Tuesday, 16 December 2014

New Year's Revolution

It's Holiday Season. This may be needed. What do dressing room mirrors, bathroom scales, tact-less relatives and drunken friends-of-friends all have in common?
Let the Friend Like Me tell you about one New Year's resolution actually worth making. What about keeping it? Worry not, it keeps itself... A revolution.

A few years ago, while I was expecting baby #last, my then toddler threw a mega tantrum. He wouldn't enter the home of one of our close relatives that we haven't seen in a while. So we carried him in. Once inside, he wouldn't take his jacket off. So we peeled him out of it. Then he wouldn't stand, sit or be quiet - instead, he rolled himself around the carpet, banging the floor with arms and legs, howling at the top of his lungs. If childcare services happened to be passing by, I am sure we would've got a tap on the shoulder.

I raised my firstborn son mostly by myself and as expected, he never threw a tantrum, probably knowing somewhere deep down not to mess with his mom/dad 2-in-1 combo. Flash forward: my husband and I - both tantrum-virgins in our 40's - were looking at each other wondering what had possessed our otherwise angelic child and how to get him back when my in-law asked: 

"Marina, who on your side of the family is this stubborn?"

My husband gasped. 

The Merriam-Webster dictionary amongst others, gives this definition of the word 'offend': 
to cause to feel hurt, angry, or upset by something said or done. 

Oh how completely I used to succumb to that feeling! For those that know the funny/fearless/fire-breathing dragon I am today, it will be hard to imagine I used to be a serial blusher as a child. Any sentence longer than four words would have ended in my face turning red. God forbid that a question followed - I’d turn crimson. 

Following is a short biography of me feeling offended: 
  • In elementary school, some 'mean girls' called me Dumbo as I had protruding ears. Worry not - I got it fixed. Once I work up my blogging courage, I’ll be sure to visit the 10 yr old me the day they took off the bandages and gave me a hand-held mirror. I was the first ever cosmetic surgery in Belgrade's Children's Hospital. My BEFORE & AFTER photo still hangs in the office of the Chief of Surgery. 
  • Then there was this girl in Grade 9 standing with her group of friends who were anxiously awaiting details of some wild weekend romp or perhaps the exaggerated version of it. As I walked by, she stopped mid-story with the comment: "hold on, gotta wait for the nun to pass". Nun!!! Of course it's funny today - I'm kind of grateful to have been nun-like at 16. But then, those words scorched. I heard them as: dull, uninteresting, unlovable
  • Embarrassingly, this didn't end with maturity. A cool mom who was a close friend of our family went to the same aerobics studio as I. One time during an intense day of studying for exams, I dragged myself to a class hoping to alleviate accumulated anxiety. Totally beaten up by our insane, Bin-Laden-hunt-worthy instructor, I took my time in the change-room. Then I heard a thunderous: "Marina!!! Your breasts are HUGE!" coming out of the mouth of this woman who knew me since birth. Needless to say about fifty pairs of eyes immediately swivelled to my - thankfully - bra-covered rack. In Serbia during the late 80’s we weren't in on Victoria’s Secret. Apparently, this was good news. Where is a Kardashian when you need one??!! For the next few years that followed I actually adopted a hunched posture and oversized shirts. 

This all before I raked up the glamorous status of a new immigrant single mother and my three sets of in-laws! Plenty to be offended by. 
Epiphanies can't be bleep-ed

Epiphanies can occur at any given moment. Epiphanies can also arrive in somewhat profane language. But once they occur, there is no way back. My epiphany likely followed a marathon of obsessing who is going to think what; should I do/say/wear this or that. Yes, I actually don’t remember. What I do know for sure is that I was exhausted of trying to predict the future chess- like moves of characters who were supposed to have predominantly supportive roles in my life. 

"I don't GIVE a sh*t!" 

The relief was instantaneous. The worries I dragged around with me since forever washed off as effortlessly as if I simply showered them off. Why did it take me so long??? 

I should have known. If I only faced the word itself and read it correctly. Offend. OFF. END. 
Turn it off. Then it ends. So simple. "I don't GIVE a sh*t!" The pharmacist in me can't resist adding: repeat a few times, before and after each meal, even if right this second, you kind of still do give a sh*t. Then feel the relief washing all over you - coming here to stay. 

Back in that living room, where the toddler was still tantrum-ing on the carpet. By my third marriage, I'd became a pro at this: Surrender. Have fun. Flirt with what used to be a potential for a disaster. Mischievously, wink at my hubby. Then make a resolution: I stubbornly refuse to get offended.