Grinch

I’m not feeling the holidays. I bought Michael Buble’s Christmas CD when it came out far too early in the season, but after a few spins, I changed it out in favor of switching back and forth between Miranda’s Four the Record and Miranda’s girl group’s – Pistol Annies – debut Hell on Heels. Both snuck by my spending fast and may or may not be the best decisions I’ve made since, um, getting a dog probably. They’re delicious, but definitely not Christmasy.

I borrowed one of my favorite Christmas decorations from my parents’ house and attached my GOTR ornament to it. I took the orange flowers off my fall wreath, leaving only the red with white, green and purple accents, thus making it a Christmas wreath. I’ve done some Christmas baking and some Christmas shopping, but overwhelmingly, I’ve over it. Under it? Not anywhere near it? Whatever.

FFF is truly forced this year.  I’ll see them, but my sis and BIL are leaving for the actual holiday and my mom’s pressuring me to spend the whole weekend at my parents’ place, like with just her, my dad and his mom.  I live a safe distance away to guard against them just popping in, but the distance is on the cusp of far enough away that overnights kind of make sense.  

I don’t want to upset my mom, but this is the year I got real and I’m not going to give that up for the sake of the holiday.  I wouldn’t care too much if it was just like any other Sunday.

One thing that is making me overwhelmingly happy this time of year is that Christmas turns into a high school reunion of sorts.  My girlfriends who are off being über smart and successful at grad school are back and I’ve seen them a few times so far with more things planned.  They’re the friends who you can see after years and fall right back in with.

The Great Alaskan Debate

My sister is all about the forced family fun – a term I used to use with affection, but in reading old posts, I see how sadly my feelings toward my family have really shifted in the last year. She’s a planner and a bit of a demander and likes to tell people what to do and currently, she is telling the family that we all need to go on an Alaskan cruise next summer.

Not in a “hey, let’s come up with a cool vacay and convince the parents to pay” kind of way; we’re all adults, so it’s more about everyone making the decision to go and paying their own way. Sis and my new BIL decided they want to go and they want it to be a big family event with both sides attending. 

Coming off of hijacking Christmas last year and their wedding “year,” it’s no doubt they expect everyone to go along with whatever they say.  They will continue their reign until someone stands up to them.

So, the thing is…well, there are many things.

I held her off long enough by saying I might have to pay for some major home repairs I was recently dealing with, but fortunately the HOA covered it. So, I just got an email asking since they took care of it, am I going to go?

My next response is that I kind of want my 2012 vacation to be a friend vacation and she made it pretty clear that I was just her sister, not her friend. I don’t think it’s the right time to snarkily bring up the fact that I’m upset about her choice of MOH, and although it’s on my mind and I want to say it to her, it’d be nice to NOT alienate the WHOLE family before the holidays.  But, with everything that’s going on with my family (still annoyingly and hurtfully unresolved), why would I want to be trapped on a boat with them? 

I’ve never been on a cruise before and, honestly, another reason is that I want my first cruise to be what you think of when you think of a cruise…bikinis and fruity drinks and lots of sex with the hot boyfriend you’re with and what not.

Let’s see, what else…the money really is an issue and even though I don’t have to shell out thousands on my house, I’m not feeling financially cushy right now. She (plus the other bride) dictated my savings funds last year and I haven’t established any savings funds/goals for next year. A travel fund would probably be at the top of the list, but I’m thinking international (sorry, Canada, not like that) or a big city or my most recent brilliant idea is surf + yoga in South Carolina.

I also have on good authority that a friend is getting engaged this New Year’s…a friend who lives in another state again and who I most likely wouldn’t have in my party, but who talks constantly about me being in hers.  Joy.  I know in theory that it’s maybe okay to say no to being in someone’s wedding party, but I don’t know that I’d ever actually do that.

