Sunday, December 18, 2016

What I'm not

I believed for a time that one way to define myself was by understanding what I am not.   I thought it was a good way to start....much like the negative space in a picture defining what the picture was...
Examples of Negative Space defining the subject.

Recently, watching my mother I realize it is a terrible idea.  My mother has an identical twin sister.  Right now her sister had a stoke, lives in a care center, and barely recognizes her own daughter.  My mother in a desperate bid to NOT be like her sister checked herself out of a care center where she was healing from breaking her hip, is incredibly rude to everyone trying to help her, and behaves like a tyrannical toddler so she can proudly say, "I am NOT like my sister." Do you know what is so sad about this?  In her desperate grab for not being her sister she became the worse version of herself.  The thing about defining by negative space is your only definition is in comparative status.  Without the other, you become nothing. 

How often do I define myself by trying to not be like my mother?  How often am I defining myself by comparison to someone, something or anything but being myself?  Christmas time is a time for reflection for me.  So far this year I have not baked any holiday treats.  I have not put up one decoration.  I look like a Grinch if I define myself by what I am not.  However, what I am is recovering from emergency surgery 2 weeks ago.  I am doing really well.  I sent all the Christmas presents to families that live in other parts of the country.  I am playing Secret Santa with friends.  I am humming Christmas Carols and reading about Christ.  Hmmm...I like what I am and need to worry a lot less about what I am not. 


Tundra Woman said...

Good to hear you're recovering nicely, Ruth. I bet you'll never look at a hot dog the same way ;-) Every time I see that "me on a diet" picture it just cracks me up! Poor woman, trying to diet with a hot dog "plug" doesn't sound easy. <Did you smile?! Good!

Your mother is not the first to sabotage her health or well being to force her family to "care for" her. Seems to be a very common behavior among certain populations. Part of me also knows they get worse-or more overt in their behavior-as they age. Getting older requires patience with yourself and an understanding that dignity has nothing to do with pride. Some people have a lot of the latter and none of the former. Just sayin....

Instead of making a bunch of goodies at home I now chose two items or so to make and the rest come from the grocery. No one has complained (or expired) yet. It's not as if I'm the only one with an oven and cookie sheets or cake tins! They want something else, they can make it. Our Holiday "Traditions" include a lot of stress and "gotta" that really should be reviewed every few years. Sometimes what we feel was important to others really wasn't and sometimes, it really IS "all about us"-TOO!
Take care, Ms. Ruth.

Ruth said...

Thanks TW. I'm learning to rotate what traditions I enjoy each year. This year I'm getting a real tree. Around here that is tricky because desert air dries out trees in record time. You are right in your observation about some behaviors get worse with age. For me it is the same behavior I've seen for years, now everyone else is getting the same treatment. Focusing on the holidays is much more fun.

Tundra Woman said...

Ooooo! I am totally a "real tree" person, but I live where the trees live! It makes the house smell so good! It never mattered how poor I was or unable to afford ornaments-I could afford ribbon. There are lovely ribbon birds you can make (origami) that are not difficult to do at all. The biggest problem I've had in recent years is trying to find just regular old rolls of ribbon anymore. There's no Hallmark or other shop like that here. Anyway, I'm not a real crafty type person but if you're interested, you can find easy instructions on line. (They're not just for the holidays either.) I'm silly excited for you this morning! All this over a tree and possibilities-it doesn't take a whole lot to entertain me, huh?!

Gonna "Occupy Ms. Ruth's Mind" with something else besides being everyone else's caretaker. This is a very unusual role for you and I'm sure it's a challenge. The joy you receive from doing for others? Allow them to feel the same joy in doing for you.
You are a gift *just the way you are,* Ms. Ruth.

Ruth said...

I found this buried and just added it. Thank you. I ended up with a small live tree. New for me. The pine bough wreath smelled heavenly. I still get real ribbon from the fabric store. I am fortunate to live close to a specialty store that only sells ribbon and lace. I can only visit occasionally because all sorts of pieces end up in my basket.