Sometimes You Have to Unsubscribe

Wait. You know what? Hold on a minute. Just STOP. Time to unsubscribe.

Things are good for us lately and we were really enjoying this time and now, stuff that doesn’t belong to us has come into our lives and taken up too much head space and have eaten into our free time. I caught myself grinding my teeth the other day. Not forcefully but when I noticed I was doing it, I realized that not only did I have a headache that radiated upwards from my jaw, it was doing this sliding motion of my bottom row of teeth against my top in a weird pattern. I stopped myself and thought “Why l am I doing this? I’m having a great day,” and then I realized this new activity was now a part of my day, any day, whether it was good bad or otherwise. Since then, I have been consciously stopping myself from doing it. My husband and I have found ourselves in the very trying sandwich generation.So many times we begin to do very basic things that relax us, give us a laugh and give us time for ourselves and we have to stop because this stuff that is not ours, needs immediate attention. My husband and I have had very little down time lately. Launching young men into adulthood and dealing with family on his side and my side has taken a lot of time. Even carving out time to be a couple has been difficult and lately it seems that being at work is the only time we are alone together, but of course, we are working.

When it comes to Adam and Logan, we are more understanding because we are working with them to help them become the men they want to be. While we are not responsible for what they ultimately do with their lives, we are responsible for helping lay the platform from which they will be launched. From helping Logan get ready for his driving test and getting Adam ready to live independently of us, it’s a busy time but we are are up for these rites of passage and are happy and proud to do it as we watch the remarkable story of their lives unfold. What is difficult is finding ourselves being tugged at in other directions without anyone stopping to recall that even though we work for ourselves, we still have to work. The other thing that people forget is that we don’t have a typical family set up. When we have do do anything, we still have to plan our every move around how it will affect our autistic son, Adam.

I imagine that if we did not run our family like a well oiled machine, things would be different. If we seemed to have nothing under control, less would be required of us. What amazes me is that in spite of the stumbling blocks we have been dealt by Adam’s autism, we manage to require little to nothing of others who need far less oil to run their machines, just as well or better than ours. Don’t misunderstand my words. We willingly accept being available to others and we are happy to help and be there in times of need and give of ourselves but it is hard to bear when people are not mindful. It is frustrating when we offer solid, sensible advice that can solve a problem and it goes unheeded. It is tiresome when denial prolongs the implementation of effective solutions. It is simply insensitive when we re-arranged our schedule in order to help out and our assistance is met with resistance. Again, don’t misunderstand what I am saying. We have received many wonderful blessings from people along our journey and we are grateful, but when things become too intrusive, when our schedules are stretched thin incorporating the stuff that does not belong to us, we occasionally have to unsubscribe.

It may seem selfish, but unsubscribing, I have found, is a good way to keep myself and my family whole and to keep myself and my husband healthy. Unsubscribing is a good way for me to free enough energy and mental space for the things I like to do,which I have to put on hold sometimes for far too long when I have to tend to the stuff that does not belong to me. Unsubscribing also helps me keep myself functioning at a level I am comfortable with. At 52, there are just somethings in the world I do not need to know how to do.There are some things that I just don’t want to do anymore. I don’t need to prove anything to anyone and I need less possessions and obligations in my life. I am happy to learn and try new things but I am not out to ace every undertaking. I can’t support every cause, can’t attend every event and can’t and won’t do more than I can do. I don’t need recognition, glorification or adoration. I just seek occasional stillness and I enjoy peace. I believe It’s okay to be aware of things around you without trying to be an expert at everything. I am satisfied that I can only slightly better the world by bettering myself and if today was my last day, I would be sad to leave my loved ones but satisfied that I lived a good life even if I didn’t get to do and see all that I’d hoped.

Unsubscribing keeps me checked in with myself and keeps me authentic. Authenticity is important to me because social media has created specific moulds where people tend to get stuck. I like social media but it is a beautiful yet dangerous forum I can only take it in small doses on a fairly superficial level. I like that I am able to stay in touch with people who live far away from me but I don’t like that it gives too many people a distorted sense of confidence that allows them to to use words and photos to either laud their privileges over others or bring them down. I like social media when I get see the great things my friends’ kids have done, or see nice photos of people having fun. When it comes to the “hot topics” on social media, I unsubscribe. I have my political, social and religious views that I share discreetly with a chosen few because engaging in banter on line with people who speak before thinking is a waste of precious time. There are days I unsubscribe from brain aching, teenage drama and arguments, I love Adam and Logan but sometimes when hormones shoot wildly and crash down around me, I have to unsubscribe to stay sane. Puberty crashing into menopause can yield a lot of casualties and is messy to clean up …so … I unsubscribe and try negotiations another time. My husband and I have also learned to unsubscribe when people who ask for our opinion or advice are not satisfied until we tell them what they want to hear. No one really wants advice. People want the satisfaction of the support of their often bad idea. When I regurgitate what you have said to me, or when I say “I don’t know”, I’ve unsubscribed…not because I don’t care about you but because I care enough about myself to not let your stubbornness drive me crazy. If you are an adult, you can figure out what you need to do or choose what you want to do without my input. Make your choice and move on set and secure in your decision. I only ask that if it does not work, you go back to the drawing board and try to remedy it yourself before interrupting my day.

I love everyone enough to let them carve out their own path. I try hard to not judge or question people’s motives. When I feel I have to unsubscribe, I do so out of love for them and out of love for myself and to avoid tension and conflict. In life, everyone needs a helping hand, a shoulder to cry on or a listening ear. Tom and I don’t mind giving that support but we can’t help, or listen or decipher issues for others every time something goes pop in their lives. It is tempting to get involved and tangled up in a web of emotion when it comes to helping family and friends but it is far better to unsubscribe, step back and give a person time to think things through on their own and give them space to change and grow. So, the next time you catch yourself clenching your fists, gritting your teeth, furrowing your brow or biting your nails, be kind to yourself and unsubscribe for a while.

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