Friday, October 16, 2009

No Excuses

My high school drama teacher/life coach gave me some pretty incredible advice once.

I was probably late for class, or missed a meeting, turned something in late, blah blah blah. And she said, "Excuses are pointless. Your friends don't need them and your enemies won't believe them."

It was that Jimminy Cricket advice that has followed me through life saying, "What is the truth? Not the truth that manipulates, not the truth that would convince someone I'm better than I am. But the truth, the ugly, pimply, fat truth? What is that sister?"

When I delivered my excuse to her I thought, "It's the truth, she can't blame me." But she did anyway. She was right and I knew it. And I respected her for holding me accountable.

I have come to hate excuses, and when I hear them from people, including myself, I cringe. I can see in the other person's eyes, "don't hold me to it, don't blame me."

I've made excuses for myself for not exercising, for not cooking nice family meals, for making huge life decisions without huge life thought. I've blamed the pharmacies and incompetent staff, the hospital for not refilling medications on time. I've used exhaustion as an excuse, and it's worked. No one tells me I'm a bad mother for heating up a frozen quiche for the Frog, or called me fatty lately for not using those running shoes I bought four years ago. Remember those? I don't.

And I say, "But I am exhausted, but I haven't had the time, the energy, etc." And it is true. But...but...but...I'm making time to write this. I make time to read at night, to go to the movies with my girlfriends, to check Facebook. How many pushups or situps could I do instead of reading trashy celeb gossip online? I could spend my Sundays making meals for the week. I could get up at 5:30am and jog. But I don't.

I should plan for the incompetent staff at the pharmacies and hospital and order refills two weeks before we need them. Because excuses don't matter to Froggy. Her meds matter. Her mother having energy and eating right matters. I'm her advocate. I don't believe my own excuses anymore. And I'm not believing anyone else's either. I've become a friend and enemy. I don't need them, or believe them.

I could say, "I was young, I didn't know any better." I didn't ask, "Will this person take care of me, be there in the trenches?" I didn't think about trenches. I thought about a wedding dress. I naively thought love was enough. I didn't foresee CF, being poor, my major support system living 2000 miles away.

Today I thought about our honeymoon and what an incredible time we had in France and Spain. I started to make excuses, started to dream about that life with croissants and espresso, museums and farmers markets. But everyone is happy on their honeymoon. There are no problems when life is far away. And problems are the problem. I've learned that how people deal with problems is what matters. More than love, more than inspiration and charm, more than creativity and romance. Life is hard, and if it isn't now, it will be at some point. And charm won't get you out of Cystic Fibrosis, won't pay the bills or comfort you when you read that a 13 year old girl died of this terrible disease.

When Froggy was diagnosed and we were in the hospital for three weeks, not everyone showed up for FD and me. It was a long three weeks and the respite from friends and family was the equivalent of food. I needed it to survive. A friend of a friend, someone I hardly knew visited three times. She brought me lotion and bath oils, slippers, and a stuffed animal for Froggy. My friend Bev came and sang "You are my sunshine." People came with groceries and books. We received a hundred emails of support. It wasn't just about love. It was about not making excuses. Not saying the traffic to Hollywood sucks, or I'd love to come, but..." Because when your kid is sick, BUT is pointless. BUT only works on honeymoons and Hollywood.

Maybe I'm a tough cookie. Maybe I want the impossible. But if you know me, you know I will show up. I will be your friend and make the calls, do the research, bury the dead body and cover the evidence. If I love you, there are no excuses. I'm there. And I've finally realized after much heartache and major life thought, that I need that too. I deserve someone without a million excuses. I'm deaf to why nots. I don't need or believe that anymore.

When Froggy gets older and says to me, "Why do I have to do my treatments, when none of my friends have to? Why should I do my homework when I have to spend so much time in my vest," I hope I have the courage to say, "Because I believe you can do it, and won't accept less."
I think there comes a point in everyone's life where you become accountable. And you either show up with your water bucket and say, "where's the fire?" or you say, "I thought the fire was next Tuesday."

I may not make a fabulous meal, or be a size 4 anymore, but I'm willing to do the work. Through major self-reflection, life experience and hard work, I've decided to be the person who makes it happen. I am no where near perfect, no where near where I aspire to be, but...but...but...I'm not making any excuses.


Anonymous said...

this should be published. xo jcn

DutchMac said...

Beautiful. Absolutely beautiful.


Cara said...

Wow, Elise. This was beautiful.

Casey said...

I love this. It's so true.

Love you.

Anonymous said...


BTW, I dusted off the slow cooker and made TWO fabulous meals this week. And my 6 year old wcf had a PB, Sunflower, Cheese & Banana sandwich with cheeto balls on the side. Shrug! You've got more important things to do.

Think of you often. Ratatosk

ferfischer said...

Love this too - thank you.

Anonymous said...

Beautifully written.

But don't beat yourself up -- you can't be "on" 24 hours a day; having a break is a legitimate requirement for staying sane.

We don't get excuses in the courtship stage of a relationship -- not enough to count usually. What matters most is being able to see people for who they really are, through the defences, through the window dressing, through manners and social customs. The second I laid eyes on Pierre, the Universe said "that's him", and over 20 years later, he is still the man I most admire in the world.


(I sent an email, but nothing would have stopped me from being there if I had been in the same time zone, much less the same city).

Rachael said...

You've never made any excuses to me, Dear Elise. That's why you are my best friend. I love you.