The Behinder We Get

“I don’t have time for this.”

If I had counted the number of times I said that phrase this morning, yesterday, last weekend, etc. I likely would have lost count by the second day. Sadly it’s a phrase often uttered to my kids and as the spontaneous words come out of my mouth each time, I cringe a little as they stack up.

What don’t I have time for? To break up fights between two brothers? To calm crying over something seemingly irrational, but very serious to a child? To not subdue my irritation due to lack of sleep and a child not listening? Fearing running late as though what I have to go to is more important than an extra 30 seconds with someone who calls me their most favorite mom ever.

And it’s not even always children I think this phrase slips out around at one time or another, or at least passes through our mind. Friends whose perceived drama just seems to be more than we want to get into. A family member who wants to chat on the phone. Waiting in line for that fourth cup of coffee, you really don’t need, but your productivity does.

We’re all human, and as parents we’re sometimes feral humans trying to figure what the hell we’re doing and then doubting it all five minutes later. Driving away from the school, having left a child who probably needed one more hug, but after five hugs we once again panicked over that meeting we were going to be a minute late for. In the moment our frustration, our urgency and the speed at which we have to live life took over.

What haunts me, what sits with me in the back of my mind in that meeting I ended up being ten minutes early to after all, is what happens when that lack of time is directed towards us. When our children are adults and we try to call, but they live their own lives and have their own perceived time constraints and text us to tell us “I don’t have time right now.” That moment when we’re struggling and we need a friend, but our friends aren’t available and we realize we don’t have anyone who does have time for us. When we lose someone and realize we don’t get to have that time we thought we didn’t have back.

In the end, and cumulatively, the person we end up having the least amount of time for throughout these proclamations, is ourselves. If we convince ourselves we don’t have time for our children, our friends, our family, we lose time later fretting and worrying and wandering through a guilt trip we wish we didn’t make time for. Regrets are what eat away at the time we could be using to make up for those moments our life impedes our ability to slow down.

Don’t get me wrong. Parenting can be exhausting and we’re completely justified in getting worn out. There are times we just can’t dedicate the right amount of availability to that friend who needs us, or we’ve already helped them through this situation multiple times or we have our own shit going on. Those moments we don’t have time for are sometimes justified. They’re natural and just a part of the constraints of life.

If we stop for a minute, and really think about each time we’ve said it, we may find that we did have time. However, what may have been missing is our ability to truly handle that moment. Uncertainty as to how we should respond to children fighting. Anger at them not listening. A lack of words for the friend who needs us. Again, ultimately, it’s us we’re not making time for.

We all move so fast, so urgent, always late. We’re perpetual White Rabbits from Alice in Wonderland and the hurrier we go, we think the behinder we get. Perhaps the reason we say “I don’t have time for this” to children so often is because they haven’t yet learned that it’s possible to run out of time. Or at least have the perception that there are more important things than the very present moment we’re in at any given time. Maybe our mental reaction to a friend in need is an eye roll and begrudging tolerance because we can’t handle the emotion of knowing we’re worried about them. That we know what we think we’d do in the same situation, but watching someone else need to learn what they should do can be taxing. Instead of taking a deep breath and knowing we each live our own lives the way we need to survive and maybe their survival and path towards a solution is in fact having us to reach out to. The relative who calls and wants to chat on the phone is someone who appreciates that familial bond and wants to connect accordingly.

Perhaps, what we don’t have time for, is proper perspective of time. What it means. The understanding that it disappears. We can’t get it back. It doesn’t mean we won’t still get irritated, we don’t still have responsibilities that require punctuality. That we do have a friend we truly can’t help anymore simply out of a need for boundaries. But in the grander scheme of things, we can probably reduce what we think we don’t have time for. Maybe half of the moments are ones we can stay in. That half will give us all the time in the world.

A Love Story. Of Sorts.

She was coming off the death of a tainted love. She rebuilt and survived and made it out; barely at times. She had seen dark days and light dance in children’s eyes. She valued others while learning not to let it consume. She realized who she was and who she would be were entirely contingent on who she wanted to be.

