The Last of Numbering

Third and probably for the last time, back to numbers. We ended with the five love languages. Perhaps you’ve taken the quiz and know you’d rather get a nice dinner than have someone hold your hand. Or have someone put away the laundry than compliment you on your nice eyes. There are no wrong answers.

The current list, however, is not as light-hearted as the last. Perhaps more instructive, even a bit painful. I have seen myself on some of the lists and decided to change. At least if I can. Perhaps you will not see yourself, but I can bet you will know someone here.

The Four M’s: manage, manipulate, mother, martyr. Consider them all verbs. These are used in Al-Anon and represent the basic issues of codependency. One way of expressing the sentiment is “Stay on your side of the street.” I’ve never been to Al-Anon meetings nor have I been diagnosed as codependent. I have been known to try and manage more than I ought and to mother people I shouldn’t. Usually I know when I’m doing the latter, and I’m learning to keep my mouth shut more, thus aiding the former. Hopefully, I don’t ever manipulate people or take the role of a martyr. If I do, please stop me. I think it’s a good list, and now you have it. This blogger gives as good a summary as any. If you want something more literary, read Voltaire’s Candide; or, Optimism. This is its famous last line: “All that is very well,” answered Candide, “but let us cultivate our garden.” However, even better commentary comes not a bit earlier: “Let us work,” said Martin, “without disputing; it is the only way to render life tolerable.” Probably impossible, but worth trying occasionally.

The Three C’s: control, cure, cause. For the full effect but “I can’t” or “I didn’t” in front of these words. This site summarizes as good as any how these words work. Although the original focus is again addiction, there is no reason why these C’s should remain there. Most of us are too hard on ourselves. Most of us are not addicted to anything, but if we can move past blame, we will be better off.

The two elements of sibling relationships: fairness and competition. If you have perfect relationships with your brothers and/or sisters, hurray! I don’t know of anyone who does, but perhaps some manage to navigate childhood and adulthood without any issues at all. Money, of course, is a great leveler. Remember poverty as one of the six fears? As my own brother wisely said, “It’s astonishing how even the introduction of the smallest amount of money will change behavior.” In a word, inheritance. As for competition, parental affection may seem unequal. Hopefully, no one ever tells one child she’s the favorite. I think children know, however, if one is more liked than another. Not me, not you, but maybe? Perhaps competition and fairness take place on entirely different levels than these, but for now, these seem adequate.

The one most important thing: Communication. I’m particularly bad at it. My conversation is often stream-of-consciousness. Irritating at best, annoying at worst. When someone said once, “I’m starting to sound like you!” I didn’t take it as a compliment. In the original Star Trek an episode called “Is There In Truth No Beauty?” Spock melds with an ambassador named Kollos and utters these lines:  This thing you call language though… most remarkable… and you depend on it for so very much, but are any one of you really its master… But most of all… the aloneness… you are so alone… you live out your lives in this shell of flesh, self-contained… separate… how lonely you are… how terribly lonely… I always took that loneliness to come from the fact that our language is imperfect. Knowing this truth is perhaps enough for now, though I’m always still surprised when I make an epic fail at communication. Ever upward.