Also, I’m 27 and I don’t necesarily want to go on vacation with my family when I feel fifth-wheely.  It makes me feel lonely and currently, it reminds me that my sister’s wedding and my father’s behavior were catalysts for why I’m lonely right now. 

The original idea was for me to room with my 88-year-old grandmother, but she doesn’t want to go, so now I would get to room with the best man from their wedding, who probably won’t go if he has to pay double occupancy for just himself.  So, now I just feel like a means to get him to go. 

Anyway, I guess the only reason stopping me from being like, “hell no” is that I don’t want to miss out.  What if when they come back and talk all about their experiences, I feel sad that I wasn’t a part of them?

It would be a neat trip, but is it at the top of my list of things to do and see and experience?  No.  I’d never considered it until she brought it up.  Coincidentally, my parents had been thinking of going on an Alaskan cruise in Septemberish next year…of course Sis and BIL won that war of going in the early summer instead.

Does that outweigh all the other emotions I have about not wanting to go?  Do you still enjoy talking family vacations as an adult?  Have you been on an Alaskan cruise and think I should absolutely do it?  Or do you want to hang out with me in South Carolina and learn to surf next summer?!

I’m sorry, am I making you uncomfortable?

I mean…I’m sorry I’m not sorry.

Part of the Girls on the Run curriculum is a lesson about emotions and how they are not good or bad, but some – like excitement and happiness – are more comfortable, and some – like jealousy and loneliness – are more uncomfortable to feel.

I really like that. Since I learned it as a sophomore in college, I’ve been a big proponent of “feel your feelings” and this adds a new step to it…to acknowledge that feelings are not always comfortable, but that they’re okay.

As uncomfortable as they are to feel, sometimes they’re even more uncomfortable to express, but I’m getting better at that and this weekend I tried. A few times.  To family members and a friend.  I told them I was lonely, I told them I was unhappy.  And I kind of got ignored.  I guess my uncomfortable emotions make other people uncomfortable too?

While there’s a lot of talk of how blogging can place a lot of pressure to be happy and perfect and wonderful all the time, I think blogging has a lot to do with my increasing ability to be real.  Granted, I keep two blogs, this naked one and one more public and perhaps more shiny and happy, but I’m saying what I need to say in so many spaces in my life and I think it’s because I’m now used to just laying it all out there.

Or I’m getting old and I just don’t give a fuck anymore.  One of the two.

With the exception of me attempting to discuss my feelings (ew), my family was very comfortable on Sunday. My mom forced a dinner and I had to talk myself into it all week long.  They all were pretending like nothing had gone wrong, like nothing was wrong and everything was back to “normal.”  Funny the way family totally redefines that word.

I took the pup, so he was a big focus, but since it was the first get-together since my sister and her husband returned from their honeymoon, there was recap wedding talk. Just when I thought it was over.  Everyone ignored the fact that it’s not a happy memory for me.

I bit my tongue when snarky comments wanted to come out, respecting that my dad hadn’t wanted to discuss the issues in front of my mom before and with the way everyone was acting, I knew no one else wanted the faux-happy Sunday to be brought down either.

My dad asked me questions about the dog and I answered politely, but didn’t really feel the need to say goodbye to him when I left.  Then the pup slept all the way home while I cried.  I’m so hurt that my family could just ignore the situation.  I don’t want to harp on it, I don’t want to talk about it all the time, but literally there’s been no resolve and everyone else is okay with that.

So, yesterday, I wrote down everything I wanted to say to my dad – essentially that I’m offended that he hasn’t taken responsibility for his actions thus far and I’m hurt that he’s been treating me poorly for a while now.

So, then I was faced with the question…did I write it for therapeutic reasons or did I write it to send it?  I felt better after I wrote it, but I realized I felt better knowing that my dad would read it and truly know how I feel about everything.

So I clicked send.  I’m glad he didn’t fire off something back, but now I’m reaching the “how long do I wait until I take his silence as acceptance of my statement that I don’t need a forced, circumstantial relationship if he doesn’t want to get real and be involved in my life?” point.

