I’ve found over the past few days that it is practically engrained in us to refuse help. We don’t want to be a bother. Don’t want anyone to have to go out of their way. It’s sometimes hard to decipher what exactly to do. We lean towards wanting to be polite without regard to what we really desire or expect and it usually ends in resentment.
I was discussing this with a close friend today and she said that it’s all a bunch of game playing that we do with ourselves. We talk ourselves into thinking that it’s the other person’s fault for not expressing what they really want when in fact, the fault is our own. If you know what the right thing is to do, then don’t ask the question(s). “Do you want me to come”, “Do you want me to stay”, “Do you want me to go”, etc.
When I first found out my father had a stroke, I didn’t know if I should go be by his side. I wanted to be there. I should’ve said “I’ll be right there”. I didn’t. I asked “Should I come”? As soon as I said it, I thought back to just a few weeks earlier when I’d been on the phone with him, asking if he wanted me to come for the holidays. We went through the same process. He wanted me to come but didn’t want me to bother with it. He wanted me to wait because he wanted to come see me in the spring as if it were a multiple choice selection (he could only have me visit him OR him visit me). He finally suggested that I wait to visit with the caveat that I could come if I really wanted to.
With so much wishy washyness going on, I figured he really didn’t want me to come so I booked a trip elsewhere. While traveling for that trip, I got the call that he’d had a stroke. Before being told of what had happened, I was asked if I was in a place that I could talk. I looked around the airport terminal and didn’t know how to answer so I didn’t. I stood in the middle of the isle not knowing what to do. It was suggested I sit down, so I did. Imagining what was about to be told to me, I backed up to a wall and slid down until I was squatted down on the floor.
I asked if I should come. He told me I didn’t have to. I was confused. A stroke was bad news. I heard the word paralysis and tried to comprehend what was going on. How could I not go? I was told he was fine. Fine? I looked around and saw people in the seating area of the airport looking at me. I was confused. I said that I needed to get to my destination before I could make arrangements to get to him. I was afraid I would never see my luggage again if I detoured mid-trip, during my layover. But in the time I was trying to comprehend what the hell was going on and what I was supposed to do, my partner had retrieved our bags and rebooked our flight.
I relayed that we were on our way and asked if perhaps my dad didn’t want me to come. It was too much and I broke down. I sobbed at the thought that my dad didn’t want me there. Thankfully, that was not the case and before long, I was on my way. After a long day of travel, I arrived at my dad’s bedside that evening. The first thing he said was “Thank you for coming”.
I learned from my friend today that it’s not about what others want sometimes. I knew what the right thing was to do and rather than questioning it, I should’ve just done it. I am going to go. No more questions.
Now to try and get that through to my dad. He says he’d like a shower and when a nurse comes in, he says it’s ok, he doesn’t need one right that minute thinking that he’s being a bother, so they leave. He gets mad after 10 minutes when they’ve not returned to give him one. We ring the nurse to set up a time. She asks what time and he says it doesn’t matter. He prefers his showers in the evening so when they give him one in the morning, he complains that he doesn’t get them at night. We request them at night and he says anytime is fine.
Now I know where I get it from. There are a lot of people out there that do this same thing. It’s not limited to parents. It encompasses friends, relatives, people in the store. It’s personal, mental game playing that has started to drive me crazy. I want to make a late New Year’s resolution to stop the games.
I was running errands yesterday, doing a bit of Christmas shopping and preparing for the rain storm that is bringing us much needed rain. I had the Christmas tunes on and something came on that I wasn’t too fond of so I switched over to my favorite local 80’s channel. It was perfect timing. I heard the beginning of a familiar song and within a few seconds, I launched into Rapper’s Delight. I know every hip hop the hippie the hippie to the hip hop part of the song and I love it. It’s such a fun song to sing and it put me right back on the bus, riding to school with my friends, the music blaring from my boom box that I took everywhere with me. I go into full hand motions and acting out the song while in my car, not caring who’s looking, hoping that everyone can have as much fun as I can by myself, listening to the radio.
