The last year has taught me a lot about myself. I’m learning how much I didn’t allow myself to understand about myself. I spent three decades trying to hide part of myself from anyone else, but more importantly from myself. I would binge amidst feelings and desires I didn’t understand, and then be ashamed of who I saw in the mirror. I found that I was asking the wrong questions and having the wrong conversations with myself for years.
The tricky part is that without finally sharing this with my wife I do not know if I would have been able to progress to a point where I am beginning to understand more and more about myself in this way. It wasn’t until I was able to audibly vocalize thoughts that had been rolling around in my head that I began to really learn about myself, from myself.
Each time I think about it I am astounded that I was able to get past the “rock and a hard place” of externalizing something so aberrant. We, ABDLs, know how different we are. We know what we feel and experience is not within the walls of typical social acceptability. Knowing that makes it much more difficult for us to feel good about ourselves, or even want to understand ourselves. I have, and I’m sure you have too, mentally berated yourself with words that were far from flattering.
It is finding someone to confide in that helped me turn a major corner in my life. While I made one, feeble attempt at talking with my parents about this they were not the people I could go to growing up. I don’t blame them either as parenting is a very dynamic world to live in. Each day we are presented with opportunities to look less than stellar, and I do my fair share of being less stellar. It is my kids though that have recently helped me understand the topic that I sat down to study and work out this morning. Patience.
Sitting in front of my home office my children ran through the house for the eleventieth time that day. COVID-19 has placed us in an interesting place, and it is not my kid’s fault that I’m home with them far more than normal. It was at that moment that I realized I lacked patience with them. So many moving parts had put us in the moment we were right then:
- I had purposely placed my office in an open area in the middle of our home. When I was working at home, prior to COVID-19, I wanted to be accessible to my family. I wanted to be able to disconnect and be part of their day when I was working on whatever consulting project I was in the middle of.
- It was their summer, and what kid wants to keep pulling weeds, mowing the lawn, and working through their never-ending chore list.
- COVID-19 has changed what we normally experience in our Spring and Summer. While we have not completely isolated ourselves indoors, it has strained each of us in different ways.
- My wife’s career has evolved over time, and it has her working differently than in years past. This is a blessing that we were searching and praying for. Now we work to understand, balance, and ride the wave that it has brought with us.
Back to my desk..
The kids run by, having a great time, and what do I choose to do? I pull out the “Dad of the Year” card and get mad at them for having a great time. Can’t they see that I’m trying to work. This isn’t anything new, right?! I’ve been telecommuting for weeks now, and how can this be a surprise that Dad is either on a meeting or working on something? It is in that moment, after I got after my kids (of course), that I realized that I needed to change. If I expect them to be different, I must be different.
I was not patient with them. I was not doing everything I needed to that would facilitate a good environment for me to work, or for them to enjoy their work and play during the summer. I had failed to establish parameters that enabled them to succeed and I was taking it out on them.
“Patience is not the ability to wait, but the ability to keep a good attitude while waiting.”
We are at a place where we are waiting. Waiting to find out when we will be able to return to church. Waiting to find out about what school looks like in the fall. Waiting to see how our jobs will change because of COVID-19. Aside from COVID-19, we are all waiting for something. Whatever that aspect of our lives that we are waiting for, are we enduring well or just enduring? With my children I know I have better choices that I can make, and that brought the parallel to my learning and study this morning.
“One minute of patience, ten years of peace.”
Riding on the coattails of answered prayers I am working to improve and continue my studies. This morning while preparing for work I had the concept of patience come to mind, and was reminded of the happenings I relayed about my children. That coupled with another action I took yesterday helped me mold an understanding that I need to learn patience, specifically patience with myself. “Rome wasn’t built in a day,” and how could I expect my entire world to change in an unrealistic amount of time?
In the last year I have fought, searched, prayed, and hoped for understanding relating to the connection that I have with diapers. I realize better today than I did yesterday that I need to establish expectations and guidance for myself (just like I need to establish them for my children) so I can succeed. I need to reel myself back in, and get back to the basics of “blocking and tackling.”
For those not familiar with the reference, Blocking and Tackling is a term often used in business to describe the creation of a solid foundation through the less than glamorous tasks in life. It is a reference to football where the lineman are in the trenches and submit themselves willingly to the job of creating opportunities for others to score touchdowns. When we are good at blocking and tackling we can become successful and improve in other aspects of our lives. All too often we run away from the painful tasks that mold us into who we are. Getting back to the basics, and focusing on some of the things that matter most are vital to overall success.
If I will take a minute to reel things back in I can create a cascading effect of many other opportunities for success. Not only for myself, but for my wife, children, and those I work with and serve.
“Patience and perseverance have a magical effect before which difficulties disappear and obstacles vanish”
This all sounds so magical and easy, right? I haven’t been the best at it in the last few months. I have seen my weight gain, my blood pressure go up, and my quality of life overall has decreased. I have lost sight of myself and some of the things that matter most. Perhaps most importantly, I have lost the ability to be patient with myself. I have not allowed the space for me to mess up, to learn, and to grow.
2 My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations;
3 Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience.
4 But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.
With diapers I am constantly learning. I am experiencing things for the first time because I have not allowed myself the space to have them be a positive influence in my life. This concept is further complicated by complete inclusion of my wife in my journey. How can I look like I have everything together when I don’t even know what I’m talking about? My wife, she has found space for patience with me. She has found a place for a grown man she loves to learn about himself. She has allowed me to be more of who I am.
Now to take action.
- Get back to the basics of “Blocking and Tackling”
- Set up guidelines for success
- Hold myself accountable by setting SMART goals
- Leveraging my relationship with my wife and children
- Be patient
“Have patience with all things but first with yourself. Never confuse your mistakes with your value as a human being. You are perfectly valuable, creative, worthwhile person simply because you exist. And no amount of triumphs or tribulations can ever change that.” – Saint Frances de Sales
Remember to never confuse your mistakes in life with your value as a person, husband, wife, son, or daughter. We are here to learn and grow. Leverage what you learn, and strive to be better. Finally, remember to include those that matter most in your growth. Not only do we need patience, but others also need our patience or the example of our patience. My children need to be involved in our success as a family. They need to see us struggle and to succeed. Doing so helps humanize us in their eyes.
“Be patient with yourself. Perfection comes not in this life, but in the next life. Don’t demand things that are unreasonable, but demand of yourself improvement. As you let the Lord help you through that, He will make the difference.”Russell M. Nelson