Good news - I'm back from my walk and I have laundry going. I'm still figuring out the sleeping arrangements here, last night we experimented with a new configuration and I think we're onto something. I found an article on The Imbago Theory and I really like it so far. The idea is that we're attracted to people who have had similar problems, but solved or coped with them in a way other than the one we learned or chose. You can read more for yourself, one of the examples was withdrawing and becoming quiet vs being loud. That rang true for me. I am consistently and reliably drawn to men who are calm, quiet, and rational. Both of my parents made noise in their own way. My mom is almost always involved in some sort of project. She and my step-dad leave the lights on, they might have the TV going while music is playing, their place is decorated very chaotically, if they like an object, it stays. My mom is addicted to closure and her husband avoids it. This is why her kitchen remains unfinished, but they put in a new set of patio doors off of their dining room. Going over there is suffocating to me. It's not comfortable and casual like my youngest sister's place, there's no calm over there. I get overwhelmed just walking up their driveway.
Before I go further I want to make a distinction between people with loud voices and those who make noise in other ways. Things such as vacuuming, playing the piano, running power tools; those types of things can be overstimulating for me. Both of my parents yelled at us kids and it didn't take much to set them off. My mom was typically triggered by a particular situation, there would be an issue or a comment, that would turn into a disagreement, pretty soon she was screaming at and slapping people. My dad had a different style. I've shared this story before, but it illustrates the difference between him and my mom while being a painful and powerful memory. I was somewhere around age 12 when this happened. We lived in a really cool old house and since my dad was in charge of rearranging the furniture and hanging art it worked. He always had a gift for that kind of thing and I'm extremely thankful I inherited that from him. He was lying down on the couch reading a book while listening to the radio. There was a tennis match on TV, I stopped to watch the players for a couple of seconds on my way through the room.
It appeared that his attention was on the book, I didn't really pay attention to him or think about him much, my parents are both voracious readers, and reading was a mostly acceptable way to pass the time when I was growing up although my dad preferred higher quality material than my mother in my opinion which is not to say that my mom lacks intelligence like he would imply. Fluff can help you escape. I was standing in front of the TV when I felt a burning stinging sensation on the back of my right leg. Instead of asking me to move or even ordering or demanding that I do, my dad picked up the fly swatter and hit me with it. This created a sideways U shaped red welted area and since the weather was warm people either wanted to know what the mark was, or why I was wearing my jeans instead of shorts. Incidents like that coupled with my mother's tendency to slap or hit is why I like personal space and I need a lot of it. Before I got married we were printing wedding invitations, an event that could have been fun, but was stressful instead.
I can no longer recall what the fight was about, but I almost called the wedding off after he left the imprint of his hand across the area above my knee. We were supposed to meet his dad out at the airport after that. His dad loves planes and flying, I do too, but it was no longer a fun or safe event for me. I had assumed we wouldn't be going after the fight, that was another way my ex reminded me of my mom. You don't get time away from your assailant, you're expected to dry your tears, bottle your anger, and put on your happy face for company. A way that I learned to parent differently is by educating myself on some of my own anger issues. Until I sat down to write November 21, 2017, I had no idea I was so angry. I felt numb, but behind that were emotions I couldn't access. Maybe I needed distance from the situation, but I feel as if I had been writing more routinely, things wouldn't have escalated to that point in the first place. I also think this is why I had some of the trouble I did with this guy. I couldn't tell what he was feeling and I wanted to know. Not only was I curious, I was scared, afraid of him and afraid for him.
Typically I don't spend much time exploring why I'm not attracted to certain people, but this time I think it's worth a second look. I wrote about my friend who likes this guy, I told her he looked like my dad and that's still true, but he also acts like my dad in a lot of good ways. If the Imbago theory is my model, here is why he makes me feel incredibly safe and scares her. This guy goes out and does things. He's action oriented and that makes perfect sense to me. My dad woke us us kids up early to go running and work out, I was back from my walk before 5:30 AM. Intense people who compete with themselves are not complicated to me. I do this all the time. I don't care who is faster or smarter or has more money or writes better. I care that I'm focused on being a better person in some small way because I've learned that habits are the cornerstone and foundation of helping you get where you want to go. This is another reason that guy had ridiculous appeal for me, he has some great habits. I have good intentions, but I tend to be more erratic.
He is very steady and stable, he is conscious of other people's space although I think this is an area where he could use more awareness, I'm trying to think of a good example and can't come up with one, I think he likes to be in control and again, that makes perfect sense. I like power and most of the time I'm very comfortable sharing it. As I work through this new ideas are emerging. I think my mom is competitve and my dad is collaborative and that was a disastrous pairing. As an athlete my dad may have seemed like the more competitive person. He liked to win, but that was never the goal and we didn't really ever talk about it that I can remember. This is hard to unpack so bear with me, my dad would be the all time quarterback when we played football. I can hear people saying that he must have had an ego, but I don't believe that was really it. There was a girl who had brain tumors, she had the same name as another girl who was extremely athletic and intelligent, and I'll never forget the day that my dad threw the ball to the woman who was standing about ten feet away from him.
