A little sugar

Yesterday’s post was a little bit heavy on the teaching and light on the sugar to help it all go down so today I want to write about Disney.

When I first signed up to do the runDisney event with my friend two years ago, I told myself that I was just doing it because she was obsessed with Disney. I’m not sure what it is but to want to go to Disney is often looked at as something to be embarrassed about.

The kids are insisting on a Disney vacation, moms say with a sigh. I wish they wanted to do something more…worthwhile. Always said with a tone that implies one wishes they were more interested in seeing a museum or a volunteering to save the world. I’ve been just as bad in the past.

My gateway drug was a podcast about running at Disney. But that wasn’t enough as the runs started stretching out since it was only two hours long posted once a month. Then it was a podcast about Disney touring and history. I told myself it was just to get ready for the trip for the run. The truth was that I was hooked long before that. It really started with planning websites (my favorite was EasyWDW). I tried to limit it to when I had a specific trip that I was working on, but it gradually became an every day thing to check in with one. Then two. Then three. But always in secret. If anyone found out, I would pretend it was an imposition. Such a burden I was taking on. But only for the good of the kids, sigh, would much rather be reading the something more informative or interesting.

I’ve been slowly shedding my Disney shame over the last couple years. It started out by admitting that I like the planning of it. It’s a puzzle to figure out dining and Fastpasses. The food’s not THAT bad. I would admit, begrudgingly. We all have fun together, was the next stage. The hotel was nice and the pool was great.

Then, when I went on the run with my husband after my friend had to drop out, I was forced to admit that I had a great time there with just us adults – that I would probably do that trip again, if the opportunity presented itself. The run was REALLY well organized. I would start, as if saying I loved it needed to be made socially acceptable.

Why do we feel the need to make things acceptable? I guess it’s because we’re pack animals by nature. We want to feel a part of the herd and to feel like we fit in with our peers. We know it’s important. It’s hard to be different, to admit things that aren’t accepted generally by our community – the pack might leave us behind. But to find a community that fits with one’s interests rather than the community that one finds oneself in by virtue of education, school, geography is difficult. It’s vulnerable and scary to admit who we really are when we secretly worry it won’t be acceptable to others.

The internet is great that way.

It allows for low-risk community building and exploration. It allows us to find those non-local communities that share our interests. Scared to admit you love Disney? Just lurk on one of the message board communities and feel less alone. Want to try out sharing that love with other people? Adopt a name and a persona and start to comment and interact. You’re safe from your every day community and among like-minded people.

The internet is also horrible that way.

It can allow hive-mind to reinforce our worst selves. To create communities of hate or of the worst of ourselves – the worst things we think we can say anonymously and find others who will support them and build on them and reinforce them.

It allows messages to get amplified and repeated in ways that are unnecessary. For example, I was thinking about the woman who showed the absolute worst of herself on Facebook ranting about childless couples at Disney World. I hear the jealousy and the frustration and the exhaustion in parts of that post. I too am susceptible to muttered rants about people who have something that I desperately want (a pretzel, I guess, in this case, but more accurately freedom from her obligations) when I’m overwhelmed. I’m sure she wasn’t thrilled when that message got amplified and repeated and debated (maybe she was, who knows, but I like to believe that she was mortified and deeply embarrassed by what she said). I know I would be mortified if my worst thoughts were suddenly spread wide to the world. That said, I generally keep those rants between me and the steering wheel (Houston drivers are often difficult to love).

I do strive to be the best version of myself that I can be at any one time. But sometimes it gets away from us. Sometimes all the coping skills and good-intentions in the world are not enough. Sometimes we all say things we don’t mean or wouldn’t say if we were calm or not embarrassed or flustered. Can’t you hear the shame in that woman’s rant? Her child was throwing a tantrum. I remember those moments. The humiliation of seeing your child meltdown and feeling the eyes of the world on you thinking I would never let my kid…you know they’re thinking it (even if they’re probably not). It feels like an indictment of you as a parent. If I was a better parent, this wouldn’t be happening. I’ve failed my child and the world. People are going to think I’m terrible at this. Maybe I am. The shame can be intense. So we lash out at someone else – anyone else – to relieve it and to convince ourselves that it’s not about us or our kid. It’s SOMEONE’s fault! I once heard Brene Brown give a lecture and she said something that has stayed with me ever since: “We are never more dangerous than when we are in shame.”

Shame makes us dangerous. To ourselves. To others. It’s why we need to overcome it. To accept ourselves and others as themselves so we don’t always have to be so afraid that we’ll be unacceptable. To be a little curious about other people’s perspectives.

When did you do you turn into you do you unless I don’t think you should do what you’re doing? It seems to me that we’d all be a lot happier if we just stuck to figuring out how to make ourselves happy and stopped worrying about what makes other people happy. The ourselves bit is quite hard enough, thank you very much. If my doing me doesn’t infringe on you doing you (and most things short of actual crime don’t) then let it go. Also, and I’m trying to do this for myself. If we can all tell ourselves that we’re doing our best. We’re doing our best with the resources that we have available to us and the situations we find ourselves in. This doesn’t mean that we can’t be better – can’t learn and add skills and resources or work to change the situation.

And we all have an obligation to each other to do both of the above. Learn and change. And accept that we all are doing our best to do the above too.

So what is it about Disney? Disney feels like the image in this post – it’s a warm hug from childhood. A bit of nostalgia and memory of a time when a giant chipmunk in a hat was really all we needed to feel safe and happy. It’s ok if we all sometimes need that. Or, you know, if you don’t. You do you. I’ll be over here with this mickey bar, hugging a chipmunk.

Published by alexm1008

I am a Licensed Professional Counselor practicing in Houston, Texas. I specialize in helping clients develop skills and strategies to feel more in control of their emotions and behaviors. I am also a wife and mother of two who loves to run and travel (particularly to Disney World with my kids and without).

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