Saturday, August 15, 2009

Accentuate the Positive?

Remember that old Bing Crosby song?

My son recently told me that I have to stop concentrating on all the bad things that have happened this year. I thought that's what I've been doing. Isn't that what my last post was about?

When I last posted, I didn't even mention that I had sprained my ankle on July 27th. I was actually thankful that I didn't miss any work. How's that for "accentuating the positive"?

Ever since the episode with my parents in Duluth, we've been doing a lot of soul-searching to try to get our life back on track. My guys have discovered that I have a victim mentality. Fair enough-I was raised that way-everything that went wrong was always, somehow, my fault. I carried this into my adult life by trying to fix any problem that my family encountered. I was always there to take up the slack. If I failed, I blamed myself for not trying hard enough.

Last summer we had our house re-roofed and a new porch built. L was in between cataract surgeries and couldn't see well enough to function. I took up the slack and emptied the old porch of 12 yrs worth of clutter. I spent the rest of my summer caulking, priming, and painting the new porch.

My ankle is still weak. I spend my afternoons reducing the swelling in my ankle so I can work the next day. I don't dare get on a ladder or walk over rough ground. It's the middle of August and the old porch is still gracing our front yard. The lawn hasn't been mowed in 2 weeks. The living room is knee-deep in clutter, and we can't even walk into our den! ENOUGH!

Last weekend I announced that I'm shedding my victim image. I started out by giving L some ultimatums about his passive-aggressive behavior. This weekend my guys will get an earful about taking up the slack for Mom. My guys are acting like my sprained ankle means a vacation from chores for them. NO MORE!

Remember Bambi? Thumper said that his Mama says:"If you can't say somethin' nice; don't say nothin' at all." That's bullshit! This year, if I wait to say something nice, I don't have anything to say....then I'm accused of making myself a victim. There's about to be a regime change-goodbye Ms Victim--hello Mrs. Bitch!


At 8/15/2009 12:41 PM, Blogger Courtney said...

Welcome, Mrs. Bitch, glad to have you in the club. ;)

At 8/15/2009 7:08 PM, Blogger Gardenia said...

Oh, oh, oh. Am I reading my story? Passive agressives just love us, honey. They do. Cuz we can do anything, no matter how sick, how hurt, how tired, we go like the Energizer Rabbit. In my case, if I say enough, then I'm making HIM miserable, it becomes all about him.

Being with my mother this time was an eye opener too. I think I've also been her parent for a long long long time. Was a rough trip realizing lots of stuff! Too much stuff.

If we don't take care of us, no one else will. Disallusioning, but so true. This diet was the beginning for me - my friend told me a while back who has known me for years - "You don't look like a victim anymore" Nicest thing someone has said to me for a long time.

However, there are relapses - but we get up and go forth - in VICTORY!

At 8/16/2009 10:05 AM, Blogger tshsmom said...

Thanks Courtney! I'm in good company!

Gardenia, I knew that you understood this issue. We're in the sisterhood of passive-aggressive victims. Yes, it's ALWAYS about HIM! I now know that I've been enabling him for years...NO MORE!

My hospital experience with my parents was an eye-opener too, only in reverse. I realized that they will NEVER stop trying to control me, even though I'm 53 yrs old! I've had to reduce my involvement with them to save my sanity. :(

At 8/16/2009 12:21 PM, Blogger Vancouver Voyeur said...

As one bitch to another, welcome to the club. Feel free to become a permanent member.

At 8/16/2009 1:02 PM, Blogger tshsmom said...

I just may be a permanent member if I keep getting arguments like:"But, it's my day off." When the HELL is MY day off?!

At 8/16/2009 1:24 PM, Blogger Vancouver Voyeur said...

Oh THAT drives me flippin' nuts! My son likes to complain on weekends if I ask him to do even one chore, "I just want to relax on the weekend. I work at school all week." This also usually comes if I try to get him out of bed before noon. How do they think the work gets done if they don't help do it? I asked my son before, "you know I work two full-time jobs right? I work longer than you are in school. When I come home, I don't sit down to watch t.v., I get to work on doing laundry, doing dishes, getting groceries, or any number of other things. Why don't you work as hard as me?" I've yet to hear any answer, much less a good one. I also tell him every time I'm folding clothes while he's sitting on the couch watching t.v. "If you ever sit on your butt while your girlfriend or wife is working in front of you, you deserve to be dumped, divorced or whatever it takes to get you off your butt." He'll usually get up and do his own laundry after that comment. Where does this attitude come from that it's okay to sit idle while others work around you? I don't get it. (*laughter* My word verification was "horid.")

