Not trying to be mean.

I really and truly understand that most of the folks I’ve had a hard time with on this trip are doing their utmost to be nice to me. The trouble is, it’s hard to be nice to me. I’m prickly and picky and specific and do it my way or you’re hard for me.

That’s not terribly fair of me, but it is true. I try hard to record what is true instead of what is fair or what I wish was happening.

I wanted to travel and deal with people. I’m doing so. Guess what? It’s hard. No big surprise twist there or anything. I’ve been hiding in the bay area for decades because it feels safer. No shit I have some trouble with people while I travel.

The woman who was trying to warn me about the upcoming culture shift wasn’t really and truly trying to tell me that she thinks I am wrong about everything I do. She was trying to help me see that I’m about to walk into a different culture as specifically as if I was walking into a different country. She’s right. She was right that I am wrong wrong wrong in the view of southern culture.

She wasn’t lying. She wasn’t wrong. She wasn’t trying to be mean. She was trying to warn me. Too bad I like shooting the messenger. Historically I hear it is a popular approach.

But it hurts my fucking feelings and I’m going to go cry for a while.

I really wish I could take things in stride and just nod along then be fine. That isn’t in my future though. I’m a responder.

Periodically people say, “Why don’t you just ignore _______?”

There isn’t enough pot in the world to cause me to be able to just ignore things. I pay attention. I pay attention to as many things as I physically can then I drive myself crazy trying to watch more things than I should be able to physically track. My family ignored problems. I don’t ignore things. Just… no. Can’t.

Yes, my life would probably be easier if I could ignore more things. My life would also be possibly easier if I were 5’10”. I could wear shoes that kinda get me there to cheat… but I’d break my fucking ankle. Ignoring things is kinda like that. I could pretend to ignore things. I wouldn’t really ignore it though… I’d just pretend. And that would be a problem.

I can see how this woman was trying to be helpful and sweet. Hell, I can see that about everyone who has bugged me on this trip. They are trying so hard. Trouble is I’m really really hard.

I’m adaptable up to a point. Then I’m utterly rigid and it must be my way or I’m not comfortable. Just about no one but Noah is naturally comfortable with my way. I think Noah is only semi-comfortable with it because even Noah’s way makes Noah uncomfortable so my adjustment isn’t that big. With other people… adjusting to me is hard. It takes years of effort. I can point at the people who are good at it and pretty much number them on my fingers. I freak people out. They have to limit their exposure to me.

I get it. I’m sorry.

I feel like that with other people. As intense as people find me… I find y’all as intense and overwhelming. Not because I want to criticize but because I’m terrified you won’t like me and there is nothing I can do to make you like me. I will never be able to jump through the right hoops in the right order so I should just go jump off a bridge.

I wish I didn’t feel like minor social difficulties totally justifies me being suicidal.

I don’t really think that. But my lizard brain does.

I’ve been taking more sleeping pills at night than I wish I needed to take. At this point I take three over the counter sleep aid pills a night so I can sleep more than 5 hours. It means I’m sleeping 8-9 hours every night and that is wonderful. Also it makes me sluggish and tired in the mornings which helps me not bite anyones head off because I can’t take pot first thing in the morning. Not till after driving which means I’m only stoned at night while I’m sleeping these days.

When I get home… I’m going to smoke pot. Fuck these stupid time release pills that might or might not effect how I feel in a few hours. I want immediate gratification for anxiety SO BAD.

I’m tired of spending my whole days shaking because I need to be careful to not say the wrong thing and prove I’m a monster.

I’m afraid that the monstrous line is at me asking for OJ in a house where they don’t have it. Because then I will be rude and deserve any castigation someone feels like giving me. Which means I will be yelled at for asking for juice. I may lose my shit if someone yells at me for being rude like that any time soon.

Necessary disclaimer: losing my shit will involve a lot of screaming and maybe jumping up and down. I don’t think I’m on the verge of hurting anyone for being annoying.

Oh, other disclaimer. On the trip… I’m not hitting the kids but I have developed the bad habit of grabbing a little piece of hair and pulling on it to get their attention in a loud place where they can’t hear me. It isn’t “nice” but good grief it is hard to get their attention sometimes and that works. They generally make a face at me, but I don’t think it “hurts” because they aren’t crying or exclaiming in pain. Just letting me know that I’m a turkey butt for pulling their hair.

