Thank you ladies!
I didn't realize how much I relied on therapy until I couldn't afford it anymore . My IC is wonderful and has agreed to still see me even though I can't pay her right now. But to look out for my own best interest in terms of not coming out of this quarantine in a huge amount of debt, I asked her if we could cut down to once every other week rather than every week, and man am I feeling the difference!
TallGirl, thank you for all of your thoughtful words. I know I will get through all of this. These are just very strange times. And thanks everyone for the birthday wishes. DaisyAnne, I'm glad to hear everything is going well for you, it's been a while! I usually don't put that much emphasis on birthdays, but this one is very weird. I didn't eat any cookie dough, but I did end up making my grandma's homemade mashed potato recipe, and I may have already eaten half of it by myself
It's interesting, I think I connected some dots today while I was driving around. Living by myself again and going back to my "broke girl" mentality is really throwing me back into the mindset I had in my 20s. And although I was a go-getter with work and always figured out how to make things happen, that was also a dark time in my life in terms of romance and my self esteem. I was deeply insecure and dated a string of shitty people. So I think this mini mental crisis I'm having is at least partially due to feeling like I've regressed back to that time. I don't ever want to be that insecure little girl again.
I remember at that time feeling very disconnected from friends and family, because I was working constantly. And I feel the same way now, my brain has to constantly focus on the hustle. I have to have the apps turned on and looking for jobs from the time I wake up until the time I go to sleep, just to make sure I make enough to get by. It leaves very little time for self reflection, and definitely no time for connection with others. Hell, I've started writing at least a dozen replies here, to people I can tell are hurting, and who I do think I could contribute something to, but I just can't get them done.
I'm proud of myself that most of the posts I have completed have been about my specific stuff - choosing to focus on myself rather than others. It seems strange that I have to teach myself to do that. I'm just so much more comfortable in the other lane, helping others rather than myself. But I'm not going to overload myself right now. I'm in and out of the house all day from 8am-10pm, sometimes even later if I decide to stay awake for the late-night food deliveries. I'm busting my ass to make a living, but have no time to actually live. If that means that what little time I have to post is going to be about me rather than others, then so be it. Small victories in self care I guess.
GMC, yes I absolutely agree with you on the lack of mindfulness/attention in men, and the flip side, which is the over-abundance of it in women. I had never connected it to our need for hyper-vigilance for our physical safety though, that's an interesting through line! The need for safety is paramount to us, and ingrained in us so deeply that we don't even realize we do certain things sometimes. Like when my brother was moving up to LA recently, he was looking at all of these super cheap apartments, and he kept sending me the addresses and my first response was oh man, that's a bad neighborhood, you don't want to live there! And then I remembered, well, that's actually way less of an issue for him than it is for me.
But that's really what it's all about isn't it, safety. You say that we shouldn't have to be the ones preventing the assault, and that is absolutely true! Teach people not to rape, and then we don't put the onus on the person who is assaulted. There is a quote that I really like about this topic which says, "If you're promoting changes to women's behavior in order to 'prevent' rape, you're really saying, 'rape the other girl.'" But what do you do when you live in a society where rape still happens? Do you wait for people to "get it"? Or do you do whatever the hell you need to do to protect yourself in the meantime? I think instinctually, we do what we need to protect ourselves no matter what. And that's where you're spot on about the self-blame coming in. Because taking actions to mitigate risk implies that you have some kind of affect over whether or not that event takes place, making you at least somewhat accountable for the outcome.
Men don't have to live with that same fear, at least not in the same way. There will always be fist fights, and shoot outs and armed robberies and such, but it's very different. The responses to violence that we learn are so very different. They are taught how to fight back, we are taught to prevent the fight in the first place. And if we can't prevent it, do whatever we have to to survive, even if that just means laying there and taking it so they'll go away peacefully after they've finished.
