I had two realizations today:
- I am terrified of becoming dependent on someone, and
- I am all talk.
When I lived at home I was moored to the house, subject to my parents's solicitude. We lived in the country side and I needed my parents to drive me if I wanted to go somewhere. They were not inclined to do that. I had a moped, but never the money to keep it with gas. I ran out and begged people for gas. My parents weren't inclined to come get my either, so if the begging failed I had to walk the moped home.
The helplessness I felt was overwhelming. It crushed me into nothing.
Another person may have found some way to gain independence. Get a job, buy gas, get the spark plugs clean. I didn't. I don't know why.
When I try to recall what it was like and why I didn't help myself there is a gaping hole where the idea of helping myself should have been. It didn't occur to me that I could. Perhaps someone told me I couldn't do anything for myself; I had summer jobs but they were just like a school outing, nothing more.
I never tried hard for anything. I never really seriously dreamed of anything, nor did I work toward anything.
I always winged it, never trying. I didn't strive for excellence because I was certain I could never achieve it.
I got into the school I did because my teachers vouched for me. It was a fancy to go there, a whim, and I got people to go along with it. Without much effort, and certainly without the grades, I got in.
But when I got there I lacked the conviction that it would take to make it there. I didn't think I could do it, and I couldn't. Things fell apart and I didn't save myself.
First Husband (I can't remember his alias, how awful it that!) came along. He was the one man rescue party. I married him and moved to the US and hated living with him. I was yet again confined to the house because the distances were too great and the public transit spotty.
I am not so sure anymore that there were no busses going by my house. I didn't check it out. I didn't try. The idea of going on an unfamiliar bus in an unfamiliar place scared me. I have always been passive and resented people around me for not empowering me.
Then Ted came along and rescued me into helpless captivity again. The only difference was that it really pissed him off that I wouldn't help myself. In a way he ended up in my parents's position. He'd refuse to pick my up if I missed the train. Sometimes I wouldn't tell him, I'd just wait the hour it took for the next train to come, or I'd walk. Taking the bus would have been clever, but I thought it was too complicated. I didn't even try to find the timetables.
I have lived alone since the breakup with Ted, it's been years. There are things that are hard; like how the fuck to get rid of junk without a car. I hire people to help me with the big stuff. I figure out how to deal with the small stuff.
I was passively stuck with First Husband and Ted but I am autonomous now. I may not do everything I want, some stuff still scares me, but I do all the everyday shit myself. I get myself to and from work. I depend on no one.
I ask my friends sometimes, but it's hard. If I send a message and don't hear back for hours or days I start telling myself I need to be more careful. People are people and they'll help if they want to and I am not the kind of person people want to help.
It's a quagmire to ask and receive help, there's the rejection and there is the debt. The kind of debt I fear is latitude and time. Either I have to put up with something or I my time suddenly is not my own.
My roommate D went nuclear when I'd asked her to wipe they counters after herself. She'd cooked this big meal for us the week before, she'd spent hours on the preparations and hours cleaning up; how could I such a fucking asshole? Did I even realize how often she cleaned up after me?
D also wanted to hang out and talk. I felt I ought to, that politeness demanded it, that she was nice and had taken me to Costco. But I didn't want to. The more I felt I owed her the less I wanted to.
I am useless in situations like these. I think is has to do with the way my mom used to manipulate me. It's hard for me, when faced with my shortcomings, to put things in perspective. It seems reasonable that if D cooked a huge meal (voluntarily) it should be OK for her to clean up after herself in her own sweet time. It seemed reasonable when faced with her outraged anger that I owed her latitude.
I know when I have done wrong, or misbehaved or been insensitive or selfish. If someone calls me on that and demands restitution I can't tell if what's asked is of the same relative value and I am unable argue against or to say no.
So I find myself in situations I don't like. Sometime in bed with someone, sometimes hysterically plotting how to evict my roommate.
I see now that my mom used to cheat me. She'd hold up a shining bauble but no amount of effort would land me the shiny thing. I always owed more or had done something wrong. I guess after a while I gave up trying because I realized I was never going to deserve it.
Recently, I have found myself with a friend, Don, more helpful than most. It triggers both my fear of being landlocked and dependent and my fear of debt. It would be so easy to give in and let someone else take care of me and become a passive child again.
When I talk about boundaries, Don doesn't quite understand. There are the boundaries we erect around ourselves, the set of behaviors we will tolerate, and then there are the internal boundaries, saying no, respecting not wanting to do something even if someone else did a something nice, not giving up time we'd rather spent doing something else and speaking up when someone wears shoes inside.
I am working on accepting this friendship. A huge part of it is learning how to set up and enforce internal boundaries, another how to communicate them. When I feel pressured I don't behave in a respectful and courteous way, instead I am sullen and undignified.
It's is through this friendship I came face to face with being all talk.
I complain long and bitterly over not being taken seriously or given responsibility. I complain that I am not appreciated, especially at work.
But here Don is, not just taking me seriously, but expecting me lift myself out of my little hole and become a proper professional. He is suggesting I avail myself of other people's services and that I do it in broad daylight instead of skulking around in the dark working around stuff to get what I need without having to ask anyone or conform to some expected behavior or process.
My project may be overlooked and lacking for resources, but as long as it's only me no one will see its terrible flaws. It does what it's supposed to, more or less and because I am alone I have an endless number of excuses why it's not as good as it might.
I am afraid that someone will open the hood and gasp, and gawk and expose me for the hack I am. That I will be found out as unprofessional and unseasoned. I have never worked with other people. I have never worked in a structured environment of interdependency where plans are made, dates are set and things are delivered on time – where I would be expected to deliver something specific on a specific date. I have cleverly and self destructively put myself in a situation where I deliver at will. If I don't stay isolated that will change, there will be insight, possibly oversight, expectations, tasks to be accomplished, goals to be set and delivered on.
My boss asked me for 6 month and 12 month goals, Don's showing me that I can take advantage of services run by others.
I claim to want to be a team lead, but when I look at myself I see a person who can not make a list in the morning of things to do that day and actually do them. It's not that I am over ambitious or run out of time, I just do other things and tell myself it's Ok. There is this unreliable person, who wings it to get by, who gets something crummy, semi functional and amateurish going on the sly without any help, that's me.
If I interact with other people my lack of effort and achievement will be visible.
If I talk big, and keep my hands hidden, and the crummy thing running, people will think me competent. The facade will come down, has started coming down, when I don't walk the big walk.
At other jobs this is when I leave. Perhaps I can trick some other employer into making me a manager and perhaps I can wing that well enough that no one notices that I am all talk.