1: Persuading People to See My Point of View. A few years ago, I went to help my stepmother with her breast cancer surgery. I was happy to be able to help in any way I could, and she was grateful. However, before I left, she brought up something I’d written in my last anthology: Daddy: Reflections of Father-Daughter Relationships. In it, I described how my father used to leave the house and announce that he was “going to get laid.” I was sixteen at the time, and it seemed not only inappropriate, but also unnecessary.
She began the conversation with “Tony said that because of your mother’s condition, she wasn’t able to have sex very much, so when she died…”
For the next thirty minutes, she defended my father, his actions, and his words. And for those thirty minutes, I tried to convince her that he wasn’t quite the man she thought he was. I tried to get her to see my point of view.
But let me tell y’all something. It takes a lot of time and energy to convince someone to see your point of view, when their motive is really to defend someone else and their actions, and I’m not doing it anymore … with anyone.
2. Chasing People for Reciprocity. Maya Angelou once said, “When people show you who they are, believe them,” and I say when people show you the level of engagement they want to have in your life, act accordingly. The best example I have of this is when my sister-in-law agreed to make amends and develop a relationship.
“Do you want to Skype?” I asked.
“No,” she replied. “With the kids and everything, I don’t have time.”
“Do you want to talk on the phone?”
“I don’t really like talking on the phone. Anyway, people who talk on the phone usually just gossip,” she said.
After a bit more prompting, this is what she revealed, “Kathy, I’m good with seeing you every five years or so.”
Although my feelings were hurt by her honesty, I was grateful for her words. I used to be the type of person you had to bonk over the head with a message, and this was one of those times. She and I had two different definitions of relationship, and I didn’t need to keep trying so hard to develop the kind I was seeking, not with her or others who clearly show they’re not interested in the type of relationship I’d like to have.
3. Ignoring My Gut, Literally and Figuratively. 2021 brought my gut issues to the forefront. Digestion has been problematic since 2017, but I’d ignored it. I’d also been taught how to hold everything in, until it burst, and that didn’t serve me well. A laryngopharyngeal reflux diagnosis woke me up. It shouldn’t have taken me so long to seek treatment. But we learn what we learn when we learn it, right? I’ll write a longer post about this situation. For now, I’ll share this: I’ve learned that I don’t have to hold everything in. I can calmly speak my mind in the moment. If the other person doesn’t like what I’ve said or that I’ve said it, that’s their problem, not mine. I’ve learned that my body doesn’t like all of the foods, even though the pleasure center in my brain does. Honoring these two things has helped me pay attention physically and metaphysically to my gut.
Each of these examples are old situations, but they’ve persisted in my life throughout the years to varying degrees, with different people, and with subtleties. However, 2022 will be an intentional year of honoring these three specific points: I don’t need validation for how I feel about my experiences with people; I am grateful for current symbiotic relationships; and my gut always knows best.
What are you doing for 2022? Are resolutions your thing? Are you focusing on one word? How are you going to bring happiness into the new year?