Back when I was single, my role in life used to be pretty clear-cut. My priorities were these:
- Being self sufficient
- Holding down a good job I liked, and make decent money doing it
- Having reliable and not too expensive health care
- Being owned by at least one cat
- Reading and writing frequently
- Making jewelry and music
- Having a nice, clean, organized home
- Having a good relationship with family and friends
- Having a decent relationship with a nice man
Notice that the “nice man” is last? Wonder why?? I don’t care if you are straight or gay, with or without someone permanent in your life; relationships are HARD. They are not for the faint of heart, nor are they a fun toy you can pick up and play with then lose along the way.
Years and one failed first marriage later, these days my role in life is also pretty clear-cut:
- I am extremely lucky to be married to a decent, kind, loving and understanding man (that would be the Crankee Yankee)
- I am very lucky to have great relationships with family and friends
- I have a good part-time job I enjoy and the money is ok
- I and the Crankee Yankee are owned by three cats
- I read and write even more frequently than I used to
- I still make jewelry and music
That said, here are some of the not-so-wonderful realities of my role(s) in life:
- I am the full-time day and night checker of locks (the Crankee Yankee always thinks he will be coming back in “soon” and will lock up “then,” even at 11pm when he is asleep in his recliner)
- I am the constant picker-up of wads of paper towels, used Kleenexes, fur balls, ripped-out newspaper/magazine articles, and more
- I am the wiper-up of spills on the stove, the counter-tops, the floor, and often, cat vomit (anywhere)
- I am the finder of lost pairs of scissors, pens, and many other items which are never where I put them originally
- I am the one who goes out in the cold dark to check that the car and truck are locked up
- I am the leaver of notes reminding the Crankee Yankee to lock up, pick up, etc. (currently there are three signs up–one in the kitchen, one on the porch, and one downstairs–I don’t think they are even on his radar any more)
- I am the one who writes dates, appointments and meetings on the “mutual” calendar, which is largely ignored by the Crankee Yankee (‘oh, you’re going out with the girls this Sat.? I have a train show and need the car.’)
If you’re in a relationship for the long haul, there are going to be bumps and flat tires along the way. That’s just the way it goes. For all the times I’ve gotten so steamed at the Crankee Yankee I could throttle him, I am always secretly thankful that we don’t have the kind of “f*ck you” cash that would allow either one of us to take off.
A spat of anger doesn’t last, nor does the cheap china you fling out the window in what my late mother-in-law would call politely “a fit of pique.” I like to call it “venting,” the current term for “if you say one more word to me I’m going to <insert something horribly painful here, usually involving the aforementioned husband’s lower forty>.”
So, as to the different roles in my life, here’s the most important one: first and foremost, I am me, and I am in charge of how I feel about everything and everyone. I can choose to be constantly irritated at some of the Crankee Yankee’s predictable behavior, or at the weather, or at someone at work or the traffic. OR I can choose to roll better with things that have bothered me in the past. Moreover, I can do this without guilt.
It just takes practice. I am learning to respond to an uncomfortable or difficult situation by saying out loud, “this is not my problem, nor is it my fault.” (Of course, that’s only true if it really isn’t my fault!) All I can do is to make sure I’m being honest with myself, and realize when something is worth fighting about. More often than not, it isn’t.
If I can revamp the Serenity Prayer, it would go like this:
“God grant me the serenity to accept the things and people I cannot change; the courage to change those things about myself that I can, and let be those things about others that they cannot change, and the wisdom to know the difference, and the peace of mind to accept it all.”