my own unspoken advice


now playing: jonatha brooke, “inconsolable”

well, i think i can honestly say that if i’d scripted out this past weekend so that it played out in a fashion that would’ve been acceptable to me, i still don’t think i’d have come up with anything like how it actually played out.

if one moment in particular encapsulates the weekend, it would be this:

last night, my friend mitch and i joined wendy and her parents for dinner…mark (who has confided to me that he really never intended to have me sent to gitmo) made burgers on the grill, and we all sat down in wendys’ new dining room together and ate and talked and genuinely enjoyed each others’ company. at one point, wendy took me upstairs to show me her office (she’d bought a new desk, and i helped her carry her computer upstairs when she asked me to come up and see it). we stood up there for a couple of minutes as she showed me the slide-out clothes rail in the closet, and so forth…then we stopped talking for a minute, and we could hear mitch talking with mark and joanne about us.

“i think they’re talking about us,” wendy said…i stopped talking and listened for a minute before wendy suggested that we go back downstairs. we went back to the kitchen and i took my old seat, while wendy moved into the empty chair next to me.

“while you guys were upstairs,” joanne said, “we’ve decided that you two should write a book.”

they went on to say that they thought that other people could benefit from what we’ve experienced in the manner that we’ve been able to go through this, and how we’ve managed to salvage the relationship that we now have from what we had (or perhaps more accurately, didn’t have) just a few short months ago. and perhaps they’re right – perhaps we should document our joint experiences somewhere…somewhere other than this little repository for my side of the story.

then we can tell the world not only how rewarding it is to go through this, but also just how difficult and emotionally exhausting it is. because if we’re gonna tell the story, both sides have to be put out there.

but as i sat there, with my friends and my (for a little while longer, anyway) wife and family, i felt fortunate – incredibly fortunate that we put the time and effort that we have over these past months into rebuilding some semblance of trust and a sense of actually caring about one another…time that we could have easily spent reinforcing the resentments that we’d built up over the years that we wasted by not managing to find an open channel between us…and i take the lions’ share of credit for that. at some point, the razor wire went up at the top of my wall and it didn’t matter what was said, or how sincerely it was put forth – i didn’t hear it.

“my bad” just doesn’t carry the weight that it should in this situation.

but at some point, i have to take my own unspoken advice and take a good hard look at why i create situations that require an apology instead of spending my time apologizing. granted, i’ve done quite a bit of it and i’ve gotten pretty good at it lately…but i know how i feel when i’m on the receiving end of an apology for something that resulted from a repeated behavior, and i should concern myself with my own penchant for putting other people in that position.

an example:

i gave my boss, glenn, a PTO form for the full day on friday, but as we were cutting cables for wiring in the server room on thursday afternoon, i agreed to do a few things: i agreed to get all the cables ready for the weekend and to stop by one of our local suppliers on friday morning and pick up three new boxes of ethernet cable, color coded, so that we could continue the wiring project. so i called maryann on friday morning and asked her to call the supplier and give them a purchase order for the cable so i could stop in and pick it up. i also touched base with glenn and told him that i’d talked to mary ann and that she was getting them a purchase order, and that i should be able to pick it up and have it over to work by noon. glenn mentioned that he might be taking a half day that day, but that he should still be there at that point.

well, when i got to the supplier, they didn’t have the colors that i needed…they had grey, but they didn’t have the yellow or the orange on hand. i called glenn and let him know that they didn’t have it, but i said that i’d try to get in to drop off what i had anyway. i grabbed the grey cable and went back to the house and wendys’ folks were getting ready to finish moving the stuff that they had remaining, both in the house and the truck (which they’d packed the day before). so i thought to myself (and consulted no one else in the matter) that i’d pitch in and do what i could to help and i’d take the cable in to work either over the weekend or on monday. my reasoning for not making the trip was simple – i was still working with the assumption that glenn was taking the afternoon off, and he’d be gone soon…and also that it was of lesser importance that i drop it off, because they didn’t have everything we needed in we were going to be held up in moving forward with the cabling project until the other two boxes of cable arrived anyway. i thought briefly about calling glenn to let him know that i was going to hold off on dropping the cable off because i had some other stuff that i was going to do that afternoon, but i assumed (again) that he’d either be on his way out, or would have left already. so i didn’t.

