I like it when a day works out better than expected. Of course, the bar for a decent day might have been set low but that actually makes it seem as though there are more good days that bad ones. I think in business or economics that is called adjusting for margin. In social work-ese, we look for strengths of positivity. Every discipline has its lingo.
I strive, often unsuccessfully, to be an optimist, but often settle for being a pragmatist. I find that in marriage, it is good if one person is at one end of the spectrum attitudinally, and the other is closer to the other. I am not referring to one Pollyanna and one Eeyore but somewhere in balance. If my FHB and I were exactly the same in temperment, one of us would be redundant. It makes for the mystique of relationships. This week was filled with some very sad moments on an interpersonal level and some on a sociopolitical level. The unexpected death of a young person make you take pause and reflect. My FHB lost a colleague and that was very difficult. The death of a group of people just riding their bikes on a beautiful day, that was jarring.
Maneuvering through emotional terrain is never easy. Sometimes you have to find the funny because those moment become the links that help you survive the rest of the madness and sadness. A few days ago a neighbor commented on my hairstyle looking different and good. We don’t see one another too often, so I didn’t want to burst her complimentary bubble, and let her know that essentially I have had the same hairstyle since I was about seven, just different iterations of the “pageboy”,which is now called the “bob”, for those of you not in the hairstyle know. Accepting compliments is not my strong suit, as I struggle to say thank you, as opposed to clarifying that they don’t really know what they are talking about. I am working on it. I work hard at not saying that the outfit is not new, the hairstyle is not new, and the glasses are new, but a couple of months old. Some days, I am just fighting with the nice words coming my way.
Being together with my FHB for many years now, I don’t expect compliments. I know that if I am having a moment, and ask how something looks, it will be “fine”. I don’t like too many compliments and he doesn’t dish them out gratuitously, so it is a good system. However, I made mention that the woman on the elevator, who he probably doesn’t remember, liked my hair. We were standing in front of our respective sinks getting ready for bed, at the time. He turned to me and said “Did you get it cut or something?”. I said no, and he said “Then why did she say that?”. I felt the need to bait and fish. I said “Because she was paying me a compliment!” He looked at me, quizzically and said “Why?’ I looked at him looking at me with a real look of concern, couched in blankness, and I said “People just do that, to be nice….” He said he didn’t get it. I didn’t disagree. I proceeded to let him know that on Friday (today) I would be getting my nails done, and on Saturday, I would be getting my hair cut and that next Thursday I would be getting a facial (last one seven years ago). He looked panicked. It was like check, I was going in for the checkmate. He didn’t have a move. I said, “so your line on Friday is …”What color are your nails?” Redundant, but a conversation filler. I then said, on Saturday, your line is ” Hair looks nice…or something to that effect”. To wrap it up, I mentioned that next Thursday he might want to ask if my face felt good post facial. I like it when he looks stymied. He walked out of the room mumbling. All this self care stuff is a lot of work. The best part, after looking at my nails, hair and soft smooth face, is looking at his face looking back at me, shaking his head. We both laugh because we know, we found the funny. Often that is the connection that safely helps us navigate through a tough week.