Saturday, December 05, 2009

Sacred Life Sunday: No Slime Zone!


Typical of so many women of my generation, I've been taught that subjugating my will to the preference of others is a sign of kindness, a sign of selflessness which is the cornerstone of a "good woman". Women of my mother's generation got that pounded into their consciousness even more than mine. It's a hard one to let go.

A few days ago, my housemate loaded a bucket of slime on me that actually caused me to physically recoil. It wasn't about me. She didn't insult me. She was talking about her own life in such hateful, negative and angry terms that I actually walked away from her. There's a time when I would have stood there and listened, figuring it was the kindest thing to do even though it made me feel horrible.

Last Sunday I sat through a class that made me feel slimed as well. It was a very dark, cold place with heartless people. It was harsh, judgmental and punitive. I recoiled.

Yet in both cases, I grappled long and hard with my right to remove myself from those kinds of environments. How does someone walk out on a woman who probably has Alzheimer's? It feels cruel. At the same time, I know it is not my responsibility to take care of her. That is her childrens' responsibility. It is up to her family to make sure her needs are met. I've singlehandedly taken that on for several years now and I feel done. I no longer choose to have that in my life and now I believe I have the right to make that choice.

This is a woman who has consistently shown absolutely no interest in my life or well-being. She has no boundaries. She doesn't know what it means to wait for a "come in" before walking right into my rented unit. It is assumed that I am always available to her for her concerns. She has a sense of entitlement that would send anyone over the edge. I'm sick and bloody tired of humoring her. I've never given her a thorough tongue-lashing even though she deserves it because she's old and sick. It seemed too far out of the range of civility for my personal tastes.

This is part of a larger constellation of changes I have been making. Most of my life has been consumed with the needs and wants of others. First it was my parents. Then my live-in boyfriend. Then it was my ex-husband. Then it was a boss or supervisor. Now it's this woman. It's always been someone else coming first.

Now I'm ready for a new apartment. I just found it this past week. The rent is reasonable and it's in a safe location. I will choose the people who come over. I will choose who has my phone number. I will decide when I want to answer the door and no one will come in unless I let them in. I will - finally - own my own existence in a healthy way. My place will be full of plants and pretty things. It will be a happy, peaceful... perhaps even joyful.. place.

A few months ago, someone on a newscast offhandedly said, "I never got the memo that told me I was supposed to have low self-regard and take crap from people." It was a young woman, filled with the confidence of youth and accomplishment.

I thought about that for a long time. I did get the memo. The women of my generation and before got that memo. It was marked "Urgent" and was written in bold print.

I've torn it up.



~*

17 comments:

Jamie said...

I just found you, but we may be sisters....

What I mean is, I could have written this post, but not nearly as wonderfully.

You GO girl. I just did what you are about to do, and I have to say it's completely awesome. A-W-E-S-O-M-E. I now live in MY OWN wonderful, peaceful, happy place. I feel like I have won the lottery each evening when I unlock my door.

I'll be back. Thank your for writing what I feel.

:)

Molly said...

I'm standing here cheering, Chani! We do let other people dictate how we live our lives. I think I got a version of that memo and it's a slow process tearing it up....

Anvilcloud said...

Good luck on your move. I think you deserve your peace.

Whitemist said...

It is not only women who have been taught that lie.
You can do so much and no more.
You have done more.
Walking away from "slime" was a hard lesson for me and it took me not being able to do things that finally brought that to my realization.
What is given by free will is far more precious than what is coerced.
Good luck on your journey.

Laurie said...

You said exactly what I needed to hear today, Chani. I have done that most of my life as well.

For family, it was a good thing and I feel honored to have been able to be there for them. But for some others, I have been a doormat, taking slime, as you called it, and letting it pollute my own inner self.

Well no more for me either. Thanks so much for this wonderfully written, insightful post.

heartinsanfrancisco said...

Could you please tear up my memo, too? I still struggle with this issue and feel that I could have accomplished so much more in life if I had not been shackled from the start with such painfully self-destructive demands.

I'm very glad you've found a place you like and that your life will finally be your own. Boundaries are important not only to keep people out but because they make it meaningful when someone gets in.

Your new home will definitely be joyful because it will be filled with items and people you really want there. Sending high fives, hugs and delight your way.

secret agent woman said...

I have found myself letting go of that directive over and over and over again. It's so ingrianed.

Just out of curiosity, did you let your roommate know it hurts you to hear her tlak so negatively about her own life?

COngratulations on your new apartment. Id'd consider keeping the door locked in case you have a new neighbor who feels free to walk in!

Leann said...

Well done and well said! It is a constant work in progress to tear that memo up and get back to the business of living life for oneself.

Olivia said...

You write so well, Chani. I knew about this incident but I love the way you tell it here. Well-framed, making even more meaning out of it.

I am excited about the new changes and all of the possibility.

Peace and love, O

Navy Bean said...

Yay for putting yourself first. I know it's hard to do, but, like they kept telling us in parenting classes (I took all of them), you can't take care of anyone else properly, if you don't care of yourself first. Hope your new place is wonderful!

AngelP said...

Chani,

Go, girl. You are a powerful woman, and it is time to let your light shine. Just make sure it shines all the way to the east caost - to NC.

I have always been told you train (teach) people how to treat you, so go do some training (teaching) of your own making.

From a professional trainer, of course.

meno said...

One of MANY hateful, horrible memos that needs to be ripped out of our psyches.

Right on! Need any moving boxes? :)

mrwriteon said...

I am so happy for you in the move you're making. Environment -- including the people aspect -- is essential to my emotional wellbeing. May the slimy leave your life.

Gabriella Moonlight said...

Brilliant post, I too recoil from much of the negativity of others it can be too much. As I've grown older I've felt that it is not kindness to tolerate it...I don't have to be cruel with it, but I also can be myself...this post sums it up brilliantly!

xo G

Vijay said...

Hi Friend ur doing an excellent work.. Can we exchange links...

painted maypole said...

woo-hoo!

heather said...

I love it! I've been talking to so many people who are down and seem to consistently make poor choices...how refreshing to hear from someone who isn't. =)