Long time no hear…I know. I’ve started a new job in the past few weeks, so it’s taken up quite a bit of my time. Add to that my birthday (the divine 29, anyone), along with general spending time with the loved ones, and my time goes out of the window. On the subject of this topic, I’ve been thinking about this topic for years now, and finally….I feel mentally strong enough to write about it. Bear with me.
Now, don’t get it twisted. I love my peoples. My peoples are ride or die. Through thick or thin, they’ve been there. They’ve been there through my highest of highs… and my lowest of lows. There’s nothing I wouldn’t do for them.
However….. there are those days when they try me. Immensely. Sorely. Those are the days when I just want to blast Missy Elliot’s “Gossip Folks” from my headphones in an effort to un-hear what I have heard. Those are the days when I can’t believe what I’me hearing….and I’m just like, “What?” Now, in full disclosure, I know that people are human. After all, to err is human while forgiving is of a divine nature. Maybe it’s just me, but I do have the tendency to hold the people who raised me to a higher standard. I tend to expect more of them because they are the ones who raised me to have such high standards when dealing with others.
So with this in mind, here are the tips I use when I’m in this situation, whether at home in the living room or the dining room table, as well as in public with other loved ones. Since I was raised to not disrespect my elders, I do my best to stick to that mandate. I’m not always successful at it, but this is what keeps me in check. At least…most of the time.
(1) I listen. Quietly. This is my first step in Operation Keep-My-Wits. When I hear them go past the point-of-no-return, I listen, and I watch their behavior as they speak. If they’re speaking erratically, it doesn’t bother me. They’re just rambling on for the sake of attention. But if they’re enunciating every syllable in a clear and succinct manner……
(2) Count to ten. If I’m counting to ten, it means that I’m doing my best to keep my mouth shut…and the quiet listening part isn’t working. So, I count to ten in English, then breathe in, and out. If they’re still going on…I add another count in Spanish, and then I breathe in and out again. I do my best to repeat this until I’ve attained a measured state of calmness. This usually works well. However, if you’re at the point where you’re unable to keep a lid on it,,
(3) Then Walk Away. Yep. That’s right. Walk away. I know, that we millennials invented the clapback, trademarked it, and put it on overpriced t-shirts hawked by *gag* influencers, but there is something to be said for the elegant exit. Sometimes, your loved ones seeing you walk away does the trick and makes them realize that they are not necessarily right at the moment. I always do my best to walk away. It saves you in the best of times, and you can do many things during that walk. You can meditate. You can say a prayer to your patron saint asking for guidance. (St. Jude has heard MANY of my prayers during those moments.) You can even just pray to God asking for guidance and wisdom in dealing with the ish-talking loved one of the moment.
I clapped back. Now what?
Trust me. I get it. As much as I would like to remain cool and calm, sometimes, I too have gotten into disagreements with my peoples. And since I’m a person who really does her best to remain calm as much as possible, when I handle my clapbacks, I get to the point. I’m not often happy about it, but we’re human, and it happens. The important thing that I remember in those moments is to let cooler heads prevail. Maybe you and the person you argued with don’t talk for a few days until the raw emotions have subsided. Or maybe, you chalk it up to normal occurrences and act as though nothing happened five years later. I’ve had both happen to me.
It’s important to keep in mind that no loved one is perfect. Many times with our elders, they raise us under the mandate of “Do as we say, not as we do,” and hindsight really is 20/20. For better or for worse, they raise us to be the people they wish they had been, and as much as they instill their jewels of wisdom in us, there are going to be certain habits that they themselves will not change. You can tell them how wrong they are, and you can be absolutely right about it, but the fact of the matter is that they. will. not. change. Period.
Throughout my experiences, I’ve learned that the only person I can control is myself. I am accountable to God, myself, and my community for how I act and conduct myself around others. I can do my best to explain to others how I feel when they have wronged me, and they could tell me that they don’t care how I feel, they said what they said, which is of course, their prerogative. They could also apologize. It’s a fifty-fifty split, really. If what they said isn’t going to matter in five hours, then I feel what I have to feel, and let it go once I’ve chewed the cud of the argument. However, if it’s been a week and I’m still feeling some type of way about our disagreement, then I take a long hard look at myself, and I ask myself what’s really bothering me. Is it what they said, or is it that they refuse to hear how they hurt me?
Once I’ve been honest with myself about that….then I come to terms with it.
For better…or for worse.