A note from Anne Lamott........

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by recoveringenabler, Jun 27, 2016.

  1. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I'm a fan of the writer Anne Lamott. This is from her FB page, often there are humorous pearls of wisdom to be found there........

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    I thought of a great title for a book: What I Think You Should Do: The Road to Happiness.
    Perhaps you think this makes me sound a little controlling. Hah! Nothing could be farther from the truth. It's just that I have some good ideas on how everyone could change and proceed, in order for things to make more sense, and for everyone to have better self esteem. And for me to be able to relax and savor this life.
    The chapters would rang from which medications I believe certain family members ought to be taking, and how to convince them to start taking them, to ways Britain can get out of leaving the EU.
    Also, how to help other drivers come around to Good Neighbor Driving.
    Now, it has been suggested that I and people of my ilky ilk have a disease of good ideas. This is very rude, not to mention hurtful. It is just that left to my own devices, I truly believe that if you give me the details of your life, I have some solutions for you, a path on which you and your awful children and tragic parents can finally begin to thrive.
    I come by this honestly. By the age of five or six, in a household with an elegant, erudite form of alcoholism, black belt co-dependence, extreme and unmeetable standards, a Potemkin marriage, huge secrets, and adorable, stunned, high-achieving and very tense children, I was expected to help keep the family afloat.
    So I did, or at any rate, I tried. I had a caseload--I was mom's husband, dad's wife, the dog's psychiatrist. I raised my younger brother for them, Although it took every ounce of focus and life force, I was glad to do it. Plus it made everyone like me more.
    I believe I was issued a clipboard at six, on which to keep track of my caseload's progress and setbacks. It was a tiny bit stressful for a fifty pound person with migraines, but I was up to the challenge.
    --I agreed not to not see what was going on, as seeing their weird self-destructive behavior made mom and dad unhappy. I got good at keep secrets. I fluffed them up when they were down.
    --I became addicted to people pleasing, and to burnishing the surface of things in my family so that we would look fabulous from the outside. I became addicted to other people's potential.
    -- I tried very hard not to have any needs or unattractive emotions, as these got me sent away from the dinner table without eating, which I am sure had nothing to do with lifelong eating disorders.
    --As the child of an Englishwoman, I developed certain Monty Python survival skills and tics, such as pathological denial, and the conviction that I am right, and entitled to a refund, even when the parrot has died in my care.
    So by six, in charge of saving and fixing and burnishing up the family, and--as a sideline--the world-- I started to come up with good ideas for other people. I did not hear until I was forty that everyone gets to have their own emotional acre, and do with it as they choose, as they are guided, to spend the days of this one short precious life with which we have been gifted.
    I thought that I could--and must-- help you with your acre, if it was cluttered or barren, chaotic or lonely. Unless you sat at the gate like Granny Clampett, with a rifle across your lap, I would barge onto your acre, and begin my work. No one mentioned that I was only the steward of my own acre, that it was absolutely all I could maintain. And that perhaps it needed some psychic potting soil, and a watering system; and that contrary to what my parents and teachers had taught me, I did not need to grow perfect, alphabetized rows of salad vegetables, or a festive English garden on which I might hold teas and clinics. I could grow what I longed for; for what fed ME.
    No one mentioned until I was in late middle age that--horribly!--my good, helpful ideas for other grown-ups were not helpful. That my help was in fact sometimes toxic. That people needed to defend themselves from my passionate belief that I had good ideas for other people's lives.
    I did not know that help is the sunny side of control.
    Maybe I kind of "knew" that it was not helpful to run beside a grown child on his or her hero's journey, panting, with a juice box, meditation tapes, and some sunscreen. Who can argue with sunscreen, for Pete's sake?
    But now I know that it is defeating and abusive to try and get people to do what I are sure would help them. And this is why I am offering you the great title I thought up, and the clipboard. Please, someone, take them. Because just for today, I'm going to stay on my own acre, even as I venture out for a hike with friends, and then church; even as I donate to great causes, and pick up litter. There is much healing and restoration to be done right here within my own perimeter. It's a harsh, extremely bizarre world these days, and you know what? I could use some sunscreen and a juice box, not to mention some odd, wild, and rich, touching love. Mine. Today.

    Anne Lamott
     
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  2. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    I loved this RE.

    It is so true it breaks my heart.
     
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