Thursday, March 06, 2008

It's All About Perspective

I spoke to my brother over the weekend. He was fine, but anxious about some impending test results. Test were performed on his son who is 5 years old because his head start teachers were concerned about some behavioral difficulties. I am always leery when I hear that. I know that some teachers just cannot deal with a child that does not fit into a cookie cutter mold, or color inside the lines. I also know, as the mother of a nearly 12 year old, that time does work magic on kids. The grow into and out of behaviors their entire lives. That which you would kill (or medicate) them for today will be replaced in 6 months by something else. I told my brother this, but it did little to allay his fears.

The call came Monday. Dakota has defiant disorder, anger issues, shows signs of obsessive compulsive disorder, possibly has Aspergers Syndrome, and last, but not least, ADHD. Man, it seems everything but the kitchen sink. Needless to say, my brother was pretty freaked out. He said he felt completely unprepared, that he didn't know if he could deal with all this. It was understandably impossible for him to take a step back to gain any kind of perspective. I asked him whether a: he had confidence in the information imparted (yes) and b: whether today was really any different from yesterday in terms of the actual child that stood in before him, other than the fact that big scary names had been attached to him. I think that helped him calm himself for the moment. He will need a lot of support, as will his wife and two daughters. My brother was a behaviorally challenged child himself; I know exactly what kind of strain that puts on a family. But there is so much more information available today to help him wade through this, and be an effective advocate for his son.

Also on Monday, my husband called my office to tell me that a couple with whom we used to be very close until an unspecified event last summer was coming to dinner that night. I had seen these people only once in the intervening six months, and that was two weeks ago at a mutual friend's birthday party. Bygones were set aside, and we had a good visit, both at the party, and around my table. I still don't know what the breakdown in our friendship was, and I find myself really needing to know in order to get past it. As Alanis Morissette says:

"The only way out is through
The only way we'll feel better,
The only way out is through,
The sooner we're in the better,

I believe this to be true (actually that whole album speaks to the theme of personal growth and recognition). My natural tendency when faced with a difficult discussion where I am even fractionally at fault is to run and hide. My fear is not of my own mistake per se, but another's judgment of it or me. In this instance, the mistake, problem or misunderstanding is six months old and I don't know what it is. That said, I really do want to face this head on. The friendship I lost hurt me to the core. If facing the truth of it can resuscitate it, I have to step up and face it, no matter how unpleasant. Likewise, she has to face my truth of it as well. It will take time and courage, but we took this first step. My prayer is that it was not in vain.

For these six months, my husband and I both absented ourselves and were excluded from activities and/or parties that involved the entire group of friends. That, too, seems to be resolving as time goes on. I want to ask what changed, but am not sure I will. Most of this group are more casual friends, only with one or two did I see myself in a rocking chair on some porch in thirty years.

Needless to say, I went into Tuesday morning's yoga class tired and spent. Naturally, it was one of the most vigorous ones I've attended thus far. I felt completely outclassed--that I had absolutely no business among such accomplished practitioners. I judged myself harshly when I could not reach poses, or fell out of them. I was in pain. My hip joint would not cooperate at all. I haven't had such negative thoughts about my physical being in a long time. My sense of post-yoga peace with which I normally face the day was shattered.

A glass of wine, and some much needed sleep brought me to a somewhat better place Wednesday, so I went to the gym to exorcise my demons. Felt good enough about it to wake up early and go back to yoga again, for which I was rewarded with a sense of accomplishment. I'm on my third Starbucks of the day, but that's just fine. I don't feel like I am going to cry, tear someone's head off or crash, so it is a good day.

And spring is coming. It is a balmy 45 degrees here in New York. Sun is shining. Daylight Savings time begins this weekend, and opening day at Shea is less than a month away. Life, while it smacks me up beside the head pretty good some times, is in fact very, very good.



eastcoastdweller said...

Re: Your brother's son. That's the exact diagnosis that was pasted onto my little brother many years ago.

