Thursday, July 19, 2007

I'm disinclined to acquiesce to your request.

Our apartment is beginning to look like our home. Slowly but surely things are being put away and yesterday enough space was cleared on the floor that it was painfully apparent that we needed to vacuum. I had planned on doing it at some point and had asked Alaskaboy to finish off papering the kitchen cupboards. (We'd trialled putting down butcher's paper on the shelves since the paint they used tends to stick to whatever is placed in there for too long.)

We went and did some grocery shopping in the afternoon, as well as picking up a book that I'd had on hold at a bookshop and, since he was tired of borrowing mine, getting a USB thumb drive for Alaskaboy. Upon returning home I had some veg soup, one and a half boiled eggs left over from lunch, and cream cheese toast, Alaskaboy got himself something different for dinner. I read the introduction to The Artist's Way as I was eating, and realised I had to go back for a second pair of toast slices. Complete and utter emotional eating, but that's okay, I was feeling threatened.

Why threatened?

Reading this book, for me, was taking another active step to committing to being a writer. That, after the day before having bought a folding card table I can use for brainstorming or editing, or whatever. MY space for MY work. And I don't have to clear it off at the end of the day if I don't want! Previously, I'd been using the kitchen table. Not a good way to make myself or my work feel worth much of anything: Because clearing off the table to make and prepare dinner happens every evening, doesn't it?

In the background I heard the noise of the vacuum cleaner start up, but because I was engrossed in the book, I let it slide, assuming Alaskaboy was cleaning something in the study. Nope, he'd noticed the same thing I had and was vacuuming the place. That's all right, I was reading and was comfortable with him doing that as he really does like to clean. There's a reason the Dyson is known as the other woman in our marriage...Alaskaboy spends more time vacuuming with it than I do. LOL

I interrupted my reading, stood up and helped him move the chairs and stuff in the dining area so he could vacuum more easily. Also moved the fire extinguisher in the process. When I put it back, exclaiming how heavy it was, he offered to show me how to use it. I demurred and reminded him that I had seen it before. He offered to show it again, rationalising that the more I went through the motions the more I'd remember it if I ever needed to use it. I again declined. He picked it up and said something along the lines of, “It'll only take a sec.” and I said. “Listen to what I'm saying. No. I don't want to, I'm doing something that is very important to me. And I don't wish to interrupt it to look at the fire extinguisher.” (I didn't even swear. GASPSHOCKHORROR)

He looked at me a little funny but then put it down and went back to vacuuming. Big moment for me especially in light of all the people I've acquiesced to “for a second / few minutes” or “We've already gone this far, a little more won't hurt” or “just this once” in order to keep that boat on an even keel! (My stomach's churning thinking about some of those times as I write this.) I stood up for myself tonight. I didn't try and justify it by telling him I was reading a book related to my work as a writer, didn't tell him anything other than, “I don't want to.” and he respected that. For that, I love him even more than I usually do.

Not five minutes later I asked him to look at a bit of the book that I thought he'd be able to relate to. When he had the time or the inclination,of course, and after marking it with a piece of string I offered to show it to him right then! (Tricksy little LSED, now that I think about it, isn't she?)
He declined as he was busy.

Then approximately fifteen minutes later I noticed he was measuring the top of the deep freeze. Well, I thought he was, turns out he was measuring butcher's paper. Straight away, I asked him, “Are you doing that because you want to, or because I asked you to?” My reasoning was that if he didn't want to, he should not do it because he has to work tomorrow and he should relax this evening and fiddle with computery stuff, like I assumed he wanted to be doing.

He was doing it because I'd asked him to.

The conversation went on for a few minutes more inside my head after that point. Each time I thought about it I came up with reasons why he shouldn't be doing it.

1.I could do it tomorrow.
2.It wasn't that important, and besides hadn't he just vac'ed the whole place?
3.He should only be doing it if he wanted to.
4.Wasn't there more important things to be doing?

On and on the listing went until I finally got to a point where I realised what I was doing. I was making all kinds of excuses as to why he shouldn't be doing it--because I was the one who asked him to! And had asked precisely because he has the talent for fiddly fart-arsery like this, and I don't.

Now, how fucked up is that? There's many a time I can't be bothered but I'll make him some dinner, or do things just because he's asked me to. How is what he did any different? Why is he deserving of courtesy, help and having his wishes respected, and I'm not?

Why the hell was I so uncomfortable because my husband was doing something for the sole reason I asked him to do it?

Just when I think I've got it all figured out, another manifestation of my low self esteem sits up and begs to be noticed. At least I'm paying attention and can work on it now that it's slapped me a few times in the face with a wet fish.

Anyone else find themselves doing anything similar? Not the fish slapping, but the feeling uncomfortable/strange/whatever when someone makes an effort on your behalf.

P.S. Check out Marshy's fabulous guest post from yesterday.
Yaks in Hula Skirts.
Need I say more? LOL

4 Nibbles:

San said...

wow, i have to say your self esteem is pretty down there at times. i can't imagine thinking twice about asking my hubby to do something for me. i just can't imagine why people wouldn't want to do things for me, afterall i'm a goddess!! :-)

i think it's great that you are getting through all this stuff and don't worry about the e-eating, it will settle down!

Erin said...

I actually come to the realization that I had been asking my Hubby to do TOO much for me and am in the process of taking back ownership of acting as an adult. That being said, being able to ask for help or ask for others to pitch in is a crucial skill for stress management in my opinion and it is good that you stopped and recognized what you were doing. I'm pretty sure if Alaskaboy truly did not want to do something, he wouldn't do it, but I am generalizing since I don't know him. I am so glad you are working on being your true self (writer) and taking the time to devote to it, even if that is "only" reading about it. Reading is probably the number one thing a writer CAN do in my opinion, to better their skills and to keep the desire to be one alive.
Glad to see YOU posting, I've missed you!

Kada said...

Yeah it is way down there sometimes, San. And I have nothing against asking my husband to do things, it was just this one time that I was feeling uncomfortable and was able to recognise it.

It's hard getting through this stuff though, especially the most current childlike panicking stuff. I feel like it's never ending, this working through my problems stuff, some days.

Kada said...

Yeah you're right, Erin. If he doesn't want to do it he's not backwards in coming forwards. When we first got married I asked him to do heaps of stuff, a lot of which was just testing to see how far I could go with it. LOL

I wonder if learning how to be an adult ever stops too?