Sunday, November 4, 2012

A Hippo Finds Enlightenment

I have been stumbling toward a new revelation recently, and I feel that, once fully formed, it could affect my life in numerous and powerful ways.  So, on the off chance that I am actually right about this, I felt inclined to share it with all of you.

However, since this revelation is NOT fully formed just yet (the details just haven't been fully fleshed out. . . I gave it to my secretary, and what can I say?  She has TOTALLY dropped the ball. . .), and since I sometimes have trouble articulating hazy half-thoughts, I've decided to write this post in the form of a dialogue.

Between myself and my inner therapist.

Aaaaand. . . begin:

Inner Therapist:  Hello, Danielle.  It's a pleasure to see you again.

Myself:  . . . I believe that I've told you on SEVERAL occasions that I prefer to be called "Dani."

Inner Therapist:  Of course, of course.  My mistake.  It's right here in my notes.  So.  How have you been?

Myself:  Frankly I've been a little discouraged that my therapist can't remember the correct name to call me. . .

Inner Therapist:  . . . Do you remember that phrase for the technique we've decided to employ?  "Moving past it"?  Do you think you could do that now?  So that we could get on with the session?

Myself:  Yes.  Yes, I believe I could do that.  I AM willing to be the bigger person here. . .

Inner Therapist:  (Completely not rising to the bait.  Such a stick in the mud.)  So let's begin again.  How have you been?

Myself:  Ummm. . . okay, I guess.

Inner Therapist:  Just okay?  What's been going on?

Myself:  Nothing. . . I've just been. . . having some issues. With some relationships in my life.

Inner Therapist:  So. . . why did you hesitate?

Myself:  Because it's not something that I've really discussed with any of the people I've been having issues with. . . so I guess that means the issues are kind of only with me.

Inner Therapist:  So that would make these. . . "your" issues?

Myself:  I guess so.  Yes.

Inner Therapist:  So what kinds of problems have you been having?

Myself:  I don't know. . . just. . . different things.

Inner Therapist:  You know it really is like trying to pull teeth to get information out of you, don't you?

Myself:  Sorry.  It's just that. . . well I painted this picture, and I put it on facebook. . . and then I realized that I'd done this several times and. . . and my mom had never said she liked them.  So. . . I guess it was just a strange thing to realize that I'm 36 years old, and I'm still waiting on my mother to tell me that she likes a picture I drew. . .

Inner Therapist:  Did she eventually say she liked it?

Myself:  Yeah.  She did.

Inner Therapist:  So what's the problem?

Myself:  . . .I don't know.  It's just. . . I didn't know that I was still unconsciously seeking her approval for certain things, I guess.  Not everything, mind you.  Not even CLOSE.  . . .but some things. . . yeah.  I guess I am.

Inner Therapist:  And what else?

Myself:  Well. . . my husband.  I feel. . . I don't know.  "Taken for granted" is really too strong a phrase for how I feel.  I guess I just don't feel. . . important.

Inner Therapist:  But you know that you ARE, correct?

Myself:  I guess so.  I know he loves me.  I know he would never cheat on me.  It's just that sometimes I feel like. . . as weird as it sounds, a "burden."  Like he'd be happier without me.

Inner Therapist:  So have you realized yet that these are both essentially the same problem?

Myself:  . . . How do you mean?

Inner Therapist:  You are reacting in an overly-sensitive way to the fact that you don't feel like you are getting enough approval, or praise, from these two people.  Presumably, the two most important people in your life. . . aside from your son, who isn't old enough yet to give either.  . . .And when he IS old enough. . . do you really want your own happiness to rest on his slender little shoulders?

Myself:  No!  Of course not!  That's not his responsibility!  I would NEVER want to lay all of that on him.

Inner Therapist:  Then why are you doing that to your mother and your husband?

Myself:  Because I. . . I don't feel like. . . I don't want our relationships to BE like this.  Where I feel "less-than."  I'm sick of it!

Inner Therapist:  Fair enough.  So would you like to know what I think?

Myself:  As long as you drop the snotty little tone in your voice. . .

Inner Therapist:  (Ignoring me, yet again.)  I think you need to stop expecting perfection.

Myself:  I DON'T expect perfection!  I don't!  You obviously know no---

Inner Therapist:  Let me finish, please.

Myself:  (sulkily) . . . proceed.

Inner Therapist:  You need to stop expecting the people in your life to be perfect.  You need to stop expecting to have the "perfect" relationship with them.  Or with anyone else!  Because there's no such thing.  If someone doesn't give you enough praise, if someone else doesn't make you feel as important as you'd like, then you need to figure out:  Is this relationship worth keeping?  And if it IS, then you're just going to have to be a grown-up, and ACCEPT the limitations of this relationship, and EVERY relationship, and just take whatever GOOD from it that you can.

An easy way to think about it is this:  Let's say you are a hippo. 

Myself:  How about let's NOT.

Inner Therapist:  Okay---FINE.  How about a goose?  Can your ego handle your being an imaginary goose?

Myself:  I believe so, yes.  I believe I would SO make an awesome goose.  I've always felt this way.  Please continue.

Inner Therapist:  Thank you.  So you're a goose.  Maybe your husband is a squirrel.  And your mother is. . . let's say. . . a velociraptor.

Myself:  (I smile.  Because that is funny.)

Inner Therapist:  You cannot expect EITHER of them to be a goose, simply because YOU are.  By doing so, you aren't being fair to them, and you are in fact cheating yourself.  You're cheating yourself out of all the wonderful things that could happen in a relationship that might be unique to a squirrel and a velociraptor. . .  So you need to just ACCEPT that your mother is a velociraptor.  And ACCEPT that your husband is a squirrel.  And appreciate all the joy and beauty that comes with each one.


And in the meantime, if you DON'T feel like you're getting enough recognition, or enough love, or enough appreciation in your life. . . then TAKE RESPONSIBILITY FOR THAT.  You can always have all the love and acceptance you want in your life. . . simply by giving it away.

And just as you wouldn't expect your own child to take responsibility for your happiness, neither should you expect anyone ELSE to, either.

So. . . what do you think?

Myself:  . . .I think you just blew my fucking mind.

Inner Therapist:  Let's hope not---I live there.

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