D.R.A.M.A.

xkcd
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I have talked to a shrink before, more than once. I am one of those people that very early on understood that all you can control in life is yourself… and even then it is an uphill battle because well, that croissant is just so dam tasty, even though I should not eat it. When I encounter a situation filled with drama, the first thing I try to determine, is this something I am in some way causing?

Avoiding drama is an art. The thing is that any time that you have strong views about anything drama is waiting just around the corner waiting to pounce.

I remember after a couple of failed relationships I decided to see a shrink again. One failed relationship might be bad luck, two its you for sure. I explained to the shrink what my shortcomings were, how I grew up, what I expected out of a relationship. I also explained the relationship issues I had, what I saw as not working and her prognosis was simple. “Stop dating crazy people.” A shrink said that… and it was a she.

We are all a little crazy and I can safely say that I know where my crazy comes from. I am a very logical thinker for almost everything in life, but when it comes to relationships I am extremely emotional. I can turn the emotions off completely and make compassion something that other people feel for puppies. I was that person for a long time, and it helped me deal with life as a teenager in a very dysfunctional home.

I never wanted that as an adult, and I have done everything in my power to avoid being the source of drama. I do fail miserably from time to time, because in the effort to avoid it, I seem to spin it into high gear.

Funny enough, this is probably one of my most drama free times of my life. While I had no shortage of it in the beginning of the year with my uncle passing, recently I am pretty drama free. I do have plenty of drama close to me, but I am now more of an observer than a direct participant.

The top water mark came some months ago when a bully feared by many tried to start something in a setting was bad. No, not the multicolored troll showing naked pictured of the conquest in a church in front of children, that one is a story for another time and another day. I engaged the bully, held my one and realized something. By standing up to said bully, even though I did it for the “right” reasons, I was simply perpetuating the drama.

In a conversation over lunch with coworkers recently the talk of leadership came around. The person making the statements is someone that has been around the world actually getting paid to give leadership seminars. I asked the question I always ask when people talk about leadership, is innate ability or learned skills better. He answered both, but the best are the ones that come with the innate ability, the ones that want to learn the skills are the ones that kept him employed. He also added that one of the things to learn is that you should never try to guess motivation, that it is always easier to just ask the person.

It brought me to a new understanding on a lot of things. Drama, for the most part can be just a lack of communication. I think a lot of drama start when one person tries to guess what motivates another to do something, and then people formulate things in their heads from that thought. Sometimes a person just wants to be listened to, and drama seems to be the only way to get someone’s attention.

Trying to ignore drama is not the answer. Trying to avoid it can create more of it. So at this point in my life I think that trying to just listen more is probably the best way to avoid it. I have been very good at removing people that cause drama to get attention out of my life, however it never really made me drama free. Now, it seems that trying to just understand people’s motivation by gathering information rather than guessing seems to be the best antidote to drama.

Prepared to die

We spend a lot of time in our lives getting ready for events. Expectations are always high before a big date on the calendar, a trip, a graduation even a birth. Not many know the day they are going to leave this earth, and the thought of knowing has always made me a little unease. Would it be cool to put your affairs in order and say goodbye, or would it be better to just go out with a big bang.

Today we lost another person close to us. This time was the nurse’s family. Her Aunt passed away quietly after she had her last breakfast and did a little craft work in the nursing home she had been residing in. She was a person that was always felt. In one way or another her opinions were strong and she made sure they were heard. She liked me for whatever reason she had, she did not know me very well, but she said I was a keeper.

I don’t know how to deal with the feelings and emotions of death. I spent a lot of time with my uncle before he passed. I made the decision to not fly back for the funeral because I did happen to be by his side the day he lost his life. I have always felt that putting someone in the ground is not something that should be as ceremonious as it is. Sure it is cool to see a military funeral if you never experienced it, but a funeral is just not somewhere you look forward to being.

I say that I want a happy funeral, remembering the good times and playing many of the silly dance songs I love. If I happen to outlive my friends I would want them to remember the good times and not be sad at the fact that I am gone.

Religion spends lots of time preparing us to die. The promise of heaven sounds very good on paper. To most the fact that we could see loved ones that passed away before us is also enticing. I don’t know how prepared I am to die because in all reality I love life. I love my life right now and I want to live it.

