I’m really guilty of it this cycle.
This cycle I’ve called myself irritable, anti-social, whiney, negative, and heavy, among other things.
Those are just things I’ve written.
I’ve also called myself (internally): brutal, weak, selfish, mean, lazy, petty, unkind.
I’m sure there’s more, that’s just what comes to mind.
This all came to light because my mom complained about Jimmy’s family, and it was this great liberating moment for me.
Disclaimer: Jimmy’s family is great. This isn’t about them. But sometimes when I fail to be as connected with them as he wants me to be, I disproportionately blame myself and my perceived shortcomings.
So first, a word on me and my mom. How I have it is that my mom is nothing like me.
Everyone loves my mom. Her popularity ratings are high. She was prom queen in high school.
I was on the debate team in high school. I had no friends by the end (I ate lunch alone in my car), hated everyone, and defiantly refused to walk at my high school graduation (unthinkable to my mom, all of it).
Anyone who meets my mom loves her. Not like a polite “oh your mom seems really nice,” but “your mom is AWESOME.” “She is the BEST.” Etc. And they say it with their eyes all lit up.
Why is this a problem? Well it isn’t really, except inevitably right after they express how stupendous my mom is (and they always do it in a way that makes it seem like they really want me to GET just how amazing she is), they give me the LOOK. The look that says, with part pity, part accusation and part confusion: what happened to you? Why aren’t you more like her?
And: could you maybe try to be more like her…?
A high school boyfriend actually asked me that once. Any time he’d call our house, my mom would answer first, and they’d talk for 10 minutes or so before she’d hand the phone to me (before cell phones, kids). Then one day he straight up asked me if maybe I could be more like my mom with him…?
What’s so special about my mom? I don’t know. She makes eye contact and smiles at people a lot. She touches your arm when she talks to you. She’s very animated, with big hand gestures and exaggerated facial expressions. She uses your name often. She makes lots of little jokes and leans in close when she does, like just the two of you are in on it. She draws people in.
I feel about 100% confident in saying that all of you would like her more than me if you met her, and even secretly wish you could maybe trade me in for her. Forget that she didn’t, and won’t, do LP–you’d be willing to make an exception, just for her.
I admire my mom for having this quality about her, and I feel a sense of pride when people tell me how great she is–it’s just the LOOK that happens afterward that gets under my skin sometimes.
What happened to you? Why aren’t you more like her?
Still, to say we’re polar opposites is not actually true. I’m silly, imaginative and unfiltered like my mom, but I usually share that side of myself mainly with Jimmy. I guess that’s part of why our relationship means so damn much to me. I mean most people love their spouse, but the way I view our relationship seems to go above and beyond the norm. It’s REALLY important to me, because if he’s not around, it’s like that part of my personality that I only share with him — that part of me — doesn’t exist. But this is another can of worms.
To get back to the point, after the shower, predictably, Jimmy’s sisters and everyone were like OMG we LOVE your mom. And then? They gave me the LOOK.
Which prompted my negative self-talk. You’re awkward, you’re weird, you’re antisocial, people don’t get you, people don’t like you, you’re not fit for public consumption.
But then today came the liberating moment.
My mom was like, I have to be honest, I had a hard time with Jimmy’s family. It was like this army of Long Island women coming at me, insisting they help me set up the food the second they arrived without waiting for a response. They literally took utensils out of my hands, she said. And then the comments, on everything, without hesitation, including free-wheeling speculation about the babies and how they’d look and whether they’d be healthy — and then the comments on your body, on Jimmy being the caretaker for the babies, etc. And then they were so LOUD, she said, it was overwhelming. I don’t know how you do this all the time, she told me. You seem to let it all just roll off.
I was like, wait, what? You mean you think they’re kind of too much? And that I handled it well? And that I wasn’t being antisocial and weird and closed off?
She was like, no, seriously, they are really overwhelming. You held it together very well, considering.
YES. VINDICATED. You guys LOVE my mom? Well, guess WHAT, she doesn’t particularly CARE for you (HAHAHAHA<–evil laughter).
Okay, I took it too far there. But it did bring to light, not for the first time, that I am too harsh on myself. I have a lot of negative self-talk going on, and I say it really definitively, like it’s the Truth.
“Kyla is antisocial,” etc., like it’s a fact.
I’m not sure any of those adjectives I listed above are a fact, though.
As my buddies pointed out, maybe I’m not whiney and irritable–maybe I’m just really pregnant and in my first pregnancy that happens to be twins while juggling a full work schedule and it isn’t exactly a walk in the park.
Maybe I’m not antisocial–I’ve shown up to the things I’ve been up for, setting boundaries with how much I want to interact because I’m appropriately focused on getting my family through this transition more than anything else.
And I’m not negative, I just know people often think I am because I don’t shy away from expressing uncomfortable thoughts. I kind of embrace them. So it’s more like an apology or a disclaimer because I worry about how people will receive it, since I know many would rather shove all those thoughts under the rug. I’m in fact pretty stubbornly idealistic and optimistic.
As for brutal and mean, it’s a hard line for me to figure out; I’ve given some very direct feedback lately, starting with ALP4, regarding people dropping the ball on the legacy commitment we made. I talk with Jimmy about this a lot–I could be “compassionate,” but doesn’t that just enable people to keep showing up as less than their best? They all did the work. They all made the commitment. I’m still figuring feedback out, though, so jury’s out on this one, but my forays into it do not come from a place of cruelty (and don’t warrant the self-imposed labels “brutal” and “mean,” nor has anyone said that)–they come from wanting to hold people high and knowing they’re capable of it, which is what I want people to do for me (however much I may really hate it in the moment).
Anyway the cycle is over and I likely won’t join the next because I’m about to be overwhelmed, but either way next on the goal list (starting now) is less negative self-talk!