(Another Freakin’ Growth Opportunity)
It’s that time of year when therapists do due diligence in preparing clients for the zigs & zags of navigating holidays. We help them with THE HOLIDAY PLAN. We pull out the heavy artillery for anticipated triggers, encouraging proactive resourcing, rather than re-acting. (Keep “re-acting” in mind.) Everything is in place, including the back-up to the back-up emergency plan, just in case… I leave the office, get in the car and blast Nat King Cole’s Chestnuts Roasting On An Open Fire, Once again, Nat ushers in my holiday. I can smell the chestnuts roasting, I think of one of my dear uncles, and can almost hear him singing along with Nat. I slip into nostalgia, a prelude for denial. I’m anticipating the holidays with family. I go over the same checklist that I do with clients. I’ve got THE HOLIDAY PLAN. Heck, I wrote the plan. I’m proficient in staying grounded in even the most tenuous family situations. The Language of Letting Go is in tow. I’ve got the hard copy & it’s on my iPad. We all arrive for Christmas dinner. But wait a minute, who is this guy with my cousin? Is he supposed to be here. Where’s her husband? Wait a minute, I thought I was supposed to bring the macaroni & cheese, why is there one already here? Do they not like mine & just didn’t want to tell me? Hey, wait a minute, no she didn’t just ask me had I gained weight, looking me up & down. Wait a minute, why does he always have to say the dinner blessing after it’s been said & then look around for blessing approval? Wait a minute, why doesn’t someone have the courage to tell Auntie that her “famous” sweet potato soufflé is no longer “famous”. Wait a minute, is uncle getting ready to have ANOTHER drink & tell ANOTHER crude joke? Wait a minute, I catch a glimpse at my mom and suddenly realize she really is getting older. I flash back to when she was my age. Wait a minute; I’m getting older! Oh boy, here it comes, an AFGO is pitched, I carelessly swing at the pitch; I took the bait. The AFGO hit me, strike one! I stay in the “game”, another AFGO, I remember the weight comment & I have an almost insatiable urge to say something just a little bit mean to the commenter, instead I get another spoonful of MY macaroni & cheese, darn I swung again, the AFGO hit me again, strike two. Hello! A moment of clarity, I’m re-acting some of the roles I did as a child in this family. Here it comes, an AFGO, I position myself in my adult. Instead of saying (along with comedienne Abby Sher), God, grant me the ability to change the things I cannot accept. I remember to say, from a deep place within, Reinhold Niebuhr’s Serenity Prayer (this occasion warrants the long version) and I hit a home run! The Serenity Prayer changes my perspective. Everyone looks the same, doing the same thing, but I accepted the AFGO…. There is an internal adjustment and criticism gives way to gratitude. This is my family, I love them; they love me. There is a combination of assets & defects that I’ve gained from this family of mine & they from me. Today, just for today, I choose to minimally give the assets at least as much air time.
Stay tuned for the next AFGO…….