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Sep 202011
 

There’s actually two parts to this conversation. The first part of the conversation has to deal with us saying, “No” to other people. I don’t just mean in obvious situations where we’re in some physical danger but rather in everyday life. How many times have you said, “yes” or not said, “no” for that matter? I have to admit that for the longest time I’ve had trouble saying, “no”. I know mostly it goes back to esteem issues. I struggled to say, “no” because I didn’t want others to reject me. Of course, not saying, “no” meant that I wasn’t being honest. I wasn’t being honest with myself nor with the person whom I was in this situation with.

As hard as it is for many of us to say, “no” to someone else, it’s equally as hard to hear someone say, “no” to us. Why is this? For starters, we often feel rejected when we hear “No”. We take it personally and it hurts.

A No to you is a Yes to Me.

When I say, “no” to you, it’s really a “yes” to myself. We’re being honest with ourselves when we say, “no”. This was a hard concept to grasp and one that I recently experienced at home.

Several weeks back my wife and I were on the couch relaxing. We weren’t on the best of terms with each other so there was a bit of tension there. I’m much more of a touchy feely type of person and was feeling like I needed a hug. I leaned in to my wife and asked her if I could have a hug. She turned to me and in a firm but not harsh reply said, “no”.

No? Wow! I could feel the little zing as if I was being poked in the kidney’s. That feeling only lasted a moment as I thought for a moment. I felt myself “in the moment” and realized I was okay. Even though she wasn’t in a place to give me a hug I was still okay. This was an important lesson for me to understand. My happiness and sense of security was not based on her giving me a hug.

I still felt a bit of rejection though and several months ago that same situation would have really done me in for the worse. However, I realized that my wife was just not there in that moment to share a hug with me. She was saying, “no” to me but “yes” to protecting herself. It was important for me to realize that she was saying, “yes” to herself.

Healthy relationships won’t last unless we can exhibit self care.

A few weeks went by and I told my wife that I celebrated her No. I told her that even though I would have liked a hug, I was supportive of her taking care of herself and being authentic.

Our Yes’ are dependent on our No’s being real No’s. Every time we agree to do something for someone or agree to do something we just don’t feel comfortable doing we make our Yes’ that much less meaningful.

If we can’t say, “No” our Yes’ don’t mean shit.

Sep 152011
 

Of late, I have been much more aware and have gained a much deeper understanding and sense of self. No, I don’t smoke crack and the overwhelming smell of Jake’s diaper has not confused my brain…although, I did almost pass out once.

I’ve been thinking about feelings lately. There’s a weird statement, huh?

“Thinking about feelings.”

It seems that most of my life my feelings have been doing the thinking for me. How I feel determines what I think. I don’t think this is much different from just about every other person I know. This is just how we are raised and what society comes to expect as the norm. We have feelings about a certain thing and those feelings then become what we think of ourselves and of each other. What I never realized before was that my feelings don’t just come from thoughts but rather they come from the “meaning” I give to those thoughts.

Let me give you an example that I’m sure has happened to a lot of us:

I received an email from someone at work inquiring about a task they had asked me to accomplish on that day. Not long after the email I noticed that my boss was calling me. It’s not often my boss calls me (usually just exchange emails) so I thought she must be calling to talk about the task this person emailed me about. I thought that person was upset that I hadn’t responded quick enough and spoke to her and that she was calling me about it. I felt very anxious and defensive as if I had done something wrong and was going to be spoken to about it. These feelings were based on some prior history I’ve had in similar situations. It turns out she was calling about something completely different and benign and I had worked myself up for nothing.

I’ve become very aware that anger does not exist without fear (I also include anxiety in that category). The other day an amazing thing took place that I want to share with you. Our car happened to be parked on the street, curbside. I had both kids by myself and wanted to be very cautious getting them in the car since we were parked on the street. O’s seat was curbside and Jake’s was on the side of the car that was in the street. I decided to get O in first so I’d only have Jake to manage getting in the car with traffic, etc. Jake was standing next to me on the curb as I was helping O get in the car. I was constantly looking back at him to make sure he wasn’t going anywhere and that was really on my mind. O decided that now would be a great time to play around and not sit down. As this was happening I felt myself getting very mad and upset. Normally at this time I would start to yell and/or raise my voice at O to tell her to sit down. This time I did something a little different though. I allowed myself to feel angry for a moment and then explored why I was feeling angry (ie; what did I fear?). I realized that I was scared that Jake would run into the street while I was trying to get O to stop messing around and seated. So instead of yelling at her or raising my voice I turned to her and said, “Honey, Daddy is feeling scared.” O immediately stopped what she was doing and said, “Daddy is scared?”. I said, “Yes Honey, Daddy is scared that while you’re playing around not sitting in your seat that Jake is going to run into the street and get hurt.” She had this befuddled look on her face as if she understood what I was feeling but just shocked to hear it expressed this way. She immediately got in her seat and I felt as if we were one at that moment.