I thought about talking with my friend “Ron” from my book. I just spoke with him last month. It was good getting caught up with him. He said that when he first stepped on that same school bus so many years ago, his life was changed forever. We laughed. He said he walked down the isle of the bus and saw me with my friend “Taylor”. We were sunken down in the oversized bus bench seat, with our knees up on the back of the seat in front of us. We both had sunglasses on and Taylor’s hair was blown out. We laughed again because it was so right, our memories. I could see us all. When the two of us saw Ron, I flipped my sunglasses up and said “hi”.
Back in my car, I could see all of this in my head without missing a beat or a word of the song. It was such a long time ago and the regrets pained my heart. I introduced “Ron” to more than two crazy girls and rap music.
The song ended as I pulled into the grocery store parking lot. Sheila E. came on. I was transported from the bus to my living room, practicing dance moves with “Faith”, my best friend. We were inseparable. I sang about the Glamorous Life and pictured us, always clowning around, eating and forever dancing. Best friends forever was really best friends for a little while or maybe best friends until things get tough or indifferent or complicated.
When I returned to the car, I was heading to the mall when Jam On It came on. Yeah, yeah, we know, we know. I’m not the least bit embarrassed that I used to break dance. I saw myself “popping” and wished I was still as good as I was then. As each year passes in my life, I wonder what the oldest dancer has ever been to start a career, not considering endurance, flexibility, skill or any of the other important requirements that are needed to be a dancer.
There’s lots of things I want to be. There’s lots of things I’ve been. I’m going to go make dinner.
- Want to hear more? Check out my book ‘A Series of Events’ available in trade paperback and on kindle from Amazon at amzn.to/YnToPS
The past few days have been horrific. I announced the release of my book to friends and family which got me jazzed, sharing in the excitement and wonderment of all that I’ve been working on since our move and my departure from my tech job. Then they started to buy it and worse, read it. There’s intimate details of my life in my book. That’s what memoirs are for, right? I suddenly felt exposed and frightened. I considered pulling it from the shelf, giving up, starting back on looking for a regular job – whatever that means. And while all of this was pounding me down, making my world a dark place, I kept putting it out there. I updated LinkedIn to say that I’ve been a writer for the past year and am now a self published author. The doubt patronizing me, telling me that I’m not really a writer. I’m nothing. I’m just a person that wrote a book that a handful of people will read. I tried to shut it up by entering more contests. That’s what I’ve been doing in order to get some exposure. If I can get published in a magazine or some other lit, it would open my book up to other audiences besides my friends and family. All I could think of to write about was the darkness, the hurt, the hopelessness that I carry around like a suitcase strapped to my back. I’m no writer. Maybe I’m a thinker. I don’t know what I am. And so I got the book pushed to iBooks. Then I worked on my business cards. I hope they turn out well. I researched bookstores to drop some off at when they come in. They shipped today. I hope people will use them as a bookmark. I made them glossy just for that purpose. Maybe I’ll ride my bike to some coffee shops to leave them.
A bike ride sounded good. I changed, putting on my new bike shirt that I got when we went to Napa. It was hotter than I expected. I had some chicken for lunch which I thought would give me some fuel to burn. 5 miles into my ride, I thought I was going to throw up. I wanted to keep going. I needed to clear my head although there’s been no clearing it. I just wanted to be out and about for a minute. I was hot. Too hot. I kept swigging on my water but could only think of that chicken and that I was about to see it in a whole new light. I returned home and put away my bike without losing my lunch. I thought I was going to pass out before I made it into the house though. I opened the door, closed it behind me and laid down on the floor just inside. Bette Midler sang to me in my headphones as I laid there. I started to feel human again so I got up and showered. I didn’t feel like cooking dinner. I grabbed the computer and looked through my files. I saw Part II – Master. I opened it and started reading. I laughed and started typing when I got to the end. I got to page 7 of the next book in the series of my life. I stopped so I could start on dinner.
A body in motion tends to stay in motion while a body at rest tends to stay at rest. I never really understood that saying until I didn’t have a job. I get it now. I feel better today. More active. I want to go ride but it’s wicked hot again today. I snipped at my tomato plant for a bit and watered my herbs. It’s supposed to cool off some soon. I’ll go then.
