Picking My Battles Wisely

It is always wise to pick our battles, the ones we can win or at least not lose badly. It took me a long time to learn this lesson. Decades truthfully and I am not at all certain that I have fully embraced the concept yet, not fully internalized the idea of picking battles I can win. Nevertheless, there are some battles I have learned to let go, I no longer ride pell-mell into the fray without armor to slay all my dragons.

Don’t misunderstand from the above statement; I haven’t hung up my Lance just yet. I still yearn to ride out to slay evil doers and public menaces’, as well as, beat my surroundings into submission. Now though, well I think I am in not quite so much of a hurry as I once was. The small things that once made me crazed, they don’t send me screaming today; a crooked picture or random dust bunny won’t cause me to break out in a cold sweat. I am finding I can ignore the blatant foolishness of the political opposition, even in this an election year; well to a point I honestly haven’t beaten this one into complete submission yet. This day, today I think I have found there are larger battles, different windmills and more important wars even that I have to win if I am going to take my life back.

It seems it is the little things that are beginning to matter less to me. Not that the little things are making me more or less crazed as they once did, instead some of them are giving me less anxiety and sometimes even more pleasure even if they don’t get done exactly when I said I would do them. Now when the picture is crooked, I think to myself it might just look better that way, adding a bit of ambiance to the wall or the grouping. If the kitchen isn’t clean before I go to bed, I know it doesn’t mean anything really terrible about me as a woman, a wife or a human being it just means I didn’t feel like doing the stupid dishes or fighting with my husband about whose turn it was!

I use to believe (this was deep in my bones) if my home was not perfect it was a reflection on me, as a person. I also believed (this was also inbred deeply) I couldn’t ever stand up for myself and win the war, perhaps small battles along the way, but not the war. Where I would push for ‘right’ in my professional life and confront ‘wrong’ in public forums, I would cower in my private life afraid to confront what I knew bone-deep was outrageous. Whether this was outright bad behavior or simply ignoring my needs I would shrink from confronting friends and loved ones with what I needed to make my world right; doing the work myself rather than demanding from them they correct their behavior or help me.

These are small steps, tiny little steps to freedom. Picking the battles that I can win today doesn’t mean I will win them all, only that I can pick them and that just maybe losing a few won’t cause me to melt down. There are days I really wish people wouldn’t say to me “you’re so strong”. I have hidden all my weakness’ behind the armor of humor, pragmatism and ‘I don’t give a shit’ for nearly 70% of my life. Everyone in my life expects, even demands my strength, never allowing for a crack or a fault line. There are few in my life that don’t lean in and lean on, either begging or demanding something from me thinking I am bottomless, without end to my strength a wellspring for them to return to time and again.

I have a sneaking suspicion when I say enough, no more there will be some that draw back in shock and resentment. That I would dare to shut off the faucet may be met with more than a bit of ire, we shall see. I don’t know that I am ready for the fallout and it might hurt initially, friends and loved ones may be left on the battlefield of my new definition, perhaps that is where they should have been all along.

“A bad year and a bad month to all the backbiting bitches in the world!…” 
― Miguel de Cervantes SaavedraDon Quixote


  1. AirportsMadeSimple says:

    Hi Valentine – about your comment re: cleaning the kitchen at the end of the night and not fighting with your hubby – when he drives me nuts, I remember something someone once said to me: “Just remember this: he’s there, right?” Meaning, when he’s not here anymore, I sure won’t give a shit about the stuff that sometimes makes me crazy. 🙂

    • I try to always think that, though it is harder some days than others. Marriage is now and perhaps always will be for me an adjustment every single day. I still wake up, nearly every morning roll over and wonder “why are you stealing all my covers!’ Nothing at all to do with whether I love him, just my tendency toward singleness. 😉

  2. “There are days I really wish people wouldn’t say to me “you’re so strong”. I have hidden all my weakness’ behind the armor of humor, pragmatism and ‘I don’t give a shit’ for nearly 70% of my life. Everyone in my life expects, even demands my strength, never allowing for a crack or a fault line…”

    This says it all for me! It is so exhausting to be the “strong one.” LOVE this post!

    • Thank you.