After I sent it, I felt a little apprehension.  Nervousness that I traded his comfort for my own.  He was settling back into a comfort zone when I saw him on Sunday, assuming things were swept under the rug.  But, I was quite uncomfortable and it’s not fair for me to hold it all in. My family might be number two (although I’m not sure that’s a position they deserve right now), but I’ve got to look out for number one and I’m going to keep talking about my feelings until someone listens, darn it!

Oh yeah, and sorry I’m not sorry for the emo brain dump you just read.

The Talk(s)

Lucky and I had coffee on Sunday. It was wonderful to see him again and sit across from him in the sunshine and talk about the little things you talk about as a couple.  It’s only been a week, but we skipped a lot of the texts and emails and phone calls that start with, “I saw/heard/thought this and it made me think of you,” or “this is going on in my life and you’re my person I want to tell.”

I think when you’re going through a break up or a break, it’s easy to miss those things because you’re used to them or it’s easy to be disappointed about the time you put into the relationship and upset that you have to now face going back into the dating game and exposing yourself and getting to know someone from the bottom up all over again.  I’ve been guilty of that myself, but as I drove to the coffee shop – set up with a simple text of “coffee?  meet you there at 10:30?” because we have a shop that’s “ours” as cutesy and annoying as that is – I realized it’s not that this time.  I missed him.  I guess I shouldn’t be surprised.  I’m a little ruthless when it comes to dating and he’s lasted as long as he has because he’s special and he’s important to me.

It led to me wanting to talk to my dad again and get to the bottom of some of the issues. So, last night, my dad and I sat awkwardly in the courtyard of some shopping center near me and tried to have a talk.

I wanted to talk, but he kind of just wanted to apologize and say he can’t change anything and say that we’ll see where it goes from here.  I had no ideal in my mind of how I wanted things to go, but I did want it to be more of a conversation and I was disappointed that it wasn’t.  I know we can’t change the past, but we can talk about what happened to avoid it in the future.  I’m sick of not talking about things in the family, but he’s been that way for 61 years and I guess it’s not going to change.

Either way, I did the best I could and gathered more information and now can move forward with it. I know it was very uncomfortable for my dad to sit there and have that conversation with me.  No one has ever really called him on his bullshit, especially not his own daughter, but he handled it okay.

So, lots of talks in the last couple days and I feel much better that we’re not just sitting on the issues or sweeping them under the rug.

Action may not always bring happiness; but there is no happiness without action. – Benjamin Disraeli

Apology PSA

Call me a politician, call me a PR-spinner, but there are a few things I’ve learned to delicately say over the years.

You don’t tell a woman she looks beautiful (it implies that whatever she did on that particular night, like if she’s just dressed up for a special event, it’s temporary), you tell her she is beautiful.  Same goes for a handsome gentleman friend.

If you’re not sure if you’ve met someone before, you tell them it’s great to see them (not meet them, not see them again).

If you apologize, apologize, don’t apologize that someone feels a certain way.  They’re allowed to feel their feelings.  Apologize that you made them feel that way, apologize for your actions or words or whatever the case may be.

Even though “I’m sorry,” sounds like an apology, when it’s followed with “you feel that way,” it’s more like a slap in the face.

Backing up, my family is not confrontational.  We don’t talk about things, we wait for them to disappear.  My dad gets away with the worst behavior simply because the women in my family allow it.  This issue was important enough to me that I couldn’t sit on it. He needed to be called on his shit, so I went to dinner at their house on Tuesday with the last of my family that is still in town from the wedding (and I waited until after they went back to their hotel).

I had my whole spiel, I felt strong, but when the time came, my heart was racing and half a sentence in, I was crying, but I was getting the words out and the short spiel turned into everything else I wanted to tell him about how hurt I was.

His reaction was not surprise or anger or regret or anything really.  With no emotion, he apologized that I felt that way.

I didn’t tell him he won, I just said what I needed to say and then went outside to talk to my mom a bit before I left.  She kept trying to figure out how she could fix it.  She took on a bit of blame because she knows she’s let him get away with his misbehavior for too long. I’ve been telling her it’s not her charge to fix it ever since.

The next morning (Wednesday now), I got an email from my dad with a more legitimate apology, another lame excuse and a request that if there is anything he can do to let him know.

Honestly, I’m not sure why it’s my responsibility to teach a 61-year-old man how to behave when he’s wronged somebody.  He supposedly raised me and I learned it, but now I need to tell him?  It wouldn’t mean anything if it was prompted and as more and more days go by, it will mean less and less if he actually gets around to it.

Emotionally-fueled, word vomit posts kind of bug me and I usually click away, but  I needed to get it out so thank you if you’re still around.  And if you are, let me know what you would do please!  How does your family handle conflict?  Are there things you’ve learned to spin when you say them?

If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all?

Quick recap:  My sister is getting married next month.  In the year that she’s been engaged, she has become a self-consumed bridezilla.  My parents are also eating, sleeping and breathing the wedding.  I’ve been avoiding the fam because I’m over it.  I’m over it because she’s a self-consumed bridezilla, there are more important things in life and my feelings are hurt because she asked her best friend to be her maid of honor over me (I’m a bridesmaid).  Got it?  Good.  Moving on.

Yesterday, I got an email (an email?!) from my sister asking if I would be willing to/comfortable/okay with giving a toast at the blessed event. I sat on it for a while because, well, that’s a duty for the maid of honor.  She even mentioned in the email that the best man was giving the other toast. 

Finally, I responded that I had believed I was off the hook for the speech, but if the MOH had declined, I’d be fine to give one. 

She responded that the MOH would be okay to give one or not, but her preference was that I give the toast. Well…maybe she should have thought of that when she was selecting her attendants.

I said fine.  I’m not sure I meant it.  Obviously, she’s not my favorite person right now.  I’m concerned I won’t have anything heartfelt to say. 

I’m concerned the uncomfortable emotions I’ve been feeling toward her and my family and the event will be overwhelming on the big day.  I am already embarrassed that I’m standing up as a bridesmaid and I’m concerned I’m going to feel embarrassed getting up to speak for my sister who didn’t want me to be her MOH.

On the flip side, I’m concerned if I DON’T do it, I’ll regret missing the once-in-a-lifetime (?) opportunity to toast my sister on her wedding day.

She asked because the venue needed to know, so I feel like it’s a time-sensitive issue (because heaven forbid you ask the DJ to change the announcement with anything less than two weeks notice), but I can’t figure out the right answer.  If I change my mind, I imagine she’ll be more upset about the fact that I’m messing up the plans than concerned that I’m hurting.  Maybe that’s enough to decide right there.

What would you do?

Priorities

Lucky and I had a talk about priorities last night. It wasn’t a great talk, but it was an important talk. It was a “good for you, bad for us” talk. Basically I want more than he can give right now and he knows that and doesn’t want to disappoint me, so we’re…well, who knows what we’re doing? We’re going to make it up as we go I guess.

He’s entwined in my life in many different ways right now, so we’re definitely entering a learning phase of this relationship.

While his priorities are elsewhere, mine are too. For the next month or so, my priorities are:

