Everybody Has One

Take a look at the following statements:

The devil made me do it.
Not tonight, I have a headache.
I can’t find a sitter to watch the kids.

Know what these are? Excuses. We have all used these and many other creative variations to either get out of doing something or get around something we did not want to encounter. But the excuse itself is not the issue. The behavior associated with it is the issue. Let me give you a definition before we jump into this deep abyss.

Enabler: one who enables another to persist in self-destructive behavior by providing excuses or by helping that individual avoid the consequences of such behavior. *www.dictionary.com

I have an issue with the definition in that it’s too narrow. It doesn’t account for those who enable themselves. Let me give you an example.

I live with my aunt who has a child who has several disabilities. He was born premature and had several complications. He’s now an adult, but he will never be able to live on his own. My aunt is single. She sometimes uses her son as an excuse not to go out with someone, not to get involved. She used to do this and not realize it. Then she took a really long look in the mirror. Now that she recognizes the behavior, she only does it if it’s really necessary. The point is that she’s enabling herself to live her life a certain way.

There’s nothing wrong with living life on your own terms. But you have to be careful that you’re not hurting yourself or those around you. I have some other friends who do basically the same thing. And it’s not all for the parent’s benefit. Sometimes if the child is being particularly difficult, it is easier to give in and do what ever it takes to keep them calm. This could be picking up their laundry, doing a chore, letting them make their own excuses, or letting them use their ‘disability’ to get out of doing something that they are perfectly capable of handling. Some people don’t even realize they do this. And if you’ve been doing it for a while, it’s become such habit that you wouldn’t recognize it until you were hit in the head with it. This behavior is not limited to parent and child, either. It is evident in every type of relationship.

The problem with this behavior is that it teaches the wrong things. It teaches the child that it’s okay to harass someone else into doing your chores. It’s okay to say I can’t do that because of…. and expect someone else to do the task for you. But it’s not okay. Not for the parent nor the child. It sets up a pattern of poor behavior that will last a lifetime and become an endless cycle unless someone has the cojones to look in the mirror and say, Enough is enough!

My aunt’s son does have a lot of issues, but he is far from stupid. I don’t like to use the word manipulate, but let’s say he knows how to play certain people to get them to do things for him.

For instance, I’ve seen her be tough with him and her ex let him get away with everything. This sets up conflict for the child because he’s getting mixed signals. It also causes conflict because one parent is enabling poor behavior without considering the consequences.

There are a lot of things he can not do. But there are a lot of things he is perfectly capable of doing for himself, he just doesn’t want to. On the other side of that is the person who has done it for so long it’s a habit. That person uses the child as an excuse for where they are in life, why they can’t achieve the things they want to. They see the child as a responsibility they can not walk away from. The thought of changing that situation fills them with guilt, with fears that they are a bad parent. The bad thing is that they are only hurting themselves. The cycle has to be broken.

There is a solution. But be warned, it ain’t easy! Looking in the mirror is difficult. You are responsible for only one person, Yourself! You can not take responsibility for someone else’s actions, especially if they are old enough to know what they are doing. A child needs a parent to give them the tools, physical, emotional, and psychological tools, that are needed to live a productive life. You give them the tools, show them how to use the tools, and then you have no choice but to let them live their lives as best they can. You can not be responsible for them all the time. I often hear my friends with kids say how much they sacrifice for their kids. Yes, some sacrifice is expected. But not everything.

So if you’re not happy with where you are in life, take a look in that mirror. What behaviors do you enable in those around you? What behaviors do you enable in yourself? What are you capable of changing to find yourself in that happy place? What are you willing to change to find your happy place?

We all have dreams and needs and desires. Don’t let bad habits get in the way of being happy.

The Possibilities are Endless

Writers like to play a game called What If. It’s a fun way to brainstorm ideas for new stories. Some writers use it to push through writer’s block or to figure out what a character would do in a tough situation. What If can be a very useful tool for a writer.

What If can also be applied to real life. You come to a crossroads and stop, looking at the choices before you. What if you turn right? What if you go straight ahead?

Let’s say you meet someone new. What if he asks you out? What if he kisses you on your doorstep? What if you ask him to come in for coffee?

Or, you are already in a relationship. What if we move in together? What if he snores? Wht if the kids don’t like me? What if he hogs all the closet space?

We use What If everyday. Every time we make a decision to do one thing over another we play the game. What If opens up endless possibilities for every situation.