I am tired of putting my grandparent’s generation to rest, I can only dread the time when it is my parent’s generation that will be the ones taking the turn. Death is something that we don’t really know now to handle well. I know how to say I’m sorry for your loss and give condolences, but the relationship with that person is really more than the flesh is what will be missed the most.

A lot of what I have seen recently with death is that it seems to bring to the surface feelings good and bad and sometimes amplify them. Not to get to sappy about the whole thing, but I do think it is important to tell those you love just how you feel about them, often, all the time really. While our elderly passing on is not sudden or a surprise it still hurts and leaves a void.

I really hope there are no more funerals in my future.

Mi Tio Gilberto

There is a lot of pain floating around in my heart about my uncle’s passing. There is a lot of anger towards lots and lots of people. There is also the question of did I do enough. The thing is that he would not want me to remember him that way, he was the kind of guy that was never angry or annoyed, he was always laughing or trying to make others laugh.

He was one of those grown ups that always made me feel like my opinion mattered. Even from when I was really young he always asked me what I thought. That was empowering, and probably one of the reasons I have always been so self-assured. If my uncle thinks my opinion matters, then it must.

I still remember the day he got his prized car, a baby blue jaguar. What does he do? He hands the keys over to me and tells me to take it for a spin. I was young and only had my license for a couple of years at the time but he was very willing to trust me with his awesome ride. Come to think of it, any time we were together in a vehicle and I was old enough to drive I was the one taking him around.

Years passed, his sickness got a hold of him and I now had to drive the car because he could not anymore.

I remember the last time I drove the jaguar, it had been sitting for probably a couple of years with little or no use. The vehicle was in very poor condition and I had to tell him that I did not feel safe driving it unless we took it in and had it looked at. I hate the fact that I had to tell the guy that never told me no and always made me believe in the impossible, no… about his car, about him getting better, about the reality of a terminal illness.

Nothing that I say will ever convey who he was, you had to meet him to really experience his larger than life attitude. I am glad that Heather had a chance to meet him, even though it was when he was already beaten up and almost defeated he made it a point that I lifted his had for him so he could shake Heather’s hand and mouth nice to meet you because he could not say the words anymore.

I have many good memories of him and I am holding onto them very much. We spent lots of time together the last couple of years driving around to and from doctor appointment to hospitals but we had great conversations. He told me about his childhood and growing up, also about all the hell he used to raise when he was young. He always had a smile, always had a joke and most of all he loved life.

I am so sad that you got taken away so young Tio. I am glad you got to see the world and experience life. I love you, and I miss you so much.

Types of Love

Have you ever heard about the languages of love? if you have not (and you are in a – or interested into being in a – relationship) you should really look into it.

http://www.5lovelanguages.com/assessments/love/

The first time I heard about this was after I was already on my way to getting divorced. Gwen and I are actually great friends now, and we were back then as well. When it came to love we did not communicate. I never actually looked into the book or took the assessment back then. From the casual conversation we had she and I both assumed that I would receive love from “acts of service”… then recently I actually took the test. Come to find out that while that is how most of my life I have received love, its actually not my dominant language of love. Mine sits very high on “words of affirmation.”

My life has changed quite a bit during the last couple of years. Losing my grandfather was a huge blow to my family and it opened up a lot of questions to me about the future. Having lunch with a close friend this week made me come to the conclusion that we become who we are thanks to people that tell us we can accomplish things. We have to believe it, but it helps to have someone encourage it. Someone telling you that you can’t do it can also have a very powerful effect. I was lucky enough to meet both of my grandfathers but now both of them are not with us anymore. I had been preparing myself to face the death of my uncle who is still terminally ill and I had not considered my Grandfather actually dying. Losing people that believe in you can make you feel very alone.

Since I was very young I tried to convince myself that I did not really need anyone. It was a defense mechanism that I built to protect myself. While I do have a very independent and self reliant personality, this could not be further from the truth, we all need other people. I started to realize how much I need a partner in crime that supports me not just in words but in action. My sister put it simply to me recently, because of the way we grew up (in kind of a very dysfunctional household) we really did not learn anything about healthy relationships when it came to marriage.

Languages of love aside, I have my own classification of attraction. Intelligence, personality and physical. Without being too crass about the whole thing, while in my past serious relationships I thought there had to be a dominant one. My first relationship was all about personality. We were and still are very good friends, however we were intellectually incompatible for many reasons and while the physical was never an issue we both have agreed that the fireworks with others have been way better.