  • Closing on my condo, moving and decorating.  Remember when I mentioned that Lucky is my realtor? Yeah, entwined.
  • Tanning. I got a good base at the beginning of the summer, but since then, Arizona broke some kind of heat record so going outside wasn’t really an option, let alone LAYING around outside. It’s cooling down (low 100s!) and with a few weekends left until my sister’s wedding – and my new, darker hair that’s giving me a Snow White complex – I would like to build that tan back up.
  • Getting skinny(er). Okay, so my goals for the wedding are to be skinnier and more tan than my sister. There, I said it.  One of us gets to be the married sister and one of us gets to be the hot sister.  Both goals are pretty much slam dunks at this point since she stayed in her I’m-in-a-happy-relationship-so-it-doesn’t-matter-what-I-look-like frame of mind and never achieved full bridezillaness with any crash diets or crazy workouts.  If anything, she might go fake-bake and we would have an orange situation on our hands, but that would just be funny.  
  • Avoiding wedding talk. T-minus 37 days.  Can it just be over already?  It really is at a critical level at this point and I have had about enough. My feelings were legitimately hurt when I went to brunch at my parents’ house this weekend and my future bro-in-law was the only one to actually ask me anything about what is going on in my life. He’s my new favorite. I usually feel guilt when I avoid FFF, but I feel worse when I have to listen to them talk about that shit for hours. Luckily, my move gives me a nice excuse to stay on my side of town (if they ever thought to ask anyway).
  • Reading. I need a good, distracting book to lose myself in. I just finished one and am going to the library today for my next few victims.
  • Catching up with my favorite TV shows when they return for the fall season and scope out some of the new stuff that is, thank goodness, not reality TV!
  • Avoiding exes. I think I successfully offended #2 when I congratulated him on achieving the lifestyle he always wanted to rub my face in (yes, he literally said that to me once), but letting him know I was still unimpressed without mentioning new boyfriend’s(?) lifestyle and all the cool things I’ve got going on (not that he asked either…good thing I’ve got my blog, I’d have no outlet to talk about myself incessantly otherwise). See ya!

I promise there’s some legit shit going on as well, my life is actually fulfilling with a small part devoted to this fluff, but I save that for my other blog.  For you?  I let it all hang out.  Gosh, you’re welcome 😉

Time is on my side.

My sister’s bridal shower is this afternoon and mostly, I can’t believe it’s here.  One thing (among many) that has bugged me about my sister’s upcoming wedding is the fact that she had such a long engagement. In all honesty, it was probably pretty average. They have been engaged for a yearish and their wedding is next month (“41 days,” she would gleefully pipe in here), so 14 months altogether.

I know there are plenty of people who do the multi-year engagements and I apologize if that’s you and I know everyone has their own reasoning for such things, but I don’t get it. I worked in the events industry for about two years and know first hand it doesn’t take that long to plan a wedding.

I also know first hand that a long engagement drives the people around you crazy. Even my mom, who is thrilled to be a MOB and has seemed to delight in the process thus far, said recently that my sis was in super wedding mode and that’s all she talks about or something to that effect. This confused me because my mom said it like it was a recent development.  Maybe she hasn’t been paying attention for the last year?

This incessant wedding talk and her perception that she is the most important person in the room at all times and her wedding is on everyone’s mind constantly might be why I am bothered by the long engagement, it might also be because it’s not how I would do it and obviously my way is right and much better.

In fact, just this morning, I decided I’m totally eloping or something very similar.  Yep, I said it here first, so mark my words.  No need for the fuss, the ridiculous cost or the hushed drama of a big production.  When I get hitched, I just want to get hitched.

I have also considered that the long, drawn out engagement bugs me because I am actually excited about it as well and would like for it to be here because it will be a fun event. The thing is, though, that when they picked their date last year, I thought it sounded so far away, yet now it seems so close.

With the shower, the bachelorette party, rehearsal, rehearsal dinner and actual wedding all hurdling toward me, I’ve realized that events that seem so far in the future will arrive regardless of how I spend the interim.  The time passes if I spend it enjoying the moments just as it will pass if I wish away those moments for events or milestones.

It’s truly not that I’m so unhappy in the present, it’s just that my mind is always thinking ahead to what’s next and I know I miss out.  The big picture in the future is built by the small pictures right now anyway, right?

Like the inability to recognize freedom of choice, I’m good at noticing this fatal error in other people, but not controlling it in myself.  A friend recently posted to Facebook that she wished it was two weeks from now so she would be a flight to Europe.  I’m not great friends with her, so I didn’t feel comfortable replying, but I would have loved to tell her that, yeah, Europe is great, but so are all the little moments that she will experience in the next 14 days before she leaves.