So I wonder if some of that lack of attention is more of a learned behavior from the way we were raised and what specifically we were taught to pay attention to. Kind of like how many men are taught to fight, rather than to work things out with words. For example, for the longest time, women weren't encouraged to focus on school, or getting a job. Even if we did go to college and/or get a job, it was often as a vehicle to meet a husband. We were taught to focus on things that would make us more likely to "catch" a husband - making sure we looked a certain way with clothes and makeup, making sure we spoke a certain way so as not to outshine the man, and of course being great cooks and phenomenal at housework! We were basically auditioning for the role of "wife." There are so many ridiculous books and articles about this from back in the day, the advice basically stating to become whatever they want you to be, to fade into the background, to be a functional addition to a man's life, rather than lead a life of your own.
In their own way, men were taught to audition for the role of "husband." Get a good job, show that you can be a provider. Order her food for her, that shows how good you are at taking the lead. Keep your emotions to yourself because women will see that as weak, women want someone who can be a stoic patriarch. Hence the stereotype of the "strong, silent" type. They weren't taught how to do their laundry, do the dishes, cook a meal etc. That was "women's work," it wasn't manly or attractive. So to me it's far less about their inability to pay attention, and much more about what they're paying attention to specifically. Because when it comes to all things work related, they seem to have the ability to focus, and pay very close attention to detail. Yet there seems to be some sort of mental block when it comes to applying that same amount of effort and focus to tasks at home.
I commented on that a lot with my XH - he was the Quality Director for an international company, his ability to pay attention to detail was paramount. If there is a mark in the paint that deviates from the specification, they lose a customer, and in turn lose hundreds of thousands of dollars. And yet somehow he comes home, makes himself a sandwich, forgets to put away the mayonnaise so it goes bad overnight, wasting a brand new jar of mayo, and leaves the knife covered in mustard on the counter that he somehow didn't notice was freshly cleaned. How on earth is that possible??
Or for the longest time, our youngest would not eat pasta with red sauce. He would make the pasta, then after draining it, just dump the entire jar of sauce in with the pasta and mix it together. He saw me making dinner once, and was shocked that I was heating the sauce up in a separate pot on the stove. He asked me why I would do that, and I said, well, because DD doesn't like red sauce because it makes her stomach hurt, and this way everyone can have as much or as little sauce as they want. He looked at me like I was nuts, then said, "since when does she not like red sauce?" My answer, "Since forever. How in the hell did you not know that she doesn't like red sauce?" He had never picked up on the fact that whenever he served pasta that way, she would only eat the veggies and throw away all of her pasta. He honest to god had never even noticed.
This ability to pick up on even the slightest things and how they affect other people (basically, empathy) has been traditionally attributed to women - hence, women's intuition. But it's not just some thing we are innately born with as women - it's really just about how we are taught and socialized differently than men.
When women's lib came along (which is awesome, I'm not knocking more rights for women) it all changed. We were told we could have it all! So now not only could we bear the children and run the household, we could go get a job too! Problem with that is that raising children and running a household is a full time job in and of itself! So add onto that another full or part time "real" job, and you've got a recipe for someone who is stretched wayyyyyy too thin.
And the bigger problem wasn't that women were now being encouraged to join the work force. It was that men were not being encouraged to put an equal amount of effort into their home lives to help pick up the slack. And women, who had already internalized all of this perfectionism re: being the perfect mothers and housewives, now applied that same level of obsessive perfection-seeking behavior to their jobs as well as their home lives. They didn't let their home lives slack off just because they were working now - they still made sure to pack those lunches, and help the kids with homework, and buy new clothes because Johnny just went through a growth spurt, and dang it, I've got to go buy some feminine hygiene products and have a talk with Sally because it seems she started her period. Oh and I'll stay up late and wash those blood stains out of her sheets too, no biggie. The household needs didn't go away just because the person taking care of them had less time, so the women just learned to live with less sleep, less time for themselves, less everything to make sure all of the plates stayed spinning.
So the households kept on running smoothly, and it never really seemed like anything was wrong, because Suzy Homemaker was burning the candle at both ends, and her happy husband was none-the-wiser. From his perspective, he was continuing to work and contribute just as he always had. And his wife had a job now, like she had said she wanted, so what did she have to complain about? But if everyone just stopped to look at how women were running themselves absolutely ragged, we would see how this is unsustainable. Emotional labor isn't paid labor, and when someone isn't being compensated for their labor, the work goes unnoticed.
