Why do my lips choose resolute silence as if to speak would be to be a traitor to myself? To never say when something is not okay? To not speak up for myself, or to speak up for my kids?
I'm learning that in relationships I seem to have no expectations of anyone. I seem to harbor the belief somewhere deep within that everyone will bail on me. I seem to expect nothing of anyone. I can thank Jonathan for this unwelcome gift.
I am learning that I do this as a defense mechanism. I do it so that I can never be hurt. It's like a powerful fiberglass insulation. Do you know how irritation fiberglass insulation is to the person who installs it? You itch and itch for days. It seems to stick to your skin and doesn't feel like you can get it off. This insulation guards me against pain, because if I expect nothing from anyone I can't be disappointed when they don't do what they say they're going to do. In a grave admission, if you say you're going to do something for me, I expect you not to do it. I lived with a guy who couldn't pick up milk at the grocery store for nine years, and yes, that is an excuse.
The trouble with this is obvious, I don't invest in relationships I'm not really receiving in or I invest and never have a voice to express my hurt. Because I'm not even really sure that I'm hurt in the first place. I have this annoying numbing thing that goes on. When people disappoint me, as they are wont to do, I almost don't even notice. I just sit there and accept their excuses. I, in fact, will excuse them for failing their obligations to me without their cooperation.
This is really bad people.
And yet people continue to not follow through. I continue to need people in my life. I continue to be ignorant of how I help them to understand that I am not okay with them not following through.
I am not okay if you don't call me back when you say you're going to... repeatedly.
I am not okay if you don't show up when you say you're going to... all the stinking freaking time.
I am not okay if you don't do whatever it is you say you're going to do... consistently.
But instead I usually say something like, I understand, you're busy, you're working, you've got kids, your husband is never home. As if I'm not busy, I'm not working, I don't have kids, and I have anyone who comes home to take my kids, so certainly since none of those things are true I can pick up your slack. Because even if that were true that still doesn't negate someone's word. I don't become absolved of my word because my life is hard, I'm a single mom with three kids and money is beyond tight.
The other grave consequence of my co-dependency is that I believe everything I say should be a blood oath. As in, I'd rather die than not do it. And I'm quick to commit to things if I believe they will serve you. So, if I said I was coming to your house and bring some food over, and one of my kids gets sick and I can't come. I'm very likely to stay up all night cooking food and come and drop it off even though I've been dealing with sick kids all night and all day long. THIS IS NOT HEALTHY PEOPLE. And I need to stop it.
There are some reasonable excuses for not keeping your word, provided you don't do it all the time. Puking toddlers is a great excuse. Please don't bring food to my house if your toddler has been puking, I don't want those germs over here. I'm sure you don't want my puking toddler germs at your house either
I want to let my yes be yes and my no be no. But I need you to do the same for me. Please people, do what you say you're going to do. You don't have to commit to much. But a 5 minute phone call, surely isn't that much, right? I'll endeavor to keep my word reasonably as well. And if you continue to bail on me, expect your role in my life to be greatly limited. I've had just about enough of that.
With love and humility,