Shake It Off

Despite the best efforts of Taylor Swift, I don’t think I ever learned how to shake it off.

I am one of those people who is plagued by insomnia because I can’t stop analyzing some seemingly innocuous comment that was made over a week ago.  I have imaginary conversations in my head where I write the script not only for myself but for the other participants- what I believe they would have said, how I would respond so that I am the victor.  I try different tricks to get my brain on a new track, but once I’m obsessing, I’m OBSESSING!

When I was fifteen or sixteen, my best friend was also my brother’s girlfriend.  When they broke up after two years, my brother was heart broken.  I felt for him, but I was also a teenage girl.  This was a perfect time for me and my friend to explore the world of meeting guys and double dating.

One drunken night, I felt the inescapable need to apologize to my brother.  I had brazenly ignored his feelings and went out and had fun with my friend.  It was inexcusable, and I asked for his forgiveness.  It was also about two decades after the fact.

“You have been carrying this around for twenty years?  I’m telling you now, it’s ok.  You can let this go.” Once again, I wear my crazy girl patch on my sleeve.

Perhaps guilt is the counterpart to lack of esteem.  Which is really kind of ironic, because it speaks to the deep-seeded need to make everything about me.

As I’ve been coming to terms with this weight issue, I’ve learning it is not about weight or numbers, but about how I see myself.  Everyone faces criticism.  I imagine the most successful people either learn from it or blow it off.  I focus on it with laser precision, heating it, expanding it, igniting it.  I’ve never been one of those rub a little dirt on it and get back in the game people.  Or I am- I get back in there, but not without limping and taking the wound with me.  Yes, I know- my metaphors are all over the place.

Yesterday, my son’s teacher stopped to talk with me when I picked him up from school.  It was picture day, and he asked if he could wear his favorite Iron Man pajamas for the photo. I said yes.

The teacher let me know that a girl made fun of him and that Liam started crying.  She advised that pajamas were inappropriate for school.  She lectured about how she’d love to wear shorts with holes in them, but she doesn’t because it’s not suitable attire for school.

I apologized, assured her it would not happen again, and went home SEETHING.

I posted about it on Facebook.  I ranted to my husband.  I relived the conversations many times in my mind, changing the ending.

Then I emailed her. She wrote back and said she mentioned it to me because Liam started crying when it happened and wouldn’t stop for about five minutes.  He insisted to the girl he was not wearing pajamas, and the teacher felt he was questioning his choice of attire.

As parents, I think one of our fears is passing on our worst qualities to our children.  I imagine successful people have the ability to forget snide comments, to let them roll off their shoulders and move on.  Am I teaching my son to obsess the way I do?

I often think about modeling good behavior.  Not spanking my child because I don’t want to teach that hitting is an appropriate way to deal with anger.  Not calling names because I want to teach positive ways to handle conflict.  But this is new.  Modeling confidence and esteem when they do not come naturally to me.  How do I teach him to shake it off when I haven’t learned it myself?

I guess I could start with letting him watch that Taylor Swift video.  Of course that would increase his screen time, and there is the question of appropriate media for a six year old.  But it does have a good beat, and you can dance to it.

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