I made my list. And considered it far more than just twice; I must have sat for a good ten minutes thinking about what I wrote. A lot of it was what began here yesterday. Repeated mantras or borrowed mantras or all brand new shiny mantras I just made up on the spot. But three things caught my eye, made me think, and bear repeating.
People are happiest around you when you’re happy.
Now that’s something tough for me to get my head around. It wasn’t always true; I spent a good deal of my childhood minimizing my own emotions because the two narcissists in my family had to be dealt with very carefully. I know by the time I was ten I was already clamping down on my enthusiasm and faking interest when depressed to ‘hide’ what was going on with me. Calm down. Lighten up. Don’t get so excited. I believe had I been drugged into a stupor my mother and sister would have STILL found something to find fault with, but I got what I got. Feeling everything I do is/was wrong. And even if I feel it, I shouldn’t let it out. Never, ever, ever. Lock up and throw away the key, remember? So allowing myself to be happy is a big thing. Usually I got squashed for it.
It’s a particularly poignant point (Oooo! Three Ps in a row. Look at my alliteration!) right now. Playing hostess can wear me down and make me cranky. Why? Because I spend all my time trying to keep the other person happy; do what they want to do, cater to them, while simultaneously making sure the surroundings stay clean and neat. But when I’m cranky my guests don’t have a good time. And more than that. While I want the apartment to look presentable – AND myself – I’m reminding me daily that J is coming to see me and my bro, not the apartment, not how fat or thin I’ve become since he last visited, and not how much dust is sitting on the shelves. Who could have a good time visiting someone who’s constantly popping up out of her chair to get this, fetch that, pick up something, prepare, prep, cook – WHATEVER? Not me. J’s plane lands and all that goes bye-bye. I’m not my mother; I don’t have to play hostess like she did.
Don’t assume. Ask people what they mean.
Another biggie for me. I get afraid when I think people slag me off. I don’t ask for clarity. I don’t say ‘Did you MEAN to insult me?’ and I should. I’m not talking about walking up to me and calling me a bitch or a slut. Frontal assault I can deal with. It’s that side winding snake behavior, the half hidden insult in a simple statement, that I don’t know how to react to. Again, that relates to how I was raised. I got a lifetime of put downs and insults that got turned around to ‘You’re too sensitive’ type of shit (narcissistic behavior, I know). All my life I’ve swallowed that poison and not said a word. That eats away at you. Inside. Even when you think it doesn’t. It piles up and the nice words get filtered out so all you have left is the negative. I KNOW that was the original intent in the words in the first place (may all narcissists have their genitals burst into flames). I also know that sometimes people say things in the wrong way, or they use a trigger phrase or word without meaning to. Not everyone is suave with compliments. Nor is everyone glib. I’ve just got a hard time telling the difference between someone trying to tell me something and saying it poorly, and an asshole. The best thing I could do in either situation is ASK. What did you mean by that? If the person is straight, they’ll give you a straight answer. If not, well, I know what THAT looks like.
Don’t fake it. Ask for help when you need it.
Oh, my. Another childhood behavior I’m looking to change. I fake feeling good physically when I’m in agonizing pain. I fake understanding in situations I’m where I’m clueless. I fake a lot to fit in. Usually when I fake something I’m under the impression that everyone else is of one mind; they’re all ready to go or have complete understanding. I put on sheep’s clothing and go with the herd because I don’t want to stand out. Or be a freak. That’s got me into dangerous sexual situations. It raises people’s expectations of me, and does so falsely. Suddenly I’m expected to be able to do more than I can. That puts me under immense pressure. After 12 years diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis and another suspected 30 years of suffering it without diagnosis, I’ve got better on asking for help with my physical needs. Gee! That only took 42 years. Wow. That’s a damned long time. I hope I learn faster with the rest of it, or I won’t get this done before the body dies. *grumble, grumble* Damned shame my first time out with therapy ended so badly. It really stacks up a big obstruction against asking for help. I’ve got to get past that this summer.
For the record, here’s the full list. I’m making a point to pull this up and read it each morning right now. Think I need to learn them by heart. Make them my own, so when I’m sitting on the metro feeling a bit freaked I can repeat them to myself. And wow! I came up with 24. Freaky! Number repetition in my life is always a bit of a Twilight Zone experience for me, and my birthday falls on the 24th of November.
- Be kind to yourself.
- Take time.
- Think before you speak.
- Count to three.
- Mornings are important.
- Say the hard things.
- Tell people how you feel.
- Stick up for yourself.
- It’s okay to cry.
- It’s okay to feel angry.
- Expect Dutch.
- Look up at the sky.
- Sleep when you need to.
- You deserve a healthy body and the help you need to get it there.
- Try to not smoke so much.
- Keep your promises.
- People are happiest around you when you’re happy.
- Be flexible.
- You are HERE and NOW.
- Don’t assume. Ask people what they mean.
- Don’t fake it. Ask for help when you need it.
- Use silence to listen to yourself; use music when it feels good. Watch comedy. Watch horror and laugh. Laugh at yourself. Laugh at life. Laugh.