Monday, July 20, 2009

Controlling Myself

Summer is ease. Summer is peace. Hot weather. Fewer agendas. Change in routines.

Our life is a bit topsy turvy in the Schneider household. What started out as a summer with no plans has become a summer full to overflowing and I'm having a heckuva time staying on top of the laundry and grocery shopping. We've got people, places and things happening galore. I'm working very hard on enjoying it, because as you know, I'm one of those who likes her ducks in a row.

When the ducks aren't in a row and life gets a little off balance I respond my trying to control what I can. Makes sense. You can't control this other thing, so what do you do? Control what you can... I may not be able to change the schedule of our day today, but tomorrow I can demand that you (children) finally clean your rooms and do it to my very high expectations! Can you hear my voice? (unfair, unchangeable, non-negotiable)...

This blog entry was a helpful reminder to me of who I want to be and who I don't want to be. No matter the circumstances, I don't want to fall back into being the "Momster", controlling my children, denying freedom of choice and fullness of life because my head and heart are spinning out of control. No, I can control myself. Do you know what I mean?

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

I have Nancy Pelosi Hair!

OMG! I realized one fine day while perusing the Fox News pages on-line, I HAVE NANCY PELOSI HAIR! I’ve not been totally happy with the short bob thing I’ve been wearing this summer. You ever have those hair days? those hair months? those hair years? Fortunately, I’m not hating this hair for years, yet. It’s just that I have hair woes... I want something different.

Most of my friends reading this are primed with a “shut up, Shirin” kinda comment lurking in their brains. I know girlfriends, I DO have great hair. I got monkey feet and my dad’s hands, but I am aware I have inherited an amazing coiffure of thick hair. I’ve also prematurely gone gray so my amazing coiffure of thick hair costs a fortune to color, but I digress.

Nancy Pelosi hair, however, THAT I didn’t count on. I mean c’mon... can you see me bringing in a magazine clipping with that all too familiar question, “Will my hair do that if you cut it right?” NO! I never said that. So, how did I end up with Nancy Pelosi hair?

My hair has a mind of it’s own. Those stylists can cut it and blow it dry, sell me various product, recommend the proper brush, but my hair will always end up doing what it wants. I also had Nancy Pelosi hair in the 80’s. If you don’t believe me, peruse my facebook photos.

The other day, I went into the salon saying, “I’m ready to grow it out now,” but since my stylists ALSO has a mind of her own, I walked out with Mrs. Incredible Hair! Which would be awesome if I were a superhero, but I’m not. I wish I were a super-stylist and could actually make it look like it did when I walked out of the salon. Needless to say, she didn’t make it look like Mrs. Incredible Hair. After she did it, it just looked rather incredible. With me and my hair brushes and plethora of prodcuts, however, it’s just not going to happen.

Instead, my hair reminds me of the Dorothy Hamill “do” I wore in 5th grade. Like I said, it’s gonna do what it wants to do. I am giving up believing I have control over my hair or my stylists... even though I pay them. I am relinquishing the need to make my hair into something it’s not. It is what it is. Perhaps the better question is, why am I trying so hard to change what is perfectly good all by itself?

Because when I close my eyes at night I imagine looking like Eva Longoria. If I could also change into a 5 foot nothing size 0 that would be awesome, too. I guess it is human nature to want what we don’t have, even when we have it all.

Monday, July 6, 2009

I Thought It Was Mutual

I am co-dependent. I have known this for a long time. If you aren't familiar with it, here is a short list of co-dependent behaviors:
1) Think and feel responsible for other people - for other people's feelings, thoughts, actions, choices, wants, needs, well-being, lack of well-being and ultimate destiny. 2) Feel compelled - almost forced - to help that person solve the problem, such as offering unwanted advice, giving rapid-fire series of suggestions, or fixing feelings. 3) Find themselves saying yes when they mean no, doing things they don't really want to be doing, doing more than their fair share of the work, and doing things other people are capable of doing for themselves.

It is really painful to have weak boundaries. When you fail to “let your yes be yes and your no be no,” others can walk all over you. All the while you believe you are doing them a service. You believe you are helping them. You know you are protecting them and want what is best for them so you go to great lengths to ensure that they are well and happy and that their needs are met. I have done this. I have shackled myself in the bonds of imaginary obligation and expectation.

I would like to be totally free, but I can’t be. That’s a co-dependent statement right there. I feel helpless to change because of the pain it might cause others. Separation seems cruel. When I am away I worry and feel guilty about whether my loved one feels rejected, abandoned and lonely. When I walk in the door and can attend to his needs, reassure them of my love, I feel a sense of relief and control. I feel responsible for his happiness. I know that when I am around, my loved one’s life is far better and my self-esteem is improved. I am a good caretaker.

Another area of dysfunction I deal with is has to do with physical limitations. You see I have a loved one who is always asking for my help. He has the ability to do things but is afraid. Often I make myself available so he no longer feels trapped in his circumstances. He needs my encouragement and I am compelled to help him. There are some things he can’t do alone. He needs me and because of all I do for him, he loves me. Most importantly, I feel loved because I am needed.

This morning, I tried to encourage one of my precious loved ones to move past his comfort zone and eat on the deck in the dappled shadows of summer’s oaken canopy. He wanted to go inside but several times I said, “No, I want to stay out here.” In the long run, he won again. I went inside the house for his sake. I sacrificed my desires for his, again. I am a martyr.

Over the years, as I learned of my dysfunction, I realized that one way I cope is by choosing to invest in those who are less demanding. I’ve met many selfless people who have taught me to balance caretaking with self-care. This has afforded me expression of some of my own needs, wants and desires. I have become somewhat free. In all honesty, however, we chose a golden retriever because they are among the least demanding. Tucker is generally very low maintenance dog yet we have succeeded in enabling him. We just can’t help “helping” him. Apparently, a dog’s life is too much for our dear pooch to bear.

We hate leaving him because we know he doesn’t like to be alone. He won’t push his way through a doorway so it means we won’t even bother with a doggie door even though it would make our away trips far less worrisome if we knew he could get outside to go do his doggie doo-dooty. I did not enjoy my hot cup of coffee on the deck this morning while Tucker ate his rawhide because he just didn’t want to eat the thing outside.
We have enabled him to be an indoor dog. It is our fault. Instead of him being our best friend it turns out, we are really HIS best friend. And all this time... I thought it was mutual.....and that I had put my co-dependency behind me.