People often scoff at little bits of wisdom handed down from the women in their lives with the phrase “oh that’s just an old wives tale.” The term came about because women’s knowledge was, at one time, less valued than men’s, and certainly a married women, whose whole world consisted of her home, could not possibly impart any type of wisdom! Of course today we know this is just bullshit and that there were wonderful little bits of wisdom in some of those old tales that we need to actually pay attention to. We know enough now to have weeded through the ones that were just silly. No, Nana masturbation will not make you go blind (thank goodness) but it turns out yes, chicken soup does have some wonderful healing powers when you are sick and carrots are, in fact, very good for your eyes!
My theory has always been, as the daughter and granddaughter of some very strong kick ass women, that nobody knows about life like “old wives,” women who have been through life’s challenges and survived! In fact, I think nobody knows more about life than old, divorced wives, cause we HAVE survived some stuff, haven’t we! I will even admit, and don’t tell her I told you this, but the older I have gotten the more I have realized that my own mother’s advice was some of the best I ever got, especially about sex and relationships. Once I took my fingers out of my ears, and opened my mind to the fact that my mother had a sex life, I learned some very important and valuable things!
“It’s not you, it’s me” is another one of those silly little phrases that we scoff at. Yet it’s also often the phrase that lovers default to when trying to call an end to their romance. “It’s not you, it’s me” is somehow supposed to soften the blow and make the other person feel better when in reality the one doing the breaking up has found some trait in their lover they can no longer stand to live with. Suddenly the voice that was once enchanting is now abrasive, or those little quirks and habits that were once so endearing are now infuriating, and the romance has run its course.
The problem is that we often say the phrase “it’s not you, it’s me” move on and never give it a second thought again. However, what if we considered that it might really be us, after all? No, you say, that couldn’t be, but aren’t we actually the only common denominator in every single one of the relationships in our lives, whether it be friends, lovers, co-workers or family? We bring who we are, and all of our baggage into every single one of our daily interactions with others.
So has it occurred to us, that maybe, just maybe, it really is us after all?
Now I know we’ve discussed this before, but it’s worth talking about again. The most important relationship we will ever have, the only one that follows us our entire lives, is our relationship with ourselves. If we screw that one up, none of the others are going to work.
As I’ve told my own children many times, you can’t just find the “right” person; you also have to BE the “right” person! And why would we want any less for the people we love? Why wouldn’t we want to be the best friend, best lover, best partner, best parent, daughter, son or co-worker that we could be?
Remember, and this is another theme you’ll hear me and my favorite co-blogger Jim LaPierre talk about again and again, we can’t control anyone but ourselves. So stop trying. We can’t change them, fix them or make them react in different ways. All we have control over, ever, is our own reaction, our own thoughts and our own lives. I know, its infuriating, really because if all those other people in our lives would just read the lines we wrote for them, would just follow the plot and the script of our play, then everything would be perfect wouldn’t it? Or maybe it would be boring as hell but we’ll never know, because they have their own script and their own play.
Now this isn’t a call for guilt and self-flagellation, so stop it right there. I know how some of you are (including me), and no I am not saying everything is always all your fault. What I’m saying is that if we are having trouble with any of the relationships in our lives let’s look at what we’ve brought to the situation that might be contributing. Are we holding old grudges against new people? Are bad experiences with one job clouding our reactions to relationships with co-workers in a new job? Do we not trust a new friend because of the betrayal of an old friend? Are the sins of an old lover interfering with our relationship with a new lover? Only we know, and only we can fix it? And if, after all this self-reflection we find out it really is them, and not us, well then only we can decide how to react, whether to hold on or let go, or what we can do to improve the situation. Remember, we can’t change anyone else, but sometimes we can change our own attitudes about a situation, we can accept the other person’s limitations and learn to enjoy the relationship after all.
The older my own mother gets, the more I value her advice. So, when all else fails, ask your mom and if yours is no longer available, I’d be happy to share mine with you because it turns out she was right all along about so many things. Chocolate is good for you and so is a glass of wine a day. It turns out that the way to a man’s heart is often through his stomach and my personal favorite from my mother – that Irishmen really are often the very best lovers! But then again, maybe it’s not them, it’s me (*wink).