The level of psycho-social immaturity can be a defeating brick wall to overcome. A new quote that I recently read, “When there is an elephant in the room, acknowledge it.” When dealing with a person who has not aged beyond the school age, the age of latency where the psycho-social crises is Industry vs. Inferiority, life can be daunting. Today, I tried to tell my mother that how she was behaving was mean, that what she was doing was hurtful and outright cruel. She then blew-up, and then, in an a quick interval of reversal, I became the scape goat; the one who got charged as “the guilty party.”
My Formal Charge Against My Mother: My mother has been making these unusual sounds with her tongue in her mouth. She goes out of her way sometimes to making them in my direction as I walk past her. I have dismissed them as petty and immature, but today I had to make my voice known. The sound is similar to the verbal expression one would use when indicating something is tasty. I have gained weight and I have eaten more lately than she does now. She is 82, and her metabolism has slowed down and with her chewing and digestive issues, she has selected to eat less. As a result, she has lost weight. This must make her feel “superior” to me, and in her opinion, I must look like the “inferior” worthless party. Hence her degrading sound effects.
After trying to tell her what she was doing was mean, an argument ensued. I stormed out of the house and went to the only place I usually find some peace; a book store. I acquired The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch. I’m sharing a few meaningful quotes with you regarding my experience with my mother and “the brick walls” Randy Pausch describes in his book. The first quote, “An injured lion wants to know if he can still roar….It’s about dignity and self-esteem which isn’t quite the same as vanity.” Perhaps the thing my mother is trying to teach me, is perseverance in the face of adversity. Perhaps, it’s about rising above the petty and insignificant and embracing something more important, the wisdom to know the difference when dealing with ignorance. After all, dealing with my mother, challenges one’s fortitude and strength.
My mother has frequently told both me and my sister that her pregnancy with us was “an accident.” Second meaningful quote, “As she walked away, I couldn’t help but be struck by her frankness. Her casual remark was a reminder about the accidental elements that play into both our arrival into life…..and our departure into death. Here was a woman, having a child by accident that she surely would come to love. As for me, through the accident of cancer I’d be leaving three children to grow up without my love.” I’m reminded of a saying, “There are no such things as accidents.” I wonder how true this statement actually is. Perhaps, there are no such things as accidents, only unconscious wishes.
The third meaningful quote, “That is what it is. We can’t change it. We just have to decide how we’ll respond. We cannot change the cards we are dealt, just how we play the hand.” No amount of yelling, no amount of talking, and no amount of logical debate will penetrate the brick wall I call my mother. The truth I have to live with is this, when there is an argument and she disagrees, I’m usually, and most often than not, “the guilty party.” “If I don’t like it,” she’d say, “there’s the door. I could always leave.” And she’s right.
The fourth meaningful quote, “…if I was in a position of strength, whether at work or in relationships, I had to play fair. Just because you’re in the driver’s seat doesn’t mean you have to run people over.” This is exactly how I feel, during those quick intervals of reversal, when the narcissist turns the table and makes you the scape goat. You feel like you’ve been blinded sided by a Mack Truck.
The fifth meaningful quote, “When you’re screwing up and nobody says anything to you anymore, that means they’ve given up on you. That lesson has stuck with me my whole life. When you see yourself doing something badly and nobody’s bothering to tell you anymore, that’s a bad place to be. You may not want to hear it, but your critics are often the ones telling you they still love you and care about you, and want to make you better.”
The sixth meaningful quote. When you’re the central focus of the “problem” (the football) and there are several other people who are involved in the game, think about Randy Pausch’s poignant story of his football coach, Jim Graham. The story goes like this:
“On the first day of practice, we were all scared to death. Plus he hadn’t brought along any footballs. One kid finally spoke up for all of us. “Excuse me, Coach. There are no footballs.” And Coach Graham responded, “We don’t need any footballs.” There was a silence, while we thought about that. . . “How many men are on the football field at a time?” he asked us. Eleven on a team, we answered. So that makes twenty two. “And how many people are touching the football at any given time?” One of them. “Right!” he said. “So we’re going to work on what those other twenty-one guys are doing?”……You’ve got to get the fundamentals down, because otherwise the fancy stuff is not going to work.”
The seventh meaningful quote, “When we send our kids to play organized sports – football, soccer, swimming, whatever – for most of us, it’s not because we’re desperate for them to learn the intricacies of the sport. What we really want them to learn is far more important: teamwork, perseverance, sportsmanship, the value of hard work, and ability to deal with adversity. This kind of indirect learning is what some of us like to call a “head fake.” There are two kinds of head fakes. The first is literal. On a football field, a player will move his head one way so you’ll think he’s going in that direction. Then he goes the opposite way. It’s like a magician using misdirection. Coach Graham used to tell us to watch a player’s waist. “Where his belly button goes, his body goes,” he’d say. The second kind of fake is the really important one – the one that teaches people things they don’t realize they’re learning until well into the process. If you’re a head-fake specialist, your hidden objective is to get them to learn something you want them to learn. This kind of head-fake learning is absolutely vital. And Coach Graham was the master.”
Perhaps, my mother, as are some of the other people I’m currently dealing with, are of the second-kind of head fake specialists. The absolutely crucial kind.
The eight meaningful quote, “Shatner, was the ultimate example of a man who knew what he didn’t know, was perfectly willing to admit it, and didn’t want to leave until he understood. That’s heroic tome. I wish every grad student had that attitude.” Randy Pausch‘s message, “It’s okay to be humble and even to appear a little ignorant about technical or scientific matters. But it’s never okay to be ignorant about people and how they should be treated.”
The ninth meaningful quote. This quote I’m going to paraphrase, “The coolest guy at the amusement park or carnival, is the guy with the biggest stuffed animal.” Why? Because this means you have talent and skill. Talent and skill equates to one thing; the phallus. Have you ever walked around a carnival with a giant stuffed animal? Have you ever watched how people look at you and envy you? Have you ever used a stuffed animal to woo a woman? Never under-estimating the power of giant stuffed animals is like never under-estimating one‘s talent, abilities or level of intellect. These are the instruments that help woo your lovers and they become vehicles to your success.
Tenth meaningful quote, “The brick walls are there for a reason. They’re not there to keep us out. The brick walls are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something.” Doing eighty hours of homework in order to gather the information you need to either “bring down” or “win over” your opponent is like surmounting a fortress brick wall.
Eleventh meaningful quote, “….there are times, believe it or not, when I’ve come across as arrogant and tactless. That’s when those who can help you recalibrate yourself become absolutely crucial.” It’s shame when people express levels of arrogance, simply because arrogance is one of those things that limits what a person can accomplish in life. There is an old expression, “be a Dutch uncle,” which refers to a person who give you honest feedback. Few people bother doing that nowadays, so the expression has started to feel outdated, even obscure. The best kinds of people you can ever come across, are those who are willing to give you honest feedback.
Twelfth meaningful quote, “People are more important than things. A car, even a pristine gem like a new convertible, is just a thing.” Never put material possessions above the needs of people. Allow your kids to be a little messy and give them the freedom to express themselves. Encourage freedom of expression at all costs. Above all, don’t stifle their libido. Don’t be afraid to give them some paint if they want to express creative artwork on there bedroom walls. As a parent, I totally endorse Randy Pausch’s message.
I’m only half way through the book. So, I’ll probably do a part two posting of additional quotations.