I didn’t tell her, but I’ll tell myself.  In the next 41 days before my family from the midwest descends on beautiful Arizona, before I don a terrible dress, but adorable shoes, before Lucky twirls me around the dance floor, I will be enjoying (and reminding myself to enjoy when needed) the in-between.

Timelines

Let it be noted that Saturday was the official day that my mom expressed that her biological (grandma) clock is ticking.

It was a birthday dinner for both my future bro-in-law and me. Sis and FBIL were discussing how his sister is eager for them to have kids since she just had her first and she wants the baby to have a close-in-age (hopefully girl) cousin. They said they will have one in about a year at the very earliest because they’re basically gonna start trying two months after the wedding.

Mom: “I’m just happy you’re talking about having kids so soon.” And there it was.

In all honesty, talking babies two months after being married seems crazy to me, but it works for them (and apparently for my mother as well).  Timelines are so personal and I don’t think we should look at or judge others’ nor do I think others should look at or judge mine, but perhaps that’s the bigger concern about them…that other people will judge. 

Like weddings and babies, everyone thinks they did/will do it right.  And they did/will…if they do what’s right for them.

So you know what?  F “other people.” I’m looking to, in fact, live my life…as I was meant to, as I want to, as it happens.

As it happens is a big one for me. I’m a planner and think ahead quite a bit and I’m not sure how to change that, but I’m trying. It’s hard not to think in terms of timelines – timelines as I always thought they’d be, timelines as compared to others’ – but I’m working on being grateful for the now. 

So, where does my mom’s revelation + my desire to do what’s right for me leave me?  Yes, it’s nice being the younger sister; the weight for getting married and having babies is a little lifted, but I still feel it. 

My girl Oprah says:

God can dream a bigger dream for you than you could ever dream for yourself.

The timeline I’m meant to have and the NOW that happens in it is better than the timeline I spend so much time and energy trying to control and it’s better than the timeline that family pressure tries to impose.  Letting that roll off my back and giving up a little control is good.  Repeat.

Quotes like that seem to make their way into my life when I need them. Sometimes through blogs, movies or yoga instructors. I think on them, I write them down, I go back and connect the dots.

Today I collected my thoughts and created one of my own. It’s a good thing I’m not famous because this is probably not cohesive, let alone helpful, but it’s what I’m focusing on today:

If you want to do something, then really do it. In the moment, without what might have beens or what might bes.

I think that the life that comes from that will be better than any timeline.

I may be single, but at least I’m not a bitch.

At family lunch the other day, the topic of the boy came up. I play my cards close to the chest when I’m really in like with someone (obviously), but I was ready to start telling my fam a little more about him.

That is until my sister, who I haven’t seen in a few weeks, maybe a month, upon first hearing about this man blurted out, “Is he going to stick around?”

Now, my family’s got jokes.  We laugh all the time when we’re together and sometimes it’s at each other or ourselves. I tease her about plenty of things. Heck, I tease myself with self-deprecating humor about my dating life. But, that stung and as I’ve thought about it since, it stings more and more.

It wasn’t, “Is he nice? Does he treat you well? Do you like him?”  It was – to my ears anyway – “So, when are you going to run THIS one off?”

I get it sis, you’re lucky in love, you’re happily marrying your forever in three months and I’ll be standing behind your friend who you chose to be your MOH over me, and you assume I won’t have a date in crowd or if I do, it will be a pity date, but maybe you could try to be a little more supportive and encouraging.  It’s been a while, but you’ve been here too.  How quickly you forget.

And even though she didn’t ask, yes, he’s nice, yes, he treats me well and yes, I like him. I’m not psychic, but I hope he sticks around, which means I may wait on the family intro just in case “bitchy sister” is a deal-breaker for him.