This was a week of lessons for both myself and T. I think too that it has been a hard week for him as the amount of time the Ex has spent with him has been minimal. I cannot even work up anger. I am resigned. I am sad for T. I cannot make him change. I cannot make him see the young man who is growing up right in front of our eyes. T is playing Farming Simulator as I sit here typing this.
I was excited because I am able to listen to my music on my notebook while writing and also watch T play Farming Simulator. I believe I have explained before? Long story short you build up a farm. People create maps and you go farm. Drive around. It is a popular game judging by the amount of Youtube videos I have been subjected to. At the moment I am sitting here with our shared headphones on (the ones that cover the whole ear not inserted buds that would be gross) listening to Florida Georgia Line. Basically I load the entire album and start at the beginning. Today may be the first time in a long time that I get through the very long list.
We had two rather comedic episodes that left me gasping for air I was laughing so hard.
Yesterday morning I was about to wash the bathroom floor and asked T if he wanted to go use the bathroom before I did. He said yes. As he is climbing down his ladder I stand there and tell him he is not to pee on the floor, the seat, the side, nowhere but into the toilet as I had just finished cleaning it. As a matter of fact, I suggested that he straddle the toilet and push it down to pee straight in. With hand pantomimes. T stared at me in absolute horror and as I turned away informed me that that was the absolute worst advice ever. And if I had one I would totally understand why. I giggled again typing this up.
Later in the day as I was driving him to the Ex’s for his night with him T was muttering away about what an absolute boring evening it was going to be. That none of his friends could come over. It was going to be dad, grandpa and grandma. I
I am trying something new. We are all programmed to notice the negative, the absurd, in other people’s pain. We mock others to make ourselves feel better about our own selves. When T and me had our long conversation the other week I told him that we needed to change. That we needed to look for the positive no matter how hard it is going to be. And it is going to be hard. I mock others. I make fun of them to others. I am no saint as I told K and P. It is a habit, a trait, who knows but it needs to be changed. Now the other day when I dropped T off at school I mocked the bright color of one of his classmate’s snowsuit. I tried to recover by saying at the very least we would not lose him in a snowstorm. Told him that he was not to make fun of the boy to which he emphatically told me he would never. I told him I was sorry. That I should never have made a comment and about a child’s snowsuit nonetheless.
So back to T and me, driving to the Ex’s. Grandma and grandpa are visiting. T is going to be bored. I suggest that he could hang out with grandma. And glanced over to see him looking at me like this. Yes I pulled over and took this picture. Mom, he leans forward his arm on the back of the seat, that male posture when they want to tell you something really important in the car, Grandma is old. And she is annoying. The laughter escaped me and I tried to stifle it. I looked at T and explained to him that grandma really loved him. That she wanted to spend time with him. As he is muttering away, frowny face on, arms crossed. That was when I learned something new about T.
I suggested (I am great for suggesting things) that he might want to spend some time with grandma because she would not be around forever. And he said no that was not true. Um yes, unfortunately we all die someday. Nope, we get another life. I looked over at T and said you think after we die we get a different life. Yep. So you believe in reincarnation. Yeah like having past lives and all that. We get to be together in the next life too. There are times when T reminds me how so very special he is. He also believes that had he been born a girl, the Ex and me would have still been his/her parents. The life would have been the same just pink. He expanded my mind right there.
Today he was annoyed that I had picked him up from his friend’s so early. Had thought that he was going to be staying there until 5 p.m. He was angry with me and refusing to talk. So I thanked him. I could have argued until I was blue in the face with him about his attitude but again I am trying different things to find what works for us. I want to stop that cycle I have seen myself falling into. But no, I thanked him. And waited. Finally he asked for what.
I told that I had taken his suggestion and had started writing a story the night before. Wanted to know what it was about so I gave him a quick a synopsis. Explained that what had started off as a short story about one thing had morphed into something else totally different. My main character had a story to tell we were just figuring it out. I thanked him again and he said you are welcome. I felt it was a small victory and we chatted and laughed all the way home.
Once home with chores taken care of I went to grab the headphones and T was loading his game. Asked where the headphones were. As if I didn’t know, he had taken them into his room one day watching Youtube and left them in there. He fought with me. Told me I had taken them and put them somewhere and it was not his fault that I could not remember. I took the remote for the XBox and sat down on the couch explaining that he could have the remote back once he checked his room.
He argued with me and I kept my cool. I did not yell. I did not let my temper get the best of me. I spoke calmly and repeated that he would get the remote once he had gone to look for the headphones. Finally I said that if he was sure they were not there could he please just humor me and go take a look. Stood in the door and said looked. Uh-uh get up there and look.
I heard him climb up into his bed and silence. After a few moments I got up and double checked the table and counter just in case I was being a hardass for something I had in fact done. I stood watching him from the doorway as he climbed down and threw the headphones at me. I think he thought I was going to crow and say I told you so. Or some form of that. Instead I said thank you I really appreciate that you looked for them. Warned him I might sing and was that okay? I was informed that it was most definitely not cool to sing out loud. I made no promises. He giggled.
I need to be his example. I cannot expect him to act one way and for me to act another. I will slip. I am sure that I will make a mocking comment about someone, and snort giggle when reading memes on FB again I am no saint. But I will actively work to do this. For both of us. And in a world full of negatives looking for the positive is hard. And that is when I learned my second lesson.
What I do now is easy. I am in my home. Being a good example is not hard when I am not interacting with others for extended time periods. I will be going back to work. I will be around toxic people who are going to attempt to shame me. Those who are going to judge me. Not celebrating with me as I recover from this bout of depression. That I am emerging a better stronger woman. And it is going to be hard to not to give in. To not laugh at that little aside about a coworker. A dis about an employee. An irate customer. Being tired. I could come up with a thousand reasons why I slipped back and forget what I was doing this for in the first place.
