Life is an interesting teacher sometimes. All of my life I’ve felt I was the easy to get along with one, the one who went along and didn’t demand much….and then I find the people I managed when I was in management felt MUCH MUCH differently. I realized, after close self-inspection (and the removal of a few knives from my back and other areas) that perhaps I’d been wrong about my self-perceived casual air. Yes, I expected things to be done right, of course – what was wrong with that?
Well, apparently my right wasn’t always their right. Sigh. Live and learn and vow never to manage anyone again….
However, last night, a friend was teasing me about a couple of things and it made me think. He pointed out that I had allowed my son to cook for me, and that was growth for me, allowing someone else to cook. It’s ridiculous, really, that comment, because I love when anyone else cooks and in fact prefer it after years of cooking for ungrateful sod children who had to have different menus or starve. I’ll eat pretty well anything put in front of me and enjoy it, from hotdogs to filet mignon. But this friend’s perception was that I wanted control over this.
In a way, I do, I realized. I am trying to watch my intake, getting healthy, etc. So I do want to avoid the hot dog side of things as much as possible. But this friend had offered to cook for me once or twice, and it hadn’t worked out. Maybe I’ve given the impression that I don’t like people to cook for me. Who knew? Who knows how many tasty dinners I’ve missed because of this impression? (I should add that I have been the recipient of excellent meals at my cousins’ and sister-in-law’s and eternally grateful for them – yum!)
And then there’s the dating and control thing. Ever since I had my own money, I’ve always offered to share expenses, go dutch, alternate treating. Only recently have I realized that this led to male emasculation for some reason. I should have let them treat me more often, as this makes men feel better. Oh the money I could have saved!!! And when married, I should have asked for expensive jewelry and all that jazz as we precious women like that sort of thing instead of offering to do without birthday presents so we could save money for camping equipment…
Again, the way this is perceived is that I want to control stuff. Well, not really. I just hate the thought of being an expense as that implies that I owe people something, and that always reminds me of the sex ed lecture my mother apparently got from her father, which went something like this:
“You’ll be seeing some fellow, and sooner or later he’ll bring you a bag of peanuts or some popcorn or something, and he’ll be expecting something in return…”
And, to be fair, a lot of the men I’ve dated have been a wee bit down on their luck, tight in the finance department, and I thought I was helping by offering to pay, not kicking them when they were down.
I also have a personal space thing, but I honestly don’t feel I am alone in this. I have a nice apartment now, filled with things I cherish. (Plus a whole lot of uncherished things but that’s a topic for another day). I lived much of my married life alone, so I became used to being alone. I write, which requires solitude. I enjoy my own company, although I also enjoy other’s. So I like having a spot of privacy, some control over who or what enters my inner sanctum.
I defy anyone who had to spend five years or more trying to pee without having the entire family in the bathroom with them (including the dog and assorted pet rodents) to argue that my need for space and privacy is pathologic. Let’s just say I am enjoying my empty nest, where I can wander unexposed, leave my bathrobe off, stay in my workout gear, etc. and will give that up reluctantly for anyone.
But this makes having a relationship with anyone quite difficult. One poor fellow, after dating me for months, appeared at my door with a rod cover for my shower as he didn’t like the sound the metal rings made on the metal rod. Inside I went ballistic. “I like that sound,” I hollered in my head. “Who does he think he is, changing my space?”
It was madness and I eventually shut off the yelling in my head. But perhaps trying to accept changes to one’s home, when you are a pussycat-type person like myself, for whom the home is a safe and comfortable space and changes are hard, is tough for anyone. I wrap my home around me like a blanket when life is tough. Coming through the door calms me, soothes me. It’s not perfect, but it’s mine. Sharing it? The thought makes me cringe a bit. Sharing someone else’s place makes me feel even more awkward, since I know how I view my place and fear they are the same. I feel like I am invading.
On the good side, I never correct how people put dishes in the dishwasher an often let other people drive. Surely that should count for something, shouldn’t it?