You can follow me on Twitter – @MichelleRStoner
In coming up with market analysis, some sort of a bio, edits, researching self publishing and publishers, I wonder if writing a memoir is narcissistic. I’ve been questioning why anyone would really care about what I have to say or what has happened to me throughout my life. I try to focus on all of the books I’ve read of people I’ve never heard of and of those that are famous. I’ve enjoyed them all. I’ve related and empathized. Maybe mine won’t be any different. Other people will read it and understand.
Empathy is a major part of my life. I feel others pain and happiness. I carry it around like a backpack. Sometimes my own issues are too much so I drop them on the floor for a bit just to pick them all back up and carry them around some more. I found a place to put it all, in the book. It doesn’t take it away. I still carry it all around but it packages a lot of it in a neat place to house it all.
I started thinking that I hope people that read my blog or pick up my book don’t think that it’s all about me because it’s really not. It’s far from it. It’s more about sharing with others. Bringing people into my life. But, I thought it might be a good idea to get the focus off of me. I get so obsessed day after day of reading reviews, reading how to’s, researching, writing here and there that I just needed away from the computer. I went and volunteered at the Second Harvest Food Bank. It got me off my butt and out of my head for a bit.
I guess a memoir is narcissistic to an extent. A narcissistic, empathetic attempt to share oneself with others.
Hmm, that’s a great title for a story. I might use that sometime. Need to write myself a note. Anyway, I was thinking while driving the other day about my childhood friends and those that have come into my life and left an imprint. There’s been so many people that it made me realize that I love easy. I trust people and usually end up sharing a piece of me with them and them with me. That sharing always causes a connection. It’s hard not to love when there’s that connection. I have childhood friends that I still consider so close that I’d do anything for them. I don’t know if the feeling is always reciprocated but it doesn’t matter. When we were little, I loved them. We’d play, talk, take care of one another, be there through just about anything we got ourselves into. That love doesn’t just disappear because we don’t see each other every day. Time does not erase memories or take away the events that shape our lives. I carry this love around with me every day. Sometimes it’s too much. I want to offload it but I can’t. I can’t forget someone or cross them off of the friends list. I think about the times we spent together. The laughs, the tears. I miss people which makes me sad. It’s so much easier to keep in touch through social media these days but it’s not the same. It’s not like sitting across from one another at a table and catching up. It is a nice container. I have everyone in one place that I can go to get to them. And it’s not just childhood friends. It’s adult friends too. Some that I consider family members now, I met while I was an adult. I don’t know what I’d do without these people. It’s hard for me to make friends but when I do, I hold them close. I think about them often, I worry about them, I sympathize and empathize with them across the miles. I probably think about them too much but that’s just me. I don’t think it’s a bad thing to love easy, but it does cause heartache over time. I hope those that I do love know that I love them.
I wonder what goes through people’s minds when they shoulder-check others just to get in front of them. When they race ahead on the highway and squeeze in. When they drive to the end of the merge lane just to get a few more cars ahead. When they white line. Do they really feel entitled? Do people really think they’re better than others?
I’m no saint. I drive too fast, I’ve cut people off, squeezed ahead. I get really mad when I think people feel they’re entitled but when I do these things, I don’t feel entitled. I try to remember that I too have not realized a lane was ending until I was at the part where it was merging. Do people think that I think I’m entitled? It’s almost like you can tell if they think they’re entitled. I don’t know. I’m not perfect. I get it. I’ve not white lined before but can understand that I’d rather do that than sit in sweltering heat dying. But then again, if you can’t handle it, maybe having a motorcycle is not the right vehicle. I’m often in a hurry and want to run the senior citizen off the road because they’re going too slow. If I were to witness someone doing that to my mom, I’d want to kill them. I’m not even sure I’m in a hurry. I just like to drive fast.
I think people start to believe their own hype. Maybe they’re a CEO or some important or famous person and they get used to that sort of treatment, so when they get around regular folk, they just don’t know how to act.
It happens every day. People have road rage. Others flip and beat the shit out of someone on the street. Maybe there’s just too much emphasis on getting ahead. Being first.