At 8/16/2009 3:55 PM, Blogger Wandering Coyote said...

What you describe is not a victim mentality. The victim would say, "Poor me, look at what the world is doing to me" and not take any blame whatsoever, but rather blame everyone and everything else. A victim takes no responsibility.

What you describe here is the "people pleaser." You'd rather shoulder the burden and take the blame rather than risk hurting or offending someone else by asking for some responsibility with the burden & blame. The people pleaser doesn't set boundaries properly, also because they don't want to rock the boat.

Definitely different than the martyr, too, which is close to the victim in attitude & behaviour.

OK, so now that that is clarified - YOU ARE NOT A VICTIM - I am glad you gave L a lecture about his behaviour and I hope the guys take to heart your lecture about helping you pick up the slack. There is no excuse for them not to put in their fair share of the house work. I hope you stick to your guns, because until you back it up with consequences, they won't change a thing.

At 8/16/2009 5:09 PM, Blogger Jeannie said...

I wish I could work up the energy to get mad too. My guys didn't take up the slack when I had to work away all the time. Everything still gets left to me. And my husband complains because it's not done and acts like I don't work. He's off for 3-4 months in winter and still leaves the housework for me. He thinks because he's loaded the dishwasher, he's done his share.

At 8/16/2009 7:13 PM, Blogger tweetey30 said...

Where did the Tshsmom go I remember??? LOL.. Only teasing and I know exactly what you mean. I have been nagging too lately. Getting more help from my family.. We just need it sometimes and it seems that I am always trying to please someone... I like Gardenia's comment.. Energizer Bunny... There we go.. Hope the ankle feels better soon.. I have heard they are worse than breaks..

At 8/16/2009 7:31 PM, Blogger Squirl said...

I'm with WC, I know people-pleaser when I see it. It's been one of my major personas. We want harmony and it seems easier if we just do it all ourselves. I was blamed a lot as a kid, even if my brother started something, because I was older. We were 18 mos apart in age. It sucks and we cope the best we can. Now that we're adults we just need someone/something to kick us in butt in order to change things. You got your wakeup call. I'm glad you're taking a tougher stand. And bitch really isn't the word for it. You're just standing up for yourself.

At 8/17/2009 11:30 PM, Blogger SME said...

I wouldn't say it's a victim mentality that you have, it's more like a superhero mentality. Which is probably just as unhealthy. But with the events of this year, either thing would be perfectly justified.

Anyway, yeah, it's time to do what you need to do. I had to take the bitch role and say "enough" a couple weeks ago, and I have no regrets. It needed to be done.

At 8/18/2009 8:47 PM, Blogger SME said...

P.S. I love the Thumper picture. That's how Sophie looks when I catch her chewing on paper. ;D

At 8/18/2009 11:12 PM, Blogger Gardenia said...

Ah, Coyote's input very fascinting - hhmmmmm - people pleaser, perhaps that fits at least me well....dang though, I have not passed the phase yet where I can stop fighting for every inch and just relax and enjoy life. Maybe we just been too good to 'em too long - and lost our territory??????

At 8/19/2009 12:59 PM, Blogger The Zombieslayer said...

Tshsmom - I'm reading 7 Habits of Highly Successful People right now. As cheesey as self-help books usually are, this one's outstanding. You might want to give it a try.

Currently one of the musicians I'm working with has a mother with a victim mentality who takes out her frustrations on her daughter. Frustrations will come out, either on self or on others. Either way, it's bad.

Life is too short not to be enjoyed. You only get one chance at this (unless you believe in reincarnation). Well, even if you do believe in reincarnation, you only get one shot at being Tshsmom. Do what you can to fix yourself. You cannot have spent years back.

Best of luck with your ankle. Try stretching and doing whatever you can to build the muscle around your ankle, of course, without overdoing it.

At 8/19/2009 2:23 PM, Blogger Cherie said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

At 8/19/2009 2:30 PM, Blogger Cherie said...

Certainly there is a space between 'victim' (or 'people-pleaser' or 'martyr' or whatever fits best) and 'bitch'. Something in-control, kind, and yet firm, you know, ground-standing.

I can yell at my dog, Sammy, to 'come here' or 'go outside', I can puff myself up, use a harsh, domineering voice, gesticulate, and he will just look at me. But when I lower my voice in tone, depth, and decibel, remain calm but unyielding, look him in the eye to show I mean business, softly give a one-word command with a simple gesture he does exactly what I need him to do. Every time. No matter how sleepy, cranky, or tired.

Men and children are not so much different from the pups. They just need to know that you mean business, that there's no way but your way. And you don't have to be bitchy. Just confident. And determined. And right.

