I once knew a girl, clever, direct and with her head screwed on right (so in this case she was able to look me in the eye). I think what attracted me to her was her experiences and the feeling that she had wisdom that I could learn from.
Over a period of time I surrendered myself — and why not? My life to that point — other than some interesting bits — had been a bit of a fuck-up, with dabbling in idiotic pursuits, no achievements to speak of and still in the same crap jobs that made me miserable (but gave me a good income stream to blow on almost any old tat and rubbish you could think of).
She offered me a way out of that at least, to start a small business where we could make money and get out of the industry that I loathed.
And yet, almost immediately, I began to ignore the things about her that were at-odds to the confident strong persona she showed the world, for she was right and I was wrong.
It was something that dogged me throughout the friendship. She was right. I was wrong. If I expressed an opinion that was at odds with what she wanted, I was wrong.
Today I woke up after a long sleep and began thinking about the things I did, and my behaviour. It was draining in the same way that certain relationships have been.
And it became very apparent that she — somehow — was the ghost of Â two major relationship in my life. Telling, not asking. Do this my way or not at all. Bouncing all responsibility back onto me where I was a participant rather than an instigator. Failing to do things I needed her to do.
I’ve been over all this before in other posts. Today I’m considering and wondering why exactly I fall into this passive, submissive role.
I came to realise she was doing the same things as my father did, I was the one expected to do the work, but she had the right to say no. And she avoided committing fully, despite saying she would.
And this just meant she was human. I expected her to reciprocate at least in the way she had said she would.
And at the end, she changed her mind, and all my expectations, all my hopes crashed and burned.
I fall into these roles so very easy. As the child of a dominating father — who was also a closet depressive — I was constantly controlled and pushed. If I spoke, voiced an opinion that opposed his views, I would be constantly run down until my views were his.
She was not that person, but I slipped so very easily into that role and I did things that I regret to this day. And regret is so very boring.
Mostly the regret is to do with purging possessions which now would be nice to have around. She didn’t ask me to get rid of them, merely hinted, expressed an opinion. I did all the work, and when I told her what I’d done, she told me she was very proud of me.
I seem to fall so very well into a role where I put into action other people’s opinions.
A ‘can-do’ kinda girl becomes an automation after a while, a pawn if you like. Choosing to do the bidding of others — no matter how thoughtful — makes me an employee. And an unpaid one at that.
Now I know this, i walk the fine line (at least for the moment) of working out what to do when someone expresses an opinion. Do I leap into action as I usually do — and I’m good at this — or do I sit back and choose the things I am to do.
The latter is a better way of doing things, and it also means I don’t fall into behaviour pattern #2: expectation and interest.
Expectation and Interest comes from the feeling that energy-in = energy-out. That is, in the past when I’ve leapt into action on a constant and consistent basis, I do expect (hope?) for something back.
It’s a hope I’ve held since I was a child, and in-fact, this is where all this comes from. I’m stuck at that moment in time, 6 or 8, when I did something for my parents in the hope they would do something in return — most probably, stop screaming at one-another in their apparently regular rows (I have to qualify this: I didn’t keep a count of the arguments, they’re just burned into my head). If I was a good child, and did what I was told, things would be all right.
And there’s the core of this little story: you run that sentence backwards, I felt responsible for the problems my parents were having.
If I was a good child and did what I was told, things would be all right.
Things would be all right if I did what I was told, if I was a good child.
There is the core of the fuck-uppidness of this writer, and perhaps of every person who is in a similar situation.
We took responsibility for the screw-ups around us. Not thinking for a moment that the people we regarded as gods were actually just flawed human beings, with their own issues.
We believed — I believed — that if I would do what I was told, everything would work out.
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is the bear-trap at the bottom of the garden, the giant venus fly-trap that I have a leg caught in.
I am not responsible for the well-being of others. I can’t fix them by doing the right thing. I can only fix me by doing the right thing for me. I can choose to help others, as they have chosen to help me, but I’m not responsible for their lives as well unless I’ve been involved in their birth or have chosen to be responsible for a child.
Ultimately what I was doing as a child, and as an adult, was to take the responsible role without the power that role has. I was doing all I could to make things work without understanding that it wasn’t my responsibility to do all the work. My responsibility was to look after myself, my interests.
And that sounds so very selfish to me.
But I think that’s the way out of the trap: To look after me first — and I’m not a selfish person — and to help others when they need help. To help for the sake of help, expecting nothing in return.
There. Now I can have breakfast in peace.