The rest of the relationships I had were very physical in nature. Not one night stand kind of situations, but just something were attraction was the main driver and personality and intellectual attraction had nothing to do with it.

Maybe that was always my mistake, that I thought that one of those three facets being exceptional would make up for the other two being just ok. I always thought it was unrealistic or perhaps I had never met someone that could engage me on all levels at once. Looking at my parents, I think they also did not look at the whole picture and ignored the fact that their personalities were complete opposites. You could not find two more polar opposites if you looked. My sister and I lived it our whole life with tons of emotional scaring to show for it.

Opposites attract is what people say, but there is something to be said about how people give and receive love. If you don’t speak the same love language and are not willing to learn and use it, love will eventually extinguish. I have always tried to nurture love in my relationships, thing is that when there is love there should not be a lot of trying it should just be allowed to grow. Relationships DO take lots of work, the key is that the work should not feel like work, it should be something that you do gladly for the other person, something you do for love. My friend looked at me with a knowing smile across the table when I told him about how effortless everything felt now.

By choice I have gone through most of the things in my life alone. I have opened up little by little to more of my friends. It still not easy to do and with everything that went on with my uncle I know I felt alone. Thing is though, I don’t feel alone anymore. Since Heather and I started talking I have had something I did not expect, someone that wanted to listen to what I had to say. Someone to encourage and advice me, as well as let me know that I can do better when I let my emotions take a hold of me. I cannot begin to describe what it feels like to have the person by your side… I guess it is why I now understand things like “when you know, you know.”

The fireworks went from being bought in a roadside tent to full on 4th of July fireworks display over lake Michigan. The inside jokes we already have keep us laughing constantly, its hard to even type this without chuckling. We might not be in the same professional field but we are both darn good at what we do. Our languages of love match almost like mirror images of each other. We use phrases like “meant to be” and they don’t seem cheesy. I never thought I would find someone that actually encouraged my “want to be happy every day” attitude. We have different approaches at many things but end up at the same conclusions, respect, family and the value of strong bonds. To say I’m pretty freaking happy does not begin to cover it, so I quote something she said to me this week. “I’m so glad we are solid.”

Hating Presents

You know what one of the best presents I ever got? a Pandaren Brewmaster Deluxe Figure from Blizzard. DeGuia seems to always get me something very awesome for my birthday. I am not materialistic and did not expect such an awesome present from anyone but he went out of his ways to get me something I would really enjoy. He also got me the Game of Thrones books which I am still enjoying. I start with this because I don’t want to seem ungrateful on my post, because I am for everything anyone does for me but it has taken a while to be ok with getting presents.

I used to hate my birthday being celebrated. Partly because it was seldom celebrated and even forgotten, but it also had to do with getting presents. I was very dismissive of getting things I did not want growing up. I remember getting upset when I felt that people getting me presents put no thought into it. You know that saying “its the thought that counts…” well even that saying can be a double edge sword. You can still get a present and it have little or no thought behind it.

I love family. I love my family. My extended family can and has driven me nuts in the past. I don’t understand them completely yet, but I have started to as I get older.

People give and receive love in different ways, and while I could talk about it from a relationship standpoint it can also do with how you interact with your family.

I used to dislike the fact that being part of a big family meant that every single weekend there was a party for something or other. I also used to get very annoyed when kids birthday turned into adult gatherings. As I get older and become part of the “adult” group I start to get it a little more.

For the more social people in the family gathering together every weekend means something. If you have Italian friends and have been lucky enough to be invited to a Sunday dinner you know how important they are to them. Being social to some people is what family is all about. The birthdays, graduations and other gatherings are simply excuses just to see each other. I did not appreciate that before, but now that I get a little older I am starting to.

I still think that a birthday party should be about celebrating the person and not an excuse for the grown ups to get their “drink” on. I do however respect the fact that family might just want to spend time with everyone. Its hard to make the switch and start liking birthdays, gatherings and presents but I am working on it.

Family is very important to me and I am glad that I have so many people in the world that want me in their lives. I still don’t want people to make a big fuss over my birthday, but I am now more willing to celebrate it so I can see family and friends. It might not be the way I receive love, but if that is the way that some of those around me do, what is wrong with sharing the love?