Today was a big day for me. I made the decision a little while ago to change pediatricians, and in Slovakia that requires going to the doctor you're leaving and asking them for your baby's records, thus telling them that you're leaving them for a different doctor. I had been trying to play down the magnitude of this exchange for a couple weeks, telling myself it's not that big of a deal, it probably happens all the time, it's normal, Lily's just one of hundreds of patients to her etc. but the truth is it was really eating at me. Tomáš told me to think of it as a joke, just to try and laugh about it, and that helped a little but last night I rolled around in bed for a good long time, not being able to fall asleep. My worries were threefold; first and foremost, it's just unpleasant having to reject someone. Secondly, I'd have to speak Slovak, which is not a big deal, I'm perfectly capable of this, albeit imperfectly, but it might be in front of a room full of waiting patients and moms. But most importantly was my third dilemma, which was should I sugar-coat or should I tell the truth? The truth was that I'd never felt good with this doctor from the beginning. She was a heavy smoker for one thing, which really bothered me, especially when Lily was a newborn. She's older and I felt like her practices were outdated, and I'd heard negative things from a number of people. (You might ask why we chose her in the first place. It was because in Slovakia you have to declare a doctor for your baby before leaving the hospital and I didn't know this, so we just chose the closest one to our flat). Anyway, my intent is not to slander her at all. She was fine to us. But I wanted to talk about my inner struggle. I had a nice little speech prepared in my head, which played repeatedly whether I liked it or not as I thought about the upcoming confrontation. I thought about telling her it was because I wanted to go to a younger doctor whom Lily could go to for a long time, instead of waiting to switch when she retired. And it's not that it was untrue, exactly, but that certainly wasn't the catalyst for my leaving. I must have looked like a bad movie last night, as my inner struggle played out in tosses and turns, scrunched pillows and upward-staring eyes. Something inside of me last night wanted desperately to tell the truth. Just the truth. To just lay it out there and let it be. Uncomfortable and unpleasant. Not in a hurtful way at all, but because it was something I needed to do for myself. To prove that I could. This may sound strange to some, but as I was thinking it through for the hundredth time last night, this sentence went through my head, ''I don't think I've ever not sugar-coated the truth in my entire life.''
If there's one thing marriage has done for me, it's sharpened the blurred line between truth and untruth. I come from a long line of sugar-coaters, bless their hearts, and I say that with no ill will because I know their intentions, our intentions, were good. No one ever wanted to hurt anyone's feelings, least of all me, so everything ever said in my family was said very softly, very carefully. I remember one friend laughing at my younger brother for the way he said goodbye to our mom after a day trip. ''You're so polite,'' she mused, ''I'd be like, (slightly raised, sharp voice) 'Mom! Goodbye!''' (Car door slamming). So, don't get me wrong, I'm very thankful for my upbringing. I think it made me introspective, not just of myself, but of others too, if it's possible to be introspective of others. I would use these words to describe our family: perceptive, sensitive, considerate. Now back to that sharpening of the line...I married into a family which can only be described as polar-opposite to mine. I, again, mean no ill will when I say they sugar-coat nothing. I'll admit it's taken me some time to get used to this, but I have come to have a great deal of respect for it. In fact, I would say that one of Tomáš' most admirable qualities is his utter intolerance for untruth. I suppose it was interactions with him and his family that first caused me to really start looking at my temper problem. One time a friend asked me what I thought of some dress or something and I just remember thinking, ''I cannot physically say the words, 'I don't like it.' What is wrong with me?''
Tomáš and my fights usually go something like this; ''Why are you wearing that?'' ''Because I like it.'' "It's horrible. It looks horrible on you. You shouldn't wear that color.'' ''Boo hoo hoo, sob sob sob.'' ''Well, it's the truth. Can I not tell you the truth?'' And the fight ends there, because who can argue with that question? (I plan to write a whole separate post about what people say and what I hear. Stay tuned...) Same goes for when he tells me that my soup is tasteless or my meat inedible. What I had to finally realize was that these are not personal attacks. And, oh, this was a hard lesson to learn. At the risk of sounding overly dramatic, there were times I felt like a kid taken from a rubber room and thrown into a cock fight. Hehe, ok, ok, so that's really overdramatizing it. But I did have to learn how to take some criticism without letting it crush me. Or, I don't know if I would even call it criticism. Negative truth. Is that the same thing? And I suppose that is the first step. Receiving the truth. And of course there is an art of tact. I believe that criticism or negative truth should be delivered carefully and lovingly. But it should be delivered. Fully, without sugar.
I didn't sugar-coat that day in the doctor's office. And let me tell you, it couldn't have been more awkward. Uncomfortable and unpleasant. So there might be hope for me after all.
And to make that medicine go down a little easier, here's a little, well, you know:
|Coolest present ever from auntie Rachael came in the mail|
|Magnetic wooden fruit you cut up with a knife|
|After the blizzard|
|Rockin' rendition of the original hit song, Hot Dog : )|