She found her resolve, albeit as sound as a house of cards. But it was standing. She sought joy. Pride and happiness.

Often finding wounded birds can lead to a feeling of giving unless you discover you’ve nursed back a pterodactyl.

He was boyish charm. Humor and welcome simplicity. A kindness that dwelled beneath a jaded wit and sardonic undertones. He was a diamond in the rough to a halfway lost girl. A girl who sought to care and be cared for. Sailing along on hope and compassion.

She giddily confided in friends. She enjoyed the momentum and the devotion. She saw cracks in the veneer; but she realized everyone is human. She wanted the best. She wanted her moment.

He supported her during a difficult transition. He carried positive and negative in a teetering balance. He had unpolished kindness. He possessed a compartmentalized coping that seemed endearing. She could help. She’d be the solution.

She didn’t know where her darkness was creeping in from. Life had given her curveballs and lemons and she wasn’t on it enough to sort through them. She had compassion when she was weak. She could disregard the verbal blows. Truth be told; she had a lifelong skill of accepting the blame. Whether or not it was the correct direction. She saw weakness in herself and strength in the ones who could point out those flaws openly.

He had an entitlement that she wanted to understand. He accepted the bad and dwelled with it. His emotions were uncultivated and he struggled to navigate them. To filter them accordingly.

He had little verbal control of his projections.

She doubted herself. She worried. She saw eggshells and landmines and still kept going forward as carefully as possible. Apologies were the currency she was paid. But it wasn’t good to cash in anywhere. She wanted to help. To make him better. This was her place. This was her project that would give her meaning. She loved sometimes blindly.

He accepted her assistance begrudgingly while sometimes belittling her in an effort to stay the same pace. It was always peppered with love. A raw, rough-edged love that had purity at nature, but nurture had decimated. He saw no other way and his blinders made the corners tough to turn.

She saw an upswing in her life. Things were improving. But part of her was missing. It was a little piece. But she felt the wind blow threw her some days. She was chasing happiness and it was fluttering down the street like a piece of paper, barely within reach. As she’d get close; graze it with her fingertips, a gust of wind would come up again.

He was crumbling and his façade had tumbled down. He saw hurdles afoot and it was easier to blame for them being put in his way.

She was starting to wonder if she had limits. How much she was accepting and how much she should. She had so much to love to give; it was easy for it to get taken and tossed about like a water balloon. Was this what she was destined for? Would Atlas shrug at any point?

He rarely smiled. He easily lashed out with words. He felt weighed down by the world and it was easier to throw bits of it at another. He wanted to love and he had no idea how.

She started to realize how much of her was now missing. What energy her heart was spending on repair instead of growth. Her pain and sadness was outweighing her tolerance for it. She wanted to try, for she felt like a failure for not creating beauty with what she was given.

Her heart broke.

He left.

She started to rebuild. But she was rebuilding scars on scars. Bumbling along. Lost. Panicking about lost time.

He made promises.

She refused to listen.

He made more promises. Gestures of goodwill.

She started to hear. She wasn’t sure she was ready, but her heart swells usually drowned out the voice in her head.

She opened the door a crack.

He came back.

She was happy, albeit cautious. Hopeful, but jaded and skeptical. She didn’t want to be jaded. She wanted to be okay.

He started out with hope. He built with positivity. Making what should be important to survive what he actually focused on.

She had a second thought. She ignored it. Her rollercoaster was on a climb. She had gone through some dark tunnels; but she had found they did end at some point. She started to ignore the signs. There was no way this would happen again. Apologies and promises had been doled out. Words had been said.

Words. The antithesis to action.

He was slowly enveloped in a cloying darkness. An overwhelming tendency to watch things happen instead of participate. To give love weighed down by blades and sorrow. To reduce her to tears while hugging her at the same time.

Words were weapons and she’d accept the olive branch that followed while nursing her proverbial wounds. She had hope. She believed. Who would love her again? Can love be damaging in its intensity when not directed properly?

