Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Day 2 of 30: Quiet.

I started the day off by getting one rather large item off of my to-do list.  I canceled my cable Internet service.  This is the kind of thing I would "normally" have procrastinated about since no one else has an interest in when it gets done, but in order for things to change, things have to change, so I changed.  I decided work could wait for 20 minutes, I went to the cable place when they opened and was out the door in 10 minutes, equipment all turned in, refund check (for remaining paid-up service days) on the way.  Woot!

They tried to hang on to me, even offering months of free service for a contract renewal, but I stood my ground, seizing upon this low-stakes exchange for practice.  It was a small win, but a W is a W.

I went to the diner next door for some breakfast, sat down, ordered food and got a message from work that I misinterpreted as urgent.  Crud.  Now, do I rush my way through breakfast?

No, I decided.  My meal comes first, so I pulled out my Kindle, and while I didn't dawdle, I didn't rush though the meal.  I confess I did sort of rush in to work after the meal, coaching myself along the way that I am allowed to take 30 minutes to run an errand and grab a bite, even when the boss wants something, keeping my anxiety down by chanting Sanskrit mantras softly to myself on the subway.  

When I got to work, I found out my imagined deadline was actually more than 24 hours away, so I settled in at work to chew on a big looming overdue item on the Me First To-Do list, something I had been putting off for so long that Reason had long vacated the premises, leaving no known forwarding address.  I needed to call my dentist and make an appointment.  I had been putting this off for far, far, far too long.

I can count on one hand the number of times I have visited the dentist for reasons other than being in pain in my adult life.  I am sort of fudging on giving myself credit for doing it now since I have a problem with a bridge.  It isn't painful, but I know if I don't get it fixed it will be someday, but I am not in pain, and going to the dentist not in pain is not something I have a pattern of doing consistently in my past.

But, things have changed.

One of the reasons I had been putting it off is because I have mistreated this dentist and his practice professionally.  I owe them money.  I have no-showed appointments.  I wasn't looking forward to the call.  I was full of negative predictions about what was going to be said to me when I answered and this was making me very anxious.  I had talked myself out of making this call dozens of times before because I didn't want to hear what they had to say to me (for technical reasons I do not want to see another dentist until this bridge is fixed).  

Sometimes I *can* predict the future.

The worst part about the call that was that all the things I was imagining they were going to say to me were all true.  I had not paid my bill.  I have a pattern of no-shows for appointments.  I have disappeared in the middle of treatments and rendered a lot of work that this dentist did for me futile.  I have no defense.  I was at his mercy and I didn't expect much in the way of empathetic understanding.

But, it's 30 days of Me First, and this is me, and it is first on my list, so I called.

As you might imagine, there was good news and bad news.  The bad news is I was right about my negative predictions.  I was reminded of my debt, my no-shows, how I have frustrated this dentist, his office, etc, etc, etc.  The good news is I am sometimes right about my negative predictions.  Wait.  That was the bad news too.

It was not pretty.  The conversation ruined my day  But, I did it, just as I have made lots and lots of hard phone calls for other people, today I made one for myself.

Later that morning, I got a call from a friend that felt like a reward for calling the dentist.  That kept the day from being a total loss emotionally.  As I was trudging up Subway steps it dawned on me that I shouldn't expect this to be easy.  It's not going to be easy.  I have to do this under my own steam.  One foot in front of the other, quietly wipe away those tears and don't step into pity.  Lots of things are hard, people all around me are doing hard things too.  Hard things suck.  For everyone.  Suck it up.  You're tough enough.

I went and picked up some equipment of mine on loan that had been borrowed a bit too long ago.  Now is the time I stop waiting for others to recognize my situation and try to help me. If I can help me I am going to do it.  

So, I got on the phone and made the return happen.  That was months overdue, and again, as I was the only person who was interested in this getting done, I kept putting it off in favor of things that I wanted to do AND other people wanted done also.  The person to whom I had made the loan was gracious and accommodating, doing precisely what I asked.  I just had to ask.

No More Mr. Nice Guy.

Lastly, I got a haircut that was also long overdue, and scheduled the next one for a reasonable six weeks hence.   That's another new habit.

As I checked these things off my list (and as this was only Day 2, these were all long-overdue high-stakes items that had been delayed far, far too long) I noticed that my mind was calm.  I was no longer worried about these few things that had been hanging over me emotionally like some sword of Damocles, threatening to pierce my sense of self-sufficiency and emotional equanimity.  

Whew, it's much easier just to admit you are who you are and deal with it.  The world, dentists included, can deal with their stuff, I've got plenty, though my load is a little lighter today, and without cable, and a couple of cares, the world is a little more quiet.  Quiet is nice.

More things to check-off tomorrow.

Stay tuned.