Wednesday, November 16, 2016

yes, that's it

I know it's probably silly to take life-advice from a "lifestyle" magazine (especially one that I am apparently out of the demographic - at least income wise - like Real Simple). But once in a while the writers in there bring up something that strikes me.

This month, it was in the advice column - the letter-writer was hurt because while birthdays were celebrated at work, hers was forgotten, and she was essentially asking, "Am I horrible person if I bring it up at the (grouped) birthdays of the people who have birthdays in close succession right now?"

The columnist advised that if it seemed like a one-off mistake (they genuinely forgot), to let it go - all it would do would be to make them feel bad. But if it was part of a pattern of exclusion, maybe to say something. Or, perhaps, to compromise, and ask if her half-birthday (which would fall about the time as the co-workers') could be rolled in to the celebration.

But the columnist also noticed something I find to be very true: "We live as adults with our fragile little-kid hearts beating inside us." And while some of us who had sterner upbringings than the stereotypical "coddled Millennials" that are currently the butt of much humor.....yes. I still have that fragile, easily-wounded heart of seven-year-old me inside. (Or, perhaps more likely: thirteen-year-old me; that's when I really got wounded a lot by life).

And, I don't know what to do besides acknowledge that. I know I can't demand that others bend to the little-kid side of my will - I can't demand my birthday be recognized at work (not that I would want it to).

Then again, elsewhere, the advice is given: don't make yourself shop (for holidays) under conditions you wouldn't make your six-year-old shop with you - in other words, wearing uncomfortable shoes, when overtired, when needing a drink of water, when you've been around too many people. And maybe there's something to that as well.

I know once when I was a kid, and I was upset about something, and I was crying, and someone asked me what was wrong, I irritably said, "I'm just tired." (I wonder now if it was something I overheard my parents saying to explain a previous meltdown, or maybe if it was something my mother once said about herself to explain away a rare bout of tears. I can't imagine coming up with such a mature statement on my own at six. Then again, I was an odd little kid and in some ways was more staid than I am as an adult)

But I do think the acknowledgement that we do have that little-kid heart inside of us....that sometimes stuff hurts us we know should not. (I spent a lot of my childhood being more or less gently reminded to get over my hurt feelings). And while we don't have to act out - and acting out can be disruptive and career-damaging in some situations - I think realizing that even though we're Big Tough Adults there are still things that can find where the scale is missing on our underbelly and pierce us.

And I kind of wonder sometimes if the sundry events of 2016 have, for me, stripped of some of the emotional scar tissue that managed to build up over my (figurative) little-kid heart - that if some of the protective stuff that I had built up in myself has got worn away, and my emotions are a little closer to the surface, and things wound me a little easier than they did previously. And I don't know how to fix that....I suppose being nice to myself, and acknowledging that some evenings are probably best spent tucked up in bed with a comforting book, and that it's perfectly okay for a nearly-50-year-old woman to still sleep with a teddy bear if it makes her feel better, and not to forget to drink enough water or put a warm buckwheat bag on a muscle that hurts, and just generally not always force myself to Suck It Up and Walk It Off, which were my typical mode of dealing with the slings and arrows of life earlier.

Oh, sometimes I'll still have to suck it up and walk it off (or slap some mud on it - since we're going with kids-sports metaphors) and just save the time for when I let myself meltdown a little for when I am alone.

Another thing that has given me a bit of hope this past day....on ITFF they are talking about mocking up a "fake" music-festival t-shirt for anyone in the group who wants one (with fake bands - one I contributed was Rändöm Umläuts, which would have to be a Spinal Tap tribute band). And the tentative tagline is Dumpster Fire Survivors: The Smoke Has Cleared And We're Still Here, and that seems like such an apt metaphor.

No comments: