Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Creature of Habit

We are creatures of habit. Sometimes, no matter the intentions, we fall back into old behaviors that leave us in a spot we thought or hoped we had evolved. Feeling proud and progressive one moment can leave us feeling frustrated and hopeless the next. But if we remember we are constantly changing, and that change can be one step forward and several steps back, we can learn to cling to our victories, however small, and accept our setbacks.
On vacation in Paradise, USA with my husband’s family has been wonderful so far. I can only assume and plan for it to continue to be. We are enjoying all the things I wrote about in the Simple Joys blog from Tuesday plus a whole lot more. From family meals to excursions into the city of Charleston for sightseeing and experiencing all the place has to offer, we are filling up the week with tons of activities and memories. All well and good, but things are never “perfect”. If you read me, know me, or understand my personality, you know I don’t believe in the negative. At one point in my life I did, but it never served me well. Since I’ve embraced the positive in life, life has improved exponentially. In short, I’ve changed so things around me have gotten better. Still, being human I have triggers that can pull me down to my “old ways” and get me into trouble. If you’ve vacationed with extended family (his, yours, hers, theirs, ours) then you know that as much joy as there can be, there is also a bit of angst as well. Everyone has opinions, someone is Alpha and that tees off the other Alphas. I just knew that I wanted to advocate for my family so that on our vacation, a rare part of our life now, we did exactly what we wanted to do, and my husband and I didn’t have to fight. Yes, as wonderful as we both are and as much as we love and adore each other, we argue. Fight, really. It seems to happen the most when we are around either person’s extended family. We nearly made it a whole twenty-four hours with the group without a fight. We were even complimenting each other about our nearly twenty-four hours without a fight when, of course, a fight broke out. It was something stupid. I think it was where to hang our five wet bathing suits. Passionate stuff! We bickered, it turned ugly for a few minutes, and there was a storm off. But, the “new me”, the one who is positive and has experienced personal growth, refused to give in to the habits of old, the ones that would have kept us angry for hours if not days. No, this would not do so I found my husband and worked it out quickly. Peace reigned. We had a great day yesterday (they’ve all been pretty great). We spent all day doing what we wanted in the city of Charleston. Gone for hours we had to rush to get home to allow me to get prepared to go on air with “Around the Cooler”, the radio show I do at WhooBazoo. We are sharing my husband’s laptop computer while we are away as I don’t have one. When we retrieved it to set up for the show the battery was nearly dead. My husband’s old behavior surfaced with accusations and rash anger. I listened to the words instead of the tone and saw it was actually concern for me that triggered the outburst, not any ill feelings toward me. He tried to egg me on to get me to fight with him. I refused and stayed neutral instead of reactionary. He calmed down, we talked about the situation, and we moved on quickly. But enacting the “new me” this vacation has stamped out two potential threats to our vacation happiness. And it’s not just the new me, but the new him, too! We’ve both worked hard on inner change. We both stumble, but find our way back on track in record time, now. Arguing… no, fighting will likely always be a part of our relationship. How we handle the fights, however, is vital. The habitual reaction of old is now starting to be replaced with healthier, calmer ones. We’re not perfect, enlightened, or preachy. We simply try, hard, to do better each day. That’s a habit we’re both proud to have.
This is the best family vacation I can ever remember. We are finally learning, after nearly 25 years together, how to maximize the opportunities we have to enjoy each minute on vacation and not squander it on petty, ridiculous arguments. I’m not belittling communication. Outbursts are the partner’s way to tell what is wrong and ignoring that is detrimental to the relationship; but listening, without judgment and defense, is the only way to clear up the situation before it escalates to an unmanageable level. We are indeed creatures of habit, but those habits can be altered if they aren’t healthy ones. I’m living proof!

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