Friday, April 24, 2009

No more teaching my father. Anything.

Most of my life, I have felt the need to teach my father in areas where he is ignorant.  My father is very intelligent around making money, but lacks any type of emotional refinement.  The easiest example to describe is how he eats with his mouth open even after 35 years of the family asking him to stop.  It's as if he really has no interest in accommodating anyone.  About a month ago, he asked to come visit us in Austin with his wife to see our son and give him a birthday gift.  A seemingly easy request to grant, except that my wife has been chronically ill, I am doing double the work to keep the family together and my son has suffered his two largest injuries ever, under the neglectful watch of my father.  i.e.  we can't leave him alone with his grandfather, for safety reasons.  which means that I have to baby sit the grandfather as well as the son, so I'm doing triple duty when he's around.  Not restful, nor fun for me.  As you can imagine I politely explained that it would be best if they didn't come due to Kate's illness and left it at that.  An uncomfortable conversation to have but necessary for my sanity.  That was about a month ago...

Today I received a message from my father asking again if they could come visit in a few days. Usually you would assume the someone would at least acknowledge our past conversation and maybe ask about Kate's health, but not dear ol' dad.  No mention of it.  Only, "We'd like to come and give grandson a present."  I've decided, thanks to the reading in this weeks VA meeting about the role of the rescuer, not to even return the call.  I no longer need to educate my father on etiquette, nor do I have to repeat myself or my reasons to be "polite" while having the same uncomfortable conversation twice.  Thanks VA!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

April 19 2009

I'm starting this blog at the suggestion of my mother-in-law, who thinks it might help people and make it easier for me to find a publisher for the book Violence Anonymous - a program of recovery from violence, which I'm currently writing.  I also thought it might be cool to write a play-by-play of how I, a person who has resorted to power and control tactics to get what I want for most of my life, avoid perpetrating violence on my family, friends, colleges and business partners.  My hope is that this blog will inspire you to think about how you act/react to situations in a more peaceful and productive manner and how that can affect not only your life, but society as a whole.  

Today I brought my family home from a holiday in South Africa.  What I noticed was that I become very anxious and agitated in the airport, when I am lugging bags for myself, my wife and my son.  It's a 24 hour trip door to door and that's a long time to have an almost 4 year old on a plane.  My wife is also sick with an immune disorder and can turn into a wheelchair case if her illness gets the better of her.  So I'm already feeling stressed about the idea of getting all of us back home.  

At the onset of the trip, I had agreed to lug my son's car seat on this trip.  My wife felt is was best to keep him in his plane seat and even though I had arranged for her to sit a few rows away, so she could have a rest, which made me mr mom for the whole journey, I agreed to lug the useless thing from Austin to S. Africa and back.  I also had to haul a few other bags that I thought we unnecessary.  Any way...   the point is, I managed to keep myself from exploding with rage or shouting at my son, who was in need of extra attention that I couldn't give during the shlep through customs and security, but I felt like the fucking bore of the party.  I was the "don't do that, don't do this" guy and I could see the enthusiasm for life draining from my son and wife.  The best I could do was try not to speak while i seethed with resentment for getting myself into this.  What came to me was very simple.  Check the extra carryon bags and this fucking car seat and let him sit in the plane seat like everyone else.  I don't have to agree to every plan my wife has and play the flippin martyr so i look like the good guy.  This may seem simple to you, but it was revolutionary to me.  

I believe if I get myself into a bad situation in business, that It's my own doing and I should honor my agreement and never make one like that in the future.  This way I keep my clients happy by not complaining and next time I negotiate a better deal for myself.  that's the way I learn my lesson.  So it's the same with my wife.  there is no point in complaining, just change the situation and next time only agree to what will really meet my needs too.  So the new rule is, "if you can't carry it yourself it doesn't go on the trip".  very simple, no hard feelings.  Dad is no longer the pack mule.  once I made that the policy and let everyone know.  I felt great.  like a massive weight had been lifted from my shoulders and I turned back into fun James.  What's your story?