“If you can’t say anything nice, then don’t say anything at all.” I still remember it as if it were yesterday. She meant well I’m sure and perhaps I am a kinder, gentler spirit than I might have been. But, it was also a powerful lesson on keeping all those “not nice” feelings inside and a sad failure to realize that life and people aren’t always nice.
I met a man not long ago who from day one called me “Sweet lady” when he would email me. He loved my Southern charm and my sweetness which he said ran deep. I know he meant that and indeed, I am sweet and I love that about myself. I see it in my sons and their brand new sweet children, but there is something different about their expectations of my grandchildren. They expect to see all the emotions every single day. When they are sad, they hold them. Anger doesn’t get a whack with a switch, it gets understanding, conversation and then it passes and the next emotion gets its turn.
Like my mother, I came to see that this new man in my life loved the sweetness. Comforted by it, feeling safe because of it, it was a gift I could give. But, as time passed, I realized that he was comfortable only when I felt sweet. When the tired, cranky me showed up, or the part of me that needed his time and attention, that wasn’t so sweet. “Sweet lady” became a prison and I needed to leave the key with him.
In the midst of it all, my sweetness had the most wonderful place to express itself. Those sons and their families were together here in my home. I rode steam trains, watched the fish in that amazing Monterey Bay Aquarium, ate Thai food, took long walks by the Bay. There was no feeling that love was lost. I swam in sweetness.