Wednesday, December 26, 2007

On the Razor's Edge

I drove five hours - alone - the annual trek to my in-laws house. I am blessed. Strange that I say that today. I used to say this all the time. I came from poverty. I worked my tail off, married the ideal women - from a nice, well-to-do, well-respected family. Did I marry the woman or the entire "thing." Did I get caught up in the entire "package"?

Who knows?

I will not ponder this - this is fruitless. The only gain may be some insight to how I was thinking and my beliefs. I am not sure the analysis serves a purpose.

Today I use this post to divert away from my next two posts on Anger and Codependency.

Allow me to indulge myself in writing about Christmas Eve. I pulled in the driveway of my in-laws, walked into the house, only after passing my wife, daughter and dog on the way to the grocery store. I walked into the kitchen, somewhat on edge, expecting the eyes to pass over me and judge me for my faults. I did not get the examination however. What I expected never came about. Another amount of time expecting something bad. What stupidity on my part.

Instead, I was hugged. I am still of the defensive, saying it's to myself, "It's a trick! It's a trick! Do not let your guard down!! The knife in the back is coming!" And then .........

Nothing. Nada. Zip. No Pearl Harbor attack. No Spanish Inquisition waiting for me in the den.

Just a hug from my mother-in-law. My father-in-law, a good eyeball to eyeball, and handshake. We talked.

Then my daughter ran in. She grabbed me. She's pulling me. "Daddy I need to talk to you." What is it? What did I do now? [Note to myself: I am really beating myself up - aren't I? The guilt for getting angry last Saturday still resides within me. I am my own worst enemy. No one needs to criticize me. Hell, I am excellent at it. I am silent, but deadly.]

My daughter pulls me through the kitchen, back through another room, and finally to the bedroom in back of the house. "Daddy, mommy is drunk. She drove to the store, couldn't remember why we were going, asked me twice why we were going, daddy. She then pointed to the church, to houses, and drove into the parking lot of the supermarket. She hit a curb. Made a sharp turn and had the dog rolling through the car. And, she pulled up to the house and I was getting out when she pulled the car forward again."

I went to her mom, my wife, to see - to make the diagnosis, the big "Is she drunk?" I saw her. She moved unsteadily. I spoke to her. Her eyes were unfocused. Her voice different. Different tone. Different approach, like "Hey man, I am cool. What?" The "What?" part gets me every time. It's like she is saying; "Are you an idiot? Again?" [Note to myself: Yes I am. Thank you very little. I am a big idiot.]

I tell my daughter to tell my wife's mother.

I need "validation" or "verification." Or I need redemption? Or I need to be seen as the good guy, because . . . ? Is the answer . . . because; it's not me? I am not the asshole? I am - the "sad guy" as my friend who told me I was and have become. My friend whom I met for dinner asked; "What happened to you? You were the funny guy. You are not to blame here. You are the guy who is keeping it together."

Why do we beat ourselves up? Why do we need validation and verification?

I saw Donald Trump on the CNBC Christmas Eve. It was a rerun, and it was about success. I listened to the way he spoke. Confident. He spoke as a "matter of factly"I bet he didn't let his daughter run to his mother-in-law and report the status of his wife's drinking.

His confidence - like him or not - was contagious. He spoke with in a manner that said, "Hey, take me as I am. I am who I am and can only be that person." Confidence. Made his point. Stopped. He didn't beat a dead horse. People either took him at this word or tough... you know what.

What can we learn from this?
1. Stop beating yourself up. You didn't cause it. You can't cure it. And you can't control it. I started repeating this over and over to myself. It works. It helps. This is from Al-Anon. It's a great saying to state out-loud to yourself.

2 When you make a mistake, admit it. And apologize if necessary. And, most of all; get over it!

3. You are great. You don't need anyone to validate your opinions or feelings. You were confident at one time. Look back at yourself and see the times you were confident. Be yourself. Stop undermining your confidence by questioning yourself.

4. Emulate a role model. Think about someone who has their act together. Role model their behavior. Act in a positive manner and in a manner with the person you would like to become. Pretend. Fake it until you make it! In Hollywood, they pretend themselves into the role, before reading the script and they become the person. I am not saying we all become Donald Trumps. But there are characteristics of certain people we could all borrow and help us get through the moment. It's better than pitching a fit!

I how this note finds you well.

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