-shirts or any sort of workout attire (with no gym in sight).  I’m in my mid-thirties so the need for comfort has overpowered the need to impress others.  Sorry, I’m not sorry about that.

7. When others come over to my house, I won’t apologize for the messiness.  I love a clean house like anybody else, but some weeks the household chores don’t get crossed off the list.  If you are in our house, you are family.  We will feed you and house you because we WANT to and that’s what life is all about.  Hospitality is much more than sparkly counter tops.  Plus, if I apologize for the state of my house, that conveys the message to my guests about what I expect when I go over to their house.  I don’t freaking care if you have dog hair on your couch and toys scattered everywhere, I sure hope you don’t mind if I do too.

8. I won’t apologize when, “I’m sorry” accidentally slips out.  It’s a habit almost 34 years in the making; it is going to take a while to reshape the behavior that has become automatic.  Whenever it does slip out, I want to be introspective.  Did I really need to say that?  Am I really sorry?  Hopefully, then I can get to the root of the situation and the message I truly want to convey.

The problem with unnecessary apologizing is it loses it’s potency.  The words lose strength and credibility when peppered into every day speech.  Save the I’m sorrys for when they are real.

Honest remorse and regret are needed to heal and refuel all relationships.  We all mess up and it does your people justice when you admit it.  I’m not talking about the, “I’m sorry that you feel that way, or I’m sorry that you interpreted the situation that way.”  Those are cheap and fake words.  Don’t take the easy way out.  You are pretending to apologize when really still placing blame on the other person.  Take some ownership over your own actions and hurtful words.

I’m still working on this.  I’m guilty of fake apologies.  Now I’m trying to weed out the stuff that doesn’t need to be there.  Both the fake words and the unnecessary ones take away from what’s real.  When I tell someone, “I’m sorry,” I want it to be genuine and complete.  Hopefully my true offerings will be met with grace.

Are you like me?  What situations do you feel the need to offer up unnecessary apologies?  Are real I’m sorry’s hard for you?

friends, life, parenting

Spineless

Looking back on my history of friendships and relationships, there are some that were pretty screwed up.  For some reason, I played the role of a spineless turd.  I have no idea how I got myself into these situations.  Maybe it was because it was a phase in my life where I was desperate for friendship and I didn’t care who with, as long as it was with a breathing person.  Sometimes I wonder if I had a sign on my forehead that said, “Put thumbprint here.  Push down as hard as you can.”  Maybe they had their own insecurities and they saw a passive sidekick in me.  Who knows.

It’s just weird though, because anybody who knows the real, whole me, knows that I DO NOT like being told what to do.  I hate feeling manipulated and pushed around.  Who doesn’t, really.  I have my own ideas and I like control of most situations.  I know I’m intelligent and strong but for some reason, these relationships left me second guessing myself.

I’ve just been wondering lately how I got myself into these situations.  I really want to figure it out so I don’t make this grave mistake again.  Maybe it’s because I tend to be non-verbal in heated conversations.  Maybe it’s because I avoid confrontation at all costs.  Some people are for-fun-debaters or confrontational by nature.  There’s nothing wrong with that, I just shy away from it.  If people are having a friendly debate and voices get raised all the alarms go off in my head and my adrenaline starts pumping.  Oh my gosh, they’re fighting!  Where can I run and hide?  In the fight/flight, my go-to is almost always flight.

I’m not really sure why I’m like this; I just am.  And when I’m around a friend who is opposite, I can only hide for so long.  It just takes up so much energy to be in these kinds of friendships and then even more to figure out how to gracefully bow out of it.

And believe me, most of the time, my exits were not pretty.

Thankfully, not all my friendships are like this.  I have had, and still have, some that are amazing.  In these we are equals.  We are kindred spirits.  They are iron sharpens iron situations.  I’m grateful for my small circle of friends because it’s easy with them.  We have fun, get along great, but hard times, on my end or theirs, don’t phase us.

Maybe, me sitting here, wondering why some friendships failed, isn’t worth my time.  I just really really don’t want to get myself involved with anything like that again.  I might be thinking of it because we are relatively new in our new town.  We are meeting more and more people so we are building our network here.  I’m happy with my small circle of friends that I already have but aren’t we supposed to get involved in the community we live in?  How can I do that without building friendships?  Maybe I just have to cultivate my vulnerability by taking the risk that some friendships may turn out toxic.  If that happens, I can fall back on my posse and they will take care of me.

I might also be rolling this topic around because sometimes I see the boys getting into uneven friendships.  I always thought both would take on more leadership roles in their social circles.  This isn’t always the case.  I am surprised when they follow into not so positive situations.  I want to save them from eventual heartbreak, from imploding friendships or others that sadly fade away.  I know it’s part of the “let them live and learn” parenting trick, but it’s so hard to watch.  I wish there was something else to do rather than sit and wait for them to crumble onto the couch after a relationship has died.

Of course, I turn it back onto myself and play the blame game.  Am I setting a bad example of how to be in a friendship?  Is it in our genes to sometimes get trampled on?  Did I pass that shit down to them?  I want to put on a brave face for them and for myself, but I’m learning that a fake smile and blame aren’t the answers.  Vulnerability is.

I’m not sure about any of this.  Any suggestions?  Yes, I’m asking for your opinion.  I’ll try really hard to not take it as you telling me what to do.  I may or may not put your suggestions into practice because, obviously, I’m sensitive about power plays.  So much so, I have no brain indication of discerning the difference between helpful suggestions and someone making me feel like a wet paper towel.  I need help, obviously.