I know that this is a super simplified view of it all, very hetero-normative, and playing into incredibly stereotypical gender roles. I know there are some people who do not play into those roles at all, stay at home dads, women who are the breadwinners, same sex households, couples without children etc.. I'm also in no way knocking the "typical" household with a SAHP and a breadwinner. There's nothing I would have loved more than to be a SAHM, we just absolutely could not swing it financially. To discuss all the fine points of this would take years, and I don't mean to offend anyone.
And I even see this in the lives of women I know who are SAHMs. My mom for example. My dad is the only one who "works" a traditional job. He's very successful at it, able to provide for 4 children etc. And yet, I see a severe lack in his ability to function in the household. I have never in my life seen him do a load of laundry. Not once. I honestly don't even think he would know where to start. He turns 60 this year.
He prides himself on his attention to detail. He could go on and on about us millennials and how inattentive and lazy we are. And yet I've seen him walk over and put his dirty dishes in the sink and leave them there, un-rinsed, completely oblivious to the fact that my mom literally just finished rinsing all of the other dishes that were just there. My brothers and I comment on it all the time - it's like he has actual blinders on. Or maybe he just thinks he's so important that he doesn't need to do his own dishes? The jury's still out on that one.
It is just mind-boggling to see how completely oblivious he can be to things that are literally right under his nose. Things that, if they were work-related, I am certain would not go unnoticed. I'm also absolutely positive that if my mom did go back to work, she would continue to do everything at home just as she always has, and she would also totally kick ass and succeed at work. Her ability to be successful in one arena is not diminished by her capabilities in another - so why does this truth not apply to the men in our lives?
I dunno, all of the teachings about codependence would have us believe that it's on us for choosing to marry people who can't seem to pay the kind of attention that we require. Or that we teach people how to treat us, so we should just stop doing these things to keep the household running, and that will teach them how to pick up the slack. It's very hard to do when there are kids involved though. What are you supposed to do when the TASK, whatever it may be, affects everyone in the family? This isn't a case of oh, just let them feel the consequences. If you don't do the TASK, well then it's not just your husband that is affected. The kids are too. So are you willing to let your kids' needs go unmet just to teach your spouse a lesson in self-reliance? I know I wasn't, and that's how I ended up taking on the bulk of everything. If I didn't do it, it just didn't happen. And then everyone suffered.
I'm just very unsure of how to go about dating when the market seems to be flooded with men who have been socialized in that specific way. Even when I personally hand-picked and married someone who I thought was oh-so-very-different than anyone I had ever dated before, it didn't work. I picked the single dad who had been to hell and back with all sorts of adversity but still managed to raise his daughters on his own, thinking that this meant he knew how to handle his shit, and I still ended up with a 7 year old child stuck in a man's body. And there it is again, the "don't wear that short skirt, you're asking for it!" argument, because I should have known better, right?
My therapist has asked me to make a list of requirements for future partners. Emotional IQ is at the top of that list. Responsibility/sticking to their word is number two. Ability to handle adversity, three. Accountability for their actions, four. I'm concerned that those first two criteria will automatically weed out all future potential partners before I even get to the next two. And I'll live the rest of my life as the crazy cat lady. Maybe that's not so bad. At least with my cats I know that I have to handle everything on my own - paying the bills, doing the housework etc. I do all the work, and they come cuddle with me every once in a while. At least the transactional nature of it is transparent. There's no illusion of an equal partnership to be shattered.
Anyway, happy Passover and Easter to everyone! Sorry to be a debbie downer. The lack of social interaction has me ruminating more than I would like.
How was everyone's weekend? Anything you are grateful for? I'll start: I am grateful for all starch-based foods! I had pasta, and mashed potatoes for my birthday dinner, and it was glorious! I am also grateful that it did not rain on my birthday. I'm grateful that the app-based gig economy exists. I'm grateful that everyone in my family is still healthy. I'm grateful for you ladies! And for the Easter basket my mom sent me - Cadbury eggs are delicious!
[This message edited by HeHadADoubleLife at 3:20 AM, April 13th (Monday)]