My darling daughter has an amazing dance teacher who likes to remind her that sometimes in life you are the windshield and sometimes you are the bug. Such an important lesson! This isn’t about whether it is fair or unfair, it just is. This is something we can apply in all areas of our life:
- My daughter was disappointed her dance had not scored higher at a dance competition. It wasn’t “fair” because the judges were “biased” and only liked hip hop.
Well, my dear, that is how it is sometimes. Sometimes you are the windshield and sometimes you are the bug.
- A client expressed frustration that I “always” win when we play board games in session. (I don’t cheat to let kids win – I think it sets a bad precedent.
Sorry, buddy, but sometimes you are the windshield and sometimes you are the bug.
- A friend was pulled over for speeding and received a rather hefty traffic fine. She was extremely frustrated because “everyone else” was speeding and she was the only one pulled over.
Well, that sucks, but sometimes you are the windshield and sometimes you are the bug.
- A family member (who will not be named) was upset because a co-worker was promoted over her despite her perception that she was a much harder worker, a more diligent employee and generally better suited for the new position.
I get your frustration, but sometimes you are the windshield and sometimes you are the bug.
I have had many experiences in my own life when, unfortunately, I have been the bug. I have not enjoyed those experiences, not once. I have found it important to keep perspective, though, because there have also been numerous times when I have gotten to be the windshield. All too often we focus on how much it sucks to be the bug that we lose sight of all the wonderful windshield experiences we have had.
Has this happened to you? I’d love to hear more examples of when you’ve been the bug AND times you’ve gotten to be the windshield. I can tell you in my daughter’s dance situation there have definitely been times when she has placed over kids who danced much better than she did that day. (Please don’t tell her I said that…) On those days, she got to be the windshield.
Have you ever had one of those conversations that you prepared for and worried about and practiced… only to have it end up being absolutely no big deal? You almost feel let down that there is no big emotional explosion because your spent so much time preparing for it. Somehow it is almost like you have been cheated. We had one of those yesterday with our daughter, Charlie, who is 10 years old.
Charlie has been playing along with us for years on the whole Santa, Easter Bunny, Tooth Fairy thing, and though we suspected she “knew” the truth, she never acknowledged it to us. Jason (my husband) and I decided it was time to have “the talk”. We wanted to let her into the grown up club because we suspected she was onto us and, if not, we didn’t want her to get teased for still believing. C’mon – 10 is kind of old for Santa.
So… we created this amazing game plan and practically scripted the whole interaction. We planned to take her out for a walk after Easter dinner and discuss it all. We thought the fresh air might calm her down. We walked a long for a bit and then I asked THE QUESTION – something along the lines of, “Where are you at with this whole Easter bunny thing?”. Smooth, I know. Charlie then got a smirk on her face and said, “I know it is you and Daddy.” We were a little stunned. She then continued, “Same for Santa.” We then asked with a little quiver in our voices, “What about the Tooth Fairy”. Her response with a shrug, “You.”
Well, crap. She then broke it to us that she has known for several years and had been playing along for two reasons: 1. It seemed really important to us and 2. She was afraid the fun and gifts might stop. We assured her that we were OK and that we still loved the holidays and nothing would change our celebration.
I have to admit, I felt a little let down, but also a little relieved that all the sneaking around was over. This was confirmed by her last comment on the subject – “You know, you don’t have to put the Tooth Fairy money under my pillow anymore. You can just hand it to me in exchange for the tooth.” Great. Like a crack deal.
We’ve talked before about how I am basically a teenage girl trapped in an adult body – I watch TV shows and movies geared toward this population, read their books and listen to their music. Many will chuckle and assume all this stuff is really juvenile and offers little insight into “real life”, but you might be surprised.
Case in point: There is a TV show called “The Vampire Diaries” on the CW. I won’t bore you with all of the details, but needless to say, it is a show about a bunch of teenage/young-adult looking vampires and how they interact with each other and humans. Exciting stuff, right? Anyway, on the show the vampires all still experience strong emotional reactions including sadness, loss, love and anger. These same vampires have the option of “turning off their humanity” which means they no longer feel pain or sadness or guilt. They are willing to do anything to anyone and experience no remorse. That is until something happens and their humanity is turned back on which causes all of those emotions to come flooding back. Interesting concept, right?
Now, we “regular people” do not have the option of turning off our humanity to stop experiencing our feelings – no matter how much we may want to avoid them. What I have observed in my practice is that people start using drugs and alcohol to achieve the same result. Something happens in their life that causes them so much pain that they will do anything not to feel it anymore. As long as they continue to use the drugs, the feelings are kept at bay.
An addict almost has to “turn off their humanity” in their efforts to continue their drug use. They cannot feel remorse about the people they might hurt or the crimes they may commit. They are so focused on getting and keeping the high, all other feelings would only interfere with that pursuit.
Sobriety is when their humanity gets turned back on. Not only must they deal with whatever it was that chased them into drugs in the first place, but now they must also deal with everything they did while using drugs and alcohol as well. This flood of emotion is typically overwhelming and frightening. It is one of the many reasons I recommend that individuals in rehab or who are working on their sobriety also participate in therapy. They can benefit from the support and need to develop appropriate coping skills to deal with all of these negative emotions. All too often, clients have told me they are unable to manage the feelings and escape back into their addiction.
So… the next time someone belittles your entertainment choices (go teen fiction!), remember there are amazing insights everywhere – you just need to know where to look.