Monday, April 02, 2007

what it's like

Things have been weird in bettyland lately. There's been too much work, too little pay, too many responsibilities, too many distractions, too many disappointments.

When I was a child I complained a lot. I learned it (well) from my mother, who held a national title in constant complaining. I never realized that I complained until age 15, when I went away to summer camp. My cabinmates were all too happy to point out my character defect.

I was very bothered by that. I didn't know how to change something I wasn't even aware of. It was the language of my family and had become second nature.

There were obviously people who tolerated it. I was not banished from society- in fact, I seemed to enjoy a fair number of social contacts. Being shy, I was never popular, but I was lucky. In a recent post I described a very cool high school boyfriend who had chosen me based on my appearance.

I can't say exactly when I became convinced that I should try to change and become consciously positive rather than negative, but I think it was fairly recently. You see, my luck ran out once the child came into my life. People do not gravitate toward single mothers, especially the clearly overwhelmed types. Friends became few and far between. Even the friend whom I used to identify as my "emergency contact" abandoned me shortly after the baby was born.

My best guess is that my unwanted solitude forced me to change my habitual way of thinking and speaking. My most recent friend played a definite part- he showed that he could not tolerate any negativity from me. I think I changed, but it didn't save that friendship. A few months ago he took in a female roommate who has more than taken my place in his life. I rarely speak to him now. (But when I do, it's damned positive.)

I do still have someone to talk to. In fact, I have a date with her today. Unfortunately, I'll have to talk fast because I'm only allowed 50 minutes a week with her. And I'd better enjoy it while it lasts, because my insurance will only cover 19 sessions per year.

38 comments:

Teresa said...

I know exactly what you mean. I believe I was a constant complainer too at one time. I now make a conscious effort to be positive about things....even if I am complaining!

My problem is my teenage son seems to have the same habit, and I am desperately trying to change that before he too alienates all of his friends.

Betty said...

Dear Teresa,

My son complains a lot also. He even complains about me being "too positive"! Well, at least he didn't learn the complaining from me...

Hugs,
Betty

stephanie said...

I'm a complainer, but as soon as I say "New Yorker" everyone understands. I mean, look at Woody Allen. There is a way to make a living at complaining. I've never minded people who complain. Though there's a difference, I think, between complaining and being negative.

It's damn hot out, is certainly a complaint. But when it's 107 degrees, who's going to argue? There are people who drone on and on. That's not your typical complainer. There's a difference.

As for the single mother thing, I really admire you. That is work. I'm a married mother of twins with a very supportive husband, but I imagine my life without him, with just the kids, and I don't know how you do it. I think it's wonderful. That said, I never find time for my friends now that babies are in my life. It's just too hard. Though I suspect it might be easier if you find some other moms to play with. Though I wouldn't know. Good post, either way.

Betty said...

Dear Stephanie,

Thank you for visiting and offering your comments. I am from upstate NY, and my mother did spend a lot of time in NY, now that you mention it.

I've never found other moms to hang with. For one thing, I've not been around other single mothers- I don't know where they are. Married mothers tend to shun single mothers, partly, at least, because they seem to double date with other married couples. I don't fit in. Also, many of the mothers at my kid's school are stay at home moms, and I work fulltime, creating another division.

Hugs,
Betty

Loving Annie said...

Oh Betty, I can so relate ! I had a date once tell me that all I had done all day was complain -- and I was so shocked -- I had just thought I was talking about everything very openly ! I didn't relaize that I had been complaining -- but he was right !!!

I didn't know that about single moms... I just assume all moms bonded because of their kids playing together/being in school together and stuff... That must be hard...

Lots of divorced cops I know LOVE to date single moms, though, 'cause then they get to 'rescue' them !

It sounds like you still miss your friend a little... My empathy... I wish sometimes that our mistakes would be forgiven, and we cxould be given that second or third chance to make it right... Some people are special and it hurts to lose them !

I hope that didn't sound negative ! It was meant empathetically !

Hope you have a good Monday evening, Betty, and thank you for the nice comment on my blog tonight !

