Grief …Confrontation and Vulnerability

My part of a conversation:

Again, I am just using my imagination when I say…. I imagine that your friend you spoke of, she is able to listen. That is a true treasure. Most people are not great listeners, and are tooooo quick to react or give their opinion. Listening is a true art that not a lot of people master in a lifetime.

I wish my parents had been a little more advanced in listening, rest their souls. Especially my mom, but….grist for the mill on another day. Put it on the list of things I want to write about….like why couldn’t she have been like MRS. MCCAULEY in William Saroyan’s The Human Comedy.

I digress of course, and with me, that is to be relished,…… and expected, yes?  Yes.

Shall we move on? I do enjoy this dissection of a note, you know?

The washing machine. We must briefly, and I emphasize that word, briefly, mention…the personified poor washing machine. Walking, dancing ungracefully undulating across the floor, vibrating in its unbalanced and overloaded state, insulted and abused, it has my empathy. I loved the image and the description, and you had me again, laughing because it was funny.

It was true that they are not following the rules for usage which we will now talk about, and your imagery was …….hmmmm……it worked. (I am talking about people who sometimes take advantage of you, and you are reluctant to say anything, for reasons I will touch upon. We have all been here.)

With the machine (yes, yes…I know this is not the core of the issue…but allow me)…. You have to establish some rules. They don’t follow, they lose the privilege. It doesn’t matter that they they are ADULTS. Adults more often than kids, act like kids. Okay, call them children instead of kids.

So?? Rule #1…..DO NOT OVERLOAD

RULE #2….CLEAN LINT TRAP EVERY…..DID YOU HEAR ME…..EVERY TIME…OR you will find the lint in some very imaginative places that you least expect it…. Do I make myself clear? I am not YOUR lint trap cleaner.    PERIOD.

Sigh….now that we got that out of the way….. this is …..I feel something sort of profound coming on…..this HAS TO BE a metaphor of a sort. The washing machine.

Maybe not so much the machine itself, not sure yet. But the treatment of it, and the treatment of the treatment of it.

Or, the treatment of those who are MIStreating it. Because they are disrespecting the machine that is tirelessly performing for them, and that you also rely upon, and if they f*** it up, then they are also f***ing with you (sorry, my French is a little raunchy at times, hope you can handle it and if not, tell me and I can always go to clean up version….just that I have to think about it for a few extra seconds if I am going with the more puritanical mode…I can also use the WTF symbols etc to soften the profanity…moving on…I will try to keep it sort of cleaned up till hearing from you….ok…let’s move on)

If you notice…the machine that they rely on…. That could also be you…. Sometimes they mistreat it…you….and they are disrespecting you….who performs some function for them… just saying…. I know we are not necessarily talking about them….buttttttt…..I just feel like there is some hidden message in this machine that just walked across the floor……and if we ignore it, we are missing something.

Call me crazy…but that is what is hitting me……maybe….as I age, I am getting some miniscule porridge…… miniscule pittance?….. miniscule piece of wisdom…. That is starting to speak in metaphor… what’s his name…. uses old stories as metaphor….Sheldon Kopp….also Jack Kornfield…Wisdom of the Heart…lots of other authors as well who use myth and mythology to make current issues have timeless themes. Anyway…. another digression….but we WILL  come back to this.

Jump ahead to my next thought. It is harder to deal with the “real” people than those in the second circle, this circle of virtual friends, facebook et al. You have been, on several occasions, forgiving yourself for not confronting someone.

Let it be known throughout the land ….no..not that the wicked witch at last is dead…but that…I DON’T LIKE CONFRONTATION. Never really been very good at it…(never really got a chance to practice which I need)…prefer flight to fight…any day…BUT…

When my health is at stake, meaning, when something happens that is bothering me and I am having trouble letting it go….. then you and I have to decide…is it worth it for me to air my grievance with them.

And yes, you and I need to dwell on this one, because it raises at least a few issues…for you, and for me as well.

Let us talk about me first. Since I am the only one here at the moment. I think I pissed off a friend of my wife’s recently. She is actually a friend of my wife’s daughter. My step-daughter is in her early forties. This friend is somewhere around there. Also was one of my wife’s nurses when we were in the hospital.

Tentative meeting to go to a nursery for plants and she doesn’t even think to call or text and tell me she made other plans, and made them the night before. If I hadn’t texted her she wouldn’t have communicated with me. At all.

So I sent a message, “it would have been nice if you had informed me”. She didn’t really get it, and I dropped it. I said what I needed to say, for me. I did not change her, and don’t think she really cared.

I contemplated letting it go, but it has happened before with her and Emilee, and so I chose not to keep quiet.