well, later that afternoon, when i checked my voicemail, i had a pretty irate message from glenn on my cellphone, wondering why i hadn’t kept my word and brought the cable that i’d picked up in to work like i said i would. apparently, he’d changed his plans with regard to taking a half day off, and he was counting on my bringing that cable in to work – and why wouldn’t he? that’s what i said i was going to do, and i didn’t. i shifted my priorities without informing him of my intentions, and he was outwardly irritated with me as a result.

so this morning, when i took my timecard over, i made a point of apologizing for not following through on what i had told him i had intended to do, and i think we managed to smooth things over. i made sure that he understood that i’m aware of our timeline and how things affect other things, and i think we’re back to where we were…but how much of this could have been saved by the simple action of making that phone call that i had assumed to be unnecessary on friday afternoon?

and – the bigger question that i’m setting up with this example – how many times have i done this in my relationship with wendy? with my kids? with my friends?

(if wendys’ reading this, she’s rolling her eyes right now….)

i promised her that i’d keep a lid on how much of our “stuff” i’d post here, but this feels important for me to acknowledge.

somewhere along the line, i learned about self-dependence from a pretty shitty blueprint…and i’ve implemented it into my life in a way that hasn’t been healthy for me, or for the people around me – who, for whatever unexplainable reason, still care about me.

for starters…

i don’t plan well, if at all. i just let shit happen the way it happens.

i don’t take responsibility for following through on the plans i do make, and when they end up on the scrap heap, i blame it on something or someone else.

i ignore the fact that there’s going to be a tomorrow, a next week, a next month, and a next year.

and, possibly worst of all…i expect the people around me to accept this as my personal reality and just deal with it.

there. i’ve said it out loud.

and i don’t like it one bit….

…probably no more than the people who have been hurt by these traits.

but here’s the rub – once you’ve taken this kind of personal inventory, and accepted it as reality, what do you do about it?

wendy and i discussed this a little bit last week, in terms of answering the “what to do about it” question – and i offered up some thoughts as to what i was willing to do…she was quick to point out that it’s something i have to consider doing for myself above all else, and i agreed. it’s true, too – if i try to attach responsibility to someone else for something like getting back into therapy or resuming my old meeting agenda, it’s not going to fly. i don’t think you can tie your personal willpower to someone else’s wishes for your betterment, no matter how good their intentions or your own.

the last time i found myself in therapy, it was after my breakup with chris – and every time i found myself in that room, i felt like i was there because i wanted to explore my faults and fix them so that i’d be good enough to win her approval. i think that might’ve been part of the reason that my relationship with my therapist turned out to be short-lived…once i accepted the fact that our relationship was over, i didn’t feel quite so adamant about maintaining my visit schedule. and not long afterward, once i started seeing samantha, i managed to convince myself that i’d made enough progress that maybe i wasn’t so messed up after all.

so i approach the possibility of therapy this time with that perspective…that doing this kind of work for someone else doesn’t work at all. and frankly, the older i get, the more apt i’m certain to be that this would be pointless and that you can’t teach old dogs new behavioural patterns. so it needs to be now or not at all, i think…lest i end up like my old next door neighbor.

then, once finished considering the psychological angles, there’s the fiscal irresponsibility issue to contemplate…

see, this is my dilemma – i chew on all this stuff so much of late that the sheer magnitude of it all is overwhelming.

it’s almost as if my brain were the tank behind the toilet…once it fills up so much, the floater rises to the top and shuts off the input. i can only take this kind of information about myself in a few gallons at a time – otherwise, the floater shuts down the supply, it’d all go spilling out all over the floor, and there’d be a mess to clean up.

‘course, now anytime someone remarks that my minds’ in the toilet, i won’t be able to disagree, i guess.

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