When I was 13, our house was right next door to my maternal grandmother and great-grandmother. I thought these women were the smartest women in the whole world.
Later, I was surprised to learn that neither of them had a college education. They insisted that I attain higher education.Yet I find the more knowledge I attain, the more I depend on their sayings and adages for guidance to get me through life, instead of my formal education.
Here are some things they taught me that I use in my practice every day:
1. God Don’t Like Ugly. If I was being disobedient, my mother would say, “Vicki, God don’t like ugly.” And in the amen corner, my grandmother and great-grandmother would say, “And he’s not too fond of pretty either.”
At this point, I was thinking, Well what in the world am I supposed to do”? I can’t be ugly and I can’t be pretty, HELP ME! I realized they were admonishing me to always do the right thing and that many people will have a great outer appearance to cover up emotional inner turmoil and even bad character.
2. If it ain’t bed bugs, it’s piss ants. I know the word is supposed to be spelled “pissants.” Please allow me to say this one like my grandmother would: If it ain’t bed bugs, it’s piss ants. In other words, as soon as you get one area under control, something else happens -- like job stress today and relationship challenges tomorrow; next week, it’s a difficult situation with your children, and financial struggles the next month. In other words, it is normal for life to be filled with stressful, challenging situations.
3. A man will do everything but quit if you let him. Interestingly, I received relationship advice long before I was in a relationship. I would hear discussions about the relationship problems of adult family members and friends. I wasn’t allowed to join the discussion but only to listen and laugh to myself. Suddenly, my mother would turn to me and say, “Vicki a man will do everything but quit if you let him.”
I find this advice very applicable to my clinical practice. My mother was telling me not to let a man take advantage of you. However, we know this can happen to a man or a woman because I see many people who allowed their spouses or partners take serious advantage of them for years until they decide to change the situation.
4. If you give a dance, you’ve got to pay the band. Conversations about your actions and consequences for your actions were always hot topics in our home. I laugh now when I think that my mother or grandmothers could be having a conversation with someone else and call me in the room just in time to get the main lesson: “Remember, Vicki, if you give a dance, you’ve got to pay the band.”
They meant that everything you do has a consequence that you might not be able to handle. A good 60 percent of the letters I receive are about actions and unwanted consequences: how cheating damaged a relationship, how one mistake ended someone’s career etc.
When I was a teenager surrounded by these women and their life lessons, I thought they were the smartest women in the world. Now that I’m grown and using their wisdom in my practice every day, I know I was right.
|Family and Spouse Ask Ms. Vicki|
Ms. Vicki is a native of Dallas, has been the Dear Abby for the military community since her column began in 2005. A licensed therapist and licensed clinical social worker, Ms. Vicki holds a Master of Science in social work and a Master of Arts in clinical psychology.
Ms. Vicki appears regularly on Military.com and in the Fort Campbell Courier. Her column has also appeared in the Washington (D.C.) Times and in the Heidelberg (Germany) Post Herald. She has been featured on CNN, CBS, ABC and NBC.