Sunday, October 25, 2009

My People Pleasing Disorder

The time has come for me to make an important disclosure on this blog. I was born with PPD - People Pleasing Disorder. For those of you who aren't familiar with PPD, it is a very serious disorder characterized by excessively pretending to like things you don't really like and the strict avoidance of any and all strong opinions, except those that happen to mirror the opinions of the people you're with at the moment.

My life has been marred by several unfortunate flare-ups of my disease. For example, in the throes of a romantic high-school courtship with my now-husband, I wrote the following statements in my journal:

"I went to prom with J. It was so fun! He really likes to fast dance, which is so cool, because I totally love to fast dance but none of my other dates ever want to."

"I played sand volleyball last night with J. It is like the funnest sport ever! I can't wait to do it again."

Let me be perfectly clear here - both of those statements are boldfaced lies. In addition to PPD, I was also born with a certain lack of coordination, making fast dancing and sand volleyball two things I should never do. And that's not just me saying that, I've heard it from several other people as well. But, I was so anxious to please J that I had convinced even myself that these were activities I loved.

My ever supportive sister says that we're all like that when we're in love. Well, then, I must be in love with her, because I hide my O Magazine every time she comes over, since I know very well that she disdains Oprah as a regular old talk show host cleverly disguised as a moral compass for the world. (I like all the book reviews in the magazine).

Please make a note of how I felt I had to defend myself at the end of that last paragraph. If that is not an indication of the advanced state of my disease, I don't know what is.

Another indication of my sickness is that I have no favorite anythings. Truly. No favorite food, color, musical artist or author. This is likely the result of my many years of practice in having only the same opinions as those around me. I've actually made up a favorite color over the years, simply because people expect you to have one. It pleases them. I say yellow. But, I enjoy orange, blue and green equally as much as yellow, so, whatever.

Since I rarely have the courage to say my real opinions in public (the few that I've formed, anyway), here is a short list that you can print and keep in your wallet for handy reference:


Oh, poop, I couldn't think of any.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

I'm happy to say...

that my last electric bill was under $300. Good-bye summer, I will not miss you (for those of you who miss summer a LOT when you are snowed in, note that I live in melt-in-your-hand Arizona, where there is no winter).

that my son FINALLY got to play in a football game (8 downs, a new family record)

that my YA novel rough draft is done, done, done. Emphasis on rough. Bigger emphasis on DONE!

that I accidentally forgot to lock the back door last night and I was neither robbed nor murdered in my sleep.

that my mom is bringing dinner over tonight, just to be nice. I'm not even sick. Moms rock!

that I scored a full-size sample of Olay Pro-X, so I can finally get crackin' on those wrinkles.

that I got a "maybe" from LDS Living on one of my article queries. I query them almost every month, and usually they just say no, so now I'm as excited as a hillbilly with a pile of fermenting apples. (That was just my way of showing LDS Living how great I am with similes)

that I just found out that the singular form of parentheses is parenthesis. That will definitely come in handy if I ever have to write an English textbook.

that all (6) of my loyal readers will soon be getting Blogger identities so they can start leaving me comments, because Connie, Signe and Melissa are getting typist's cramp. They are also getting better Christmas gifts from me than all y'all. (that was a sample of my ability to write from a broad perspective of cultural mores)

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Compensating Blessings

Last year I listened as a church leader taught the principle of compensation. He said, “The Lord compensates the faithful for every loss. That which is taken away from those who love the Lord will be added unto them in His own way. While it may not come at the time we desire, the faithful will know that every tear today will eventually be returned a hundredfold with tears of rejoicing and gratitude.”

His talk caused me to reflect on my own compensating blessings, and how I first learned to look for them.

My husband’s battle with chronic pain has, for most of our marriage, made it difficult for him to take the leadership role that he would like to in our family. I try to compensate for that, but at times the burden of providing for our children financially, spiritually and emotionally has threatened to overwhelm me.

I particularly remember a time when I was drowning in self-pity. A difficult change in medication had rendered my husband temporarily unable to watch our toddler while I was at work, and so each morning I shuttled her to the homes of various church members who had volunteered to look after her for me.

I was miserable as I dropped my little girl off each morning. I felt like I was surrounded by happy homemakers, each of whom seemed blessed with the time to nurture not only their own children, but mine as well. It seemed so unfair.

One kind sister was able to change my perspective. Dropping my daughter off to her on a Monday morning, she remarked out of the blue that all of my children seemed to have been blessed with an unusually strong faith, and perhaps that was a reflection of the considerable amount of time they spent praying for their dad.

Tears sprang to my eyes as I recognized the truth of what she was saying. I drove off to work, my mind filling with thoughts of the many compensating blessings I had received, not the least of which was the loving bond I was developing with the church members who were always so willing to offer me service and encouragement. I had also recently been blessed with a new job, working for a company that was far more family-friendly than my previous employer had been. Many other blessings filled my mind as I drove.

Since then, although the basic circumstances of my life remain unchanged, it has been easier for me to focus on what I have that is good, instead of what I feel like I am missing out on. How grateful I am for the seed of hope a friend planted in me that day, and for the many compensating blessings our Heavenly Father gives us during difficult times.

Monday, October 5, 2009

The Six Best Words

I know you can picture it. You're in the checkout line at the grocery store with your 3-year-old when he spots the foot long Nerds rope. He has to have it. It is the most glorious item he has ever seen, and he can't possibly live one minute longer without it. He tells you this using that very toddler-specific language of shrieking. The particular kind of shriek that suddenly makes every other adult's private thoughts appear in a bubble above their heads. The bubbles say: "What a brat." "I can't believe she lets her kid act that way." "Get that snot-nosed ankle biter out of here!" Some bubble thoughts are much worse than that and cannot be recreated here.

You think you have outgrown that phase with your 7-year-old. But then Halloween comes, and you are at Target, and suddenly the angel costume you already have in the closet at home from years past will not do. It has to be Hannah Montana, full-on with the wig and fake mic and everything. You also find out that, to make the outfit complete, you will have to dress up as a backup singer and follow Hannah around the neighborhood singing harmony to "Best of Both Worlds". Your sweet 7-year-old loses any concept of how to leave a store with some composure. Not so much shrieking this time, but plenty of sobbing. Pretty much the same bubble thoughts spring up all around you.

Surely teenagers have more self-control, right? (My older sisters are laughing out loud right now). Okay, we can get through the candy aisle without too much trouble, and Halloween costumes are no longer cool, but please don't let me happen to pass Electronics with my teenager in tow. No shrieks or sobs, just a certain kind of glare that tells me I am definitely the worst mom in the history of the world if I don't break open my pocketbook, and quick.

Luckily, a miracle occurred in my life several years ago, at a time when I'd completely had it with all those checkout lane showdowns. I somehow stumbled onto the six best words in the annals of parenting: "I'll keep it in my mind". If it is close to my child's birthday, I say, "Wow, that is a really great toy. I'll keep it in my mind for your birthday." If it's closer to Christmas, I say the same thing, replacing birthday with Christmas.

The best part - my kids believe me. The only time I've ever had a problem with it was on that Target shopping trip last year. Don't get me wrong, I tried. But somehow, "Wow, that is a really great Hannah Montana costume. I'll keep it in my mind for Christmas," just didn't cut it.

What works for you? If you have a great tip, you can be sure that I'll keep it in my mind. After all, I've had lots of practice!