Wild-eyed, flailing armed women make husbands and kids laugh inside, I think. Looks funny. Level-eyed, soft-voiced, got-the-right-on-my-side women make them get off the couch.

This has been my experience anyway. My husband is not like L, though. Tom is a mild work-aholic. But the kids, yes, we've had our go-rounds and still do.

Still, the principle works in all realms of life. Calm and steady and steely-eyed. Works on snotty salesgirls, bratty neighbor kids, even over the phone where they can 'hear' your steely eyes. ;)

And Covey's book about the seven habits - very very helpful. HIs idea of win-win is most excellent! Perspective and flexibility, consideration, understanding. Good good read.

I hope your ankle heals up quickly and for good, Tshs. Maybe now would be a good time to 'go on strike' at home, you know really back up your steely eyed determination with consequences. They guys know you'll kill yourself to get stuff done so they let you. Strike back, in a diplomatic way. Order a pizza delivered just for you, clear an area in your living room just for you to sit, elevating your foot, buy only what you like at the grocery store and stash away your goodies. Relax about the lawn, the old porch, the den. As much as you want those things tended to, you need to realize that YOU need tending, too, and are a priority right now. It's not wrong to care for yourself but very very right.

Good luck, lotsa love, hugs, and prayers!

At 8/22/2009 8:37 AM, Blogger tshsmom said...

VV, "Where does this attitude come from that it's okay to sit idle while others work around you? I don't get it."
I don't get it either! We're missing something here. If I could only put my finger on it, my life would go a lot smoother.

WC, you've got me pegged! ;)
I AM a people pleaser. After awhile, I realize that I'm not pleasing ANYONE, not even me. Then I get into a funk and become the victim.

Jeannie, I think a lot of our problems stem from the era we grew up in. Moms were expected to keep everything running smoothly at home. When we were forced to enter the working world, our guys still expected us to be June Cleaver. No matter how hard we try, we can't do it all by ourselves!

Tweets, working mothers need that help ALL the time. If we all work together as a team, we'll all be able to enjoy some free time.

Squirl, wise words, my friend! We tend to create a real quagmire for ourselves, don't we?

SME, you're probably right. Age is catching up with the "superhero" and she can't hold everything together anymore. Time for help!
It was definitely time for you to put your foot down. Love you!

Gardenia, I don't think we lost our territory. I think we just didn't stake out our territory to start with. We just let everybody think that our happiness doesn't matter.

ZS, "Life is too short not to be enjoyed."
EXACTLY!! We USED to have fun. Now it seems like everything has just piled up on us. Together, we can make it to the top of the pile again...I know we can!

Cherie,"Calm and steady and steely-eyed." is my idea of being a bitch. I've had a few hissy-fits in my life, but "steely-eyed" always works the best.

Z immediately notices when I switch to "steely-eyed" mode. "Are you mad Mom?" "Anything I can do?" Now I just need to get L to notice when I switch modes. ;)

At 8/22/2009 9:40 AM, Blogger The Zombieslayer said...

Well, wishing you best. :)

At 8/22/2009 3:03 PM, Blogger Wandering Coyote said...

Tshs: did you ever get the postcard I mailed? LMK so I know I have the address right!

At 8/23/2009 8:46 AM, Blogger Laura said...

You're not alone in this. Women are often socialized to put themselves and their own needs after those of others. And if we DO choose to take care of ourselves instead of others, we're "being selfish."

Z is old enough now to pick up some slack and, pardon me for saying so, but L is an adult and should know better than to rely on you to do everything.

Come on guys! Man up.

Above all - remember that pushing back or expecting those who you spend the majority of your time caring for to do their share is NOT selfish and is NOT asking too much. Period.

At 8/23/2009 4:55 PM, Blogger tshsmom said...

ZS, we're getting there. Thanks pal!!

WC, I'm so sorry! Apparently my email didn't go through. I was hoping that your address would be on the card. Can you email it to me? LOVE YA!!

Laura, you're 100% correct on all counts! Like I told Jeannie; our generation was raised to be June Cleaver.

Hopefully I've raised my kids to break out of this cycle. SME definitely isn't the doormat type and Z knows how to cook, clean, and do laundry, as well as yard and carpentry work. Being a teen, motivating Z is the hardest part right now.

At 9/15/2009 7:03 AM, Blogger Michael Scott said...

Still, the principle works in all aspects of life. Calm, steady and steely-eyed. Works on snotty salesgirls, bratty neighbor kids, even over the phone where they can 'hear' your steely eyes. ;)


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