Loving Annie said...

Hi again Betty !

There's just something about the things you say/the way you say things, that made me come back again for another look..

I saw you had added me as one of your links !
Thank you ! I'm happy to add you to mine as well !

Looking forward to visiting again !

Cyber hugs,
Loving Annie

Betty said...

Dear Annie,

I feel honored to be sharing links with you! And yes, I also thought I was just being honest and open when my friend accused me of negativity. I do miss that friend, and sometimes think he'll be back someday.

And I didn't know that cops like single moms! Hmmmmm...it is logical, when you think about it.

Thank you for your wonderful comments, and welcome to my whirling world!

Hugs,
Betty

Desiree said...

Oh Betty you made me laugh! Thanks for that! I'm referring to the ending of your post of course. What I've gathered from all that I've read here is that you are a very conscientious human! You should be proud of the changes you have made! That is what a successful life is all about, learning and growing and you are most certainly doing that at wonderful speed! I used to be a complainer too! Like you I recognized that this wasn't a good thing and so I worked on changing it. So often I can really relate to the things you write! This is one of those times.

Betty said...

Dear Desiree,

Thank you for saying I made you laugh! We all need to laugh as much as possible, so I'm pleased.

I know that your path has been similar to mine in many respects. That's consoling to me.

Hugs,
Betty

Loving Annie said...

Good Wednesday morning Betty ! How are you ?

Thanks for commenting this morning ! I love it when people go into detail !

It sounds like you are going to do some kind things this week !

(If you're going to go shopping for easter baskets, can I have some miniature chocolate eggs in mine ?)

It kind of feels good, doesn't it, to be conscious of them -- I usually beat myself up for what I do wrong/petty/impatient(and remember those), and rarely give myself acknowledgement for the things that balance it out !

Wishing you a good day today --

Cyber-hugs,
Loving Annie

p.s. I liked what Stephanie said about complaining versus being negative !

Betty said...

Dear Annie,

You're so right- the acknowledgement of the kind things we do is extremely valuable (and foreign!) I'm going to start focusing on both the goal and later the accomplishment of acts of kindness. Thank you for the idea!

Hugs,
Betty

Mark said...

Betty,
The good news is that you acknowlege and are aware that you tend to complain often. You also are aware of the impact that has on those around you. Of course, as you realize, the change must come from within. For you, it has become natural to complain, to vent. In some ways I am assuming from what you wrote that this is a way of conversation for you. The big question is how do you effectively make a change in the way that you communicate. First is to become aware of your behavior, which from a general sense you are. One thing that works for many people is to keep track of everytime that you complain. Write down everytime you complain, this includes verbal and non verbal. This exercise will give you a heightened awarness of how often you complain. The next step is to figure out a way to turn your complaint into a positive. For example "I can't stand this heat!" could be turned around to be "Seems like it is hotter today then normal, thank goodness for air conditioning!".
keep in mind it's not simply what you say, it really is how you think. Changing the language that you use to express your thoughts, will actually begin to change your thoughts.

Betty said...

Dera Mark,

Thank you for your wisdom on this subject. I've been noticing that, as with most flaws, I notice it more clearly in other people. (Why is that!?) And, no surprise, it really bothers me in other people. lso I've noticed that I change according to the person I'm talking to. If it's a complainer, I go along with it. Unless it's my child, with whom I feel a responsibility to be positive as constantly as possible. And with that one recent friend, I have shown that I can be aware, and adjust. Sometimnes acting positive is fake, but maybe it becomes more and more true.

Hugs,
Betty

Lisa said...

Betty,

I also found myself to be a complainer in the past. I'm not quite sure when I tried to turn into a more positive person, but I've been working on that for quite a while now. Mark is right on the money with his suggestions. It really all boils down to having an "attitude of gratitude"--to just be thankful that we have what we have, and to be aware that there are so many people who are less fortunate than we are.

I do always wonder just what it is that makes up a "complainer"--I know I was never a bad person, even if I griped too much. But I do feel responsible for the world sometimes, and I have no idea where that stems from. I've even apologized about crappy weather to people, as if I had some control over it in the first place.

