The List

My brother in law, as he is won’t to do, sent me an email telling me my failings. (He does this about once a year. I don’t like it, but I’m used to it). I am, among many other things, too negative and too prolific on facebook. I am not being a good Christian and I shall be castigated upon my death for my idle words.

Someone, in the hell that was the time after my MS Diagnosis, my initial discovery of my mother’s lies and my boss quitting (which happened in 72 hours), made the comment that it was ok that I was grumpy and angry – eventually I would get tired of being grumpy and angry and go back to being my usual self. Grumpy and angry were important emotions, and I needed to feel them, but they weren’t apt to stay around forever.

I don’t remember who told me this (and maybe it was one of you), but I was so grateful. As this person predicted, about July I realized that I was tired of being grumpy and angry. I am, by nature, more given to optimism and resilience. It was essential, as part of learning to incorporate my new realities, that I spent some time with grumpy and angry instead of brushing them aside. Spending the time with grumpy and angry meant that I could move forward to optimism. and resilience in a real and authentic way. Grumpy and angry were steps in grieving what used to be, as I started to accept my new realities and figure out how to pick up the pieces.

It was interesting, because in my brother in law’s list failings was a kernel of truth, a thing that someone else made as an observation. It was merely an observation from someone who cares about me –  “I’ve noticed you have been more negative. Now that you tell me what is happening in your life, I understand.” 

All of this got me thinking about the concept of a list. The people who said “I’ve noticed you are negative. I’ve noticed that you are grumpy.” They phrase these as observations, not moral judgements. They do something else too – they ask how they can love me. Can they skype so I can talk about my feelings, can they ask me questions, can they send me silly photo’s of otters, can they tell me that they love me and hug me? Can they remind me to eat and sleep and drink water as I learn to make these habits for myself?

In short, they abide with me through grumpy and angry. And they call forth – not as a moral imperative essential to my salvation – but out what they know and believe of me as a person. The people on this list – they don’t hold out faith – they hold out confidence in what they know of me. They abide and wait for my better nature to come out again. They know it will – even as I am unsure how I will pick up all those broken pieces.

In thinking about my list, I realized. I have a large one – far, far larger than I realized until I started thinking about it.

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3 Responses to The List

  1. a says:

    What a charming brother-in-law.

    I’m glad you have a large list of people who observe and support and a short list of people who criticize and condemn.

  2. Aunt Mimi says:

    Hello,

    I just created my new blog about living child free. What I loved about your post was this: It was merely an observation from someone who cares about me – “I’ve noticed you have been more negative. Now that you tell me what is happening in your life, I understand.”

    All of this got me thinking about the concept of a list. The people who said “I’ve noticed you are negative. I’ve noticed that you are grumpy.” They phrase these as observations, not moral judgements. They do something else too – they ask how they can love me.

    As an instructor for Mental Health First Aid, this is the message that I want people to get. That when we care about someone and we are concerned we express our observations and ask how we can help. I love it!

    If you are interested in helping me build by blog (I’m a mental health professional so I’m trying to promote that aspect), please get in touch with me at mbowlin.lcsw@gmail.com Your writing is good.

  3. Reese says:

    I think people assume social media is the reality of life rather than s snapshot of a moment. I had that same issue blogging. People assumed I was in the depths of hell 24/7 when in reality it was just a moment of blowing off steam. The people who know me can see that moment and call me and ask what’s up. Others will just pass judgement, assume that’s my constant reality and accuse me of being negative. The latter people don’t get it, and I grow tired of trying to change their perceptions. For they are not involved enough in my life to get it. They like watching from afar. Therefore I take their comments in the same manner. From afar.

    So, despite the fact there is truth in Bro in laws comments, he either helps clean up the mess or stfu. My two cents. 🙂

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