Somewhat, if you stretch, related to the previous post...I read an interesting article in UU World about the religious left's world view as contrasted to the religious right's. It talks about the difference between commitment and obligation. Commitment being a result of one's choosing, obligation being the result of a standard set of absolute values that insist you follow. For me, it not only provided some insight into the religious right, it helped me to see the perspective of some family members that I often come to blows with. They are not necessarily religious right per se, just more traditional and conservative than I. (Not hard to accomplish that.) It is the mentality of "I choose," vs. "Thalt Shall."
For example, a peeve of mine is when people offer some assistance and then later complain about it. I assume assistance is offered out of choice, not obligation, so why would you complain? But to some people apparently...certain kinds of assistance is what you DO, because God or somebody said so. I give certain assistance automatically because it is in my personal value code. A couple of just silly examples: If the neighbor's house is on fire, of course I would let them come over and stay in my house and give them whatever assistance I could. But, and this is greatly depending on the situation and relative to the context, I would have my limits. For instance, if they were still in my house six months later and had done nothing to get themselves back on track, I'd probably put some limits on that. (Translation: Give them a deadline and kick 'em out.) However, if there were extenuating circumstances, like if someone had been severely injured in the fire and the family was spending all their time helping them recuperate, I would be more lenient. Some people think its obligatory to say, "Sure, you can stay as long as you want. For free. No problem." And then when they are mooching five years later, bitch and moan to everyone else but the family and do nothing about it. Who is more selfless? The person who has chosen to commit to helping the family and sets boundaries that they can all live with? Or the person who feels obligated, sets no boundaries, and says nothing to the person but badmouths them to everyone else? I'm just sayin'
Another example is when I hear a woman complaining about her husband and how he never does anything around the house and she has to serve him. Now, I'm not talking about the occasional complaining that we all do about our significant others. They all have little quirks that annoy us, and some never will go away. If you choose to stay with him, then you choose to accept the quirks and the flaws because you love him. I'm talking about the women who play victim, but can't possibly think of renegotiating the housework chores. If you are working, taking care of the house, the finances and the children, and your husband works and then comes home and sits in front of the TV or whatever...you need to renegotiate. It is too much for you to do and your husband is not doing enough. It is neither your ROLE nor your obligation to take care of everything for him because you are the woman. You are either choosing this and playing the martyr by bitching about it, or you need to do something about it. I don't care what you think it says in the Bible or traditional roles you grew up with or whatever. Quit your bitchin' and sit that guy down and swap out those chores. But I guess some women still feel that this is their obligatory role. Thus they are allowed to complain because of course there is nothing that can be done about it. I have a different perspective. D is disabled and I get paid to assist him. We still have boundaries and negotiations about what gets done by whom. Lemme tell ya, if I didn't get paid, I would not be over there several times a week doing his laundry and whatnot. I'm neither obligated nor fulfilling my role as a woman in doing what I do to take care of him. These are all choices we have made together. If he doesn't ask for my help on something that I usually don't take care of (i.e. his foot ulcers) I am not responsible for it. And I will not take the blame for it. Although I do occasionally complain about working for him, I am complaining about the work itself, or having a hard day, not about my chosen and negotiated duties in his care.
After getting into conflicts with the same family members that are probably due to different world views about choice vs. obligation and neither party understanding the others intentions, I have been asked again to be the one who goes and makes an effort to make things right. I have continually been the first (and only one) to apologize, the first to try and listen and talk things out, the first and only to try to compromise and make everyone feel comfortable and to try to understand and keep my mouth shut when I see and hear such bigotted behavior against people with disabilities, and other minority groups. You can excuse bigotry to ignorance for a bit, but not after 11 years. I feel my need to represent and hold true to the rights of all people no matter what their ability level, race, sexual orientation, religion, whatever, and this includes myself, my partner, and my children, is stronger and more important than any family obligations. I cannot handle someone having a relationship with me out of obligation. Deceiving me about it and making me think it was a choice of commitment when it wasn't makes it all the worse. This has been done to me, and my aforementioned emotional bank account has been left in a state of heavy debt. The extreme insensitivity and cruelty that I have endured and then sought to amend is something I cannot talk about here, so sorry for this probably not making much sense. After many, many withdrawals from my symbolic emotional bank account, I have been asked to make deposit after deposit to these relationships to keep the peace and make everyone comfortable at family gatherings and I have tried to do that. I was asked one more time, and I just can't. The line of credit has been extinguished and the bank account has been foreclosed. This doesn't mean the bank is closed. It is still open for deposits and credit repairs. But I have to commit, to choose to be in relationships. My family and those I love, and those I admire and respect have to also be respected. I don't do hardly anything out of obligation. And I cannot expend any more emotional credit on this when I'm doing all the paying out. This doesn't mean I'm going to be mean or disrespectful or be evasive. It just means there will be no more giving out of the loans. No more reaching out, trying to make things right, taking the first step, the high road, spending my weekends making things right by soothing everyones egos and counseling the forlorn or whatever. It has become a pattern that has gone on too long, been too one sided, and needs breaking.
Don't you hate it when you have to do this?
I promise the next posts will be less cryptic and more entertaining. Just needed to sort some stuff out in my brain. Stay tuned for more kid talk and bitchin'.