I've come a long way in realizing that complaining is futile. It's pouring here today, and it's freezing. But I refuse to complain about it and obsess over it--it is what it is, and it won't last forever! Ten or fifteen years ago, I would've been belly-aching all day about going out, getting wet, and freezing my butt off!

I think a lot of us who are introspective on our blogs are very sensitive to our past mistakes, and that can only help to make us better people. There's a difference between commisurating with people in the hopes of making a situation better, and just being plain negative and defeated all the time.

Also, I found that a lot of married women didn't want to have much to do with me, but there were some that were spectacular. And I was one of the pioneering single moms in my area...now there are many, unfortunately. Are there any groups that you can join? There have to be some more single moms in your area! Good luck...and don't ever give up on a man loving you even though you have a child. Take it from me and Simply Me...there are some great men out there who will love you, child and all!

Betty said...

Dear Lisa,

Thank you for your in-depth comment! I have been rewriting this comment to you over and over, because I'm trying to be positive. I guess that means I'm going to have to keep it brief and not say too much! As you can see, it's been a struggle since taking my house off the market. My rose-colored glasses have clouded over bigtime. I never realized what a powerful anti-depressant house selling was for me until now. (Well, it wasn't just the selling, it was the anticipation of the downtown pedestrian neighborhood, and the Victorian house, etc.) OK- I'd better quit now. Thanks again for your support! I am grateful.

Hugs,
Betty

Loving Annie said...

Happy Thursday the 5th, Betty ! how are you doing today ?

Thank you for your nice comment on my blog post today. I agree with you !

I am however, seriously tempted to ge some great pictures taken next month after I come back from my trip, and e-mail im one telling him that he blew it !!!

Betty said...

Dear Annie,

I almost suggested that you get a current photo just to show him what he missed out on! I just hope he doesn't start stalking you after that!

I'm doing well today, thank you. I'm enjoying a vacation week off work. As of tomorrow, my child is also off school and my Bettytime will be over, so I'm making the most of the next few hours!

Hugs,
Betty

Ganus said...

betty, perhaps the friendship you define "too late to be saved" has just changed. Perhaps you are both growing in different ways and cannot connect in the same way or at the same pace for now.

Perhaps the change has little to do with a new female housemate and more to do with healthy growth patterns in a friendship.

I know I cannot be around ANY of my friends too much. Sometimes there needs to be a break to let the relationship reset. Forcing friendship because it's a habit is not good. Taking a break is not bad.

Think about these things. These ideas could apply to a long term relationship as well.

Betty said...

Dear Ganus,

I like your new name, I think. I do agree that relationships go through natural cycles (unless forced) and the one I mentioned in my post is cycling. I am not really upset about it, because I have little time to put into relationships anyway, but I do tend to act more positive around that friend because I know he doesn't care for negativity. I learned that. Also in other situations I seem to go into positive or negative mode based on the people I'm dealing with. My goal is to be more positive more of the time. Positivity is a habit.

Hugs,
Betty

Loving Annie said...

Hi Betty !

Thank you for the cyber-chocolate eggs !

Will you be making dinner Sunday night ?

My grandma used to, and would also hide candy in plastic eggs around her house, which my brother and I loved...

What's new with you ?

Betty said...

Dear Annie,

I think dinner on Sunday is a great idea. What time can you be here? I've already hidden the plastic eggs!

Today I took the final steps of taking my house off the market, so it was a bit of a downer. When I came home I crawled into bed and went into a deep sleep, almost like a coma. I could hardly get out of bed when my son started clamoring for his supper, but I managed. Things will get better.

Take care!

Hugs,
Betty

Kacey said...

Hely Cow! When things are really going badly, are you expected to keep a brave smile plastered on your face? Is general conversation, about the way things are considered, complaining? Some of us have really great things going on in our lives and we should be upbeat and even willing to listen to a few complaints from others who have been dished a load of crap. I read your posts and find you to be charming and truthful. We, here in cyberland, like our Whirling Betty --- don't let other people decide who you are. Some men will blame a breakup on you when they are only trying to avoid any blame themselves for their bad behavior.