What if I get that promotion? What if I ask him to move to another state to be with me? What if I get my brother a pink tutu for Christmas? All of these questions involve a decision, a possible outcome of circumstances. And everytime we make a choice, we influence the next one. What if my brother really wears a pink tutu while cooking lasagna? What if the purple tutu would have looked better with his tattoos?

We have an endless supply of choices. The key is not being afraid to make a choice. I’m discovering that I like the idea of never passing up an opportunity. I never know what the next moment will bring.

I say What If, and watch to see how many doors open.

Smoke ’em if you got ’em…

I don’t smoke. Never have and with my allergies I never will. But sometimes I need that smoke break. That extra ten minutes somebody will take to just go breathe. The last couple of weeks have been very stressful for me for a lot of reasons. I have the day off today, Wednesday, which is also my chat group day. My plan for today was not to update my blog, but that’s okay. My plan was to not do a damn thing. I haven’t started my laundry yet. I haven’t painted my nails yet. I did sweep the leaves off the carport and I took my aunt to lunch.

It can be very tiring to try to be everyone’s fix-it person. Hell, it wears me out to be a friend sometimes. Missing someone makes you tired and grumpy, too. I’m missing several people at one time, so that doesn’t help. And of course there is the commercial fiasco of the holidays. Ever notice how depressing a Wal-Mart can be? I haven’t felt like chatting with friends other than a select couple of people. Yes, I know winter is coming, but I’m usually happy about that.
I just needed a break.

I’m going to make Christmas ornaments this afternoon. I haven’t been crafty in a while and I miss it. I read some last night when I got home from poker. Been a week or so since I read anything other than mail. That was nice too. Sometimes I just need to vegetate. I haven’t even answered my phone today. I got out in the sunshine and the wind and drove around a bit. I needed to recharge my batteries. Still not at full capacity but I’m getting there. I have vacation time coming after the first of the year. I definitely foresee a beach in my future.

Accept No Imitations

Are you the real deal? What does it take to be real? Do you have to know somebody? Where certain clothes? Hop on one foot and bark like a dog? Oh, please. Being real has nothing to do with the car you drive, the job you have, where you live. It has nothing to do with playing in the jungle, redecorating your neighbor’s house, or cooking a fancy meal in an hour.

Reality is what most of us call life. The grungy, down in the trenches battle of everyday. But most of us don’t realize our full potential. There are several things you can do to be real.

Don’t be afraid to get hurt. I’m not talking about a scraped knee or bruised ego. I’m talking big pain, the kind you feel in your heart. The pain that comes from losing what you thought you couldn’t live without. This pain will bring you to your knees, make you choke on your own sorrow and wish you really could crawl into a whiskey bottle and drown. It’s a risk. And without that risk, that danger, you will never know what you are made of. You also need that pain because it makes you open your eyes. If you’re smart (or lucky) you open your eyes and look into the mirror, and you ask yourself a question. That question may simply be, WTF? Or that question may be so significant that it rocks your very soul. You need to ask yourself the hard questions. Not being able to face the mirror and answer those questions is almost as unbearable a pain as losing the love of your life. Sometimes it’s worse. But you can not be afraid of it, or it will control you.

Being real means you have to be able to laugh. At yourself, at the world, at those who would hold you back just because they can. Laughter keeps your brain working, relieves stress. The sound itself attracts attention and more laughter. You can’t take yourself so seriously that you forget how to laugh. That’s how you make yourself sick.

Love is a part of being real that’s not easy. Love is not easy to get, not easy to keep, not easy to let go of. But it is what makes us unique. You need love to grow into an emotionally healthy adult. Without it, you’re nothing but an animal foraging for scraps. You have to be able to love yourself before you can love someone else, or before they can love you.

If you start putting all these pieces together, you get the next step, growth. You have to grow as a person to be real. If you don’t grow emotionally, you will never find true happiness. You have to look in that mirror to grow. You have to face your fears and insecurities and move past them. It’s not an easy thing to do. But the distance you travel once it’s done will show you how much you’ve grown.

Just like anything else you encounter in life, there is more than one way to accomplish becoming real. When something new presents itself, consider it from all angles. Look at every possible outcome and weigh the risks against the potential gain. But remember that there are many options. You owe it to yourself to explore all the possibilities. This may mean thinking outside the box. Don’t pass up an opportunity because of geography, finances, or family obligations. Life is too short to miss out on something or someone.