Right away I was mad, how could my dad have throw the ball to the person with brain issues instead of the person who was more likely to catch it and score? But I learned a super valuable lesson that day because nobody was guarding the physically and mentally challenged person and the woman with more skills and gifts had several guys close to her. After catching the ball she didn't get very far, but the ball had advanced and my dad's strategy had shown me what it means to lift and build those who are weaker. My dad taught lessons like that by example. He didn't tell us that we should view every player as valuable and believe in others even when they don't believe in themselves, he showed us how to do that. As a kid I was short and small. I didn't have the arm to play shortstop, I played a lot of first base with occasional outings at second and behind the plate. One weekend when I was in high school I had a friend over, she was athletic, on the volleyball team, basketball team, and competed in track events.
That day my dad let me play between second and third. It was a pick up game at the park, but it was a cool moment for me. It felt like my dad was trusting me to occupy that space and defend the area around me. We were screwed if my roommate hit the ball in the air, but I had seen her batting during gym class and I was skeptical of her ability to make contact much less launch a ball out of the park. My dad was also the all time pitcher and he wanted to see people learn how to hit when it was just us kids at the park. He gave my roommate a sweet pitch, the kind I didn't see very often, now I know that I was a much better hitter than she was and that's why I got more difficult pitches, but on that day it seemed grossly unfair that my dad was grooving pitches to her. I knew we were sunk when I heard the crack of the bat. She hit a line drive and I didn't move. Fortunately I didn't have to, the ball came right toward me and her at bat was over after that single pitch. She was so mad at me that day, first she stared at me in disbelief, I think she didn't realize the ball had been caught until I showed it to her.
My mom had a tendency to be overly protective about strange things. My dad was the exact opposite. He chose to put me in a position where I could fail. If you don't play ball you may not realize that you have to learn different positions. That was something I didn't know until I got moved from first base which was actually an ideal choice for me. I was routinely the shortest player on the team, but I could also reliably catch almost anything anyone threw to me, the result of thousands of hours spent at the park and in our back yard playing catch with my dad, myself, my siblings, and anyone else who was around. It sucked when my dad would give me goofy ball paths, but once I started playing on a team with people my own age I discovered that accuracy was rare, and today I'm silently thanking him for teaching me how to be an outstanding defender and perhaps more importantly, a gracious one because I also quickly learned that as soon as I was critical of someone else invariably I would airmail a throw, or fail to get the ball where it needed to go on time.
My mom was afraid of the ball, sometimes I was too, but if your pitcher never throws inside, you're going to have a more difficult time learning how to manage that pitch when you see it in a game setting. Obviously pitchers weren't trying to throw inside at that level, but due to their unpredictable control you could easily be hit if you were less experienced with those types of pitches. My dad was great at raising the bar on us. He wouldn't announce it, sometimes he would give me a couple of pitches straight down the middle to get warmed up and then he would do something I didn't expect like speed things up or purposely go low and outside on me. Time is the most important gift you can give another person. Sports were a way to connect with my dad and other people. I've said this before too, but it bears repeating. I played ball with kids my age because my dad told the coach that it didn't matter how short I was, I could hit the ball, I could catch it, and I could be relied to hustle to first while carrying my bat instead of tossing it. I did that one time before my dad took me out after the game and whipped a bat toward a piece of fencing to show me how a projectile like that could hurt someone if a batter wasn't careful.
Maybe it's just the way our minds work, actually, I think I know what it is, my dad was a great coach and that's not a strength my mom possesses. I didn't learn to knit until we went to the bookstore and one of the women who went to our church recognized me and invited me to join their group. When I explained that my mom had tried to teach me numerous times she told me that she would and she was convinced that she could. I was skeptical, but she explained it in a way that made sense to me. I made one scarf and I kind of regret getting rid of it because that was a major accomplishment despite my inexpertise. Another thing I learned from my dad was how to write and I mean literally he modeled the behavior instead of droning on about it. He would sit at his desk and write until he was done. Then he would set his work aside, take a break, and come back to edit it. I still haven't learned that part. I want to be the creator and it's hard for me to take those breaks. I'm a more effective and efficient person when I give myself rest time, but I have a ridiculously hard time setting my work aside and coming back to it later.
