Thursday, January 06, 2011

be the change

In my counseling session last week, my therapist asked me how my siblings and I acted when we went to a family get-together when we were growing up.  When we visited my mom's side of the family, there was this unspoken expectation that we behave as if we had it all together.  I don't ever remember being told to act this way.  We just assumed that Mom wanted our family to be presented in the best possible light.  We sat like ducks in a row and didn't mention if we were having relationship problems or struggles with school or if our parents' rules were soooo unfair.  We were just to smile and nod.

When we visited my dad's side, we acted like we had it all together because it was the one place on earth where we could escape from our doubts, our insecurities, our problems and just act happy.  Being with them was the happiest place on earth.  We didn't want to mess with that.  We didn't want to tarnish it with our faults and fears. We kept it sacred. 

Different motivations.  Same results. 

My therapist then asked if my kids behave as if they assume a particular expectation comes from me or Ben.  I thought about it and realized that my kids DO an awful lot of smiling and nodding when they are around others.  They make nice, play well with their cousins (for the most part), and only discuss those things that they think will impress their family and friends.  They show off how much they're learning in school.  They don't bring up the fact that they have been bullied or have accidents at night and have to wear Pull Ups. 

I've never sat them down and told them to behave this way.  I've never told them that only pleasant conversations should happen around family and friends.  They must have picked it up from watching me.

We model allllll kinds of stuff to our kids.  Good and bad.  I want my kids to feel free to be themselves at all times.  I don't want them to feel the need to dress up their lives.  Don't get me wrong - they are still to choose wisely and have manners and treat people the way they want to be treated.  But I want them to have the freedom to speak up if they need and maybe ask a family member for advice. I want them to feel like they can confide in their loved ones.  I want them to feel free to cry if they need to cry.  I realize that there is a time and place for certain conversations.  And that no one likes a Debbie Downer all the time.  But the only way my kids will feel the freedom to do this is if I do it.  My example will give them the permission they need to be authentic WAY more than my words could.

I get frustrated when people dress up their lives.  It makes me feel like they expect me to dress up my life.  That if I don't I will be considered too high maintenance for them to get involved with.  But sometimes I need a shoulder to cry on, someone to talk to, someone to be me around.  I don't want to pretend that life is always easy.  (Fyi, it isn't!  For anyone.)  Because then others will expect that their lives should be easy and will feel awkward when they actually need to vent/talk/cry/scream. 


In the spirit of un-dressing my life, I would like to offer you the following.  Now you'll have NO reason not to be YOU around me.
  • I fart and poop sometimes.  Neither smell like roses.
  • I can cuss like a sailor and eat like a trucker.
  • Sometimes I forget to brush my teeth and hair all day.  There have even been times when I've forgotten for a whole week.
  • I rip off and then eat the cuticles around my fingernails.
  • I blame others for my circumstances even if they are completely within my power to change.
  • I HATE it when someone tries to convince me of their point of view by starting their statement with the word "Look..."  I find it dismissive and disrespectful.
  • I am way too easily annoyed by my husband.  WAY too easily.  (He starts off his statements with "Look..." a lot.)
  • I would much rather be uncomfortable and you be comfortable than for me to be comfortable and you be uncomfortable.  This has led me to say things that I didn't mean because I was afraid my true opinion might make someone uncomfortable.  It has also led me to let some people treat me like poop.
  • I would rather guess at my diagnosis and rummage through my house for a 'treatment,' or suck it up and WILL myself well, than see a doctor.
  • I dismiss myself far too often.
  • I have a LOT of grey hair.
  • I can be very, very stubborn once I've made up my mind.  This can be both a pro and a con.
  • The scars on my body are like a road map through my life.  Some point to deep pain.  Others lead me to remember times of great risk and joy.  I have a trio of scars shaped like crosses on my upper thigh.  I remember doing it.  I wasn't a Christian at the time but was drawn to the sacrifice made on the Cross.
  • My children have watched many episodes of The Simpsons.  Josh quoted Homer this morning during breakfast.
  • I only ate lunch in the cafeteria during my freshman year of high school.  I spent the next three years of lunchtimes in the band hall. I went to read, write, practice my flute, or sing my brains out when I thought no one was listening.  The band director gave me a key to the band hall because he was wise enough to realize that I wouldn't have survived high school without that break during the middle of my day. 
  • I mostly listen to klove or WayFM in the car.  I also listen to a LOT of film scores.  And when I'm alone in the car, I totally rock out to Ke$ha's 'Hole in the Wall' because it is filthy, and I like that sometimes.
  • I have yet to read through the entire Bible.
  • I prefer salty to sweet.  Except when I'm sad.  Then all I can think about is truckloads of cookies and chocolate.
  • If I had ever had twins, I would have named them Oliver and Olivia and called them Ollie and Liv.  I like the names so much that I have started to write a children's fictional series with them as the main characters.  Don't expect to see them in the bookstores.  They're pretty much just for me.
  • I have eaten monkey brains right out of the skull.  I have no idea where I was when it happened.  But I have seen photographic proof.  This is evidence that I will try just about anything that could remotely be considered edible.  It is also evidence that I used to get so wasted that I didn't make very smart choices.
  • I don't feel like I'm done getting tattoos.
  • I have a BAD case of gingivitis.  I can be talking, and my gums will start to bleed.  I don't have just a little 'pink in the sink.'  After brushing my teeth, it looks like I've slaughtered a lamb.
There.  If you want to know anything else, just ask.  I ain't scared.  I can't expect you to be authentic with me if I can't be authentic with you.  I'm being the change I want to see.  Trying to be a better model.  :)


Kelley said...

I cuss like a sailor and eat like a trucker too. So glad I'm not the only one!

hartman said...

someday we should eat like truckers together!!! (I really want to get you the books "everyone poops" and "the gas we pass" now too.) :)

lisa said...

Haa!!! Tell it like it is!!!

I get to eat sushi like a trucker tomorrow night for our aanniversary dinneer. Refined, claassy trucks! It's gonnaa be baanaanas!