Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Don't Worry, Be Happy! Holiday Harmony...

I remember every time before major special family days,  I would talk to my Mom and ask if there was anything I could bring for the upcoming holiday. Invariably, she would answer, "The only thing I need is for you to help me  make  everyone happy, just for this one day. Let's just pray everyone has a good time and gets along." 
How many of you have had everyone in your family be happy all at the same time? 
That is like asking everyone to be aligned to the planets in the same moment singing "We are the World!"....
Yet, that was my task for each and every family gathering and all the drama in between gatherings. Please do not misunderstand. 
I do not begrudge my Mom....I do not begrudge my brothers or their families, but at the end of the day, 
the individual happiness of every single person in my family is way too heavy of a burden for any one person to handle. 
I am only one. I am frail..I am weak. There is no way I could carry the entire happiness for my whole family on my very human and flawed shoulders. And I do not believe my Mom meant to burden me unjustly. She was hoping for the impossible...the dream of every Mom, that all of her children, for one brief moment, would appreciate each other and celebrate the joy that was within them....Family. The Norman Rockwell picture had to stay on the mantle!

I have struggled with this task many a night, many a day. What can I do to help my family, for that one moment in time, to be singularly and communally, Happy?
Well, after all of these years, and more family gatherings than I care to remember, I have had to admit defeat.
There is no way I can control the inner workings of the marital dynamics of my brothers, or their children, or my children, their work situations, etc., etc. The game ended when my precious mother passed away. One of her dearest friends told me Mom's biggest worry was that I would take on all the burdens of the family. (Ha! Wonder what gave her that idea?) This wise woman said, "Sally, it is time you let go and live your life. It is what your mother has always wanted." We both cried in each other's arms and I left the conversation with much to think about. How could I change a lifetime of facilitating happiness in a raucous and rowdy family of Irish-Native American descent? How could I reframe what I believed was my role? I really believed I had some single handed authority to peace-make, to rectify, to heal...I needed a complete overhaul!!

It was the beginning of the end of my idealistic belief I that I had anything to do with controlling others and their own happiness. A painful journey to wellness and healing always begins with the first step....admitting the problem.
From there, I began a wonderful journey of self discovery and growth I never knew existed. With each passing day, I learned over and over again how little control I had over life in general and my loved ones in particular. The more I experienced life, the more I recognized I am much more authentic without my Super Woman cape!
And that is not such a bad thing....
To admit that I am not in so freeing, so healthy. I don't have to feel guilty or responsible if my family members are unhappy, even with me! One of my dearest friends told me recently, "You didn't cause this....and you are not responsible.Love them by letting it go." Woo Hoo!
I am certainly prone to slip back into my old routine of trying to "help" ,trying to problem solve in the middle of the night, but I am so so much better than I was! Progress is a beautiful thing.

And here it is, Thanksgiving... I am so very grateful that the only person's happiness I am responsible for is my own, and that frees me to reach out and love on others with no ulterior motive other than Love. When I finally released the worry, anxiety, and yes, somehow, the responsibility I carried for family members and even friends who were unhappy or disgruntled, it was like the skies parted and I could hear the angels sing! My mom is probably in heaven looking down at me and saying, "Sweet Girl, I never meant for you to take this so seriously!" But, I did and I have for most of my life. 

Interestingly enough, I would like to say I am also grateful for this unrequested burden. Sometimes life offers us gifts and opportunities dressed up as burdens and heartaches. I believe this is what happened with me. Unknowingly, my mother was helping to hone the gifts of mediating and problem solving, of actively listening for the melody and not necessarily the words spoken to understand what others were saying. She taught me how to make people feel welcome and loved. She unknowingly led me to my chosen field of first, teaching, and then counseling. Thanks, Mom.
Because of your unselfish belief that family was everything and being together and having a wonderful time was essential, you helped mold me. My heart overflows and I am grateful.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

I think Your Snoring's Sexy...(Said No One Ever!)

