Tell him

Somedays I’m in danger of allowing this blog to become a thing in my mind. Almost didn’t post because I said to myself ‘well, you didn’t do much; maybe you should take a break ’til you give your readers something to read’.

*ahem* This is for you and no one else. You do not advertise, you do not give out this address, you do not link, you do not push, you don’t do any of those things. This is for you. If people happen to read it, that’s their business. Stop worrying about how other people feel and take care of yourself. That’s why you started this. That’s why you’re out here almost every day. Not for them. For you. Only you.

Right.

So…was irritated yesterday beyond belief for a few hours after my bro came home. I’d spent five hours mega-cleaning the house and exhausted myself. I was so tired I didn’t have the energy to take the now full garbage bag downstairs to the trash. Instead, I took a hot shower and washed the day’s work and dust off me. My brother noticed the bag in the hall when he came home and said he’d take it down “since you’re so tired from whatever it is you did”. Whatever it is you did?!? Wait. I had to clean the hoover bag out twice from all the dust I picked up. There used to be a stack of DVDs by the tv over 30cm high that is now gone and all the DVDs are put away. There used to be scraps of paper, things left everywhere – it’s all tidied up now. And he says ‘whatever it is you did’ to me?

Goddess!! Sometimes my brother can be such a man. Such a guy. Such a dude. Such a how do you even manage to stay upright on two feet type of person. I swear he needs glasses ’cause he just doesn’t seem to ever see the layer of dust or crap around the place!

I let it irritate me for most of the evening. Just…wasn’t quite there in spirit, you know? My bro laughed at the tv programs; I sat there largely unsmiling. Realized it was a perfect little example of what goes on with me: something is said or done that hurts or irritates me, I say nothing, I end up not enjoying my time because I can’t stop thinking about why I’m hurt or irritated. So I took a look at that.

My first reaction was: say nothing. Let’s see how long it takes him to say something about the DVDs. My brain wagered me that it would be at least two weeks; my spirit upped the anti by claiming it would take him at least a month. While my brain and my spirit argued, I paid attention. I had two sides of me squabbling, raising my blood pressure and anger with everything they said, and I simply stepped in and quietly asked, ‘What is it you want?’

That stopped everything. The rolling comments that were winding me up, the anger, the back and forth arguing that got me nowhere.

I admitted to myself I wanted acknowledgement for my hard work. I’d done a great job and wanted someone to notice. Since my bro’s the only person who’s here to notice, the job falls to him – whether or not that’s fair. So that same calm and quiet voice in me then asked ‘And if you let it go and wait for him to notice, are you going to get what you want?’ Those arguing voices of brain and spirit sounded like reticent schoolchildren: ‘No-o-o-o….’

The answer became clear. I had to point it out to him. I feel like I shouldn’t need to do that. I feel like anyone who’d see the before and after would have enough perception to notice a lot of hard work had been put in on cleaning. But I also had to acknowledge that, love my brother as I may, he’s a product of poor upbringing as well as I. Some of his communication habits are very destructive. I can’t expect him to be perfect all the time. But he has this bad habit of throwing blame. Some of it is simply the words he chooses to use; quite often if I have him break it down, his meaning isn’t as mean as I’m taking it to be. Still…knowing I am someone who takes too much blame onto herself, this verbal habit of never acknowledging one’s own responsibility in a situation is trying. I feel blamed, whether or not he means to do it. And I’ve got to fight against that feeling every damned minute. I’ve yet to teach him better communication skills. …Well, I say that, but truth is I probably have. We communicate better now than we did thirty years ago. Still! There’s plenty of work to be done.

So I pointed. I spoke up. Oh! he said. Where’d the DVDs go? I pointed out that I’d inserted them into our collection in the appropriate sections: action, comedy, horror, kids. Then: And what about the DVDs you took out to make room for the new ones? Am I gonna have to look for something I want to watch now? No, I told him. I only removed the DVDs we’d both watched and both agreed were sub-par films and maybe we should give them to a charity shop. Once his concerns were addressed, I received the acknowledgement I wanted and went to bed feeling better. But his reaction to this bears scrutiny; his first thought was to ‘what did you do wrong’ rather than ‘good on you’. This is…typical. Sadly. I’ve learned to hear beyond his words because we’ve had innumerable arguments over poor communication in the past. I know, tho, that part of me cringes every time it happens. I’d do better with a different approach from him.

Nonetheless.

Good on you, girl! Double good on you! You worked hard and asked for what you wanted. You weren’t even bitchy about it.

Now, go and do something nice for yourself today. This is me, your superior, giving you an order. Do it. Find that CD you want. See if you can buy it.

And don’t ask your brother if you can do this. Tell him.

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