He questioned. He doubted. He ended her nights with discord and sorrow. He started her mornings with kindness and love. He was easily upset. His pain was overwhelming in his ignorance of its depths.

She believed all of it. She believed the remorse; but she believed he had the inability to see how much damage was being done by his choices. She absorbed his energy. The room could be cloying when his mind was in a dark place.

The roller coaster went up; she’d brace herself because it had to go down. Sometimes the hills were numerous and some had more coasting between.

He left.

Repeat the process. Repeat it again. Go up the hills, hurtle down at nearly a 90 degree angle. Get off the ride. Get right back on.

He questioned. He doubted. He spread frenetic bursts of insecurity and word-whipped someone already lying down.

The coaster was running on a rusty wheels. She agonized and continued buying tickets to ride and wondered if she’d ever be able to just sit on the bench and eat some cotton candy.

He made promises. He pleaded. And interspersed it with lashings and pain and love that he couldn’t process or apply. He pledged; he backslid; he apologized and then was quick to anger.

He left.

She realized she was gone, too. Missing. Somewhere along the ride, she wasn’t even sure who had been present. She wasn’t sure where the rest of her went. She wanted to believe there was good. That she hadn’t caused this. That she could make better choices. She was lonely. Lost. She doubted herself; wallowed.

Her house of cards had fallen long ago. She was still finding the rest of them that had floated away along with that same bit of happiness she’d never stop chasing.

 

Intentions

Thanks to Facebook timeline for reminding me of these, especially when I’m working on new ones.

