• Lijing Cobb

Picking up the bullets

I need something. What is it?

It’s been a couple of months since I decided to write this blog and declared 2022 a year of good for me. I think the new me is getting a little tired of insisting on the new ways, and the old me is saying, no worries, you rest, I’ll take over. I know what to do.

Trigger: when I leave home for a few hours and come back to find everyone resting, and the dishes left in the sink and clean laundry piled up high on my bed. The old me says, let’s go! This is outrageous! Get angry now. Lash out! You can. They deserve it!

The new me says: ok, I should have written down a list of what they needed to do when I left so they could follow the steps and do what I wanted them to do. After all, I can’t expect them to choose my way of life. They are their own people. Just leave it now. Don't kill yourself and do it tonight. You’ll just resent it more. Do it tomorrow, and next time, don’t forget to tell them what you want.

Trigger: 12 ladies on the volleyball court, including me. Plenty of people to talk to and hang out with in between games. But I sit down on my own, sip my water, not saying a word to anybody, and wait for the next game to start. The old me says, yes, stay here. This is what you want to do right now. Stay in your own world, watch everyone, and judge them. You don’t need anyone. You are great on your own. Just stay.

The new me: (nothing)

Trigger: my 11yo dog comes over at 4am to ask for water, I let him out at the deck door. 2 minutes later, he barks at the front door, requesting to be let in. The old me says, why does that dog have to go out one way and come in another? How annoying. Go ahead and let him wait longer outside in the cold. That’ll teach him to not be so difficult.

The new me: that’s a smart dog. There are two doors, why not use them both? It’s cold outside: of course he needs to bark to let me know right away he’s done!

Trigger: I tell my husband some news that makes me happy and I expect him to be happy as well, or at least acquiesce to it because of my happiness. Instead he questions it. The old me says, this is ridiculous. Why is it that he can’t be happy for me? Why does he have to put a damper on everything? Why can’t he just say, ok, that’s great! You are so right to be annoyed. He has no reason to question your decision. Go ahead and say something mean to him to let him know that you are the boss. Ignore him for the rest of the night.

The new me: ok, stay quiet and don’t say anything. Let’s think about it. Sleep on it. You are tired now, and we have plenty of time to figure it out tomorrow. Just go to sleep and let it be. Everything will be ok.

Trigger: our Christmas decorations, along with all the contents that need to be organized and put away, have been spread out across the entire attic for a month and half now, waiting for something to happen. The old me says, why are you always stuck with all the cleaning and organizing in this house? Why can’t they do it for once? And if you don’t want to do it either, it’s ok. Let it stay upstairs. It’s not in the way. Just leave it.

The new me: ah, that bothers me. Something needs to be done soon. Why is it that I can’t find the motivation to do this? Is it because I have no time? Do I have the time to do it? Every day my schedule seems to be so full and I really don’t waste much time anymore. I’m working, writing, reading, taking care of the daily needs of an entire household. I’m prioritizing. But since it still bothers me that it’s not getting done, just go ahead and take a look and see what little bit you can do today. Even if it’s just one thing, do a little bit today. Maybe you’ll find your motivation that way, and get a chunk done once you get started. You’ve done this before; you can do it again!

Trigger: I want to read for an hour, but the weather is so nice, so I clean my car instead. I just got the mail, so instead of reading, I start opening the mail. There are only 15 minutes left before I have to go pick up the kids, so might as well use this time to organize the kitchen instead of reading. The old me says, yes, you are doing it right. Just let the moment’s distraction lead the way. Your plan of reading 1 hour per day is not realistic. Look at how many things you need to do for everyone else all the time. Sheesh, you need a break!

The new me: reading is important to me. For a while there I was able to turn off all distractions and just read during the time I planned to read. That felt really good. What happened now that I can’t stick to the plan anymore? Is it because I’m losing my focus? Is it because I’m less aware of what I’m choosing to do at every moment? Is it because since I proved to myself I could do it, it is therefore no longer a challenge, and I gave it up for that reason? Is reading an hour a day just a challenge to me, or is it really something important to me, like eating, sleeping, and exercising?

Trigger: I have my phone in my hand, and at this very moment I’m in between doing things that require concentration, so my fingers go to Facebook. The old me yelps in joy. Woohoo, yay, mindless scrolling time. You go girl. Stay with it. You need a break. Find out what’s going on in other people’s lives. Find out what millions of other people are watching. What’s Brad Pitt saying in this interview? It looks funny. Go ahead and turn the sound on and hear what that superstar has to say. And then move on to the next one!

The new me: I can spend time on Facebook. Or I can spend time reading, napping, organizing the house, meditating, planning a fun activity with kids, making dinner, checking on my plants, calling my husband to check in… make good choices. You can do it. You have the freedom to choose, that's a fantastic thing. Be wise about your choices.

My days are littered with these moments. I constantly have to remind myself that the old me has had her way for a long time and she’s really good at what she does. The new me is, despite her good intentions, at a disadvantage in this constant battle all the time, because she is still learning. If the old me is an Olympian at being angry, negative, cynical, critical, and suspicious, the new me is an novice at being kind, giving, positive, appreciative, and supportive. The old me has practiced her routine thousands of times and can pick it up in her sleep; the new me, like a baby learning to walk, stumble and fall, and sometimes struggle to get back up. It’s all part of the process.

My triggers are everywhere. Like the bullets to my son’s nerf gun, I’d shot them out in every possible direction of my life. Everywhere I turn there is a bullet for me to pick up and put into the discard pile. I gotta keep picking them up. Every time I bend over to pick up my son’s dirty socks without cursing under my breath, I’m picking up such a bullet. Every time I stay my temper and avoid a potential argument with my husband, I’m picking up such a bullet. Every time I remember to communicate my expectations clearly to my kids when I leave them alone for a while, I’m picking up such a bullet. Every time I suppress the urge to check my email or the weather just to fill the void of the moment, I’m picking up such a bullet. Every time I think kind thoughts about my dogs who are “inconveniencing” me at the moment, I pick up such a bullet.

I want to become an expert at picking up such bullets. Seeing them for what they are, and throwing them in the trash can and taking them out of my house. My house needs to be bullet-free. That’s what I need.

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