"Don't take it personally, Babe, but you snore like a freight train!" My husband looked at me with a little guilt and a feeble attempt to hide his smile.
 "What? You are kidding me! .....I absolutely do NOT snore!"
 His smirk turned into a laugh, "Yeah, you really really do! ...So much so, that I wear ear plugs. And you know my hearing isn't all that great anyway.'
He reached over to give me a hug, like he thought it was kinda cute. I was not amused. In fact, I was mortified. How can someone like me, who is so careful to not wake him up when I get into bed, who tiptoes to the restroom at night so I don't disturb anyone....sound like a freight train? And how can a freight train not wake up the person making all the noise?? Maybe HE'S the one snoring and he just doesn't realize it.
Images of my mom and dad snoring at night and all of the adult children and grandchildren cracking up laughing at the noise flashed before my eyes. I have become my mother!
Holy Cow! This is not going to happen! Surely there is something I can do. Something I can take? But who in the world gives professional advice about snoring?
I immediately grabbed my laptop and began searching for information. At least online, I am anonymous and don't have to technically admit my hidden shame.
Interesting....Have you ever googled "snoring"? Unbelievable amount of hits...and a multitude of guaranteed remedies  There are all kinds of headgear I could wear, pills I could take, a mouthguard, and the list goes on. None of them sounded like something I wanted to incorporate into my life. So...I already had a doctor's appointment scheduled for a checkup, I just thought I would add the snoring question to my list of doctor patient discussions.
Until then, every evening I would become very anxious right before bedtime. A little performance anxiety began to creep into my psyche. What can I do differently to keep from doing this embarrassingly loud snoring thing? I already slept on my side, I try and read til Steve goes to sleep so I wont' wake him when I go to bed. What else could I do?  Now, I was having trouble going to sleep because I didn't want to snore, but I was also curious to hear what I sounded like. It couldn't possibly be as loud as Darlin said. So, I'm in the bed...trying to be as still as I could be to hear my raucous
snoring.....Nothing. I turned on the other comfortable, began to relax and finally drifted off to sleep. Within 30 minutes, Darlin was nudging me and saying,"Babe, you're snoring! Please turn over." I sat up. I looked around.....apologized to Darlin for waking him, and tried going back to sleep. I truly never heard a thing!!
The next day I went to the doctor and I was going through my list of concerns when I finally blurted out the last one on the list. She smiled and said that is a very common complaint. You can be snoring for many reasons....One of which is sinus related. (That made sense to me because I had a sinus infection) another reason is obesity or being overweight, even 15-20 lbs can cause snoring. (Well, dang it, I'm working as hard as I can to lose weight...what more can I possibly do!) and then there are other more complex issues that cause snoring. Not the greatest news I wanted to hear, but at least it gave me something to work on.....losing weight, and clearing up my sinus infection.
Neither of which would be an overnight fix. And just in case, I'm buying some of those nasal strips at the store.

Big Night for me.....I took my sinus medicine early, and opened the individual package for one of the strips. First of all they are packaged like bandaids and you have to remove the paper from the adhesive. The adhesive is very strong and does not want to let go, even when it is supposed to! Maybe it was because I was trying to be super cool about having it on before Darlin came to bed so it wouldn't be obvious, but I would unstick from one hand and it would become attached to the other hand.....not a calming exercise! Finally I get it attached to my nose but it kept popping off because I had forgotten and put night cream on my face before. Anyway, I held it on with my hand til I fell asleep. In the morning, I found it on the floor by the bed. Im sure it was most helpful!
I asked Darlin if he slept alright and while he was saying he slept fine, he avoided my eyes. I asked if he thought the strips worked, he replied You might want to try 2 at a time.

 So, the snoring dilemma continues. I keep trying different products, while Darlin keeps wearing his earplugs and kissing me goodnight. Guess it could be always be worse....

And since He DID marry me for better or worse....that includes snoring!!