My intentions (resolutions) from 2008…

by Jessica Rand McLean on Monday, December 21, 2009 at 8:24pm
Since I said I’d publish my resolutions for the coming year so I felt accountable, I thought I’d find the ones I wrote for the 2008 (Written December 31, 2007). Funny thing is, some of them are similar to the ones I was planning last year. My update that I wrote in August of 2008 is also included
I’m not going to make these resolutions as much as I’m going to make statements of intention. I think firm “I must do this or my year will be terrible” type resolutions only start the year on a negative note. Hopefully, ambition withstanding and still maintaining a MySpace relationship I’ll update everyone when we’re starting 2009 on how the intentions did. Maybe, if you’re lucky, I’ll do a six-month update.
I intend to continue working out on a daily basis. This is tough because sometimes I’m not certain it’s really doing a whole lot. After three months I expected more results than what I see. I’ll keep doing it knowing it’s a positive thing and it makes me feel a little better to know I’ve worked out.
I intend to maintain the “when it happens” mindset. I feel as though this is a healthy way to not only approach trying to get pregnant, but also a way to approach life in general. My impatience is something I bring up often, usually because it’s back-fired on me. Hopefully this year I can get a little more perspective on waiting.
I intend to stop letting behaviors and actions of others affect me or upset me. I can’t dictate other people’s lives and no matter how much I hope they’ll change, they probably won’t. I will continue to realize that each and every person in my life (or out of my life) is to be dealt with in his or her own unique way and simply because I feel a certain way doesn’t mean they do or will understand me when I wonder why they don’t.
This one isn’t an intention. It’s a statement. I will continue to wear my heart on my sleeve and be bold with my emotions. I spent a lot of time with emotional walls up and once I pushed past them, I was totally fine with letting people know how I feel as uncomfortable or blunt as it might be. Too many people hide their feelings, either because they’re afraid to face them or they’re afraid to create touchy situations with those around them. I’m not. And I’m okay with that. Honesty is best in the end and being truthful about how you feel is the best kind of honesty.
I intend to live like it’s always summer. For me, summer releases a kind of freedom; an openness that makes me carefree and relaxed. An attitude of sitting in the backyard watching Frisbees and having a tasty beverage, whether it be beer or iced tea. No coat, no shoes, just the crazy hippy skirt I only bust out when I can wear it with a tank top. I think I retreat into myself when winter hits, hiding in the cocoon that is blizzards and winter driving. I avoid leaving the house as often and I think that restricts living. I don’t think fall does the same, but it does cause me to let go of summer and wave longingly to the relaxation I felt in the sun. Spring is a tease. Half cold, half warm, always wet and muddy and I think I get too caught up in letting go of winter and anticipating summer that I forget to notice that the birds came back and flowers are coming out. I’m going to open myself to feeling the freedom summer breezes bring.
I intend to stop worrying about people liking me and compromising my integrity to be sure they do. I know who my friends are and I know why they are my friends. I have some pretty great friends at that. But as strong as I can appear, I sometimes have a fear that people don’t like me. I’m too strong a personality to mold myself in different ways for different people to like me, but every once in a while I find myself thinking of compromising my true opinions in order to match someone else’s. I know exactly where this weakness stems from, but my blog is not a couch in a therapist’s office, so I don’t think I need to go into that. But I need to realize that part of knowing who I am is acknowledging that I’m different and that people like me for who I am; not who they think I should be, and if they don’t, they’re not meant to be an integral part of my life. My ultimate goal with this intention is allow me to trust. Fear of not being accepted has given me an iron-clad resistance to trust completely. While I’ll never let that barrier down completely, I’ll hopefully reach a point where I’ll stop thinking the worst of each situation.
And the update: So, I said I’d update these about six months in and see how I was doing… well, more than six months later I’m determining the status of my intentions. Which ones worked, which ones might not have been well through out and which ones are still 50/50. I’m deleting the full explanations, just using the main point. If you want to re-read them, you can go a few blogs back to the original. That being said, here we go…
I intend to continue working out on a daily basis. I honestly thought this one would fizzle out. I’ve always hated working out, but I had also reached a point where I hated how I looked and knew I was unhealthy. Rather than resort to short-term or unhealthy solutions I decided it was time I resist my stubborn stance against sweating for extended periods of time. We bought an elliptical for a reason. So, I’ve started working out every day and have continued to the day I am writing this. I’m having some motivation problems in the morning lately, but I’ve been exhausted from work travel (okay, not a good excuse), but I’m still making the effort and making sure I complete a full work out every day.
The results are slow (especially for someone who is impatient and still working on that as you’ll see next…) and I’m of the body type that packs on muscle, so it’s tough knowing that while I’m getting healthy, I’ll never reach waifdom in my drive to modify my body in a healthy way. I tried to determine what body type I am and decided I’m somewhere between endomorph, mesomorph and construction worker. I’m sturdy, not willowy. Incredibly frustrating in dressing rooms. I’ve cycled through a lot of body ups and downs, but this habit of strengthening my body is one I hope hangs on and sticks around for while.
