Sometimes I take myself too seriously. This happens when I’m tired or overwhelmed. If I’m feeling displaced or disconnected from my home places. It’s probably a defense mechanism, a self-preservation technique. It’s like I misplace my sense of humor.
When my twins were small, we lived next to a little scoundrel named Carl. He was an only child and so happy when two little boys moved in next door that he could play with. Kipper and Jacob were the world to each other and didn’t need anyone else, but it was a fun little experiment in making friends outside the family.
I won’t go into detail about the time Carl and his hoodlum pals broke into our house, stole items at random, and put a computer into our deep freezer. Or the other time Carl broke into our house on a solo mission and stole a heap of my clothes, broke some antique dishes, and left our cat for dead. The point is, he was a challenging neighbor, even as a child. I wasn’t thrilled about his influence on my sweet children, but we were new to the neighborhood, and it was part of that adventure.
When the three of them got together, I would watch over them closely. Mostly it was my boys, innocently engaged with each other. Carl on the outside, working hard to direct the play. Sometimes my fellas would join in and follow along, other times they stayed tucked neatly in their orbit of one another.
We had a trampoline in our backyard at that time. All the neighborhood kids were learning to do tricks and they’d challenge each other to new feats of flipping and bouncing. One day, Carl was over, and the three boys were jumping out back on the tramp. I could overhear the usual dynamic, Carl ineffectively trying to boss, my fellas obliviously laughing with each other. Finally, Carl cut to the chase: “You guys look really stupid doing that.”
My mama bear instincts kicked in and I was on my way out to send him home when one of my boys responded: “Yeah! We look really stupid doing this!” And then the twinsie conversational loop: “Look how stupid I look doing this! Yeah, we look stupid doing this!” Giggles and ridiculous bouncing removing any sting Carl’s jibe had intended. It drained Carl’s arsenal and he simply went home.
I learned a few things in that moment. My kiddos were resilient and as long as they had each other, they’d be ok. Their innocence gave them an amazing ability to deflect a meanness that would have normally caused a conflict. This was a skill I needed to develop.
Tight And Small
From a grown-up perspective, allowing other people to have their opinions about me, without getting derailed by it, is never easy. Some days I can shrug my shoulders and let the slights, and the perceived slights, roll off. Other days I’m good at giving the appearance of calm, but I’m actually agonizing and obsessing on the inside. And then there are the days when I’m disconnected from my home place, and I become defensive about nearly everything.
In this place, I am tight and small. It’s almost like I hunker down, eyes shifting back and forth, waiting for someone to misunderstand me or criticize. This is not a place of freedom. It’s certainly not a place where I can breathe deep breaths and allow. In this small close space, I am not fostering connections. I am far from my home space.
Ripples Of Levity
Sometimes it takes me a while to realize I’m here. Usually, it’s loneliness that rises up in me that reminds me to connect. First to myself, then to the precious people around me. The next step is smiling. When I can coax my face back into smiling, it’s like little ripples of levity begin to reverberate through the rest of me. It’s a lovely place to start.
Of course, I would love to bounce and giggle with my bestie on a trampoline out back, but the old tramp is gone, and we have since moved. So, I’ll start small, smiling. This will help me to disassemble the defense mechanisms and the taking myself too seriously.
Plus, I love being smiled at. I understand that the more I am able to make this gesture toward others, the more I am indeed, softening. This has the added benefit of increasing the opportunity for others around me to do the same. Smiling says, “it’s ok”. Smiling is connective. And this, is my way back home.
If you like smiling, or need to find your way home, if you take yourself too seriously or want to stop being so defensive, let’s be friends~