Sunday, February 2, 2014

"Hay, nino!"

“I get knocked, down but I get up again
You're never gonna keep me down…”

Chumbawumba – Tubthumping

“Pack it up, pack it in
Let me begin
I came to win…”

House of Pain – Jump Around

"Don't worry, baby
Everything will turn out alright."

Beach Boys -  Don't Worry, Baby

“Hay, nino!”  
             That’s an expression I learned from my Mexican students when I made a mistake or did or said something foolish or silly.  (Nino is pronounced "NIN yo.")  There’s no direct translation, but it means in a loving and gentle way, “Silly boy!” or “Good grief, child!”  It’s usually said with a smile and with an affectionate laugh.  I’m hoping today will end with an “Hay, nino!”  More important, I’m hoping that I won’t repeat the mistakes of the past. 
I do tend to repeat mistakes.  I tend to do things that are at best silly, harmless or funny and, at worst, hurtful to others.  As I said in a previous blog, I don’t do these things intentionally, but I do them nonetheless.  Fortunately, I don’t do them all the time.  However, I have patterns of certain behaviors and, worse, patterns of thought that are very destructive.
The thought pattern to which I refer here is giving into fear.  This is how it goes:
1.     I have a problem with someone I love.
2.     I get scared.
3.     My mind tells me that I have permanently destroyed the relationship and that my friend will never talk to me again.
4.     I begin crying.
5.     My mind can’t focus on anything else.
6.     I call someone for prayer or I tap on it or I write.
7.     Sometimes I feel 100% and other times I feel 90% better, but there’s often still a residue of fear.
8.     The person with whom I had a problem lets me know that the problem wasn’t as big as I thought it was.
9.     I feel relieved and foolish.

I feel foolish because I needlessly dragged myself through an emotional maelstrom and because this has happened repeatedly throughout my life.  
I was sure that even the slightest conflict in a relationship meant that the relationship was officially over.  Incidentally, this refers to any problem I’ve had with anyone.  Last week, I thought one of my daughters would never speak to me again.  I thought for months that a friendship of 20 years was over.  I’ve been sure so many times that someone was mad at me and it turned out that person wasn’t even thinking about me.
Yesterday it happened again. 
And I got tired of it. 
I got tired of my pattern.
Maturity and wisdom do not come automatically with age or even with experience.  Maturity and wisdom can only be earned by a change in behavior.   That’s it.  That’s how it works.  Always.  I rarely use words like “always” but this time it applies.  If I want to be mature and wise, if I want to be a light to others, if I want to be a positive force in the world, if I want to grow up, I have to do things differently.  I cannot repeat the same patterns.
So today I have made some decisions.  I am not going to focus on my fears.  Fear is never going to keep my down.  I’m not going to fight them, nor am I going to surrender to them.  Instead, I’m walking away.  I have things to do today.  I’m going to do them.  I have things to do in my life.  I’m going to do them. 
There’s a house by the beach that is waiting for me.  I have writing to do and books to read and birthdays to celebrate and things to clean and organize.  I have books I need to publish.  I have money I need to make and save. 
Action is the antidote to despair.  It is the antidote to many things.
My constant emotional neediness exhausts me.  I’m just tired of it.  I’m tired of how it sucks out all my energy.  If the very worst happened and a friendship or a relationship ended, I would not die.  I would not spend the rest of my life crying and being unhappy.  I would move on. 
I have had relationships end.  And I’ve survived.  A couple of months ago a good friend died unexpectedly.  She was younger than me so this was quite a shock.  Yesterday while going through old text messages, I found one from her.  I felt a surge of sadness and loss.  I stayed with it for a while and grieved her passing.  Then I moved on to other things. 
My best friend died when he was 18.  More than ten years later when I would visit the parents, his room was left untouched.  I don’t know what it’s like to lose a child, but my judgment was that the parents were not able to move on to other things. 
I need to move on to other things.  Nobody has died.  I’m 99% certain that everything will be fine. Actually, I’m 100% that everything will be fine.  But even if it isn’t, it will be.
I am ready to Get Started and to Keep Going...  and I’m ready to hear, “Hay, nino!”  More importantly, I’m ready to say it to myself.