Wednesday, December 7, 2011

It's a Lot More Difficult Being Right Than You Would Think

I’ll be honest, there was a lot about that Leadership program I was in that is a bit of a blur now. I was learning so much and losing a big part of what I believed to be my truth and the definition of who I was as a person. There was so much of it that made sense and so much that I don’t think I’ll ever truly understand. Then, of course, there were the things that happened and actions that were taken that I didn’t believe in; things that seemed contradictory to what I was learning. I left the program confused and frustrated, but still hanging on, white-knuckled, to this newfound discovery of what I thought it meant to live a life of responsibility. 

This is what I choose to write about the most because it is what has shaped my adult life more than any other experience. More so than moving to Los Angeles at 18, more than my relationships with men and even more so than the marijuana that I coveted and worshipped as my guidance for so many years. When it finally clicked that hoping and wishing for things to change were not that same as actually BEING the hope and the change that I wanted, my life began to look quite differently. My roadblock continues to be not being able to visualize what I actually want to do with my life. Building a successful career, having a family and buying my own home are three things that mean very little to me and always have. I know that I want to be happy and content with who I am and what I have, but the analytical part of me seems to think there are steps to take to become this person. In all that I have learned, the only real change I need to make is shifting my mind from WANTING to be happy to simply CHOOSING happiness. Easy, right? 

One of the most influential people in my training was a woman by the name of Martha Diane. When she spoke, I heard her. I never wanted her to quit talking because it seemed like she was the only person saying things in a way where I understood them so clearly. She told a story one time that I told myself I would never forget because it opened in me a kind of awareness that I didn’t know existed. 

It’s been a little while since I thought about this story and I may get a few of the details wrong, but this is how I remember it and the overall point remains the same... 

She was at home one day with her fiance. She had had a bit of an exhausting and frustrating day as I recall, and became annoyed with the fact that her fiance was sitting in the living room either playing video games or watching television or something... an activity that she found to be irrelevant. Especially given his unbelievable talent as a musician, I believe (My brain is trying to decide if it was musician or carpenter.. but I think the carpenter thing is just because I recently read an article about Jesus). 

She was upset about the fact that he was wasting his time doing something that had no purpose when he could be out writing the world’s next best song and sharing his gift with others. She began to nag at him and soon created some conflict. Being a leader in the world of Universal Law, specifically in the Law of Responsibility she quickly caught herself and realized what she was doing. 

She told us that she stopped her incessant nagging and instead starting asking herself questions such as “when am I going to sit down and write that book I’ve always wanted to?” and “what am I doing for my life that makes me feel fulfilled and satisfied?” 

Martha Diane believed that not only would taking action on these issues immediately shift the focus to her and her responsibilities in life, she believed that by putting her energy into making her world what she wanted, this would create a ripple effect in her household and before she knew it, her fiance would be creating the kind of music he always wanted to. She believed strongly in living a life of responsibility and that the results of living this way could be incredible mind-blowing. 

I don’t know how or why, but hearing her tell this story made everything I was learning come together and finally make sense. It’s not so much a “worry about yourself and let everyone else worry about themselves” kind of theory as much as it is a “be the change you want to see and watch your world change around you”. 

The problem with this is that it is not unlike learning a second language. If you stop practicing daily or stop being around those who speak that language regularly, what you have already learned becomes more difficult to remember and harder to put into play in your daily life. 

Tim has been going through some DMV issues. A few years ago, he got a few tickets for speeding, no proof of insurance, etc. and at the time, didn’t make it a priority to show up for his court appearances. So, while they were minor offenses, not handling them properly caused him to lose his license and owe a heavy chunk of money in order to get it back. It became overwhelming for him and it wasn’t until just recently that he decided to take on his burden and get things handled. 

Of course, this is a lot easier said than done. “Handling it” required going in front of a judge who issued him a laundry list of things to do in order to get his license back and get his fees reduced. Some of these things included traffic school, researching who he had insurance with at the time of one of the tickets, coming back to court within a certain time frame and dealing with the collections agency that was now handling the financial aspects of his case. Needless to say, he has been feeling quite overwhelmed again. 

To make matters worse, he failed his written drive test at the DMV the first time he took it. He went back the next day and passed, but then had to wait two weeks to take his drive test. He has to get back to court to show his license soon so time is of the essence. 

Finally the morning came where he was supposed to take his drive test. He told me that when he got back, we would go celebrate him having his license again. While he was gone, I decided I would sleep a little more and then get in the shower so I’d be ready to go when he came back home. 

When I emerged from the shower, he was home. He was sitting on the couch and his energy was low. I became worried that he had failed his drive test and asked him what was wrong. As it turned out, his car had a brake light that was out so they told him he would need to fix it before they could do the drive test. Frustrated, he drove to Walmart, bought a replacement, fixed it in the parking lot and then went back to the DMV. When he checked back in to take the test, the woman behind the counter with the stereotypical DMV attitude told him he had missed his appointment time and would need to go on standby and see if there was another appointment available. Overly annoyed with the debacle, he decided to just reschedule his drive test for another two weeks from that day. 

As he was telling me the story, I immediately began to get angry. Part of me was angry just because he was, but I was also frustrated that he had given up so easily. I was frustrated that he didn’t just stay on standby since he had the day off anyway. I was upset that he didn’t want to do whatever it took to just get it handled already. I knew time was ticking and that this was an important step in him moving forward. Before I knew it, I was grinding my teeth. 