O wasn’t responsible for my being mad. I made myself mad as a defense to my fear of Jake running in the street. When I expressed my fear to O she related immediately and “understood”. Had I yelled at her to sit down, never mentioning my fear of Jake she would have resisted, I would have become angrier, and it would have been a horrible experience for both of us.

This is really the first time I’ve found myself in this type of situation and I was glad that I was able to recognize what my feelings meant and what they didn’t mean. I was also glad that I treated O with respect on every level even though she was doing something that I made myself mad about (note that I intentionally didn’t say she made me mad). In the end, I was authentic with myself as well as with her. She responded so quickly and in such a positive way. I’m really looking forward to trying this out again and even if the outcome isn’t exactly the same in terms of her response I’ll still be glad that I’m presenting the example that I want to show her.

Sep 142011
 

I had mixed feelings about the kids going to Pre-School. Not because I didn’t intellectually know it was the right thing to do but it was emotionally challenging. Intellectually it made all the sense in the world. Our Nanny is having a baby in early October with complications which means her availability is scattered at best. O turned 3 years old in April and I think is more than ready to be in Pre-School. Jake just turned 2 and while he’s on the fence in terms of age I think it will be good for him as well. Now that my family planning calculator has successfully spit out a positive response to the kids being in Pre-School I can start wrestling with my emotions.

For all the challenges we faced in having O and Jake the preciousness of their babiness is just engrained in me. I didn’t want them to walk! I resisted for a long time buying O “panties” even after she was potty trained (which happened at an early age). I had thoughts of putting them in the freezer just for a few seconds in hopes that it would somehow stunt their growth and they would remain babies forever. So the thought of them going to school was not a positive one in my wonderful brain.

Instead I convinced myself that this was awful and that I had to be completely sad and devastated over it. Then after some thought I was ready to take them, along with my wife, to their first day of Pre-School. The school is conveniently located near our house and has a great layout. There were kids playing everywhere, toys galore, a huge outside play area and honestly it looked like the kind of place I could trade for work!

O is in a different class than Jake since she’s a year older (the rooms are right down the hall from each other) and we went to say goodbye to her. She was excited to go play and I hugged her goodbye only to find my cheeks wet with tears flowing.
Dammit! I’m crying! Note: O did not shed a tear.

Then we went to go drop Jake off in his room. That was not as easy and he balled his little head off, lower lip petruding and all! So, then comes on Round 2! I start balling and I’m a hot mess all over. My wife and I made it out and while she didn’t lose it inside (yeah only the boys cried on that day; Jake and me) she lost it after.

Damn that sucked!!

Days 2 thru 6 were really really bad! We’re talking hanging on to the legs, begging to go to work, red-faced, crying, crying, and more crying and that was just me!! ;-)

Just in the last couple of days now the kids are doing a “little” bit better. They’re crying less when we leave and in fact when O said she didn’t want to go to school this morning she had half a grin on her face. They have a great time in school and that’s evident by the fact that when we pick them up they’re smiling, playing, and having fun. O takes good care of Jake and we’ve been able to witness that when we come to pick them up. We’ll get there without them knowing and just watch them play and O takes such good care of him! With all the kids running around outside O and Jake can still be found holding hands and playing together. Too Cute!!

The big challenge now is getting out of the house. Since both my wife and I work it’s a huge challenge getting all four of us out of the house by 6:30am!! Yeah, a 2 year old, a 3 year old, a 37 year old who acts like a 3 year old and the only adult in the house, my wife, out by 6:30!! Fun times!! LOL

All in all I know that they are going to learn so much in the next couple of months and years. They’re little brains are sponges just waiting to soak up all that there is to know. While it’s hard for me as their Daddy to see them grow up one thing doesn’t change. I don’t stop being Daddy and that means I get to teach them, share with them, and most importantly love them each and every day whether they’re crawling around the floor in diapers or swinging from the playground at Pre-School.

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