Saturday, January 22, 2005


I don't think it is the Fourth of July.

So. Last night, came home from work and fell into bed. Ugh. I was ooky. Slept right until the doorbell rang, and then sprang out of bed for fun adventures with Cheryl the Dog Whisperer. She has discovered that a cat stole into her basement when an electrician came about a month ago, so she is now trying to tame the feral cat. We discussed that when she leaves next year for her rotations (Cheryl is a med student) that we might possibly become the kitty's owners (I told Dereck: You're the one who says cats find us! And he agreed). So, we discussed all the various ways you can try to tame a feral cat (tuna fish).

I feel like I am learning a lot from Cheryl and training Goldie. It is my mission in life to become Alpha to Goldie, because I am not Alpha anywhere else in my life. I wish I had met Cheryl when Tommy was a baby. I can see all of the ways now in which Goldie tries to re-establish dominance (stopping to scratch herself when I give her a command, or putting her paws on me, which might seem endearing, but is really a way to try to establish dominance). And for some reason, probably because she is a dog and not a human, I just don't put up with any of it. If she starts scratching herself after I have said "Stay," then I stop her. If she doesn't sit immediately after I have said, "Sit," my hand is on her rump pushing her down THAT fast. If she doesn't lie down immediately, I wrestle her down. Immediately.

And so, I think for the first time in my life, I am learning something about establishing boundaries and getting respect in return.

One of the things you may or may not know about me from reading my blog is that I don't really have any boundaries with people. And I have come to think that this is very much a mistake. And I have also learned that I do actually have boundary lines-- I just don't enforce them. Or rather, I do not enforce them until people have crept so far into my territory that the only way to enforce the boundaries at that point is to blow them away at close range. Friendly fire, if you will.

So, I am trying to start recognizing my lines, and to recognize when my lines are crossed. Faster.

For instance: I had lunch with someone not too long ago whom I do not know well. We were sitting in a noisy restaurant which lots of my acquaintances frequent, so from time to time, I would turn to look around me, or at the door when people come in. At one point, the woman was talking to me, and I turned my head, and she immediately said, "Look at me!" So she could make her point, because apparently, she thinks I hear with my eyes. When I taught junior high special ed, we watched videotapes making fun of teachers and parents who get in their kids' faces and say, "Look at me!"when they are trying to lecture the kids. It doesn't work. You can look someone square in the eye and still shut them out.

I did not like it. Not one bit. I actually did turn and look at her, but I will not be having lunch with her again. I got a bit chilly after that.

I had lunch with someone else not too long ago, whom I have known for awhile, and she said, "Do you like for people to treat you badly? No offense, but you seem to let it happen a lot."

And I have really thought about that. She also noticed that I seem to solicit advice from the most casual conversation, therefore, letting another person have dominance over me. I told her later, via instant message, that I thought I probably did it just to make conversation, and that I should probably become a little more comfortable with silences than compromise myself just to make conversation (but she and I both noted that once again, I was actually taking advice. What's a girl to do?)

I have been thinking about this for a long time. And I think I play a submissive role in relationships, perhaps because when I am strong, people take it way the wrong way. Case in point: last night at the bar (yes, I went out-- Happy Ass was playing, and if I can be sick at home or sick out with my friends, I'm gonna go out), Dereck got into a heated conversation with a man named Josh, whom I had started talking to (he started working at the Junior High shortly after I quit), and at one point, Dereck appeared so angry to me, that I had to get up and leave the conversation because I was uncomfortable.

We talked about it later, and even though I knew that he was NOT angry, his voice and face SEEMED so angry that I was uncomfortable.

And people have told me before when I perceived that I was feeling engaged, enthusiastic, or passionate about something, that I came across instead as being in a rage. Dereck and I both do this-- and perhaps it is because we are generally so mild-mannered that when people see us fully engaged, they get kind of scared. Leading us, once again, to downplay it most of the time.

And I think that both of us (we talk about this a lot) were raised by quiet, polite people who placed a great emphasis on being polite and nice. My dad always laughs and says, "Nobody would ever describe you as docile, Jen," but I think he is wrong-- especially because people noted that I am quieter in person than I am on my blog. I think in order to succeed in the workplace, I have had to create a quieter, more submissive persona, which is very misleading. It's like I have convinced people I am Clark Kent, mild-mannered reporter, and so when I rip off the tie and start kicking ass, revealing my true identity, people feel a little betrayed.

And yet, we all know that Superman cannot go around being Superman all the time.

So, what is the solution?

Not to let people get too close.

I think one of the things I have learned about my adult life is that the only person with whom I can or should attempt real intimacy is the person I am sleeping with.

When I was pregnant with Sam, my La Leche League leader told me that she had lost friendships over different parenting styles. I simply could not imagine. But I think that even more important than religion, politics, or interests, if you differ with someone about how to parent, and what's more, if you actually have that conversation, the friendship is simply over.

No comments:

Post a Comment