Friday, January 4, 2013

Good Days, Bad Days

Despite the greatest of intentions, January 1st, 2013 was a bad day.

It started out nicely enough; I went for a short run down to the beach and back. I made myself some delicious peppermint mocha tea and drank it while reading a nice inspirational book and journaling a bit. Then, bright and early on new Year's day, I cleaned out the file cabinet of any papers I did not need to keep into the new year. I pulled out papers that I would need for my taxes and put them in a folder labeled "taxes", determined to get everything done early this year. I dusted off the shelves, put together a bag of things for donation, and tidied up my closet and dresser. All before 10:30 am.

2013 was looking so orderly and organized I could barely contain myself!

Then I ventured out to interact with other people.

I went to visit a family member who had invited me over for lunch. It did not go well. From the moment I got there, all she did was push my buttons, seemingly on purpose, clearly in an unrelenting manner. First, she was complaining that nobody helped her bring in the groceries, even though I had just carried the groceries up into the kitchen. Then she complained about the staff at the grocery store and the bags from the grocery store. She complained to me about other family members. Then she complained about how her brand new computer that she got for Christmas didn't work.

I said I'd get on the computer and see if I could figure out what she was having trouble with. That's when things really started to go downhill. She yelled at me for moving the laptop from one end of the table to the other. She yelled at me for plugging it in. She insisted that the battery was sufficient even though the "low battery" signal was blinking on the screen. She yelled that the password was incorrect, she yelled that the user name was incorrect. I finally figured out that she was trying to put the network information in as the login information and attempted to show her how to log in.

The next thing I knew, we were both screaming at each other at the top of our lungs. I was telling her to  "Just shut up for one freaking second and listen! Let me show you how to do this!" She was insisting that "I know what I'm doing! Don't treat me like I'm stupid!" I ended up grabbing my coat and storming out. I had lunch at a sandwich shop in town by myself.

That is not the way I had envisioned this day going.

The ironic part of this scenario? That inspirational book I was reading  (Add More -ing to Your Life by Gabrielle Bernstein) was talking about the concept of "mirroring": the idea that the people who push your buttons are merely a reflection of insecurities that you have about yourself.

I read that while drinking my tea and thought about a person at work who rubbed me the wrong way. A person who was bit of a control freak, a Martha Stewartesque person who always seemed to be pointing out ways what she was more organized than everyone else.

So, I absorbed this and journaled away and came to the conclusion that I was irritated because I actually was insecure about being disorganized. And then I ran in and cleaned out my file cabinet. BAM!  I left for my lunch plans feeling pretty damn smug about myself.

One thingI have learned in life is that anytime I feel smug about ANYTHING, a giant life lesson is coming on its heels.

Today was a quicker turnaround than usual.

While I really do feel that my family member was intent on arguing today no matter what, I did not need to be intent on taking everything personally. I did not need to jump in and point out all the errors in her line of reasoning. I did not have to try to fix everything. Maybe if I had just sat and let her vent and listened, the end result would have been much different. Maybe she wasn't intent on arguing, but needing to be heard. I didn't rise to the occasion.

I remember earlier in 2012, when I was having a bit of a rough patch, the recurring thought in my head was "Nobody ever listens. I repeat myself over and over and over again and nobody ever hears what I am saying." It was not a good feeling.

It's not a good feeling to be on the other end, guilty of not listening.

For the past 3 days, in the back of my mind, I have known that I had to go apologize this weekend, even though I really really really did not want to. I knew -- KNEW -- that she would not accept my apology and would hold this over my head for a long time to come. But nonetheless, I would have to apologize just the same. It's what you do.

Then, completely out of the blue, she called and apologized to me.

Despite all my worst fears, January 4th, 2013 was a good day.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I just want to thank you for this post, but maybe not for the reason you expect or the things you experienced. Mostly because the interaction you had with your family member reminded me of all the reasons why I left my last job. Since I often had people yelling at me and "telling" me what the problem was. Except, of course, that I couldn't leave.

And they NEVER bloody apologized! :)