I can live with that.

I honestly got the idea from a letter from Noah’s mother. I asked her how she got herself to stop hitting her kids. She said she started pulling their hair instead. How loving are we?

I don’t want to hit my kids. There are times when I need to get their attention and we are in a highly distracting environment. I’m not sure I feel “justified” or like it is a great habit. I’m not sure if it is abusive. I don’t pull their hair till they cry. If they tell me to stop on a given day I do. But inevitably I will need their attention again a few days later and I do it again.

I’m conflicted on whether or not this is appropriate. The fact that I’m not hurting them is the only reason I continue. They genuinely do not react as if they are in pain. It’s annoying.

I’m ok with the fact that I annoy them sometimes. Ha. Turn about is fair play, darlings.

I am totally ok with annoying the shit out of my kids. I won’t lose sleep over that one little bit. They have done the same to me.

People tell me constantly how self possessed my children are. That is the specific phrase that has come up dozens of times over the last few months. It is usually said in a tone of almost wonder but what did you do to those children?

I don’t even know. I tell them every day that I don’t know them very well and I’d like to know them but they are going to have to tell me who they are because I don’t know by looking at you.

As a result my kids are very good at explaining who they are, what they like, what they don’t like, and how they want to be touched.

They are getting much better at hearing the word “no” and stopping mid-blow. (Good grief they fight one another a lot.) I am very impressed with the self control I can witness them developing. They are already different than they were when we left home.

Younger child, duh, is having a harder time with the self control lately. Given the age difference that is appropriate and logical. But lots of improvements have been made.

My kids are being inculcated in “Ask Culture” so strongly they can barely recognize that there are Guessers in the world. Does that make them self possessed? I have no idea. Ok, I went and looked the term up. Calm and unflappable. People who say this have never seen Younger Child tantrum. That’s my baby alright. Totally true of Elder Child though.

It’s not that Elder Child never gets upset. That totally happens. But when EC gets upset it is always related to a clear pattern of, “You should have eaten hours ago, you are exhausted, or anyone would get upset.” That kid is just… able to go with the flow of life. I’m inspired daily by how good this kid is at adjusting to the little vagaries of life. I absolutely strive to be more like her.

She says that she learned this from me and if I want to be more like her I should listen to myself sometimes because I’m a good teacher.

Sometimes I think about tickling them until they pee. That’s the mean torture I envision when they taunt me.

I am enjoying the trip. I wish I didn’t care so much about what people think of me. I wish I genuinely didn’t care that sometimes people think I am rude because I am not aware of their little cultural nuances. That doesn’t need to be part of my awareness. I don’t need to give a shit. They can go be offended in their sandbox and have fun with that.

The same way I come to my sandbox to express my frustrations. Totally a valid coping method. La la la la la

I’m not saying that people suck. I’m saying that the way people exist is sometimes confusing and upsetting to me. Ok, sometimes I say that people suck. I’m not trying to today. Today I’m trying to be open minded and understanding and shit. Because I’m not pissed right now so it is a good day to try and care about other peoples point of view.

See the difference? Ok to try and see other peoples point of view on days when I’m not actively pissed. When I’m still furious… I’m not very understanding. This is why I say, “Not today. Bring it up on a different day.” It’s not that I’m completely unwilling to listen. It’s that I am getting realistic with myself about what I can hear when.

I really like how much the kids like me. I try hard to be worthy. I love that my baby wakes up and goes to sleep clutching me. It absolutely does a lot to heal wounds made decades ago when I would cry myself to sleep longing for my mother. I can’t fix the little girl I was. I can make this better.

It is fascinating watching how boundaries actually help us all get along better. Yesterday I made the kids clean up the van. I did it one day after the previous cleaning because the kids spent the drive ripping up bits of paper and dropping them about the van. If you can’t keep the fucker tidy enough to keep us from littering every time we open the doors… we have to clean it up. It is not ok for us to litter across the country. We have to be tidy enough that we can open and close the doors without a storm of paper erupting. That’s Not Ok.

