Wednesday, November 28, 2012

My step by step guide to apologies.

Apologies are interesting things. Most people seem to think that it's words and moving on. Sometimes they are. When you bump into someone and no one is hurt, a simple "sorry" is all that is needed. Us Canadians love to apologize for that, even when someone bumps into us!

However lots of times, the offense is a little more serious than a bump. For example, if you smash someone's bumper, a simple sorry isn't going to cut it, your insurance will cover it, and you will pay through the nose with your insurance. Hurting people's feelings, sometimes a heartfelt discussion and showing someone that you are listening to their pain that you've caused is what's needed. However in order for that to happen, you actually have to listen to them and then act accordingly in the future.

I try hard not to hurt my friends and family. If I've learned I have, I make note and try never ever to do that again. A friend of mine once told me about how I hurt her feelings, this was nearly a year ago, I have since done everything in my power to avoid even straying into that territory, because I don't want to do it again. In fact I want to do the opposite and try to do so.

Apologies to me aren't simply just words. They are acts. They are the act of listening and understanding what the other person has gone through and what it has taken for them to simply be there to hear out your apology. It's about understanding and trying to avoid doing the same thing or further damage. Now I'm not saying that you should be bending over backwards because you failed to notice your sister's dogs new hairdo, but if you have genuinely hurt someone and you genuinely feel bad about it, act on that.

What is worse than not acting on it, is offering a bunch of words and the illusion that you are listening and understanding. Then re-offending. The person whom you've apologized to, is opening up, making themselves vulnerable again to you, and if you're not willing to act on it, in fact doing something that will likely hurt that person again, you've basically thrown a sucker punch.

The first part of acting on it, is realizing if you're capable of doing so. Are you capable of empathy? Do you really want to? Do you actually feel bad? Assuming the person doesn't want your head on a platter, but would like you to say not hurt their feelings again, are you capable of that? Answer yourself honestly, because if you're not, than really, either apologize and get the heck out of their lives, or just don't bother.

The second part is listening. This is a HUGE part of the apology, the main part really. If you are not willing or capable of listening to that person and how they hurt, how you've hurt them, how you may hurt them in the future, than, really, it's a waste of time. Yes, some things may be unreasonable, and now is the time to mention it, but at least if you're there, you're listening. There are about a million and one basic counseling courses you can take from any continuing education program at most post secondary institutions. These are great for teaching you how to listen. Some people can do it naturally, many need to learn.

Then act on it! Really, don't apologize, and then hurt the person again. The problem is with apologies is that it makes the person vulnerable again, they believe that you're genuinely sorry and come to a reasonable conclusion that you're going to try and make an effort to be more mindful in the future. I sometimes think it's far easier to just move on with your life, expecting never to receive an apology and fortifying yourself for that, than to have one, let your guard down a little and BOOM!  So not only are your feelings hurt, but you feel stupid for not being on the defensive and expecting that this person is going to be mindful in the future. And for the person offering the apology, you just set yourself back big time, so don't do it unless you're willing to act on it. This means that you have to have empathy, have had to listen and are able to compute that "Gee, based on what X has told me, this action here, is likely to hurt them and I can easily avoid it, so I won't do it."

Anyhow, this was an early morning rant (published much later) just brought on by a bunch of things over the weekend. You can colour me disappointed, but it is a life lesson in that if I'm being apologized to, I'm going to do my darndest to suss out that the person doing so has these three things in mind.

Monday, November 12, 2012

A year? A YEAR???

It's hard to imagine in so many ways that I've been with my wonderful boyfriend for a year now. In some ways, it's just flown by and I've barely noticed, in other ways, it's like we've been together forever because he can take one look at my face and deduce the wheels are turning for good or bad.

How do you summarize a relationship in a blog post? I'm having troubles. Lets put it this way, last November, I kissed a man, someone I instinctually felt safe with, who I knew would never hurt me intentionally. I would always be able to trust him, not from some romantic point of view, but that his character would not allow for him to behaviour dishonourably to me. I knew right away that I wanted to be exclusive with him. I was terrified, absolutely terrified. The last time I had started a relationship, I was 14. I had no self confidence, I was convinced that my lack of self esteem and being on guard would drive him away. I called my mom weekly it seemed in tears telling her I wasn't ready for this. My insecurity led to this need to be reassured constantly. How the man is still sane is a mystery. Being accepted for who I am, neurotic tendencies and all is also strange. The baggage, the insecurities, the swearing, the size 14 body, it's all taken in, along with all the good that is me. And it's not only just words and baubles, its backed up with actions.