Betty said...

Dear Kacey,

How wonderful it was to read your very accepting comment! I do try to be positive, but even so, there are times when if I'm to tell the truth, it's not going to be pretty. Thank you for understanding that! Right now, after giving up on my dream of moving, I am struggling more than usual. It means a lot to know that you forgive me.

Many hugs and thanks,
Betty

Emma said...

I'm here via blog tycoon on BE and on reading that post I just had to comment. I can totally relate to so much of what you wrote here. It's really hard but it sounds like you are doing great. I'm lucky in that I too have a great therapist to help me. I will come back sometime and read more.

Betty said...

Dear Emma,

Thanks for stopping by and commenting. It's always reassuring to know that others have been in my shoes.

Hugs,
Betty

Sideways Chica said...

Dear Betty...I know the "positive" routine well, having practiced it when the kids were little and one turned damned negative. A therapist suggested a trick for the youngest, and he is 21 now, and we still practice it with him...even though he hasn't a clue. You see, he was one to cut off his nose to spite his face. I wrote an essay about this, but haven't posted it yet...not ready to out us to him yet, I guess. Maybe one of these days. Good luck and enjoy those 55 minutes each week. Lucky you!

Loving Annie said...

What are you up to, B ? Hope your holiday weekend was good, and happy Tuesday the 10th !

Desiree said...

Just thought I'd say hello Betty, hope you had a great Easter holiday!

Betty said...

Dear Teri, Annie and Desiree,

I've been "out of order" the past few days. I'm not sure what I have, probably some type of flu, but the only thing I'm interested in is my bed. This is when single parenting doesn't work at all. (The poor child is home on spring break!) Instead of enjoying my unexpected time off from work I'm just languishing in bed. Hopefully I'll be blogging again soon.

Hugs,
Betty

simply me said...

After my divorce I felt like I was on a deserted island, not being to identify with so much. I also had a a 7 year old boy. SOme friends bailed others stayed allowing my to be a barnacle in their family activities. Seeing my therapist helped, being a social worker helped, but mostly finding, ground, center and balance when there was none got me through it. I totally relate to you and if i were there I'd be your friend. You are smart, sassy, funny and I am sure better times are ahead. I've read many good books in time...
"The Four Agreements" and "The Power of Now" - both of which I keep near by when I need a reminder.

Hang tight, stay hopeful and peace will come.

Desiree said...

Hope your feeling better Betty! What a drag to be sick on vacation time!

Betty said...

Dear Simply Me,

I have both of the books you mentioned. Knowing that they helped you through a similar time, I will approach them with renewed interest.

You have me believing that peace will come.

Thanks and hugs,
Betty

Betty said...

Dear Desiree,

Thanks! I'm hanging in...

Hugs,
Betty

Heidrun Peters said...

Very interesting blog. I'm here from Blogazoo. I am much impressed by the radical honesty and humour in the way you look at yourself and express yourself. But then, this is just another trait of what astrologers would define as "Virgo"...! Are you aware that your "complaining" and "negativity" could well be attributed to your Sun Sign? "All Virgos are like that!" And in the astrological cosmos no sun sign is better or worse than any other. They all have the right to be what they are, and as such they have an important contribution to make to the world ...
Anyway, this post will qualify as "spring related", and I would like to invite you to the Think Spring blog party over at my blog. Why not come and join us, and get new readers to your blog! We aim to assemble bloggers from all kinds of directions. Have a look!

Loving Annie said...

Good Saturday the 14th, Betty. How are you doing ?

I liked the four agreements and the power of now too.
Books soothe me for a little bit...

Betty said...

Dear Heidrun,

I had forgotten about the Virgo tendency to criticize. You're right! Thanks for visiting and commenting.

Hugs,
Betty

Betty said...

Dear Annie,

I am still not feeling well. It takes a while to get over the flu, apparently. Hopefully I'll be myself soon. I hope you're having a wonderful weekend!

Hugs,
Betty

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