      It somewhat said it all for me also. I wish some days my family read my blog, but then that would defeat the purpose of having a place to call mine. I would venture a guess if they did read it they would be shocked at both what I have said and what I will say in the future.

  3. Picking battles. Yup, that was my mother’s advice when I married. Particularly good advice since I married a lawyer who can out argue me on the spelling of my own name. (It has worked out ok, though; I just do as I please and don’t bother arguing. A win-win.)

    More seriously, I find that folks gravitate to bring their problems to the strong ones, but rarely have time if the strong ones become needy. It frankly pisses me off and those battles I no longer shirk. Sometimes you just have to say “it’s my turn, dammit.”

    Best of all it works. Or it makes them shut up long enough that I can talk out my problem.

    But keep on fighting on politics, please. At least on my blog! I depend on you. Oops. Not because you are strong, however (even though you are). But because you are brilliant.


    • Oh Elyse, no worries on the politics I love it too too much. I am fairly certain I have a couple of my own itching to escape my fingers shortly.

      You are right though, people don’t quite no what to do when someone says ‘my turn, dammit’. I am finding that a great deal here these past few days.


  4. For many years as I climbed the ladder within my then career I would do battle in my day job and come home and work some more to find those dust bunnies which lurked in the corner of the rooms. I would bake and freeze meals for the week as my weekend would disappear as I juggled Parenting and being a wife.
    When WHAM! One day it seemed my World and confidence just shattered as the juggling act came to an end as I dropped my eye off the ball and the niggles of trying to hold everything together along with emotional stress took its toil as I crumbled in a heap of an emotional Breakdown..
    It was in this time when I thought my world had come unstuck, But in fact the glue was just being squeezed out the tube to bring it back together.. For it brought me to a greater understanding of ME.. and I had to put myself first for a change instead of Employers and be at others beck and call..
    Sometimes it is these internal battles which are the hardest to face and yet they are the ones which bring us our best rewards.. Peace to you Valentine And I wish you well in which ever Battle you Pick.. Remember You are a Winner anyway! 🙂 xxx

    • But Sue, dang I wish I could squeeze from the bottom you know? It would just be a bit neater!

      I know which battles I am picking just not which order I am putting them in. Thank you for your wise counsel, it is much needed and I am absorbing it though find myself going back time and again.


      • Sometimes we spend too much time thinking about the battles to chose when once we give up the need to worry over them we find the battle never was, But the moat we put around our own fortress!.. Hugs my friend..

  5. Your posts frequently leave me speechless, and when I do have a comment, it’s usually “you’re so strong,” so I won’t say that today. 🙂

    • Your post, Eating Paris actually inspired this post. It is at the end of every day about picking our battles. Yesterday you reminded me I have to start picking mine. For that you have my gratitude. 😉

  6. People get caught up in being the winner or right all the time. I have been accused of this myself. I can’t deny it’s truth. Most of the time, the battled are quite silly and not that important.

    • Ah, but my battles are part of an evolution and not so much about ‘right’ as about freeing myself. I suspect some of them might appear silly on the surface, but since many were battles I internalized they are also ones I have to allow myself to lose or I will never be free.

      The rest, we shall see.

      Thanks for reading and commenting.


  7. Love so many of your postings, but theis is really one of my favorites.
    Well said.
    I need to learn the picking battles thing.I need some cool weapons when I do.

    • I am glad you liked it Lorre. It is I think my Declaration of Independence. I am guessing it is just one small step and there are more to come. Those who most need to see it, won’t. But I needed to write it, so that in time I can also stand up on my soapbox, in my high-heels and say it.

      I have my lance, Red has her ax. Pick a weapon, I think we have to stick, for now to the medieval theme; how about a flail?

  8. The little things matter so much less, along with those little people as time teaches us. It’s really quite liberating and you can often see how you used to be in other people who haven’t learned how to pick those battles just yet. Then, you think how relieved you are to be where you currently are. Sometimes though, one does have to be reminded. Thanks. 🙂

  9. A very wise position in the world – it took me a while to learn it as well but I found once I learned it that it was of great use! Good luck with it!

  10. Amen! Can I sharpen the battle axe?

%d bloggers like this: