Tone Meters & Kick the Can...
I need one...seriously.
There is this app where divorced parents who don’t get along with each other can communicate about their parenting schedule and related issues. For an extra $10 a year, you can add a tone meter which will review your content and let you know when your texts take on a tone that is likely to incite umbrage with the other parent...
I need one for my life...not just in my texts. I need some sort of indicator or warning sign that I am about to lose my calm and spiral very far off course.
I do not have my A game right now. I am tired, stressed, a little depressed and emotionally fragile. And for me, I use anger to mediate these feelings...I don’t do it on purpose, anger has just always been there to help me feel less unsafe. It appears to be hard wired into my DNA and though I have made progress with restraint of angry words, I think my tone now communicates what words used to.
Quick caveat - I still use angry words...they spill out of me sometimes in a torrent of hurt, pain and angst. I don’t like this about myself and continue to be vigilant for when I am about to lose my cool. I am better than I have ever been but that does not mean I still don’t have a lot of work to do...
I realize that my tone is far more often off putting. My kids are super sensitive to it. I can see it in emails to others. I am really good at letting you know I am upset without ever telling you I am upset. It is not a good skill to have...and I would really, really like a tone meter to help me find another way, a better way to communicate.
But I am 51. There is not some magical force in the universe that is going to come and sit on my shoulder and gently remind me to not act or speak or text like an ass. This has to come from within me. I have to be the mediator of my own tone, words and actions. And to be honest, the last few days, I have not done a great job.
I am not sure how to stop the world so that I can process my feelings. The last week has left me feeling like I am standing on the 405 at 4 pm on Friday. I am just standing there and life is coming at me hard, fast while I can’t move without being squished. I just have to stand there and pray that the steel machines avoid me as I stand helpless in traffic with no exit strategy.
This is not how my life really is, but it is how it feels. I am tired and emotionally overwrought...I am not alone. I think everyone is off center right now. We are all tired and scared and fearful of what is going to happen next in a year where a lot of unimaginable shit has happened this year. The collective consciousness of the world is teetering on the brink of a break down of differing proportions and I am right there also.
I feel like I am living in this constant state of kick the can. I keep running and kicking the can and setting everyone free and running back to safety but then as soon as I get free, someone else gets captured and I have to rush in to save them again. And, I am always in danger of capture as well. And I am tired of playing the game and have tried to quit and go home but I keep getting dragged back in by some malevolent child who is going to beat the shit out of me if I walk away...
Again, not reality...just how I feel.
So if you get a text or call from me and my tone is off while my words are ok...please feel free to be that tone meter I need. Let me know that I am off and off putting. I really don’t mean to be...I am just so consumed with all that is going on that I have lost my center and am veering back into oncoming traffic.
Perhaps this is the greatest thing we can give each other this year since we are going to spend the holidays pretty much alone and distant, perhaps we can calmly and lovingly reflect back to each other where we see each other in an effort to help us all see that while doing the best we can, we are behaving in a manner that is causing disconnection in our lives at a time when we need connection and care and concern and love the most.
I know for myself that the times when I need the most love and understanding is when I am behaving like an ass. I also know that even Mother Theresa would have a hard time loving me when I act like that. It is a vicious cycle that I can’t seem to get out of...
So perhaps if we can be each other’s tone meters, we can help each other stop the spiral before our behavior devolves into anger, resentment and self-pity. I do not ever want to hurt those I love. I do not want to spew angry words that do not communicate how I really feel. I want to be ever mindful and be careful with what I say and how I say it.
I am going to try to remember:
To say what I mean
Mean what I say
And to not say any of it meanly...
And for those times (and there will be those times) when I fail on any one of the above categories, please, I welcome you to call me out and tell me that I am off the mark. Perhaps I will never have a tone meter but that doesn’t mean that I couldn’t use one...a gentle reminder that I have strayed off from my primary purpose in this life, to enjoy and strengthen the loving connections I have been blessed with in this life.
I am going to keep going...tone meter be damned. What else is there to do but go on as best you can, trying and failing and trying again? Life is not kick the can...it is far less fun than that, requiring me to endure hardship and pain and use those same things as catalysts for growth...and I have to accept that sometimes I am going to behave like a jerk and often, I am going to have a tone that communicates that I am struggling. And perhaps, that is the most honest thing I can do. Perhaps the best use of my poor tone is to see it for what it is...an outward indication that I am off and in need of care. And while it would be nice to get that from others, I am more likely going to have to give it to myself.
So perhaps I can use my tone as a warning sign that I am headed in a direction I don't want to go...and then stop long enough to allow that to land. Then do anything different so that I have a prayer to take an action that fosters connection rather than disconnection. Perhaps that is the best tone meter of all - a loving review of my own conduct with a firm resolve to do better than I did before...repeatedly.