Despite all of this, the walls came down. It is a strange thing when logic is telling you to stop being a scared ninny, there is NOTHING to be afraid of, and the scared ninny Joys running around in my head were making more "sky is falling" proclamations than you'd hear at a GOP convention. When my insecurity isn't running this ship, there is little more that I am confident in than his love for me, and my ability to trust him. That in itself is such a strange feeling. While I loved my husband when married, trust was never high, I don't know if that was a self fulfilling prophecy or just my Spidey Sense tingling, but my fears were validated in spades. So being able to trust so completely is very new for me, and insanely new 1 year ago.

He's tall, dark and handsome. He kills bugs and reaches high things. He adores my boys and they adore him. They get jealous when I get to see him and they do not. He's sweet and gentle, we are opposite in so many ways, but somehow being able to cut through all of that to realize that we have the same values, and he has an amazing character that I've yet to hear one person fault him for. Something he is proud of, and should be. Our values are simple, but they are important to us and the fact that we've found someone who shares them is beyond lucky, and I'm forever grateful for that.

I laugh again, I enjoy things I haven't in a long time. I love play fighting, tickling with my mate, I love kissing again, I don't like being in his proximity without being snuggled up to him. He texts me every day we don't see each other just to let me know he's thinking of me, it's a small thing, but I cannot tell you how monumental it is. I don't feel taken for granted. We cook and work together. I learn things from him, he learns things from me. I'm allowed to get sick or have surgery and I'll be shooed to bed, despite my best efforts to take over. We bring out good things in each other, our opposites making influences on our ways of life.We have fun with the kids, they have fun with us. They see me happy again, laughing, being silly, despite being just as exhausted and overstressed as I was when I was married. I'm a different person, a better person, for them and myself and that wouldn't be possible without my boyfriend. This has been a fantastic year, and I cannot wait for the many more to come.

Who are you calling fatass?

Okay, I was called a fatass on the streetcar last week. I promptly filed that under "so important, I forgot about it for 5 days", but it is interesting for social commentary. My English professor, would die if she saw this, because it has a hell of a lot of repetition.

I am a fatass. I'm a size 14, I take up my fair share of space, especially when loaded with a wool winter coat (which is fabulous by the way, EVERYONE loves this coat) and a backpack...not so fabulous, but since Coach doesn't make a backpack to accommodate my schoolwork, I'm SOL. But that isn't what makes me a fatass. What makes me a fatass, is that I'm unapologetic about it.

People in today's society seem to treat plus sized people like we don't deserve space. That since we're fat, it's our own fault and therefore, it sucks to be us. So if we should happen to ask politely that you, yanno actually move out of your aisle seat, so I can vacate mine, without caving your head in from my backpack, basically, you get to call me a fatass under your breath for the inconvenience.

I am at the smaller end of the spectrum of fatasses, so I imagine that in a society where thinner is better, people who aren't, and who have the audacity to think that they are still deserving of respect, are treated pretty shabbily.

I may be a fatass, but I'm a fatass who works and loves hard. This fatass has a legion of awesome friends, all of whom would be willing to smack said woman on the streetcar if I asked. Not everyone has that, not nearly enough people. So essentially, I'm a fatass who is loved. I love people. I like to help people, my life has been spent in social services and being a fatass mother, who has some pretty freaking awesome boys for all my efforts. I'm a fatass who has gone through hell the past two years, and has come out the other side saying "Is that all you got?" As my peers get to know me at school, they are astounded by all I have gone through and still manage to walk on with a smile on my face. Fatass has a great family, the bills paid, food on the table, two awesome cats and amazing hair. I'm a pretty darn smart fatass, or at least my school seems to think so, I'm sitting around a 90% average, and that's after missing 3 weeks of school to take care of a very very sick mother and kids. Fatass also has a fantastic boyfriend, who by the way, loves her fat ass.

But you know what is best about this fatass? I'm a happy fatass. I don't need to call someone a derogatory name based on their body because of a nanosecond of having to move a bit. I don't feel the need to try and shame someone like that. I don't like going out and trying to hurt people and I can't imagine people who do, are very happy people. I'm confident. I'm proud of myself, I may have body image issues, but one thing that is not lacking in my body is strength because it keeps getting up after everyone smackdown. So I'm not going to be ashamed of it. I'm not going to apologize for taking up space, because I'm a good and deserving person, and if that offends you, or somehow threatens you and your very narrow view of body image, what is proper, what is correct for a plus sized woman, well, you know what you can kiss, and lucky for you, I have plenty of it!