I intend to maintain the “when it happens” mindset. Uh, yeah, about that whole statement tying virtue to patience that I’ve attempted to remind myself many times? I’m still working on that. Someone made a statement recently, not about me, but in general  that implied that anyone who was an only child will tend to have less patience in life. They never had to wait on a sibling to use the bathroom, never had to wait for their parent’s attention. Maybe that’s the problem. I’m pretty sure there’s a short circuit among the lobes of my brain that prevents me from waiting longer than five minutes for whatever I decide I want. If I could pinpoint what drives me to have to have everything right now, I think it would help. I just know that I seem to skip a step in the process. There’s thinking about what I want, deciding what I want and having to have it RIGHT NOW. The step of understanding that some things take time, that some results are slow-going and I’m not owed whatever I desire is disjointed and lacking.  It’s one of those personality characteristics I can recognize, I know when I’m doing it, but I’m observing my behavior in a way that I’m somehow impeded from stepping in and re-adjusting my thinking. I just plow forward in my drive to get what I want without waiting, only to find myself angry, sad, frustrated, etc. when it’s not there immediately. I’m obsessive and addictive and will focus on something to a point of overtaking common sense. Which can have it’s positive connotations. This motivates me to achieve goals and be forward thinking in accomplishing tasks. But more often than not, it just works me up and makes me stress about things out of my control. And I’m still working on how to fix that. Or at least modify it.
I intend to stop letting behaviors and actions of others affect me or upset me. The road to everywhere is paved with good intentions. And this intention had whole-hearted enthusiasm behind it. I can be stone cold in many situations, but I can also be sensitive in a most volatile manner. I’ll either keep you at arm’s length or let you in too far. And when I cross the line of letting you in, I have expectations. Not always, but I forget that we all think in different ways and just because I think a situation or behavior is the best, I don’t run other people’s brains and they’re going to make choices I don’t agree with or understand. I’m easily hurt by others and my temper is easily triggered by insensitivity. I’m still trying to find that point where I realize that it’s my choices that make me who I am and those around me do the same with every choice they make. But their choices don’t necessarily mean that I can question them or wish I could help them. Easy to say, harder to remember. I know I’m still justified in crying if someone hurts my feelings or momentarily writing someone off when they piss me off. It’s how far I take it. It’s how long they freely rent space in my head that I need to amend. I’ve made progress with this one, but it takes reminding myself of the above. I’ll honestly admit I’ve had some tenants (squatters?) in my head since I made this intention, but it’s been somewhat easier for me to get them out sooner than I usually would have. I just have to acknowledge why they’ve bothered me and try to figure out if I even need to worry about it.  And actually, this intention is tied to my next one.
This one isn’t an intention. It’s a statement. I will continue to wear my heart on my sleeve and be bold with my emotions. You know why I prefer to be bold with my emotions? Because when someone pisses me off or hurts my feelings or anything else, as mentioned above, I’d much rather get it out in the open so they know where I’m coming from. I’m well aware that many people don’t want to hear it and many don’t want to talk about touchy situations. But I’m still going to put it out there. I had forgotten about this for a while and realized that I was suppressing my honesty and censoring myself too much. (Some censoring is necessary, especially when I’m mad). I do know that I realized that I need to work on being bold with my emotions in a diplomatic and calm way. Screaming anger and crying pain are a little over emotional to be taken seriously. So I know that to be bold with my emotions, I need to make sure I understand them before I share. I need to know if I was feeling betrayed or just annoyed. Hurt or confused.  If I can explain myself better, others will understand me better and conveying the message will go much better. So, I’ve done pretty well with this one (example, I’m writing a blog that bares a lot about myself and I’m comfortable with that), but I do have some interruptions and it comes in the form of the intention below…
I intend to stop worrying about people liking me and compromising my integrity to be sure they do. No need for psycho-babble about why acceptance is so important to me (or anyone, really), but I realize that my drive for it can still have a tendency to make me question my integrity. I find that I tend to hesitate in sharing my emotions (and compromising my drive to be blunt about how I feel), to avoid someone not liking me. It doesn’t stop me from doing so, but that thought is still there and I’ll be concerned about the after effects and worry about someone being angry with me. But as I write this, I realize that’s what keeps me human. It’s important to think of the feelings of others, just not crossing the line of letting them dictate your next step. I think people respect you more if you are who you are and you share how you feel. You don’t have to agree with everyone for them to like you. Your personality can show and it should because that’s how you mesh with others. If everyone agreed on all points, life would be pretty boring. My openness makes me sassy and sometimes I realize sassy can mean obnoxious, but it’s up to me to know how far to go and not be concerned so much with worrying how others perceive it. I’m pretty content with who I am and acknowledge that I’m always a work in progress, but I know progress should come from me, not what I think others want to see in me.
I intend to live like it’s always summer. You know what? Summer is hot. Easy to forget when it’s January and you’re writing a list of intentions while watching out your window at the snowplow racing down your street. Granted, this intention had more idea behind it than the actual weather  but I just want to acknowledge that summer is not my favorite season. But the carefree aspect of this intention is something I’ve tried to embrace. I’ve always been somewhat laidback, yet maintaining a tendency to get easily wound up in under five seconds. It’s the even keel feeling of summertime that was important to me to reflect. But it’s hard when you have no patience. In the end, I feel pretty positive about this one and I feel like I have done what I set out to do when I expressed this intention. No need to add detail, but this one I feel positive about. (Except that patience thing…)