I’ll let you into a little Buckenham family joke. My Pa and I have this thing about my Ma. Specifically about her over use of the phrase “I can manage…” It’s used with monotonous regularity. On occasion with vehemence. But is usually followed by a look. You know the kind I mean..? To explain – If you were ever to be caught in this tractor beam of a stare you’d notice that her glasses have been pulled about half way down the bridge of her nose, her lips can only be described as ‘pursed’, and she would be glaring right through you. A right Paddington Bear of a stare.
All quite amusing right?
It’s actually a very classic defence mechanism, habitually deployed by people that can’t cope with feeling susceptible, weak or exposed. I mean this would automatically make them a lesser person, incapable and helpless – right? Ermm nope. It just means that they aren’t absolutely top notch at everything, and occasionally they need to ask for help.
So here’s the rub: I’ve just recently worked out that I do this too. And now that I know it, it’s so blinking obvious to me when I start to do it. Not necessarily the look thing. (Although I will admit that the look does sometimes happen…) It’s more the use of *that* phrase.
I’ve no idea when this first started. Or even what made me start doing it. I would imagine there’s a myriad of different things that kicked into play at some point, which dear reader I’m not going to even attempt to unravel. However something happened last week that made me stop, think and look at stuff from a different perspective.
I’ve made no bones about the fact that life (in general) has been a little taxing recently. Last week I got myself into a bit of a pickle. Assignations with friends had been arranged for one particular evening, however given the state of my washing machine head last week – and the fact that I wasn’t really coping – I decided bailing was the only option. The logic here was that I’d rather go home and be alone, than hang out with my friends – after all I didn’t want to burden them with my issues. I didn’t want to feel inept, weak or vulnerable.
So I emailed to excuse myself. A short while later I got a phone call. The question was simple: “What’s occurring?”, to which I duly explained the whole burden thing. I got the following response: “It is my choice as to whether I accept your burden. Not yours…”
WHOA. MAJOR FLIPPING TUMBLEWEED MOMENT.
Why the hell has that thought never occurred to me? Now I know you’re all thinking for a *smart bird* she really is incredibly dense sometimes (and I can’t argue with that point right now), but I’ve NEVER EVER looked at it from that perspective. And its true you know? No one can force anyone else to take on anything that they don’t want to. I can’t burden someone else with my stuff, no more than they could burden me. Logical now I write it down, but before…? Nope. Not so much.
I thought about it a bit and subsequently made the right decision that night – I retracted my notification of *bailing* – and I went and hung out with my friends. I had a ball. In fact, we all had a ball. No word was said of what had gone before. And it was all cool.
So in my usual circuitous fashion where am I trying to get to? Last week made me realise that sometimes it’s ok not to always be the one telling everyone that “I can manage”. Sometimes it’s ok to share. And sometimes it’s ok to be vulnerable. No one is invincible.