Monday, 14 January 2013

Pushover No More! (if that`s okay with you...)

Day 158
207 Days Remaining

I took some self-help books out of the library and read - devoured would perhaps be a better word - Women Who Love Too Much by Robin Norwood.  This has probably been the first time in my life that I have taken a self-help book out of the library and actually sat down and read the entire thing, and found it relevant and useful.

I've often taken books out with every intention of reading them and utilizing them to overcome whatever problem I was dealing with at the time, but more often than not they just sit unread and (though it pains me to admit it) forgotten even to the point that I haven't returned them on time and ended up paying overdue fines for them.  This book, however, was entirely relatable for me, and I really enjoyed it.  I agreed with many of the points that the author made, including the fact that I - as a "woman who loves too much" - too often make the man the focus of my attention and care, and don't do it as much for myself as I need to.  I realized that I have even done this with Fig, despite the fact that he is not my boyfriend, and with my children.  No wonder he called me a pushover - I will often do everything I can to help other people, even when it's detrimental to myself!  I decided that it was time to change my habits and I've been trying to work toward that end.

I recognized this tendency in myself when I finished up work at 9:30 in the evening one day last week.  I knew that Fig was over at a friend's house and would probably be heading home soon, and - since he doesn't have a car - my instinct was to send him a text message and ask if he wanted me to swing by and pick him up "on my way home".  It wasn't "on my way".  It wasn't even remotely near where I was going.

I had picked up my phone and began composing the text when I stopped myself.  There was no reason for me to do this, I realized - sure, it was a nice offer, but was it necessary?  I was tired, and Fig hadn't asked for a ride.  Why should I always put myself out, making myself uncomfortable and perhaps unhappy to make other people comfortable and happy?  He's a grown man, I told myself; he can find his own way home and you don't need to do it for him.  And I put my phone in my purse and headed home.  It was a small thing, and certainly not something I always have to do - after all, I still want to be nice to people! - but was a step toward reinforcing new behavior for myself.

I continued the pattern with the kids and didn't do everything for them that they wanted me to do.  If it wasn't something they needed, I wasn't doing them any favors by giving in to them.  I enlisted them in helping around the house, and things were much more enjoyable when I wasn't breaking my back trying to do everything while they sat and watched TV over endless bowls of microwave popcorn.  Before the Christmas holidays were over, I informed the children that there would be chore lists of what would be expected of them for every day that they are at my house.  Once the New Year began, I implemented the chore lists, and they have accepted them without complaint.  In fact, they seem much more content and happy now that they have clearly defined roles within our family relationship!  And my house is clean, the boys are doing what needs to be done, and we sit down together for every meal (well, the evening meal, at least - lunch, too, most of the time, but I expect a family dinner) and knowing that they will be the ones to set and clear the table as well as load and unload the dishwasher sure makes me happy.  I`ve also given myself a break from the guilt I often feel if they don`t eat a good meal - I`m providing it, but if they don`t eat it, that`s their choice!  (Oh...and they also do not get to partake in the delicious snack we have planned for Games Night...)

Anyway, I digress.  I suppose the new order of things in my household has me so excited that I went off on a tangent.

I took another self-help book out yesterday - The Little Black Book of Big Red Flags - but I haven`t cracked it open yet.  I think between the first self-help book, my new prayer counseling sessions, and the support of my wonderful friends, I'm on a pretty good road, and I want to take some more time to absorb and reflect on the Norwood book.  I'll probably be talking about it over the next few weeks, because I know that just reading it isn't enough for me to really make big changes.  It's time to really examine some of these tendencies.

I'll leave you with a list excerpted from the book; not everything fits for me, but there is a lot that resonates and helps me to see what can be worked on.  Maybe you'll recognize some of things in yourself, or see something in there you want to hear more about.  Drop me a line and let me know, if you do.

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