The older I get, the more I realize that being a good parent requires copious amounts of patience. Day after day I meet parents with adult children who are literally sucking the life out of them. They live at home or close by and are constantly requesting more items and money. Yet, they can never make enough to move out of their parent’s house. I get that the economy isn’t typically kind to recent graduates and that it takes a lot more money than it used to in order to sustain a decent quality of life. The parents feel guilty because their child doesn’t have a decent job and can’t make it on their own therefore they open the doors of their house “for as long as needed.” Bad idea. While I know that everyone needs help at some point in their life and that hard times happen to everyone, there’s something detrimental about constantly acquiescing to the demands of your adult children because you want them to be happy with you. Living your life in perpetual sacrifice for your children HAS to stop at some point. It holds them back from becoming responsible adults and keeps you stuck in your life. You can’t continue to cater to the wants and needs of able-bodied adults who don’t feel like working and don’t want to move because they’re leaving their rent-free housing. I hear parents complaining about their children and how stressed that they are but refuse to put boundaries in place and enforce them. It’s not a pretty sight. These are people who won’t have a decent retirement because of their actions and the choices that their children have made. It’s quite unfortunate.
I have a theory that many people who have experienced financial hardship at some point in their lives have found a struggle meal. Now, a struggle meal is a meal that you would not normally eat if you had a decent looking bank account. It can be as simple as ordering off the dollar menu at a fast food store or even buying store brand butter and sugar to make sandwiches. While I haven’t known the poverty that comes from not knowing where my next meal is coming from, I do know the uncomfortable feeling of an overdrawn bank account and a week or two before the next payday. Not a great thing. Ironically my “struggle food” is lentils with vegetables and rice. It’s also probably my lazy food as well when I don’t feel like preparing anything for a few days. My point is that when you are working towards a goal you make the necessary sacrifices because you want a good end result. You forgo always splurging because you’re saving up for something. The sacrifices now pave the way for the rewards down the line. Then you can have a commemorative struggle meal instead of a real one.
I think I may suffer from Cardiomegaly. Not in the physical sense, but definitely emotionally. For those of you who may not have wikipedia nearby, Cardiomegaly is when the heart is enlarged and it can be caused by a variety of different things including tumors, anemia, and cocaine use. I think my heart may actually be too big and that realization is coming to me slowly but pretty surely. I’m the kind of person who will go above and beyond the call of duty for someone that is close to me. While I’ve gotten better with sticking to boundaries, I still will bend over backwards to help someone I consider part of my family (immediate, close, or adopted). Now this is actually a good thing. I can be counted on and I’m loyal to a fault. HOWEVER, the bad part about this is that if I legitimately care about someone. I’ll still be inconvenienced and sacrifice enormously despite the fact that they 1. Don’t care about me back 2. Don’t know that I’m actually being inconvenienced and 3. Have not given me ANY indication that they’re about to care about me. As a therapist, one of the things that I talk about all the time with my clients is the importance of sticking to your boundaries and being with people that appreciate you. I first noticed this enlarged heart condition when I was a little kid and I could empathize with people and cry when someone started crying just because I was sad that they were sad. To this day, I still occasionally do that. It’s a good thing to care about people and to be genuinely interested in their welfare. But it’s another thing to care to the point that it’s at your own personal expense and the other person remains oblivious to your caring. This has happened to me more times than I would care to count. But, it’s something that I am actually aware of and despite the fact that caring too much continually screws me over, I’ve gotten used to it. It’s painful and involves a lot of emotions but it’s who I am. It’s uncomfortable and almost always inconvenient but it’s familiar. So many people talk about how they want their hearts to soften but I could probably benefit from a little hardening. As someone told me this week, “caring a lot about other people can be both a blessing and a curse.” And who knows, maybe caring too much will one day work in my favor instead of working against me.
One of the things that occurred to me today was the fact that I like situations where the odds are stacked against me. Even when I watch sports (which rarely happens) I always find myself cheering for the underdog. There’s just something about winning and succeeding when the odds are against you. I can’t say that I grew up in an environment where the odds were against me. Although being homeschooled until college put me in a position where I felt that I had to succeed and that the odds were against me. I have never been in a traditional educational environment before and it was all new to me. I worked hard and was able to finish college AND graduate school in four and a half years. The odds were definitely against me in that situation. I remember hearing a quote that basically said that no one remembers “try-ers” they remember winners. The more the odds are stacked against me, the more motivated I am to beat them. I get creative looking for solutions that will put me in a good position. I become extra deliberate in making sure that everything is in place and that all my actions have a purpose. I focus my energies on one thing and also constantly re-evaluate my strategy and my approach. Beating the odds requires guts. One of my favorite sayings is “epic dreams require epic sacrifices.” The truth is that if I’m really serious about what I want, I’ll take the necessary steps to get it. I’ll focus my time and energy in achieving what I want. Beating the odds takes both motivation and dedication to the process of doing what is required to succeed. Yes, it’s often uncomfortable and pretty inconvenient but at the end of the day, I plan to beat the odds. And I will. Period.