Confrontation if someone is rude or unkind or whatever brings up a few things. HA, probably more than a few.

One is, I don’t do well on impromptu remarks and fly by the seat of my pants. At least not yet. Maybe I will get better. Problem is I don’t really get a chance to practice. Maybe you and I can practice. I guess the ones who are the nastiest or the least respectful of others get the most practice. Therefore, they are better at it.

Practice would be enormously helpful. Then, when something did happen, I would not be overcome with fear and adrenaline, locked up, frozen (with alllll the right words and phrases coming to me later), and it would not be so foreign to me. I would also feel like I had more of a choice. I could choose to confront or to walk away instead of my entire insides wanting to run and escape the situation.

It also wouldn’t matter if I said the “PERFECT” thing, it would matter that I spoke up to defend my self-respect and my dignity without being purposefully hurtful or vindictive. That also takes some practice, ESPECIALLY when you are feeling mad, angry, upset, frustrated, hurt, scared. Again, most of us don’t get much practice time doing this kind of thing unless you have been to a communication workshop.

I am being, what is that phrase for…assertive…. Assertive defense, assertively defensive. Driving my car… I am not passive, I play defense most of the time, but active and assertively defensive driving.

Not defensive meaning I am keeping people out because I feel threatened to be vulnerable and must put up walls to defend myself constantly…au contraire. I am protecting myself from being abused or hurt or taken advantage of or being disrespected in some way…and am allowing myself to reveal my vulnerability and how some action hurt or upset me… and then I am justified to defend myself, defend my integrity, defend my honor, my respect of self, not my pride or my ego.

Wow, I do go on. Yes I do, but I am working this out for myself, as you are not here to bounce this back and forth at the moment, and YOU STARTED THIS in the first place and then just left me to hang here, and so I pondered and pondered until I worked myself up to a froth….LOL.

Am I anywhere near on track here? Or, have I gone totally out into left field (why is it always LEFT field, why can’t it be RIGHT field???)?

So, I have a feeling I am on the right track. Don’t like confrontation, uncomfortable knowing what to say and how to say it, not so good at spur of the moment retorts to something said to me that just is not right, and afraid I may hurt their feelings, cause a bunch of tension (who likes that?) or put an end to a relationship. That just about cover it?

Feel free to chime in at anytime here!!! This is MY STUFF. So forgive me, because the imaginary therapist, ME, is supposed to listen, and reflect, and not necessarily share personal stuff. I CAN LISTEN. But, I also like to example myself (love new phrases) because it is real. I am real. I am a person too. You think I would make a good rabbi someday, maybe in my next life??

Enough for the moment, eh? I pass the baton to you. You’re it.

Not quite done yet. I like your friend. I imagine she is a pretty good listener. And you, and I, thought I was done. Almost…

I had to use caution when I was still fresh from Emilee’s passing. I could have easily gotten toooo attached to a couple of people on this site, because I was soooo hungry for connection, and could have gotten overly emotionally attached.

Thankfully, I realized that, but it took an awful lot of restraint….and I purposefully use the word awful, because when I came across someone that so very much connected with me, and I needed to let go and not be over-attached, it was an awful realization that I needed to learn how to survive holding on to my own life preserver, for now.

On some level, I desperately wanted company in the water. I wanted a buddy in the water. Someone who could keep an eye on me, and someone I could keep an eye on to take care of and to protect. You know, you have each other’s backs, or 6’s in military terms. I really like that phrase. I got your 6.

I wanted someone to fill the void, but it would have been the wrong prescription.

I needed to learn how to survive and to let go. I can use them as support, but I must do this myself. Or else, I short-cut and short circuit the process, and forgo whatever painful growth comes out of all this.

On top of the grief I was already experiencing, that was a difficult acknowledgement to make. Also, to admit to myself that I needed to know how vulnerable I am in certain aspects and how much I wanted to hold on to someone else, I wanted company, rather than bounce around in the waves with my own life preserver. I needed to navigate the waters for myself to lay down some internal maps for my GPS to fully function and navigate in a healthy way.

I had to figure it out for myself. Some people do, and I believe some do not. And there are many ways to short-cut the process. I am sure some people continue on and function that way. I don’t want to do that. This topic is for another day.

Well, I think I just had one of those self-realization moments that comes from writing this out on the page. Glad I could share it with you and maybe it helped you with things you are examining.

Okay? Okay… Now, you’re it…TAG. I give you the sharing torch. The sacred light that helps to share your heart.

Neal Klein
Life After Emilee, on the loss of my wife to pancreatic cancer. I’m not accepting comments right now but please feel free to get in touch via my Contact page.