Let’s Talk

Dear J-

The first rule is this: can I do something to affect the outcome? It’s a simple question, just a yes or no answer (“I don’t know” is also perfectly acceptable) but it goes a long way to the next few steps. I need some kind of a mantra to keep the initial impulses under control (yelling out at strangers and family and friends is not the correct choice; it is almost never the correct choice, in fact, but there you are, lips flecked with spittle and ranting on about something else again) so let’s try to think of one. I used to believe that being awesome was sufficient excuse for being right all the time, but having a family has thoroughly disabused me of that notion. I’m not. And the charming mess that is me ranting at the world is less charming by the day; I’m like the world’s oldest four year old instead.

You know how people will stop counting birthdays after a certain point? “Hey, I’m twenty-one for the fourth time …” No one stops counting at four; there’s still a lot of life to be led beyond that and milestones and achievements to be had, places to see and so much to look forward to, too. So let’s start with “can I control this?” and build something from that. Suppress the first impulse and put your hand in your pocket and touch something. There’s gotta be something in your life that makes you think of control. For those kids who grew up holding Nintendo pads, the iconic square controllers will have to do. It’s better than trying to fit a whole Atari joystick into your pocket, at any rate. Maybe you have an extra key or something?

Put your hand in your pocket to put your tongue away.

Touch a control to see if you can control your situation. Or if you have a key, let that be the key to the situation.

Can you talk without yelling? If not, go back to touching.

Realize this: the negotiation between the forces inside your head (the yellers versus the rationals) will have to go on at the same time that you’re talking to other people. The other people are there to help. They are not there to try to hurt you, or argue with you, or any of the attacks in your head, whether imagined or real. Weather the storm instead, and return when you can speak rationally.

More later.

Mike

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