Don't Poop in My Box
One day after showing up at my parents crying — again — after a huge fight with my then-husband — again — my dad sat me down and told me the story of the poop box, which I am adapting, adding to, taking out, and completely changing parts of here.
The Poop Box
Everyone carries around a box with them throughout their entire life. In that box is poop. Metaphorical poop, yes, but it's crap none the less. Everyone starts life with a certain amount of poop already in the box. That includes the situation you are born in (lower socioeconomic class, minority race, anything that is beyond your control that has the potential to negatively affect your life) and the issues your family has. Consider it the basic dysfunction-style poop.
As you get older, you start adding poop to the box. Most of it is your own poop. Make a bad decision, more poop gets put in the box. There is also the possibility of removing poop. I had a decent amount of very stinky poop in my box with my marriage. Divorce = less poop.
The Poop Sprayer
Got it so far? Awesome. Here's the important part. Somewhere in your life (for most people it's the teenage years, but it depends on the person) people will start putting their poop in your box. Really, they will. (You will also start putting your poop in their boxes, but that's another post). They will seek you out to throw poop in your box. Some people even have a poop sprayer — and you know exactly what kind of people I'm talking about because you're picturing them in your head right now with a giant flame-thrower-like thingy spraying poop everywhere. And, really, that's about the reality of it.
Why would someone want to put their poop in your box? Because all the poop starts to mix together, and it gets hard to tell what's really your poop (which you have to deal with) and what's someone else's poop (which you don't).
Really try to let the visual of this sink in.
Picture yourself in your favorite place carrying as large a box as you could carry comfortably in reality. Inside it is some poop. Not a whole lot, maybe not even covering the whole bottom of the box, but if you stick your nose in there, it's none too pleasant. You're sitting there in your happy place, humming or doing whatever else it is that makes you feel all calm and like you can handle your poop.
Now, picture the person in your life who likes to put poop in your box (you likely have more than one of these, but for this exercise, let's not get too crazy) coming into your happy place all decked out in a poop sprayer, with their poop box as the tank. You might innocently say something like, "What's that?" (aka "How are you?"), and all the sudden the poop starts flying out. It's spraying — and I'm talking high-pressure, fire-extinguisher style — everywhere. Sure, some of it is going in your poop box, but it's also going all over your poop box, all over you, and all over your happy place. Hopefully, you kept your mouth closed. The poop sprayer is now out of poop, and the person leaves.
Think about how you feel right now and hold on to that because that's what's happening every time someone unloads their drama, their chaos, their issues, their insecurities, and anything else about their life into yours.
Sometimes we have to take on somebody else's poop — this includes spouses, good friends, siblings, and children (I'm not only talking metaphors now) — that's part of the job of being there for someone, but most of the time we don't need, or want, other people's poop. I would venture a guess to say that most of us have enough crap going on in our own lives that our box is already a lot more full than we'd like, and next time I'll cover strategies for blocking the poop.
Who's the poop sprayer in your life and what have you tried to keep the poop at bay?