I told them they had 30 minutes or they weren’t getting screen time and we weren’t going swimming. I’m tired of rewarding them after they refuse to do work. They had it clean in 23 minutes.

That’s why it drives me so bat shit crazy when they stretch it into three, four, five hours of crying and saying, “I don’t know how to clean it.”

YOU HAVE ALREADY DONE THIS EXACT TASK DOZENS OF TIMES. I AM NOT INTERESTED IN BEING TOLD THAT YOU DON’T KNOW HOW TO DO IT. IF YOU STILL DON’T KNOW HOW. IT IS TIME TO FIGURE IT OUT.

I’m past patience on this one. I have patiently shown them and patiently shown them and patiently shown them. Now I’m pissed and I’m not fucking showing you any more. Just god damn do it and stop trying to make me do everything for you.

I’m so tired of being manipulated into doing everything. Yes, it is fucking work for you. I’m ok with that. It’s work for me too.

Seriously, most of cleaning the van involves throwing away the bits of paper and putting the drawing supplies back in the art supply bag. There is a very specifically limited amount of bad this mess can get.

I’m fucking tired of them crying that they “can’t” do it so I have to do it for them.

I’m really really cranky about this right now. Oh goodness. Just… livid with anger. I need to calm down. Hyping myself up at 9 am is stupid.

The kids are feeling frustrated that I do many hours of work and then I use the screen. They do many hours of sitting as passengers and then want to sit and use the screen. Nope. You get to do work.

I’m not the only worker here.

Noah said I’m raising little pioneer children who must do work to support themselves. Something like that.

I know many mothers who are happy to “care for” their children for decades. I’m not happy to do that. If you are physically capable of doing it for yourself you are going to do it because I’m exhausted and if I keep pushing myself to do work for you when I’m this tired I will snap and beat the shit out of you at some point because I will hate you for making my life so much harder.

I have limits.

I don’t ever want to beat you. So I need to look at the factors that make me feel completely overwhelmed and angry. I need to limit them. Which means y’all can brush your own hair and teeth and get dressed and clean up the messes you make. I can’t be responsible for everything.

I’ve told Eldest Child, “Know how I used to do everything for you as a baby?”

At this point she dreamily says, “Yeah. That was the best.”

I say, “Notice how we didn’t leave the house much because I was literally not capable of doing that and going out into the world?”

“Yeah, I remember that.”

“Do you want to spend the rest of your life locked in our house because that is all I can handle?”

“Oh. Ok, I’ll brush my hair and get ready.”

It’s not that I’m a mean person who wants to torture you. It’s that I want to do exciting things with you and I need you to do a lot to take care of yourself as we go on adventures because I’m not capable of doing everything. It’s not about being mean. I just can’t.

Do you get angry at people in wheel chairs if they don’t change all the light bulbs in the ceiling on their own? Or do you say, “Maybe this would be easier for someone who had usage of their legs and a ladder.” It’s not that the wheel chair user is lazy or uncaring.

And the person in the wheel chair can do it alone with the right tools and time. But it’s much harder and it will eliminate other tasks that person would like to do with the time. That’s kind of how caretaking works for me.

I have to think really hard and consciously about people in order to caretake. It’s not very natural for me. Fuck this whole “women are nurturing” bullshit. We fucking learn how and it is fucking hard. This is not a fucking instinct. It’s torture.

I do it because I want to find out what lessons are to be learned through these specific relationships. I caretake for self-serving reasons. Because I want credit for having done lots of this years later.

It actually kind of sucks.

Today we move on to Dollywood. I’m excited. We will get on the road earlier than usual, I hope. So far the kids aren’t moving that fast. Well, EC is ready. YC is screaming at me. Joy. Time to get moving.

One thought on “Not trying to be mean.

  1. Michelle

    Ah, I never did get to go to Dollywood. I hope you have fun!

    I finally saw the ocean for the first time since I got back. It feels very strange. It doesnt feel like home anymore but I had the best night’s sleep I’ve had in days on my friend’s couch in Santa Cruz. My impulse is to say ‘oh, we should grab lunch or something’- I keep forgetting what state I am in.

    I also had forgotten about that ask/guess business. Ugh.

    Reply

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