Just a few words for tonight.
I've learned quite a lot from this relationship and being in it. It's a lot like polishing rocks or going through finishing school. Kind of messy and uncomfortable and at times heart-breaking, but with beautiful results.
If I could pass any wisdom I've learned from going through this to my daughters, it would be to hold fast, be patient, and stay true to yourself. Because the ride is rough and uncertain and people will always criticize some part of you, and it's the criticism that can cripple, but it is far more important to learn the skills it takes to let it flow off you like water from a duck's back.
Because all defensiveness flows from insecurity.
You can't control what others say and you can't always control how you're going to feel about criticism, especially the kind that pokes at our vulnerable hot spots, but you CAN set yourself up for success by giving yourself an out that buys you time or have a few preset actions that you can take (and practice) to help you stay calm.
You can avoid unnecessary stress that comes from fights if you do this. You won't always avoid fighting, but you can cut down on the number of times you actually have to argue about something.
It also appeals to the "just having to say" what you have to say feeling, because you're being reasonable in your mind before you have to make the fight out loud.
SO many times I have acted or reacted hotly because I have felt attacked or critiqued unjustly, sometimes righteously so, but mostly not. Most, if not a majority, of the occasions with compulsion to speak out and defend against injustice (dammit!), once unveiled (in a number of ways but mostly after a hellacious verbal duke-out) are, in reality, one of two things: 1) born out of an underdeveloped sense of perspective or 2) the huge insecurity that comes with being wrong. It's not that I can't be wrong---I'm very okay with it. I just had to learn how to be okay with it, and then I had to learn about being gracious even if I knew I was right.
It has soured and tainted ALL of the relationships I've ever been in. Friendships, courtships, family, my marriage. I could psychoanalyze it all day long (and I have already done so) as to where that all came to be, but it doesn't really matter. What matters is that having a hot temper is not a cultural thing or an environmental thing or genetic thing. It is a you thing or a me thing. It is lacking patience in every facet of resolution, it is near-sighted, and an excuse to refrain from taking responsibility for how you see things, regardless of who or what taught you what you know or didn't teach you what you ought to know.
This has been a life long battle.
I couldn't help but feel this huge injustice when I went out into the world and started experiencing lots of heavy, super-adult kinds of situations being as immature as I was. I felt like any time someone considered me to be an adult, it was a fluke. Yet I felt a lot of frustration over having to deal with abnormal life-changers without ever having gotten my footing.
But I want my girls to do better than me and their grandparents before them. I can finally, finally say it doesn't really matter if Mom and Dad messed up or that I made stupid decisions that I can't change. What matters is that I don't want my girls to take on my deficiencies. And I want to equip them with the tools to do more than me. I would love it if we could avoid living the phrase "the sins of the [father] are passed onto the [son]." And Dad always said, "M'ija, make your weakness your strength."
After much bump-and-bruising, I have found someone who has seen me through this part of my life, lived it with me, is real and still loves me. It's made me a better person.