On my journey back to mental wellness I’ve started to notice a few things. I’m not the only one who channels Snow White’s seven housemates. You know them surely; sleepy, grumpy, sneezy, dopey, et al. I’m also noticing that I’m not the only one who does not appreciate having their every minor decision questioned.
I find that the best response a friend or family member who is channeling one of these dorks is, “Pfffftttt” or “I see” and a good shrug of the shoulders, followed by an immediate evacuation of the scene. Further pursuance of the question at hand will only result in a blowout. So it seems that I have to remember how much I hate getting dragged over the coals of sixty-four thousand questions when asking questions.
Well damn! Living in the real world can be a pain in the kazoo. I think verbal manipulations should be registered as an Olympic sport. Yes indeed folks. I’ve come across people who actually manage to take an innocent question you ask such as, “how are you?” and twist around to imply that you are a selfish mental microbe who doesn’t care about anyone or anything.
The following hypothetical dialogue (based on an actual conversation) illustrates my take on this scenario:
Me: Hey how are you?
Person X: Well I’m fine, but I’m just tired.
Me: (falling into the trap) Oh, why are you tired?
Person X: Well I was up all night worrying about the national debt. Unlike some people I know (read you) I care about what happens to our country. Also I kept smashing my big toe with a hammer.
Me: (taken aback) OOOkkkk, Uh, why were you smashing your toe with a hammer?
Person X: Well someone (not me obviously) has to take steps to protect our economy. If my toe hurts then I won’t go out shopping and buy wasteful things while other people are suffering.
Me: (feeling a vague unnamed guilt) Uh, I don’t understand how not sleeping and injuring yourself is helping anyone.
Person X: Well of course you don’t see it! And therefore YOU are part of the problem.
Me: See ya later pal, I think I left something on the stove.
I always end up with a mild headache and wondering how I managed to blunder into such a conversation. However, with some people this seems to be the norm. I never did quite comprehend how worrying about something to the point of harming myself helps anything or anyone.
Yesterday was a mopey kind of day for Mr. Husband and me. Our beloved Texas Rangers lost to the Cardinals in the last game of the World Series. I’m glad it’s over. At the end of it all I declared that I hate baseball. It’s 99% boredom and 1% terror. It’s too much emotional stress over a game.
So we hung around the house doing not much of anything. I didn’t even get out of my pajamas until after lunch. But I also had that vague feeling that something was hanging over my head. That waiting for the other shoe to drop kind of feeling.
Well the other shoe, a great big ole mud covered boot, fell on my head. The grandson who was staying with us until a month ago to get clean sent a string of text messages. He didn’t have the stones to call me on the phone. My suspicion was that he was afraid that I would hear in voice that he was drunk or worse.
“I need money or I’m going to be evicted tomorrow.” Always the drama queen or King in his case. I didn’t respond. Maybe being homeless will be the wake up call he needs, or even jail. I’ve been down that road many times with his mother. It’s a dead-end road with dragons and demons waiting. I’m not pouring any more money down that black hole.
A few minutes later, before I even had time to respond, “Well I take that as a no…”
Then, “Well I shouldn’t even ask you, I knew you what you would say.” He plays the pity and guilt card. Slick, but I’ve lost that round so many times that I know not to play the game. Mr. Husband’s response was “well sweetie, he learned at the feet of the master.” He was referring to my daughter. True, so true.
About an hour later, “Well keep an eye on the news, Gram.” Say what?
He also texted me a picture. A picture designed to curdle my blood and hoping to get a rise out of me, obviously. He was shirtless, displaying all his tough guy tattoos, sporting some weird-looking rapper beard, and a pimp chain around his neck, and expensive shades. He has the whole gangsta look down pat. I have to hand him that. A picture speaks a thousand words. This picture said “look at me, Gram. Give me money or I’m gonna be a dealer or an all around scum bag, take your pick.”
That picture was a kick in the gut. It made me mad. No, that’s an understatement. I got white-hot, bitch slapping, bunker busting, dish breaking, furniture kicking furious. I calmed down and Mr. Husband took me to a nice Japanese restaurant to cheer us both up.
Later that I had an epiphany, or one of many epiphanies. I am sick and tired of getting tortured and bullied. If I had a dollar for every time someone in my extended family and their significant others called me in the middle of the night claiming that if I didn’t “help them out” by giving them money, they would kill themselves, or worse, I would be rich.
Or richer maybe. Mr. Husband and I are not suffering financially. I’m fortunate in that cutting back, for me, means, buying 1 new pair of shoes instead of 3. But somewhere along the way it seems that people think that “hey, I have no money. I’m able-bodied and can provide for myself. BUT, you have more so instead… give me yours. If you are not willing to fork it over, I’m not above extortion and yanking on your heart-strings. I’m not going to be satisfied until you come down here to the bottom of the well and be miserable with me!”
What has happened here? A sense of entitlement seems a much to bland way to describe what is going on. I never in my 56 years asked a family member or anyone else for a loan. I used to think I had too much pride to do that. But, maybe pride is a good thing. I’ve always thought that if was my job, not anyone else’s, to take care of me. All of me, all my needs, all my wants, are my responsibility. I’m completely kaflemped and befuzzled. I just don’t get it.