Wednesday, April 11, 2007

The Art of Compromise

"Take 'em out!" © Austin Cline.

I have an uncompromising view of life, and that's a real problem.

Life, like politics, is mostly the "art of the possible" meaning that we need the ability to adapt, bend and mold our attitudes, opinions and selves to suit current circumstances. We needn't be happy about it. In fact, we may even strive to change whatever circumstances we find ourselves in. But we do need the ability to, at least temporarily, "go with the flow."

I've always had a problem with this. I thought (and God only knows where I picked this up from!) that I was supposed to form ideas and opinions and, God help me and come what may, dammit, I was to hang onto them, right to the bitter end.

I used to refer to these thoughts and attitudes as "Ron's Rigid Rules." I guess I thought that because Holy Mother Church had rigid rules, it was okay for me to have them, too!

I can't begin to tell you the untold pain having all these "rigid rules" caused me over the decades. For example, Rigid Rule Number One was: "Never let anyone get too close to you because THEY'LL ONLY WIND UP HURTING YOU!" That was a good one. It prevented me, time and again, from telling people I genuinely had feelings for that I cared for them. I wonder, now, just how much happiness I let slip through my fingers over the decades because I was constitutionally incapable of bending the rules a little and taking a chance, by simply telling someone "I love you." GASP! What can of horrors would that have opened???!!! I can only imagine!!!

Rigid Rule Number Two was "Never Forgive, never Get Over." Or, as I've sometimes heard it called in 12-Step meetings, "Irish Alztheimer's - Forget Everything Except Your Resentments!" I carried grudges around since childhood and took them out and nursed them and showed them off to anybody who was stupid enough to sit still and listen to my self-pitying crap. "Oh, let me tell you about my horrible [childhood / 5th Grade Nun / botched dentistry in the Navy] / whatever..." Moving on was not a concept I'd learned at mommy's knee.

When, by sheer accident, I did find myself in relationships, despite my best efforts to the contrary, setting boundaries, telling the other person what I needed (and what I didn't need) and, well, striving to be a PARTNER in a relationship as opposed to being a needy child and/or doormat, things got even worse. I don't know what I expected, but it was probably for somebody to intuitively understand my every need and want WITH NO EXPLANATION FROM ME (they should be a mindreader and fortuneteller) AND to fulfill my every expectation.

In other words, Mommy.

It's said that an alcoholic is somebody who wants to be cradled, cuddled and cooed over... while they isolate and give nothing in return, which also happens to be the description of an infant.

Today I'm working on trying to grow up by trying to tell people what I want and need.

Today, I want a paycheck (and the payroll lady is here now! HOW'S THAT FOR SERVICE??)

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