03 April 2011

Lay down a list of what is wrong

Though not strictly about Grey's Anatomy, please note there are spoilers ahead if you're not caught up through the musical episode.

For the most part, I'm not a lyric person. When a phrase catches my attention, more likely than not, it gives me a reason to like a song less rather than more, so I endeavor to keep the music my focus. On occasion though, a lyric makes me like a song better.

Since Thursday's episode of Grey's Anatomy, "Song Beneath the Song," this lyric from The Fray's "How to Save a Life" has been running through my head:
Lay down a list of what is wrong
The things you've told him all along
Say whatever you will about the Grey's Anatomy musical, but it reaffirmed how much I love the character Arizona Robbins. When she sang those lines, it made me wonder if she'd really be able to do that, if this would really be a turning point in her relationship with Mark.

I admit going into this episode, part of me hoped Callie would survive while the baby wouldn't, so things could get back to normal between Callie and Arizona, i.e. their relationship could progress without Mark being an integral part of it. (Another part of me knew the baby's loss would be devastating and would prevent anything from being simple.)

I still don't quite accept that Arizona did anything wrong when she broke up with Callie before leaving for Africa. Once in a lifetime, dream job opportunity that Callie's bad attitude was ruining. That Arizona then essentially gave up to be with her. Going further back, I considered their relationship doomed when it became clear Callie wanted kids and Arizona didn't. There is no compromise to that dilemma. I accept that people can change their minds, but I was a little disappointed when Arizona did. I was hoping she'd find a better match instead.

Hopefully Cristina will stick to her guns on this matter despite Owen's exhortation that she's just immature and will change her mind about having kids. All this seems a cautionary tale to bring up those deal-breakers before you get too attached to someone.

Despite all their crazy history, I love Arizona because she puts Callie's desires first when it counts. Also that she seems really on board with having a kid and isn't just saying it to stay with Callie. It can be hard to give up on a relationship that doesn't quite fit if it's comfortable, but in their case, not much about it is particularly comfortable or easy at this stage.
Lay down a list of what is wrong
The things you've told him all along
Laying down a list of what's wrong is not my forte. My memory is long and at times relentless. I read a really interesting related article this week, My month of no snark, which chronicles a month-long experiment: "I wanted to see if I could change the way I felt by being nice to people. The weirdest part? It worked." (The whole article is definitely worth a read.)

Her rules:
I cannot say or write anything that could be construed as not nice.

I do not have to school other people on being kind.

I am allowed to tease in a good-natured way.

After an exchange from which she "walked away furious and with no way to vent," she writes:
But here’s the thing. Without the ability to vent, I had only two options: to let something relatively stupid eat away at me — or to just let it go. So I tried that. What did it matter if a stranger thought my marriage was challenged because of my first name? Giving his weird, offhand theory any stock would be as productive as stepping on a crack in the sidewalk and worrying it would hurt my mom. So I decided there was something to the old preteen-teen mantra: Whatever. Surprisingly, it worked. If I couldn’t bitch about the exchange, I stopped thinking about it.
Makes sense and not thinking about it seems ideal, and yet in my own experience, I know there have been times where without the opportunity to vent in writing or speech, I simply replayed the incident over and over in my mind until I did express it in some way.

There's actually research which shows that writing about your feelings lessens the strength of those emotions. And talk therapy, of course, has been around for a long time.

There's also the matter of restraint to consider. Don't think I can find the research article or podcast that talked about it offhand, but there's a study that shows when you use will power to keep yourself from doing one thing, you essentially lower your reserve of will power for the next thing. So you might refrain from snarky or cutting remarks all afternoon but then indulge in dessert even though you're trying to be healthy.

The reserve of restraint theory makes a lot of sense to me based on my own life. I'll let things go in conversation to be nice or polite or because the inaccuracies don't really matter, but eventually my restraint gives out and there's my mom looking at me fiercely or idly threatening to smack me upside the head once again.

What's worse is that my will power is less strong for observations that are true albeit entirely unwelcome, which in my mom's case provokes her to lash out strongly in return.

I accept (mostly if I'm to be honest) that I can't change how other people think or behave. I can only change my actions and responses. Even as I write that I wonder how much I believe personal change is possible beyond theory. Thinking back, however, I can see that I have made conscious changes. (The scathing barbs of high school, thankfully, mostly faded away on their own.) Holding my tongue in other arenas still takes effort, but I'm much more likely to do so than I was before I read The Four Agreements (sometime before I started keeping records of what I read in 2004). Innocuous inaccuracies don't get to me like they used to. I'm also much better about conceding I'm wrong when I am and apologizing as soon as I know I've misstepped. Be Impeccable With Your Word!

Despite my progress, I still fail in my interactions far more often than I'd like. There always seems to be more work to do on: Don't Take Anything Personally. Until my manners, prosody, and behavior are flawless – a lifetime's work no doubt – I will keep mulling over ideas, assimilating new approaches, and practicing to be the person I want to be. I will try always to do my best.


A year ago on TTaT: Sketchbook, page 16

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