Have you ever noticed that the more you struggle against becoming like someone else, the more like that person you become, anyway?
For me, it’s my mother. She was (especially in her later years) a great believer in the power of “too”— “it’s too hot…”, “it’s too cold…”, “it’s too loud…”, “it’s too…”. Like Goldilocks with the home of the 3 bears, my mother never could find anything just right.
Every visit was filled with the barbs from the power of “too”. If you suggested going out to lunch, even if you let her choose the restaurant, there was still no shortage of “toos” whose shiny points were aimed at you and anyone else who crossed her path. The soup was too cold; the salad greens too limp; the meat too tough; and the veggies too overcooked. As I said, nothing was ever just right.
Now, while I can do little about the fact that I look a lot like her (she was, after all, my mother), I struggle against becoming a follower of that deity “too”. So far, I have succeeded managing to maintain a more equitable viewpoint, a less sour outlook on life. At least I thought so, until last night.
Last night we were out with friends, and as we finished placing our orders with the wait person—does anyone else find that term awkward?—we were commenting on the amenities and the show we had just been to, and there out of my mouth I heard it…those dreaded words, in that dreaded tone that my mother always used, and I stopped speaking mid-whine.
Everyone at the table stared at me puzzled, and I gave them a sickly smile and waved them on to continue the conversation. As their words filled the spaces around me, my mind whirled. I had almost done it. I had almost said, “Yes, but it’s too noisy…”, when in fact, the place wasn’t really any noisier than any other time we’d been there. Also, the evening wasn’t worth destroying by becoming a copy of my mother.
I eventually joined back in to the conversations, but I never lost my guardedness. I don’t think anyone else noticed, but I know that I kept monitoring every word out of my mouth as I made sure there were no more “toos” waiting to escape.
It’s a learned behavior, I understand that. It’s a behavior that you grow up observing and hearing so repetitively that before you know it, it’s part of you, too. But I thought I had purged all of that long ago, all of those “learned behaviors”. So, it frightened me when I found out that some part of me had still held on to at least one of those learned patterns.
It makes me wonder just how many more of those learned behavior patterns are still lurking around waiting to pop out. So, now I have to be more diligent in monitoring myself when I speak. And once again, I need to inventory my behaviors and see if I can’t rid myself of those I don’t want. I especially want to rid myself of the power of “too”, because I do not want to be a worshipper at the altar of Never Satisfied.