It’s no secret that the southern winters leave me feeling depleted. We have been south since late 2002 so this is my 12th winter away from my beloved Queensland and it’s mild days.
For Jeremy it has been a turbulent time. His body seems out of control, sprouting hair and acne, his voice is getting deeper and cracks on occasion. He is restless, and yet lethargic. He describes his hunger as constant and insatiable. There are visible bristles on his chin, blonde and spiky and he is looking more and more like his father every day. To be honest he has always unknowingly mimicked his father’s mannerisms, nowadays they are coming out of a face that increasingly looks like his dad and with a voice that will be deeper than his father’s. It is a fascinating process to watch.
People had always said that Jeremy looked like me. I’m not sad that this has changed, our faces change regardless throughout our lives and there are days when I look in the mirror and see my mum looking back when once people would remark how much I looked like my father (sans white beard).
The external manifestation of who we are is just that, external. If the most beautiful face in the world comes with a hard heart, is that person truly beautiful?
There is always the comment that someone is a beautiful soul as if somehow that is a different and inferior type of beauty. I would love to see a world where being kind to each other had a greater value placed on it than a thigh gap. That kindness should colour our everyday interactions, from smiling at a stranger to the opportunity that I had today to put money into the dryers of a young family who were scratching around for change. It wasn’t that I thought they couldn’t pay for their drying, it was that they had to make a further trip with a young child and that small act would cut down the time they had to spend doing a mundane chore. Maybe it is the legacy of years of scouting where, as a matter of course, you did a good turn every day. It was a practice that made you think externally, where the only reward you expected was that you had kept the promise that you made when you became a Scout (or Guide).
As Jeremy struggles with the internal turmoil that testosterone is causing I can hear him escalating in his discussions with other people. It feels to me, on occasion, that as he has struggled he has developed an almost adversarial communication style when in fact he is so unsure of everything that adversarial is the last thing he wants to be. Last night it was a call to Lockie to let him know that pizza arrived, he was upset because Lockie was upset when he called. I broke it down – Jeremy has been really upset with Lockie in the past when a time frame, real or perceived, has passed. It’s a very old habit of J’s, predates his relationship with Lockie and has drilled me into being an exceptional communicator with my youngest child about any plan. Lockie’s reaction last night was in response to Jeremy’s previous behaviour. If Jeremy wants to change Lockie’s reaction, then he has to change his behaviour. Like an Pantene commercial it won’t happen overnight, but they will get this aspect of their communication on track for being positive and both will feel more confident in discussing things with each other. They are such a tight pair but I can see where their respective anxieties blocks a positive flow of communication.
I had to be confident in even starting that conversation with J last night, and I did so because right now he is transforming and has a unique opportunity to start new and positive habits. It can happen in any kind of relationship, familiarity can lead to casual attitudes and curt communication. But the upshot can sometimes be that people felt taken for granted, or not valued and from there something positive in your life can spiral down to negative. If you broach where you can see this happening with people they can see your suggestion as criticism, and ain’t no one likes the criticism. So you need to be prepared for those hurt feelings and be ready to explain where your comment came from and make sure that you are always talking from a position of love. Sometimes it will be good and sometimes it will be really really bad. Sorry, even when you talk from a position of love on occasion the person you are talking to can’t hear what you are saying.
So in the depths of a cold and miserable Melbourne winter, in the absence of the sun lifting my spirits, I am relying on an almost lifelong practice of helping others to bring some sunshine and beauty into my life. Now to make sure that exercise gets back in there too!