Thursday, September 29, 2011

It's not you, it's me

I am hard on people. Too critical. Too demanding. Too negative...no matter how hard I try not to be. This often leads me into uncomfortable situations where my expectations do not match up with someone else's perspective, opinion, or abilities. I fully recognize that I do this. And as I have gotten older I have tried very hard to stop, take a breath, and manage my expectations in order to maintain relationships. My husband will tell you that I'm still not very good at this and I am still WAY too demanding (but that's a whole OTHER story).

I know who I got it from. I know why and how I became this way.This isn't about blame...because in the end, it's like everything else...it's all about how I choose to be.

I recently left the Ashtabula County Animal Protective League, where I was a member of the Board of Directors for 2 1/2 years. I didn't leave because I didn't care about the cause or because there was a lack of work that needed doing (for the love of all that is holy, people, spay/neuter your pets!). I left because of the people...because they didn't respect or like me (and yes, I recognize how absolutely juvenile that sounds).

Oh, they appreciated what I could do FOR them...but there was no feeling for ME as a person. I didn't expect thank you's or awards or anything like that. I only expected that the relationships I had built entitled me to a certain level of respect and kindness. I was apparently very wrong. In the end, I found that those relationships weren't what I thought they were.

So I quit.

I can't tell you how much it pains me to say those two simple words. I quit. I am NOT a quitter. When the going gets rough, I work harder, longer, stronger. I don't quit.

Except this time, I quit.

With a couple months distance, however, I realize that maybe I was deluding myself the entire 2 1/2 years. I was forcing people into roles (in my messed-up brain) that they were never actually in. My participation in the group coincided with much larger events in my life and I think I was trying to find some kind of salve to heal the wounds I was nursing. And if they weren't willing to participate...well...there must be something wrong with THEM...because I am charming and smart and motivate...there couldn't possibly be something wrong with ME.

Are you surprised that I never really had a LARGE circle of friends? I've never had a "best" friend...the kind you call up and talk to for hours about anything and everything...or go out for margaritas with just because you've had a long day and need to laugh and be silly. That's not to say I don't have ANY friends. I have friends that you don't see for years and years...but when you are together it's like you never missed a minute. I have friends in the computer...friends who live all around the world and share this space filled with word and thought as if they are sitting at my kitchen table sharing a cup of coffee.

For a long time I thought I was missing out on the friendship thing. And then I had a family...and then I was swallowed up by a LOT of grief...and my circle got smaller and smaller. To be honest, I much prefer hanging out with my boys talking about Pokemon and ninjas and which is better, McDonalds or Wendys. It's not that I wouldn't enjoy friends, it's just that I don't feel like I NEED them all that much. And even if I did, I don't really have time for them. That's not entirely true...I could make time...I'm just too tired to do it. Let's face it, friends take a lot of work.

And so that's where I failed. That's why I quit. Because ultimately, it felt like too much work to evaluate my relationships and determine which ones were worth trying to salvage and which were beyond repair. It was easier to walk away completely and shrink my circle of friends, yet again, to a comfortable level.

I did, to some extent, secretly hope, "My real friends won't let me walk away." Like some kind of teenager with an irrational crush, I thought, "My real friends will knock on my door or pick up the phone and tell me they love me and ask me what we could do to fix things." And like a teenager with an irrational crush...that just didn't happen. My stupid test of those relationships failed because I wasn't realistic, then or now, about who I am and who my friends are (or should be).

I wonder if I've made a mistake. I HATE being a quitter. But then I feel such relief when someone asks me an APL-related question and I can say, "I'm sorry, I'm not involved with them anymore." And that relief reassures me that I've made a good decision for now.

I clearly need some time to decide who I am...to choose who I want to be and who I want to be friends with. Friendship can't be forced. But it must be nurtured. I suspect there was nothing there to nurture in the first place. But I will always wonder if I was just too hard on them...if I expected too much.

I suppose it doesn't really matter. The end result is the same.

Onward and upward.

The size of your next step doesn't matter as much as the direction.

Monday, September 26, 2011

All kinds of lost

Monday, September 26, 2011

I FINALLY have a use for the phrase, "I lost my child." Because I did...I lost my nine-year-old son. As I stood in my living room quietly freaking out and wondering how to call the school and politely inquire as to whether my child got himself on the bus and got to school, it occurred to me that I can finally say I lost my child...and mean it. HA!

You see, last weekend I injured my foot pretty badly while photographing a wedding. So I was off my foot all last week due to the excruciating pain (not broken, just a bad sprain according to the Urgent Care doc I saw on Wednesday) and Sam rode the school bus. Ah yes, the school bus. Let me digress and tell you about the school bus...

Sam has never ridden the school bus to/from school. We live ten minutes from school and it is on my way to work. The bus ride used to be about 45 minutes. We just decided that it would be better if I drove him and picked him up.

But this year is fourth grade and he wanted to give it a try. Part of it was that some friends of his were going to be transferring from another school in the district to our school. But Sam found out the night before that they weren't, in fact, going to transfer. I was so proud of him for not having a fit...I thought this would be a breeze.

So the first day of school I sent him off on the bus. He changed his mind two or three times waiting for the bus to arrive...before settling on going through with it. I took the obligatory "boarding the bus" photo...and then I followed it (not because I'm crazy, but because, like I said, it is on the way to work). About halfway there, I realized Sam got on the bus without his lunch! oop! So I turned around and hightailed it home so I could catch him and give him his lunch before he de-bussed and went into the school.

I walked up to the side of the bus, looking in the windows for my boy. And when I spotted him, my heart broke into a thousand tiny little pieces. There he was...crying. And not just a little tear down the cheek kind of crying. We're talking snotty sobbing that almost cause vomit.

The bus driver, thinking Sam was upset because he had forgotten his lunch, allowed him off the bus before everyone else and we hugged. I gave him his lunch and he cried and we hugged. And right then I just wanted to roll back the clock to when growing up didn't have so many expectations and my little boy could just BE a little boy.

As the weeks went on, we settled into a routine and he would ride the bus on designated days. It worked. But then I hurt my foot and he had to ride the bus every day...to AND from school. I was SO proud of him when he did it all week without a single complaint. And honestly, after a week of staying home, I was ready when Monday rolled around and I could take him to school and go to work.

I showered and dressed and went downstairs calling out, "OK Sam, ready to go?"

Silence.

"Sam?"

Yep...he went off and got himself on the bus...but didn't say goodbye. But there was that moment of irrational panic. Should I call the school? What if I don't call the school and he's really been kidnapped and I won't find out until AFTER school? I could lose precious time finding my little lost boy if I didn't call and find out for sure! But that's totally insane. Of course he got on the bus and is at school! Nobody could kidnap him at our house without at least one dog barking. Don't be crazy!

I made Steve call.

And now I find it hilariously funny when I say that I lost a child.

It's still here

I stopped writing here in January?!?! Wow!!! It's almost October!!! (Yeah, there are a couple posts that I didn't publish publicly...wanna make something of it?)

But the blog is still here and I feel the need to write again...for lots of reasons (all of which I'm sure I'll get to at some point).

 So here we go...