Yes in part this is a step in my mental health and realizing that I was following a cycle that my father got from his mother. I was yelling at T and several times during the week I cut myself off from phrases he said. I need to break it here and now. But this is for Tember. Our children are our future, and I want to encourage T to see the good first before having to process the bad.
Last week this all began. Thursday was the day of the absolutely mortifying conversation and subsequent change in behaviour. That was all the day that T and me talked. I did not yell or scream, he did not feel he needed to make excuses, we talked. And than we even sat down and had dinner together.
As T and me are eating and having even more conversations, I slowly become aware of the fact the every other word out of T’s mouth is like. Followed by um. Flashback to the day before when I was going to the back to do something and passed a young woman on her phone. Every second word in that 30 second snippet I overheard was like. Like this, like that.
Now I guarantee you that as Chichi is reading this, she is howling over her cup of Yarba chortling ‘oh Jay.’
The story behind the word like in our household:
I am a child of the 70’s and 80’s. Valley Girl idioms made their way as far north as Winnipeg, Manitoba. So like was a popular word. My mom hates it. My aunt who is an editor hates it. I now realize why.
In February 2016 I went and spent two weeks with my mom. Am pretty sure that those two weeks saved my life because when I came back home I had a game plan for how to move away from the toxicity I found myself in. Chichi and me walked a lot and talked. We always have. Or rather, I have always told her everything and she in return tries to not offer advice but listen and allow me to talk my way through it.
I imagine after about a week Chichi was exasperated by my continued use of the word like in my sentences. Finally she demanded of me if I knew how often I said the word like when I was speaking. I was taken aback. I never use the word like I countered. Really? Chichi challenged me to listen to what I was saying and to count how many times I used it.
Holy cow Batman!
It was horrible. I was using like as though it were fairy dust and I was sprinkling that shit everywhere.
Like is the lazy way of speaking, Chichi and my Aunt ringing in my head. You are in too much of a rush to speak and not to find the words that will help you express what you need to. (As a writer I understand however 2 years ago I was still bumbling around in the dark, lost and buried beneath my life and unhappiness.)
It took a lot of perseverance but I was able to do it. I stopped in the middle of sentences a lot for a while when the word like danced on my tongue. But I did it.
Now flash forward to my household and T’s receiving the exact same lecture that I did 2 years ago. I explained how it was considered to be a lazy way of speaking. That he needed to slow down and think about what he was saying. T looked at me and went okay mom. And as I type this I realize that I have not heard him use the word like at all.
Before though you raise your morning coffee/tea and salute me in this I do have a confession to make:
I have discovered another word that I overuse when I am writing text messages or am talking and that word is ‘Just.’
I just walked in the door.
I just got off the phone.
I just, I just, I just, must, need to find another word to describe the moment.
This morning I was having a conversation with a friend. I know I often have conversations but this one, this one got me to thinking.
I am a fixer. A ‘Give me your problems and I will find a solution’, type of woman. Does not matter who you are or what the problem is, by nature, I want to make it all better for you. And now my brain has veered off into how the hell did I become a fixer? Why do I yearn to take on the world’s problems and make them right? Why (until now) did I always chose men who needed their hands held at every turn?
Small problems (which are not even problems) such as helping someone locate a hard to find item. Trying to put their fears to rest when attempting something new. My response to that is always the same, ‘Imagine the absolute worst thing that could happen and after that anything that occurs is going to be a piece of cake. Walk in the park. Cake in the park.’ You get it.
Larger problems can take up a lot of my time. I mull over them. I twist it this way and that. Looking for the hole that I can wiggle through. The hole that is going to lead to the answer, or at least a partial solution.
This is draining. My focus is no longer on myself, on my care and T’s. It becomes super stressful. In the past my way to handle it would have been to drink.
Today as I was having my conversation I made a sudden connection. And that connection leapt along the synapsis of my brain and made more connections. Until I stopped watching the gems fall and turned to face my friend. I wanted to shout this discovery from the rooftops, however that would require getting dressed and I am just not up for that at the moment.
I have a friend who is going through a really tough time. When I look at her life, I am surprised that she is still standing. The amount of shit life has thrown her way, and the fact that she is here, present and alive, amazes me. She is an absolute rock, one of the strongest women that I am privileged to have as a part of my tribe.
She text me early this morning and I was reading over them, giving half explanations without betraying her confidence in me and it happened.
I am not put on this earth to be the caretaker of anyone else. (Well with the exception of T but that should go without saying.)
It is not up to me to scoop up the troubles that plague the world. It is not up to me to point out how by taking a step over this way, could change how you view things. It is not up to me, to fix the problems that they come to me with.
What is up to me?
To be a damn good friend. To offer my shoulder and my ear. To listen and at the same time when I speak, to be wise and offer up my own experience and solution to an equatable problem. Something that they can mull over themselves and it might help them to find the solution to their own issues. Or it may not.
Another part of this rebounds from a conversation that K3 and me were having. In it she stated that she felt we were brought into people’s lives so they can benefit from our experiences. I disagreed. We can tell people about what occurred but they are still going to make their own choices based on their own morals and life experience. Not ours.
What do we learn if we take all the advice others give us?
And that is another part of the epiphany which just came to me.
I am a big believer in learning my own lessons. No matter the pain that I am going to feel, I will face what I need to do. (Now I do, previously I may have stuck my head in the sand before facing my problems)
I need to speak less and listen more.
I need to be a friend, a warm hug, a place to shelter without compromising my emotional well-being. And I can be.
Because as I journey forward along the twisted path that my life is, I learn more and more about my role and place on this planet.