Off Script: Hanging on by the skin of my teeth

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I have been through worse, but that doesn’t make this round of life challenges feel any less stressful.

In his Nov. 25  “A Quick Opinion” column, Charley Wallace wrote there was a percentage of us who are “still hanging in there if only by the skin of our teeth, whatever that means.” I wasn’t exactly sure I knew the exact definition of “by the skin of our teeth” meant either, but I completely recognized the feeling that I too was hanging on by the skin of my teeth.

I looked it up and apparently, according to an internet search, its origin is biblical. The phrase first appeared in the Geneva Bible of 1560 and appeared again in the King James Bible of 1611. However, in general it’s perceived to narrowly get by or get through an experience or to narrowly escape disaster.

There are a lot of difficult experiences and challenges right now that folks are having to endure. I cannot even fathom what some of them are like. However, I respect that each person’s experiences are their own journey and that no two experiences are exactly alike for anyone.

A lot of people have said to me, “I don’t know how you do it with your job and all your kids.” Frankly, I don’t know how I do it either. I just do what I think the right thing to do is. And sometimes the “right thing to do” is to unplug from my phone and computer, and go out in the backyard to play with my children or to read a book and have a cup of tea.

When March first blindsided everyone I powered through day by day. By the time August rolled around I came to a realization that “how it used to be” might not return and grasped that “compassion, empathy and understanding” were part of my new game plan in how I handled everything.

That meant making a lot of changes in how I communicate with others, as well as making sure I was listening to listen and not to respond. I’m still working on that but I know that I’ve come a long way from where I was.

I value the communication I am able to have with my children’s teachers. A flurry of Remind messages, text messages and emails are what keep me afloat for the most part in managing their school days. It also means my inboxes are overflowing because that’s how everyone is now communicating. 

I’ve missed a few emails and I’ve had to learn to accept that it was busy and try my best to make adjustments to try and prevent it from happening again.

I changed what I put out there on social media. I changed how I interacted with posts from friends and community members in groups. I have done more deleting of words than I have ever done before. 

I do not have to put my energy into everything, and it’s OK to scroll by and not allow another person’s energy to touch mine. I’m not going to change anyone’s mind about a few things, and I’m not going to waste time trying or let a rage of emotions ruin my day.

What I’m suggesting is to enjoy each day as best as you can. And if it’s a bad day, take care of yourself and take time to fill your cup before you drudge back out into the thick of it. 

And if a friend is having a bad day, make the choice to listen to listen, ask how you can help or offer to be there if they need help with something. Make the choice to allow them to experience it and offer understanding and empathy. 

It might not fix everything or anything. But, sometimes that’s all a person needs to get through that moment or experience.

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