What I mean by this is something along the lines of:
Last time I came home you didn’t look up from the TV so the next time you walk in I’m not going to stop watching it either.
Scorekeeping is a way for me to exert control in a situation where I feel like I have none. When I feel helpless, putting marks on the blackboard helps me claim some power.
I will punish you when you hurt me, give you the silent treatment when you don’t pay attention to me. Won’t fold your laundry because you were more interested in your phone at dinner than talking to me.
That kinda bullshit.
Keeping score doesn’t work though. It perpetuates the infinite, dysfunctional loop. It’s sprinkling more salt on my wounds. And theirs. It’s me locking myself in a box with all the things that’ve ever hurt me. It’s me saying that keeping track of what you’ve done wrong is more important than the overall health of our relationship.
If I want to have healthy relationships I need to practice healthy behaviors. Talk to people about what’s bothering me as things come up. And if they don’t take my feelings into consideration, if they aren’t willing to compromise for the greater good then fuck them. We deserve better.
I better compromise, too. Take what people say with an utmost urgency because they’re taking a chance on me. Going out on a limb and showing their own vulnerability.
And please don’t think that I’m some kind of spiritual dynamo here. I’ve kept score my whole life and you know what I got? At the end of the day with that blackboard filled with checkmarks?
I got a list of resentments as long as both arms.
I got a pile of hurt long after they were gone. An index of crimes and criminals. A mental spreadsheet with dates and times going back to the first day when I didn’t feel like I could tell you what was wrong.
One time when I was married to Kathy I unloaded my scorecard on her, spread all her felonies out on the bed for her to see. I can’t imagine how she must’ve felt knowing that the whole time we’d been together I was silently keeping score. When I think back on it now I’m embarrassed. More than that, I’m ashamed. I was a real champ.
Sure, in my early 20s I didn’t know my ass from a hubcap but memories like that are what push me to be a good person in the here-and-now.
Resentments aren’t good company.
And then when a good soul does comes my way I won’t be ready. I’ll start a new scorecard. You’ll have a clean slate but a slate none-the-less.
How about I just erase the blackboard. And throw away the chalk. Retire the standing army. Learn to deal with myself and my feelings. Communicate with those I care about and care about me.
I look back on certain parts of life and think, “boy I really fucked that up” … but the good news is that for the last few years, I feel like I’ve done my best work. Been my best self and that’s a pretty good feeling. So much more than tallying your scores and balancing the books.
Each day I’m given a fresh chance to be a better person. It’s a new day to give people another chance. If I want power in life, if I want control then that’s where it’ll come from. Being my best self.