That's something I value about that guy and my friend at work. They're both great at recognizing the need to rest, sit down, and take a break from things. I remember getting off of work one night and asking that guy what his plans were. This was not long after he had started and I was asking because I was curious and to be polite. He said he was going to go home and rest and I remember giving him the oddest look while thinking that was so strange. I think he thinks a lot, actually I know he does and I know how exhausting that can be, but I make the mistake of pushing through rather than stepping back. I'm super excited about this new theory because I love that feeling of a missing puzzle piece snapping into place. I read that article when I woke up, I usually take a couple minutes to read things when I first wake up, I didn't want to get out of bed, I stumbled on that post and I was hooked. It literally felt like I had a physical puzzle piece and I could hear an actual click inside of my head as I learned more about this theory. I'm hoping it will give me a new way to think about myself and others, I like understanding where others are coming from and maybe this will help. If this person is this way, why are they? What can I learn from them?
Today I have to work and I'm excited about the upcoming week as far as work goes. Work is satisfying and rewarding to me. Even when I am frustrated by things I enjoy being productive and getting things done at work. I need to translate my motivation and ambition there to home, maybe that is a lesson I haven't come across yet and there is someone in my life who can teach me how to better balance things. I give so much at work that I come home without any energy or inclination to do anything here. Or I get so focused on some project here that I'm burned out before I drive to work. Something to think about at least. Awareness is where it starts for me. I feel pretty good today. Like I figured some things out and am forming helpful habits. Maybe you are too. Either way, it's okay.
Until next time,
P.S. If anyone is interested in Carol Tuttle's book on Dressing Your Truth here is a small example of how it can help. I used to get up early and walk down by the lake on a daily basis. Yesterday I bought a sweatshirt, a light jacket, and this black and red checked thing you're supposed to wear in your hair, but I put around my neck. I want to write more on this in the future, but clothes are tools to me. I was reminded of the post on the right tool for the job and I think having those clothes are part of the reason I was able to force myself to get up and out the door. I knew I was dressed for walking and that helped me overcome inertia and the former fear that I was going to be too cold and have trouble breathing. I spent more money than I had wanted, but I'm pleased with the purchases as they feel like investments rather than shopping for the sake of indulging in retail therapy. Thanks Carol.
P.P.S. Two people who weren't featured here are some of my attorney friends. One of them has fabulous routines and the other is visionary in the sense that he can see a better life for me. Another thing I may do in the future is do more compare and contrast like this. I don't get along with some of the women at work because I need, want, and prefer direct communication rather than this passive aggressive manipulative crap. I think I have made the mistake of associating quiet with these types of behaviors and that's not actually a solid correlation. My manager is super assertive and direct and I absolutely love her for it. Not long ago I made a pretty costly mistake at work. I had to go confess that to her and I knew she would be upset so I wasn't angry when she expressed her disappointment. It ended up working out in the end partially due to my efforts, but that was unacceptable behavior from me. I rushed through something instead of taking the time to do it right and that was dumb. But I've also seen how people can work extremely slowly and still not be detail oriented.
Lots to think about, writing helps because I can clear some of these thoughts and stop them from swirling around and occupying energy that could go into tasks or fun. Last night the girls said they had fun shopping after I asked what the best part about their day was. Don't ask me why, but my youngest and I ended up throwing bras at each other in the living room. I took them out to lunch after we went shopping and we had some fun in the car as well. I didn't make them do any chores, I think this is another thing that goes back to being a kid. My mom was a task master, but not in a way that ever motivated me or was helpful to me personally. My manager works just as hard as my mom does, I think the difference is she will tell me I did a good job and either give me a treat herself or give me the permission to get one of my own. Growing up I would do the work and get rewarded with criticism and more work. Part of me is still rebeling against my mom's lists and insatiable need for closure. One of the reasons I'm so drawn to certain people is they work hard and then they play hard.
It feels like my mom works and works at the areas of life that give her satisfation and is critical of how others lead and live their lives. She makes me feel so inadquate about just about everything. That's what I meant when I said she was competitive. She would time tasks and strive for perfection. I have a deeply ingrained loathing of timing anything and rarely do. When my friend tells me to sit down and relax that means so much to me. We give horses breaks after races, this may sound harsh, but my mom kept whipping me until, I don't know what she thought that was going to accomplish. Both of my parents spanked us, my dad was frequently much more measured about it although there were times when he lost his temper as well. It is super scary as a child to be around an adult who is out of control. Meeting people who are calm, cool, controlled, and can convey feelings of safety are so precious to me. I will always be drawn to and love those silently reassuring types because that's what I never had and really needed when I was a child. Someone who was going to be there, who was going to see what was going on and someone who was going to be assertive enough to speak up or pull me away from the source of harm. The moment I saw that guy interact with another woman I had a feeling he was going to be very interesting. He wore a navy sweater and I haven't seen it since which is another thing that makes me wonder because it looked great on him. I don't understand people like him and another woman at work who seem intent on wearing clothing that is supremely unflattering when they have other options and choices. Not my problem obviously, just an observation. I feel calm today. That hasn't happened in a very long time and I'm taking a moment to let that soak in before I get ready to go to work.