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Duty to accomodate


My friend Jenn recently posted this entry, and I relate to it a lot, about how much her friends are aware of what she needs to feel safe, and all the things they do to make sure she's okay.  She also talks about how when she moved away from her core community for a while, there was no one offering that support ... and sometimes that pushed her to do things she wouldn't have tried, otherwise.

This is the last paragraph:

"So what i find myself pondering tonight is where the balance lies.  How to allow myself to say “i can’t” when i truly can’t....but not hide behind it when it’s easy rather than necessary.  I think at a minimum it requires challenging my own self-centeredness.  Not sinking into safety and allowing myself to assume that the state of affairs i am in is a natural one.  Remaining aware of the way(s) people accommodate me and holding myself to account for the ways in which my anxieties inconvenience them and working hard to ensure that they do so to the least extent possible"

Basically I'm where she is. Trying to figure out what I CAN'T do, versus what I just FEEL like I can't do but am being insulated against having to do because I have such lovely friends in my life.  You know?

For example, I ask for a LOT of reassurance from people that they are not mad at me and that we are okay.  All the time. To the point where robotropolis once said to me "I'm going to Montreal for the weekend and I will still like you when I get back!" 

I have been this way as long as I can remember, probably because my mom was so unpredictable when I was a kid, veering wildly from loving to cruel without a second's warning. So now I am 36, and the question "How much reassurance do I need?" is still a bit like the question "How long is a piece of string?"

shannonmariah once had the great perspective "It's okay to ask your friends if they are mad at you, but you should try to believe you when they say that they are not."  When my logic cylinders are firing okay, I can do that. But when I'm in superpanic mode, basically I'm just like "Okay but what about now? Or now? Or now?" It's something I am trying really hard to figure out. 

Here are my two competing thoughts:

1. I don't want to burn anyone out

2. I don't want to assume my friends will be annoyed when I ask for things.

I ALSO want to be super mindful of not accidentally creating a crisis because then I will have "permission" to ask an unreasonable amount from someone! I have a pretty capable brain, and making a big disaster is not the best use of it.

So I dunno what to do about that, exactly! Suggestions welcome.


( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
Jan. 14th, 2013 04:50 am (UTC)
If you are looking for advice on how to be healthier and a better friend:

"I ALSO want to be super mindful of not accidentally creating crises because they will give me "permission" to ask an unreasonable amount from someone!"

This is a hugely problematic pattern.
My suggestion is not just to avoid doing this, but after it has been done, to give back. If you can't give back, then apologize at least.
So try not to create a crisis, but if one happens, don't analyze whether it was 'real' or not - just give back to your friends. If you focus on whether or not you are taking too much and what you might have done wrong and whether you are using your brain right or not you won't really be there for your friends, you will just be being there for yourself. Self-care, reflection, analysis...that is all fine. There is a place for self-care. But eventually every personal crisis ends, and then what happens to the people that were there for you? I would suggest focusing on that question, because beating yourself up for acting in a way you don't love while you are in a crisis is not really helpful to anyone, and at worst it is a way to stay self-invested exclusively, rather than genuinely caring for others.

Also - your friend is right that you should be willing to hear that people are not mad at you, but also, ask what you are really asking - are you willing to hear that they ARE mad at you? Are you willing to hear that they AREN'T okay? And are you willing to then care and do something about it? Because if not, your question isn't "are we okay?" it is "PLEASE TELL ME WE ARE OKAY!". You are just telling your friends what their line is and that it is their line.
Jan. 14th, 2013 01:37 pm (UTC)
I think that in general, you are a person who takes a lot of emotional care but you also give a lot back. So you are mindful of the give and take. As we have discussed before, your level of give and take is a lot higher than mine, but that's ok because it's ok for people to be different. And this would be a lot more boring of a world if everyone were as repressed as I am. Someone cold like me is probably not good primary emotional support for someone warmer like you, but I think you do a good job of surrounding yourself with warm, thoughtful people who do enjoy that high level of give and take. So as much as you might be asking people to reassure you, I think you tend to gravitate to people who welcome that and who in turn enjoy the level of reassurance you give.

If there's one thing that makes me worry a bit for you (as your robot-like emotional opposite) it's a tendency I think I have noticed in you to not want to have anyone upset with you or dislike you. It's an interesting conundrum because you are a very strong and opinionated woman (and you know I like women who are very strong and very opinionated) but the strength is tempered by a need to have people not be upset with you. It's rare for you to have a dedicated enemy, frenemy or nemesis because you draw those people in and try to ensure they are on your side. Which on one hand is a marvel of social skills, but on the other hand I think must be quite emotionally exhausting. Or it would be for me, anyway.

My feelings are hurt when someone dislikes me and I think I'm probably still a little more placating than I would like to be, but on the other hand the childhood combo for me of parental acceptance/peer rejection means that I'm more likely to say 'fuck you' (mentally) to people I dislike and move on, just like I did to 99% of the kids I met back in the day. Whereas you probably weren't able to say 'fuck you' (mentally) to your mom because you relied on her for very fundamental things, you know what I mean? But that means that now you have to have people in your life who aren't necessarily 100% healthy for or simpatico with you. I'm much more likely to cut the strings, although of course that means I have too little variability in my social circle and have a tendency to burn bridges.

One positive benefit for me of the chip on my shoulder is that when someone tries to push me around, e.g. at work, a cold core of rage bubbles up and something unspoken passes between us that leads to the other person backing off forever and meekly interacting with me when they absolutely need to. I can't explain it and I have never seen the look in my eye personally, but I seem to be almost unbullyable now, which is completely amazing.
Jan. 17th, 2013 02:20 am (UTC)
I really really really love this comment and got a lot out of it. Thanks, Scurry. I appreciate you so much.
Jan. 17th, 2013 12:57 pm (UTC)
Yay!! I'm glad!
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )



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