I’m trying out a new mantra, it goes like this: Be Nice.
I got an opportunity to practice this mantra over the weekend, when spending time with my family in Eastern Washington. I had started to dread the trip, getting about half way and thinking, “ugh, I hate making this trip,” which is true. Mostly my anxiety is before an event, and I’m okay when I get there, but there’s just something about going to the shithole I went to highschool in that brings up a lot of angst. Not to mention, knowing it was going to be a 24 hour trip and I’d probably end up spending time with my sister, who I’ve been in conflict with for awhile now.
When she walked in the door 45 minutes late, as we were packing up to go, and I had to realize that we were going to end up leaving later than anticipated, instead of making some flip comment about being on time, I bit my tongue and gritted my teeth into a smile. When my dad made some sarcastic comment about his career being ‘work’ and not a ‘job’ I just changed the subject. It did feel forced at times, and somewhat awkward, but overall it had a pretty pleasant vibe to the visit. I left feeling like nothing had been resolved, but nothing had been made worse.
So why is this Be Nice mantra so hard for me? Because it feels fake. It feels superficial, like we’re not addressing the deeper issues of conflict and just ‘pretending everything is okay.’ That’s not how I like to roll. Maybe it’s because of my own anxiety, but I prefer to voice when I’m frustrated, saying “I’m annoyed with this conversation,” or, “I’m upset that you’re late again,” rather than just sitting there feeling upset. I don’t like superficiality and the Ms. Suzy Sunshine role. But can I share my anxiety in a setting or time that works better, and in the meantime just let it go? I don’t know, I managed to do it this weekend, but I’m not sure how long I could just hang out ‘being nice,’ without also, ‘being honest.’ And I haven’t figured out how those two can go together well.