Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The Script

I was watching Must Love Dogs the other day with John Cusack and Diane Lane and the male lead character (boat making-man) makes a comment that women write a script for men to follow and if somehow they go off script, they are “out”….gone….kaput. Now, I have seen this movie several times and every time I hear that line, I am like……”whatever..”…..that is….until this last time. Listening to those words brought back a memory of a recent discussion the Man and I had.
The Man had offered to help me with a few yard projects over Labor Day weekend (I know----he’s amazing!!!) but, quite honestly, I was a bit skeptical of whether or not he would actually follow through. Now….I do want to give a disclaimer….The Man has always come through for me (unless catastrophe strikes) and any part of me that has skepticism comes from my feeling of being last on the list in my marriage. It’s a knee-jerk reaction for me at times, but I am working on it. 

I had to work that Saturday morning and we had plans for the evening, hence time was short for such a large project. The Man offered to come over in my absence and create the flower bed taking out all of the grass around my newly planted hostas, lilies, etc. Yay!! I was so excited!

Well….excited for a little bit. I wanted to remind him……OMG I was like a crack addict I wanted to remind him SO bad! I just knew he would forget….was banking on it!! My heart started beating a bit faster….I checked my phone….no word from him that he was at my house. I know he is going to forget….get busy…hang out…whatever and decide to do the project another day. I literally started getting upset, “he knows this is important to me…I knew he would forget.” So I waited…..and waited...and my recalcitrance to nag became an attitude of, “if I am important, he will remember.” My worries and more importantly, my expectations of him not coming through sent my heart rate through-the-roof!!

I get in the car, hands shaking, writing the “speech” I am going to give him when I get home and he is not there. I am going to call him on his cell--all aloof like I don't care about the stupid flower bed....  I wrote the entire speech…..and then wrote his response to my speech and my response to his response. By the time I got home, I was totally ticked! Why?? Because I wrote the script - cast the characters, plot, motives…the whole nine yards. I walked through my door ready for battle and saw my sweaty man…drinking a glass of iced tea and I would like to say that I melted. But quite honestly, it took me a few seconds to gather up my emotions inside myself. He looked at me, smiled and said, “you thought I would forget.” I said, “yes, I did.” The Man replied, “I will always come through for you, baby.” And it was then that I melted.

Moral of the story: Throw away the script! Shred it!! Burn it!! We seem to think that if we control the plot or at least know what is going to happen that we buffer ourselves from disappointment. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Remember the last time you wrote your script? Remember?? When your self-fulfilling prophecy came to pass, you (that is…..if you are like me) probably said to yourself, “I KNEW IT!” By setting your expectation of disappointment early, the fire of your discontent is at full swing by the time the act actually happens. You have fanned the flames of anger preemptively. By scripting it all out, it makes it easier to check out because you are disappointed, to withdraw emotionally….to create a situation where the punishment doesn’t jive with the offense….a situation where the other person comes into play after you have been stewing on it for hours, days, weeks….and they ask what the big deal is (not knowing that you have been ticked off preemptively for hours now). Baby, that script ain’t no good--ain’t no good at all!!

If you must write a script, create the expectation of love and respect...of kindness and compassion.  Treat them as the people you hope they will be - expecting good things.  Buck Brannaman once said at a horse clinic, "treat your children as if they are already who you want them to be.  Treat them like they are intelligent, respectful, responsible and they will become intelligent, respectful, and responsible.  If you treat them like that are irresponsible, dis-respectful and stupid, that is what they will become."  The word become is crucial.  We are all on a journey...on our way to becoming our best selves.  Remember that the next time you get out your pen and start writing that script.  Just wait and see what happens and go from there. 

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