There are days I still struggle. I am definitely not a bitter person, but there are times where I feel a little bitterness creep into me. It sinks in deep, into my bones, and just infects my mind and body.
After having a happily hectic weekend with the kids, which was amazingly productive but exhausting, I realized that I was only so happy because it was hectic. It was so hectic, it allowed me to temporarily forget the stuff that has been plaguing my thoughts, as of late. This lead to me the realization that I needed to work on those issues instead of just putting a Band Aid of being so busy I didn’t have to think about them.
In life, it’s easy to not deal with situations or issues. It’s easy to either avoid them or just go on, pretending they never happened or aren’t looming in the air; but they still are. It’s like the 5,000 pound gorilla in the room that no one talks about – and it’s sitting on my chest at the moment, staring me in the eyes.
Not every one looks at life the same as me. I think it mostly goes back to the influence of my dad. He had lots of -isms he would say to me that I still think about today when I’m going through life.
Even though when I was younger, these saying would occasionally get on my nerves (mainly because my dad was right), as an adult I now keep these in mind:
“Is this a hill you want to die on?” Is the problem big enough that it’s worth upsetting the other person? Is the problem (and the person) worth expending the energy to fix it, or will it be a waste of time – either because the friendship/relationship isn’t worth it or you know the other person is 100% unwilling to listen or compromise? Does the problem hurt the other person somehow (which would be the ultimate test, because if it does, my dad would say, you have a moral obligation to discuss it)? Does the problem greatly affect you in such a way that it needs to be addressed for your own well being?
“It’s not always what you say, but how you say it.” Oh my, how true this one is. By how you say it, it’s the inflection in your voice, your body language, and your facial expressions. Those were the main things my dad was implying to me when he’d say that. What I’ve found now is that it’s not only those cues, but also your choice of words. Choice of words can be so difficult because everyone’s meaning of words can be slightly different. A funny example of this is a conversation between The Boyfriend and me. I was talking about some past discussion between us and I said something about him yelling at me. He got a little defensive at this point and said he didn’t yell. Before I went off and started to rehash the conversation (which didn’t need to be done, so thankfully I stopped myself) I recalled what a stickler for words he is. He has his own certain associations with specific phrases, which since we’ve been together so long I know this about him, so I changed it to raising his voice. He was okay with that. Inside, I was immensely frustrated that a simple conversation had to be stopped because of, what I perceived as semantics, but since it wasn’t a “hill I wanted to die on” I simply turned it into a laughable discussion of the differences in communication between us. It wasn’t the meaning of the sentence that ruffled his feathers, it was how I said it. The context was still the same whether I said yell or raised his voice.
“Don’t sweat the small stuff…and it’s all small stuff.” My dad used to tell me this and it would make me want to blow my stack. LOL! From time to time now, it still does. It’s true though. Even the stuff that seems like big stuff, in reality, it’s really just small stuff because you always have a choice on how you live it. You choose what you allow into your life. The big stuff, the stuff that messes with your mind and works on your self-esteem, you can almost always eliminate if it’s not a hill you want to die on. Plus, if a problem is that big that it can’t be fixed, it likely needs to be eliminated anyway.
Life is full of choices. There is always an option and very few definites. For instance, over a year ago, I had told The Boyfriend that since we had finally decided to move in together, and because with my kids I am missing out on so much being gone every other weekend, it needed to happen by September of this year. I was so happy and focused with that decision because it would finally put an end to the back and forth, it would give us both an actual support system at home full-time (instead of just over the phone, which just isn’t working anymore), and it would finally allow our relationship to continue to grow. However, by September he was not ready. I had the choice of no longer traveling, taking that part of my life that soaked up 8+ hours on a weekend I had off from the kids, delaying a ton of housework and also delaying my school time OR I could continue a relationship with him, choosing to let him keep his life where it was (for the time being) until he was better prepared to move. I chose him. I looked where my priorities were, I looked where my emotions were, and he was the better option. I could maintain the stress (at that point, at least) of the travel, of having to drag my kids out every other weekend very late at night, of hindering their ability to have friends spend the night Friday night (and Saturdays are not an option due to a lovely 8am mass time), and the stress of essentially putting my social life and academic life on hold, for him. That was a choice, there is no way he could have forced me to do it.
Ownership. Ownership of my actions, ownership of my decisions (good and bad), ownership of what life hands me, and realizing that I have a choice in it all – that’s my personal outlook on life which allows me to stay an optimist. I will not blame others for my circumstances, rather realize that I have the choice and decision to change them.
So, today, life is good. You know what? I have a feeling that tomorrow will be even better.