I discovered an ugly truth about myself that needed to be addressed last week. I discovered that in times of heartbreak, I can make everything (even more than usual) all about me and it made me sick. I can think that every mean thing someone says is directed at me. I tend to react far more intensely than on a “normal” day. Fortunately for me, I did this in my own head and my own heart this time, rather than run to Facebook or my blog to make sure that eeeeeeeeveryone knew how my heart was hurting or my opinion on everything. I had a minute to take a step back and put things in perspective and I was pretty disgusted by myself. So I’m adjusting course.
This week a few things happened in the world. My husband lost one of the very few people he calls a friend on Friday morning in a motorcycle accident in the Houston area. The very next morning, Houston and its surrounding areas were pounded by that a-hole Hurricane Harvey and that devastation continues even as I type. Though the rain has retreated and the waters have receded some, the damage is mind-numbing. People, places, and things will never be the same. People I love have been separated from their families for days. Places I’ve visited have been damaged beyond recognition. It’s unreal. And it made me vulnerable to this “woe is me” thing that I do…and then it woke me up.
One thing I do when things are overwhelmingly sad is become very, very sensitive to my surroundings…overly so. If you are one of those pain in the butt passive aggressive Facebook posters, I thought you were talking about me. If you didn’t smile huge at me, I thought I screwed up. I even asked the admissions counselor at Arizona State what I was doing wrong that I hadn’t received an answer reagarding my acceptance (or lack thereof) yet. Seriously? Get over yourself, Danielle. It truly is not about you. These people have other students to worry about.
I had three people send me a Facebook Live video of a doctor who says that parents should absolutely not let their children play football. They didn’t post it (I saw it from a couple of friends on my timeline too, but I could ignore that)…they took the time to send it to me privately. No, really. Three people I care about (who no doubt care about me in their own ways) sent a video that they KNEW would send me sideways because I have always struggled with my kids playing football. It was tough not to overreact to that. But I bit my tongue until it bled and I refrained from even mentioning it until now because I needed to have a clear mind. And with that clear mind, I decided to let those three people know that the day I feel like I need their help raising my sons or the day I need them to financially contribute to my sons’ upbringings is the day I will value their unsolicited opinion about what we do and don’t choose to allow our kids to do. I’m not going to lie. My blood is boiling right now as I write this, but I can see the bigger picture now. And although the bigger picture ain’t necessarily pretty, I am thankful for it.
I am thankful that I will now be thinking for ONE extra minute about how I talk to people, about how I address their situation (but only if they ask), and about what I should NOT EVER say to them because it ain’t my business. I am thankful that I will not have to worry my head about other people’s children doing or saying or acting a certain way. They don’t want to deal with it? Not my problem. They want to let their kids say or do things I wouldn’t? Not my problem. All I have to do is SHUT UP. Shut up and/or walk away. It’s really a beautiful and freeing thing. Magical.
I know I sound like a sarcastic jerk, but it’s time I got myself back to the basics. I’ll worry about me and the clan I’m in. You want to encourage? Please do. You want to give me input? Please do. You want to help me pour into these boys and help them grow into fine, young men? Please do. But please DON’T do the following and I won’t either:
- don’t tell me everything I’m doing wrong simply because it isn’t the way you do it
- don’t tell my kids your opinion of them playing a sport that you don’t like because they WILL tell me and our exchange may not be super pleasant for either of us when I call you
- don’t threaten to “unfriend” me if I can’t speak kindly to you when you do one of the aforementioned things…just unfriend me. I probably won’t even notice.
- don’t add fuel to my fire when you know how hard I’m struggling with my kids growing up. I have a senior. There is a possibility he won’t live with me within the next little bit here. I don’t need you compounding that.
- don’t be a punk (I have other words I want to insert there, but my mom hates when I swear in writing)
I don’t want to be a cynical mess. I want to be encouraging. I want people to know they can count on me for support and to help however I can in whatever way I can whenever I can. I want people to leave an encounter with me feeling better than they did before. But enough is enough. I can’t do that at the cost of my sanity. And I don’t expect anyone else to, either.
And, in the spirit of leaving things and people in better conditions than when I first encounter them, I’m supporting an initiative that I hope will make some kind of difference in the great state of Texas (and I do believe it’s a truly great state). If you feel compelled, donate to the Houston Flood Relief Fund. This city and its neighbors are going to be rebuilding for a while and every cent helps. It’s not because I’m a JJ Watt fan (which I am). It’s not because I’m a Houston Texans fan (which I am). It’s not because my dog is lightweight named after #99 (which he is). It’s because it’s the only way I can be there without BEING there right now.