Oh my gosh, you guys. People-ing is so darn hard.
Lately I have heard from so many of you who had a rough holiday and find yourself gearing up for another one – polishing your armor, practicing your verbal upper-cuts …
So in case you find yourself a little exhausted from too much interaction and too many conversations hosted solely in your head, this is for you:
Maybe you’ve just spent a holiday people-ing or maybe you’re just dealing with everyday people-ing difficulty.
I had the latter kind last week, and it was The Worst. Just when I thought I had figured everything out, I would start myself spinning again.
I knew that I had to figure out a plan – a plan for the next day, the whole month, the rest of the year and possibly forever. (No pressure.)
I did what we do in these situations, and I phoned some friends.
I said, “This isn’t OK, right?” – that’s not what I said, exactly, but it’s what I meant.
Because when people-ing gets hard we just want to know that we aren’t the crazy ones.
(Note: You are probably not the crazy one. This is important: You are not crazy, b-wordy or “too-sensitive” for NOT being OK with stuff that isn’t OK.)
So I tried another approach – I put a prayer in my Anne Lamott-inspired God Box.
“Just give me a sign,” I said. “Just make it clear what I am supposed to do here.”
I wanted all the answers at once, but I wasn’t ready to turn things over completely, I guess.
So then I turned to Glennon Doyle, who might be the patron saint of sensitive souls.
And I remembered her “just do the next right thing,” idea, and suddenly my shoulders, which had been living inside my eardrums, vacated – they just took their clothes and CDs and left their beat-up couch out in front of the house, and drove off. (I have very college-era shoulders.)
I found myself being able to breathe again – because I didn’t need to figure it all at once, I just needed to do the next right thing – I just needed to make one choice, and I needed to make it from a good and kind place, or at least not a snotty, vindictive one.
And so I did it. I decided not to go to the thing the next day that was causing all the spinning – (it doesn’t really matter what, right? For the sake of this story, let’s say it’s your sister-in-law Peggy’s house.)
And the next morning, I got my God Box sign. My daughter woke up with an itchy rash all over her face.
So then it became a double-no because you should not go places with a possibly contagious rash, I don’t care how pissed off you are.
I know now that the rash is definitely fully contagious, because I have it too.
I wish now that I had not asked for quite such a clear sign. Maybe next time I will tone back my language ever so slightly –
“Dear God, I need a nudge. A mini-sign, maybe.”
I’m calling my rash God Box Pox, which luckily is easily treated with Benadryl and topical steroids.
My daughter and I went to the doctor together:
“Tropical steroids?” she asked, grinning, because she inherited my love of language.
And I thought of beaches and banana daiquiris.
People-ing has to be easier in Aruba. It just HAS TO.
When we are dealing with tough things (or difficult people), I think it’s common to want all the answers. I think that’s why we run about asking friends, and we let our brains go wild.
We’re just GRASPING like those people in cash machines on game shows.
But that isn’t how life works.
Really, we don’t get to know.
So we can’t always make giant choices with confidence that if we do A, everything will fall into place.
But we can try to do what is right in slow, one-at-a-time steps.
And we can have faith that things will work out as they should, without us running around trying to control and fix.
This is what we get in life:
A little bit of a clearer picture, maybe.
It’s one of the struggles of being an adult – finding the patience to be wait and the strength to keep going.
That might be the very definition of growing up.
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