|PMS-ing psycho with a weapon or hot mamma needing to chill? Choose your words carefully.|
But if I would get the nerve to jump in, overactive conscience be darned, I might say something like this:
Is this helping?
I can tell you love your children like crazy, but when you nickname them "vixen" and "devil-man," and call your life "hell in a minivan," does it make you feel better about your world?
There is a place for sharing what you're going through now and getting support and advice for the next step on your path, but does retelling the story of how your son destroyed the living room furniture five years ago or how your father blamed you for her behaviours before the diagnosis make you love them all more? Oh, sometimes it's a bonding thing, and sometimes it helps us see the humour in our situations - and almost always it's downright entertaining - but often I think the negative talk just makes a difficult situation that much harder to bear.
I met a friend for coffee last week and she said she'd noticed so many changes in me over the dozen years she's known me. The biggest one is in the way I talk about my family. When she met me, I used every opportunity to shock people with painful stories and try to squeeze out a few more drops of sympathy. My right, my consolation prize, for having a bizarrely painful life package, right? But I decided years ago to choose words that made my husband and children look good in public. Even when I feel like running away from home. Because I found those words didn't only change the way others saw my family; they changed the way I feel about them too.
When I'd say, "My daughter's constant lying and stealing makes me so mad I want to strangle her," I really meant "My daughter has lagging social skills that make it difficult for her to control her impulses and recognize the effect of her actions on the rest of us. She needs patient guidance, and I need supportive friends and plenty of rest, so I have that kind of love to give."
And "My husband is a self-centred sofa-warmer who never shows affection and wishes he were rid of us" has become "My husband is overwhelmed and suffering from migraines again, so he doesn't have the energy to stay calm when the kids are screaming, and he's afraid to spend time with me because I've been so naggy lately. I need to be clear and gentle when I ask for what I need from him." It doesn't sound as interesting, but it sure makes me feel more content, calm, in control. And most of all: hopeful.
I'm guessing some of you think I have too many self-help books shoved up my prissy ass, but that's okay. That's another reason I'm doing this here and not in person: I'm not only leery about interrupting; I'm also sensitive to criticism. Write me off as a goody-goody, but I still think it's worth saying. What's more important: to go home feeling glad others share our personal "hell" with their own batch of "Satan-spawns" and "sperm-donors," or feeling empowered to accept every challenge and blessing our precious handfuls can dole out?
Words have power. They don't just reveal how we feel; they determine it.
So please do cry on my shoulder. I may not talk about it as much, but I've been there too. And I care deeply. Tell me the truth. Be real. But know that the way you say it could alter that reality.
|May your days be merry and bright, and may all your Christmases be plaid. Happy holidays from Plaiditudes.|