Know your limits

I have them. I know them.

Over the past several days I have learned exactly what it is that I cannot forgive: Dishonesty, duplicity, and inefficiency. One day I will write more about this. For now, I just needed to type those words.

In fact, I’m going to type them again: I cannot forgive dishonesty, duplicity and inefficiency. I just can’t.

Well, okay, I just won’t. Right now. Maybe later I will. We’ll see.

It’s been a long five days.

And limits change.

the swing between

I don’t know what the heck I’m feeling right now. But everything is in flux, and it makes me… extremely uneasy.

I’m trying to train myself to manage a little unsettled mess, a little flux, bit by bit. I’ve heard about a cognitive behavior therapy technique wherein a person is given controlled exposure to something that makes them feel uncomfortable, or feel anxious. They might rate that level of discomfort on a scale from one to ten, and they need to allow themselves (with support from a trained professional) to get to “ten,” so that they can experience it, recognize that it will subside, and learn that they can handle it.

I think that’s how it works, anyway.

I had two dear friends over for dinner tonight. After dinner, all I did was clear the table. I did not do dishes immediately. I sat down in the living room with my friends. That’s totally normal behavior for most of the world out there. For me, no. Dirty dishes in the sink or on the counter? I get uncomfortable. Like to a “ten” on that discomfort scale. But I got over it quickly: My friends put me ease. The dishes were done at the right time: after my friends left.

One of my friends brought a lovely gift. I had opened its big box and it was sitting in the middle of the living room floor, wrapping paper and bubble wrap all over, the beautiful gift sitting on top. I let it sit there in the middle of the room as we talked for a while… But the discomfort got to maybe a “six” and I just had to move it. I put it next to a chair, so that the floor was clear. Discomfort down to about “two.” Then talked with my friends some more. Discomfort at “zero.”

I know, I’m a bit strange. I just need clean, clear spaces. I need “order” and “control.” As you can imagine, this poses a slight problem for a corporate wife in the habit of following her spouse wherever and whenever he has to go. Like I said, I’m trying to train myself to be okay, even temporarily, with disorder and a lack of control. It might be working.

We all get uncomfortable. We all have our “thing” that sets us off, that makes us unreasonable or defensive or territorial or protective, or even just mildly stubborn. But then, for the most part, we each figure out a way to find comfort again. Discomfort, or fear–they’re not sustainable conditions. Too much cortisol? Your body doesn’t want that.

It’s the swing between comfort and discomfort, or safety and fear, that makes the difference. Consider that journey past “ten:” Is your swing short, or is your swing long? Are you able to see your discomfort subsiding sooner (short swing) or is it hard to visualize its demise (long swing)?

About ten years ago, my father-in-law was teaching me to swing a golf club properly. New to the game, all I wanted to do was hit that ball hard, and get it far, far away, to where I wanted it to go. More often than not, I’d fail miserably. My swing was too long, for one thing.

“Your body, your core is what drives that ball, not your arms. You don’t need to try and kill the ball. Let’s see short swings, nice and easy.” He tapped my stomach. “Let your center of gravity do the work.”

Here’s to short swings. Nice and easy. The ball will get there.


the new girl

I wrote this post nearly two years ago, describing how when I was new to this town I’m now in, I insinuated myself into the lives of two of my now dearest friends. (Tonight I get to hang out with them. I’m counting down the minutes till 5:45, when I’ll head out.) 

I’m going to be 44 in June, and I’m going to be the new girl in town. Our daughter is kind of hoping we move before the school year ends. “Everybody wants to be friends with the new kid,” she asserts. 

I can only hope that I meet women like I’ve met here. T. and M., referenced in the story I link to above… I can’t say enough about them. T. brought us fresh strawberries and baked a pan of stuffed shells for us in those first days. She collected phone numbers and made sure we were all connected (the two of us, M., and another neighbor, P.). I was dumbfounded. I had never met — never thought it was actually possible to meet — anybody as extroverted and friendly and open as… as… Me. And she’s better than me. She’s generous with her time and her heart. I try to be more like her. Regularly.

A few months later we all went to a surprise party for another neighbor, J. J. turned 50. I sat next to M. M. and I had never really had a long conversation, but we seemed to click well enough at the birthday brunch. She’s just so beautiful. We got to talking about movies and I learned she adored Matthew McConaughey more than I did. (Didn’t think that was possible, either.) I told her she had a total Salma Hayek vibe about her. Because she does.

It took time, but over those first two years of our residence here, I got pretty tight with T. and M. 

T. rescued me from a frog that had jumped into bed with me. M. dispatched her son and his friend to remove a dying palmetto bug from our patio (read: prehistoric flying three-inch-long-just-the-thorax cockroach). Thanks to T. I learned to downhill ski. Thanks to M. I learned that being myself in new surroundings is generally better than being a chameleon. T. held my hand when I dislocated my knee. M. listened patiently during a particularly trying time as I contended with my mother’s illness. T. remembers our kids’s birthdays with balloons. M. gave me the best and most apt nickname I’ve ever had: CFO (which stands for Chill the F*** Out. Man, did I earn that).

There are so many ways that they’ve gotten under my skin. It’s hard to get under there, you know. And there’s no getting out. 

I turn 44 in June. I’m going to be the new girl in town. I’ll make new friends. But they’ll have to pass muster with T. and M. I think they’re planning to visit…

It’s 5:35. Ten minutes to go.