I have some certain issues with judgement. That is, judgement directed at me. I avoid it at many, if not all costs. I’ve told my manager at work, “my goal in relating to you is to have you never say anything to me except, in passing, ‘good job’ or ‘I’ve put you in for a raise,’ because I’ve been such a model of appropriate behavior that you don’t have any need to actively manage me.”
It never occurred to me that might be a little … pathological.
I am cautious to be considerate, appropriately groomed, appropriately attired, appropriately behaved….
Appropriate. Showing discretion.
Discreet: Not drawing attention, anger or challenge; inconspicuous.
“Not drawing anger or challenge.” Oh, yeah. That’s the one that rankles. That’s what’s at the heart of what I told my manager. That’s at the heart of why I let customers milk me for more labor than is appropriate. That’s at the heart of why I am so careful to never lose my temper, why I am always careful to see to it that my behavior is always seen to be on the moral high ground — high ground I am willing to share, but that I must be standing on.
That’s what is at the heart of my relationship with my mother.
Zee muzzer. Ve often look to zee muzzer.
I felt excluded when I was too big for laps and my little brother wasn’t. There were undoubtedly other attentions as well, but that’s the one that I can remember. Ma wasn’t stupid; I have no doubt that, at some point, she noticed my neediness and sussed out what was up.
I don’t know that she used my neediness as a lever on purpose. It doesn’t matter.
When I was bad, I was grilled. Did I think I had behaved the way I was supposed to? Okay, fine, I was bad, and that’s a useful teaching technique. But when I didn’t think I was bad, it was not okay for me to say that. There was no screaming or such, but there was clear disapproval, expressed with distance (aha — there’s that leverage coming into play), and I learned what was being taught, and quickly, so I could get what I needed from the relationship.
Learned to be good, right? No, don’t be silly.
I learned to strive to be better, more appropriate, so I could “Not draw anger or challenge.” When I was called out for not being good, I worked as hard as I could to figure out what response she wanted from me and give it to her.
I didn’t agree with the responses she wanted from me, I didn’t believe I had been wrong (necessarily), but I had learned that it didn’t matter what I thought was right and wrong. I was being quizzed on what I thought was right and wrong for the sole purpose of punishing me for thoughtcrime.
I learned that lesson well. Anybody expresses disapproval of me, I immediately try to spin the situation so that it is clear that I am not guilty of thoughtcrime; I’m a good person, see, it’s just a trick of the light or circumstance that made me look like I didn’t deserve to be loved. So love me.
I am currently entering into a real estate deal that entails joint ownership of property. This is because it will permit most of what we would like from our lives in the next few decades, and it is pretty much our only chance to own our home and have it paid off before I’m pushed out of the work force when I’m 65. Ma doesn’t like the deal. The people we’re working with are pagan hippies, the ownership isn’t conventional, and you can’t get your money out of the property afterwards, you’re tied to the hippies, you’ll lose everything.
My immediate response was to want to justify my decisions. I supported them with the research (lawyers, engineers, county building commissioners) that we’ve done … and deleted all of that from my email. Then I tried again … and deleted all of that. I ended up with a one-liner, saying that I understood her concerns and was glad she still loved me; I love her too.
I can’t sleep. She disapproves. She knows my reasons and disapproves and now I won’t get loved or attention or something horrible like that. I have to change all of my plans so that I won’t be found guilty of having an opinion she doesn’t like.
Bollocks. I’ve thought about this for two years, and have run numbers and numbers and numbers. This is, at worst, not a bad plan and will result in my saving a tidy chunk of cash and losing some weight during construction. At best I get a lovely home in the woods, pay it off in less than 15 years, and only pay $125k for it.
Ma is conventional. She has an accountant’s sensibilities, an Episcopalian’s intimacy, and a mercenary’s ethic. I don’t know what her axe is to grind in this, but I don’t care. I won’t give in to my inner judge on this one.
I’ll let this cook for a week or so, and if I haven’t come to terms with what my head knows, then I’ll seek out Lexi again and have her give me a boost. I suspect I need it. I don’t see how something this basic, something expressed in my behaviors daily, is going to change just because I know the source of it. There will need to be some healing, as well, and Lexi is great at helping with that.
Maybe some sleep now. Sleep would be good.