…or I’ll give you something to cry about.
That’s a phrase I heard a lot as a kid. Harsh, yes. But it’s made me the person that I am today. One of those double-edged swords that had both good and bad effects on my personality and how it was formed. It’s definitely not something I resent my parents for. Raising kids is hard, and my older brother and I were close enough in age that the same mistakes were made with the both of us. We were the guinea pigs that encouraged my parents to try different methods with our younger brother, when the same thing didn’t work with both of us.
On the bright side, because I’m ever the optimist- regardless whether I come across that way or not- this phrase taught me that maybe whatever personal crisis I might be having should take a backseat to a bigger-picture issue. It taught me that reacting to a problem isn’t the same as solving a problem. It taught me that it’s important to step back from a situation to see that bigger picture, isolate where I can be most useful, and do what needs to be done. It’s made me a valuable friend to people who were never taught these skills. I’m able to view things objectively enough to point out how a given situation might look from various perspectives.
On the darker, shady side…
I am detached and aloof. I have trouble really empathizing sometimes, and I have to catch myself when I might be about to say something that could be construed as callous. I had to put one of my dogs down today, and I still can’t cry about it. There’s a voice in my head that tells me that it isn’t that big a deal. That same voice is the reason that I stayed in an abusive relationship for far too long. I was too intent that it could be ‘fixed’ and that I needed to not be a baby about it.
If you’re bleeding out, I can super-glue a vein or artery. No problem. Is there a fire? Cool. I know how to use a fire extinguisher. Are you physically in danger? I got you.
Emotional distress? I know nothing about caring for those needs, because I can’t even care for my own in that regard. This is why I am a terrible, detached mother. My ex-husband and I share joint physical and joint legal custody of our daughter, and he is her primary residence because (aside from my night-time working schedule) if she’s had a bad day at school, I do not understand what she needs from me.
What’s going to happen if my present manthing and I ever have kids? I adore the man. He understands me, and he loves me. But I am the wrong person to have a family with.
We had this discussion today, in the wake of unhappy events, and he says that the great thing about our relationship is that the strengths of one generally compensate for the weaknesses of the other. Part of me knows that he’s right. But the other part wonders how long that will be enough.