Then he asked me what was wrong. 

I forgot all about Martha Diane in that moment. 

I let him have it. I told him how disappointed I was that he got so defeated and gave up so easily. I asked him what else he had to do that day and why not wait it out? I told him my frustrations one at a time until I had laid out at least five or six of them and then added one more just for good measure. 

When I finished unloading, I looked him in the face. He looked as if someone had just told him there would be no Christmas this year. He was hurt, ashamed and sadder than I had ever seen him. He offered no rebuttal, just waited a few minutes, grabbed his keys and said he was going for a walk. 

But I was helping, right? I mean, someone has to keep his eye on the prize, right? Sometimes it just takes a little push to get going, right? 

Hmm.. so why did I feel like such a piece of poop?

I went to work that night and tried to forget about how mean I was. I tried telling myself I was doing the right thing. After all, he doesn’t need an enabler, he needs someone to keep him motivated, to follow through, to help him understand how much better he is going to feel when all of this is behind him. He doesn’t need someone else giving up on him. 

It wasn’t working. I still felt bad. But, I stuck to my guns and when I got home that night, I acted normal and told him that I was sorry that I made him feel bad but made sure he understood that I didn’t regret what I said, only how I said it. Funny how that didn’t make him feel better, huh? 

Sure is a good thing I don’t have any of my own demons that I need to face and deal with! Good thing I’m perfect! 

(See how out of practice I am?) 

The next day, we decided to just have a nice day off together. I had taken the day off of work to watch the Oklahoma/Oklahoma State game so we went bowling together in the morning and then headed out to have some lunch and a few beers at a local bar. 

I wasn’t planning on gambling. My nest egg is dwindling and I can no longer spend money like I have $20,000 burning a hole in my pocket (too soon?)

So, I agreed that I would spend $60 and that was it. So I spent $60. Then I snuck off to the ATM and pulled out $60 more. I spent that too. So I asked Tim if he would loan me another $20 and he said no. 

It could have been the beer. It could have been the frustration of losing $120 that I needed for Christmas. However, I knew it was none of those things. I exploded in an adult size temper tantrum because deep down, I was unhappy with my lack of discipline with my finances, my frustration with where I am in life and after spending the entire football game that night on the couch with Tim in the bedroom, I realized that I wasn’t practicing the one thing that made the most sense to me all those years ago. 

The Law of Responsibility. 

I wasn’t mad that Tim didn’t stick around all day at the DMV to take his drive test. I wasn’t mad that he gave up so quickly. I wasn’t mad that he came home so defeated. 

I was mad that I’ve given up on the things I want to do. I’m mad that having no direction with my writing has made me feel defeated. I’m mad that I moved my drawing table into my room and have decided not to set it up, even though I have an unbelievable talent. I’m mad that I’ve allowed myself to gain weight out of sheer laziness. I’m mad that I’m completely content being a server and I’m letting it define me as a person. I’m mad that I don’t want to be more than what I am. 

Remember that blog? Well it was just the tip of the iceberg. 

Tim emerged from the bedroom that night and sat next to me on the couch. I immediately burst into tears and woefully apologized for all that I had said and done to make him feel like he was less than the amazing man he is. I acknowledged my own shortcomings and how I was deflecting my frustrations with myself onto him and his challenges. I purged and purged, blew my nose and purged some more. 

How can taking responsibility be so hard and so cathartic at the same time? 

Because he’s the most incredible person I know, he forgave me. A few days later, in a text message exchange, he told me that he would “not go quietly into the night in our relationship.” The tears that text brought to my eyes were much better than the ones from the other night. 

I’m super hard on myself - harder than anyone I know. And when I get tired of being hard on myself, I become hard on others. I’m the coach that always needs to win, the parent whose daughter must become head cheerleader and the Orange County housewife with the most expensive Christmas decorations. I’m the person that I can’t stand. 

Having this most recent meltdown, however, was good for me. It takes me further away from that type of person and closer to... well, Martha Diane. 

I must be doing something right. My family is amazing, my boyfriend is incredible and my football team is winning. I definitely get to acknowledge myself for the things I am that are wonderful instead of always getting down on myself for not being... more. 

The New Year is upon us as is my new list of resolutions. I have a feeling they are going to be a lot different than last year. I made a declaration last year about 2011 being the year to love. I found a whole new different kind of love for my family, I attracted a person who loves everything about me and that is so easy for me to love and I watched many of my friends fall in love and fill their homes with little bundles of love. So my declaration was a good one. 

2012 is going to be the year of health. I’m not sure exactly what this looks like yet, but I know that it is going to be in both the mental and physical sense. 

But 2011 isn’t over yet and there is still one more element of love that I need to handle. I need to love me. All of me... for everything I’ve been, everything I am and everything I will be. 

I think if Martha Diane read this, she’d be proud. 

Either that or she would correct my grammar.

1 comment:

  1. Here's the great thing about life: It's NEVER too late to do what you want!!! :) (I'm an example of that in some ways.)

    You may be frustrated about not feeling direction with your writing career, your drawing table not being set up, etc., but the great thing is that you may wake up one day with a thought, idea, or motivation that brings some of that into focus. Even if you're 80 when that happens, it won't be too late! :)