Lastly, whatever you decide to do in life, see it through. Don’t give up on something because it’s not convenient. I’m learning to look in the mirror and see a path, the path I’m supposed to take. Every time I look I get a little closer to my goals. Being honest with myself makes the picture much clearer.

So, are you real? Me, I am a work in progress. I will look into the mirror, I will push my limits, I will do my damnedest not to be afraid of what’s ahead of me. So when you come looking for me, remember, I’m the real deal. Accept no imitations.

Comfort Zone

We all have a comfort zone. That one place where you can let your hair down and relax, sit around naked, or pick your nose if you feel like it. The place where you can do no wrong. The place where nothing can hurt you unless you let it inside. But what happens when you step outside your comfort zone? What if someone pushes you out of your comfort zone? What do you do when someone shows you that the comfort zone you’ve so carefully crafted is a big can of BS?

People as a group do not like change, whether big, small, personal, general, or indifferent. Once you hit that cozy spot you don’t want to get out of it. But if you don’t stretch a little, you never grow. If you don’t grow, you stagnate. Human beings are really good at digging ruts into our lives and not bothering to see how deep in shit we really are. It often takes a major event, catastrophic even, for us to see what we’ve done to our lives. Sometimes it just takes the persistent nudging of a good friend. But either way, there are times you just have to stop and take a look at where you are.

Are you where you planned on being at this point in life? Why not? What happened? Why did you react the way you did? Why haven’t you done anything since then to change the situation? What can you do now to change it? Do you want to change it or do you want to stay with the current program and just go on bitching about it? If you make an effort to change and it doesn’t work, okay, you can bitch about it. But don’t bitch and moan just because you don’t like it. Do something about it. Speak up. Get off you lazy butt and move.

It’s not easy to find that motivation. Some people never do. Some people are so overly motivated they can’t be still. And some of us are just chugging along, seeing where the trip will lead.

I’m finding that my motivation is coming from a different place now. No, I’m not where I thought I would be at this point. I planned on being married with kids and a big Victorian house and the white picket fence, with a job I loved and a husband I adored. Well, guess what? The fairy tale is not happening! No house, no kids, husband turned out to be a very accomplished liar. I do know I want to change my current situation. Luckily I have friends and family to support me, and to keep pushing me toward the edge of my comfort zone. I’m also finding that besides still being the guiding voice a lot of my friends have relied on over the years, I’m now the one pushing my friends to the edge of their comfort zones.

If I have to look at myself in the mirror and face the truth, so do all of you. You may not like what you see. You may not look right now, but wait until it doesn’t scare you so bad. But one way or another, we all have to look in that mirror.

For now, I will continue to stretch for that boundary between comfortable and growth. I will rewrite my fairy tale. Perhaps my Prince will already have kids, or we find a little bungalow overlooking the beach. Maybe we buy an island and turn into natives. The only way I will find out for sure is to keep pushing my limits. Take one risk at a time until I feel brave enough to try two at a time. Or maybe three at a time. But I will not shy away from that line.

Once you commit to crossing the border it’s actually pretty fun. The path we need to take will be bumpy sometimes, but the destination is definitely worth the trip.

I Thank You

Despite the red and green decorations sprouting up everywhere, Thanksgiving is just around the corner. What are you thankful for? Me? There have been a lot of changes for me this year, but I’m starting to see the forest through all those trees.

I’m thankful for…..

-my aunt who has helped me through the break-up of my marriage and the death of my father, plus given me a place to stay.

-my boss/best friend who has helped more than either one of us truly realize.

-finally being able to see the true me when I look in the mirror. It never would have happened if I were still with my ex. I didn’t care for his method, but the outcome has been amazing.

– having my family around me. Not just relatives, but friends also. Each one means the world to me. I wouldn’t trade you guys for anything. Not even chocolate.

– the one special friend who has shown me that no matter how much the past has hurt, the present can be much more interesting. He’s helped me hear the muse again, and helped me find my passion, passion for life, love, music, him, everything. He’s helped me learn to care again, to not be afraid of letting someone get close. The funny thing is that he knows there’s a connection there, but he doesn’t realize just how close he’s gotten. He’s given me the opportunity to recognize hope for what it is, another opportunity to find the dream with the happy ending.

I’m looking forward to a new year. I’m sure the road will be bumpy, but I’m much better equipped to deal with those hazards than I used to be. And I know I’ll have good company along for the ride.