Fireside Chats

I have a major internal grip. It’s a clutch that is grasping so desperately that the only logical next move is for It to let go.  We’ll call It, Josie.  So, the last thing that Josie wants to do is ease up. The minute that she feels any slip of easing control or uncertainty of any kind, she goes into emergency tree hold like a toddler koala bearing its mother’s leg. The difference here is that every single aspect of myself is wrapped up into her. It’s not just fear of abandonment or fear of failure (or success, for that matter) or fear of embarrassment or fear of exposure. It’s all of that, and then some rolled up into a complex ball. On good days, it’s the size of a golf ball. On bad days it’s a professionally packed snowball that flies down a snowy hill growing exponentially in size and picking up reckless speed. It’s not intentional. She doesn’t mean to project a threatening presence. Her aim isn’t to take out anyone who dare steps in her way. In fact, her target is always one person. Only one person. Me. The thing is, She doesn’t have a brain. (Sorry, Jose, but you don’t.) She doesn’t realize that the person she is looking for is the brain of the operation.

Funny thing neither did I.

Upon this realization, we sit down for a fireside chat. I lure her in with bottomless hot toddies and stove top popcorn. We pop a squat. I break it down that we’re not breaking up, we’re just shifting gears. She’s not being evicted. Far from it. It’s more like a house reno with a padded sledgehammer. Life as we know it is no longer in session. Old thought patterns will be realized instead of passed by. We won’t be aiming for a screeching halt awareness but more of easing into the stop. The days when old mental habits do drop the hammer and fly into automatic pilot, I will refrain from frantically Wack-a-Moling them. Rather, I will do my best to catch them like a butterfly in a net, acknowledge their purpose and beauty and release them back into the sky.  It sounds poetic in theory. I’ll do my best.

As you can imagine, Josie didn’t take this well.

I continued with fairness and compassion as she continued sobbing into the popcorn bowl. I expected this. Josie’s M.O. is to fly straight into Eeyore victim mode. I wasn’t falling for it. The Rabbit in me wanted to bulldoze over this manipulation, reprimanding her for snotting all over the popcorn with her tears, but I resisted. I chose to take the high road and play Kanga to her Eeyore. I broke down the house rules. She can hang with me to ensure that I make sound judgments for my well-being and for my loved ones, but the minute she jumps into making petty or vicious judgments, her soap box will be kicked out from under her feet. She can play in the room as I dive into any creative endeavor, but the minute that she uses scare tactics just to get attention, she’s locked in the closet without dinner. (Okay, just kidding. My imagination just gave Josie a bear hug with that image.) Any usage of scare tactics, and I will slide open the door, releasing her into the world to run off some steam. And if all else fails, we will have a dance party (a Sauvignon Blanc dance party, depending on the day) to P!nk’s “So What”.  The lyrics will give her some much needed tough love and perspective. In the end, she will be humbled, refreshed and no longer Missundaztood.

Silence. Josie lets the new guidelines settle in.

She flat hands her mouth with the last bits of popcorn and slowly licks her fingers. I can see her mind weighing the pros and cons. She takes a deep breath and says “Why the hell not?”. We do a Babysitter’s Club style secret handshake, throw on Jorge Miguel’s, “Freedom”, and dance in unity to our newfound bond.


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