He did graduate from high school, has married, has a child and is holding down a job. But life is not easy for such a person. You don't dare try to challenge his point of view on anything. Standard discipline rolled off him like water in his growing up years.

It was tough. But there is value to every human being, regardless of the package of challenges with which they come.

The Real Mother Hen said...

There is so much to learn about friendship isn't it?

Regardless how good the friendship is, there are always times when good friends drift apart/ draw closer, due to good understanding or lack of it, or basically a change in one's life.

JYankee said...

well...heavy words (diagnosis) for your niece...but with research and is manageable... much good vibes to your brother and his family....
yes spring is's a little warmer than that i am a happy camper!

Kate said...

Wow. You've expended a lot of emotional energy this week! I agree with you when you say that you may not try to find out what caused the "mystery-rift". I know it's very mid-western, non-confontational of me, but I like the whole "least said, soonest mended" least, in circumstances in which the mending is already going on.

simonsays said...

Good post r.

I think it's so wonderful that you are keeping with the yoga-I know how demanding that is on a body..and one that is near my age, (you are younger than me, I think?), it must be a killer. I really want to get more physical, too but I have the worst fear of screwing something up in my back or neck. Walking is good but I need to do more, and I am so unsure of WHAT to do.

Friendships are hard to hold on to, and when you find one worth the time and trouble, I think you have to do whatever necessary. Kudos to you for letting bygones be just that. It's a hard thing to do.

Have a good weekend. Thanks for the reminder that spring is coming, I still have yet to see any real signs of that here.


Maria said...

Bing takes a yoga class twice a week and loves it, says that it centers her more than regular workouts do. I just started a beginners T'ai chi class and I am pretty cranky about it. It is HARD and I am a baby.

I wish Spring was coming here. We had yet another ice storm last night here on the prairie and the wind chill is 19 below. I crave Spring and content myself with my seed catalogs and plotting my summer garden on large white paper grids....

I agree with Kate, best to let it go if there is no big issue to wade through.

Enjoy those temps!

SOUL: said...

man, you have a lot goin on ... i got exhausted just readin about you.
i don't handle confrontation or conflict well either-- never have-- and i don't imagine i ever will... there are only a few people in my life that i dare face that fear for -- literally about three-- seven if i count those under thirty :))

anyhow--- tough call on the nephew-- labels? diagnoses? who knows anymore? funny how ADHD wasn't around when we were kids-- never heard of that til computers and cable evolved... maybe if we unplugged all that crap and made our kids play outside instead of veggin on electronic games and stuff we'd see a little difference??
i don't know--
we have had teachers say that to us before though.. it's a tough call to make.

hope you have a good rest of the weekend...

Foster Communications said...

I know a guidance counselor who wanted to put a yellow star on the name tags of students who had IEPs. Yeah, I told her Hitler tried that. I find labels on kids so frustrating. I'm sure your nephew is a great little guy who will find his way.

I am so looking forward to bike riding weather. Getting on my bike more than anything else helps me exorcise those pesky demons. Works miracles.

And your'e right, life usually is pretty dang great! :)

Foster Communications said...

I know a guidance counselor who wanted to put a yellow star on the name tags of students who had IEPs. Yeah, I told her Hitler tried that. I find labels on kids so frustrating. I'm sure your nephew is a great little guy who will find his way.

I am so looking forward to bike riding weather. Getting on my bike more than anything else helps me exorcise those pesky demons. Works miracles.

And your'e right, life usually is pretty dang great! :)

simonsays said...


How are you? What's going on? Just missing your words and wisdom. :)

The World According to Me said...


I'm sorry to hear about your brothers son. But by the sound of it he has a strong, loving family around him, to encourage and understand.

Conflicts and confrontations - they are not my strong points.

I hope you are enjoying the sunshine today.

suesun said...

Thanks for making me feel not-quite-so-alone: You captured perfectly a similar feeling of mine lately...... like everything is either in full beauty or dead-on misery. I feel competent and capable and confident one minute, and despairing and doubting and doomed the next....maybe it's just all part of being 41???