Monday, March 06, 2006

Striking a balance...

Bleah!! I spent a full hour waiting for an appointment this morning... My cell phone is dead, too, & the new one hasn't arrived yet, which only added to my anxiety. (I only turn the phone on when I leave school & am not going home, so that they can contact me if necessary.) This particular doctor, my TMJ specialist, does not have the best of records, waiting-wise, although he seemed to have been getting a handle on things last time I was there (4-ish months ago). I was just going in to have my splint checked to make sure it was still fitting properly, so it felt even worse to wait so long...

When they did finally get to me, the assistant seemed determined to gloss-over the inconvenience. She'd come out once (when I went back to the secretary at 20 minutes past my appointment time to see what was up) to say that there wasn't a room for me yet, & so was cheerily taking me back to the finally freed-up room to get me settled, but I just wasn't in the mood. I wasn't mad, per se, just grumpy & not in the mood to be cheered-up. It felt disrespectful to be kept waiting so long- if there had been an emergency she could have said so, but didn't... What I sensed was her expectation to go along with her attempt to pretend nothing untoward had happened. I suddenly had a sense of the Jedi in myself, the strong & respect-worthy person not being willing to participate in a charade. I was polite, but did not respond to her comments about the lovely day outside... When the doctor came in he had the good grace to apologise & say that they were still ironing-out some space problems, & further explained that they actually don't have enough chairs for him to see patients (but, of course, still book them). Being the wife of a doctor, I can relate to those headaches, although I don't like dealing with them personally. Fortunately, I like this doctor & know he's doing his best, so was back in my usual good humour.

On my way out of the office, I thought about how it felt to refuse to say "it's ok to inconvenience me". This is new behaviour for me & still feels experimental, although it also feels right. Thanks to being a Survivor, it's taken me my whole life up to now to discover that I am a person intrisically worthy of respect. I don't have to be Yoda or Obi Wan to deserve it- I deserve it. This is how I try to behave to others, this is what C & I model for B in our everyday interactions. We always thank the meal-preparer for the meal, I try to remember to thank C for emptying the dishwasher (even though it's not a designated task- whoever gets to it first does it), we remind B to say thanks for favours & treats given him & thank him when he's been kind to us. This form of acknowledgement/respect is very important to us. It's how we say "you are a person who is worth our notice & appreciation". It is this kind of behaviour from C that taught me that I am a person worthy of respect. Even sooo...

It's not easy to hold on to my dignity & refuse to play-along when someone is determined to be disrespectful. I have found that I often need time to process when this sort of thing is happening because my instincts aren't very good yet. Plus, there is a strong part of female socialisation that tells us not to make waves, not to be mean, let it go... One situation where I'm getting very good at holding my ground is with phone solicitations. I absolutely detest these invasions of my privacy, so have become more & more comfortable with challenging them. We are lucky in that we have a built-in bs detector when it comes to these things; since C & I don't share the same last name, we can always tell if they call me "Mrs C's name" or him "Mr my name" that they're not anyone we know or want to hear from. I am always polite (ok, maybe not always... but I've only yelled once :), and as soon as I realise what they're up to, I inform them that we prefer not to receive phone solicitations, thank them, & hang up. It's a shame that some of the best causes are some of the worst offenders, phone-solicitation-wise, & this, sadly, has really soured me on some of them. Perhaps I'm just an outlier, but this is probably the worst way to get my co-operation... & I hope they figure it out!

Today, it felt odd & stiff to refuse the assistant's efforts to gloss-over the hour I waited to see the doctor. I tried to strike a balance between being rude (which I did not want to do- adding disrespect to disrespect gets us nowhere) & being compliant. I think I succeeded. I certainly did not feel like I bought-into the false cheeriness, but I wasn't unpleasant either. I hope I seemed dignified- she stopped trying, at any rate :) I'm beginning to see how my internal image of being a Jedi is a form of daily spiritual practise. Imagining that I'm a person worthy of being respected seems to have rubbed-off in a practical way. Plus, because I kept my dignity, I don't have any left-over or unresolved feelings about my being made to wait this morning. They know how I felt about it, nobody was left with the feeling that it was ok to do this, the doctor apologised, it's over. Now, the laundry is beeping at me... & I may find time to do a bit of sewing before having to go get B at school (I hope!).

2 Comments:

At 10:05 PM, Blogger Zilari said...

I thought about how it felt to refuse to say "it's ok to inconvenience me". This is new behaviour for me & still feels experimental, although it also feels right.

Interestingly enough, I am going through the same thing right now in many respects. When one grows up basically being told that one IS an inconvenience simply by virtue of one's natural predilections, the result can be a lingering fear that "I should always volunteer to be inconvenienced, otherwise I'm a bad person". In some ways the survivor situation you describe is similar to that of growing up neurologically different (and of course, neurologically-different folks are certainly no LESS likely to be abused, and may be more vulnerable in some ways).

This is how I try to behave to others, this is what C & I model for B in our everyday interactions. We always thank the meal-preparer for the meal, I try to remember to thank C for emptying the dishwasher...

Same here, again: I do not take any kindness for granted. My boyfriend and I thank one another all day long, for things like making tea or tidying something up. One thing my father did teach me very well was that it is always important to acknowledge when someone has done something nice for you. I imagine B will definitely pick up on this...one trait that seems very common in spectrum people is an extremely strong sense of justice, fairness, and balance. (Of course I'm not saying that you have to be autistic to have a sense of these things...it's just that for a group of people often thought to be characterized by "social difficulties", this sense of justice is a prominent strength, at least from what I've observed).

One situation where I'm getting very good at holding my ground is with phone solicitations. I absolutely detest these invasions of my privacy

I'm definitely with you on this one as well...I'm actually quite good at saying, "No thank you, we're not interested right now," and hanging up. I have donated to several causes I consider to be extremely worthy, but NOT any that have called my apartment asking for donations. I really detest the privacy invasion aspect you spoke of, as well as the guilt trips. I figure that if people choose to call my home and take time away from whatever else it is I'm doing, I don't "owe" them anything more than a polite (I hope) "No thank you".

I'm beginning to see how my internal image of being a Jedi is a form of daily spiritual practise.

I must say, I like your image of Jedi better than the unattainable one I've held for years. I always liked the idea of being Jedi, but I thought it was out of reach for me due to the fact that most Jedi have much better motor skills and ability to read people than I do. However, if one can be a more "inwardly-directed" Jedi than one who mainly bases her practice on "mind tricks" and feats with a Lightsaber, I see no reason why the model you are describing is unattainable for anyone. :)

 
At 12:08 PM, Blogger Lisa/Jedi said...

Thanks again, Zilari. As you can see, you have inspired some of the ideas in my most recent post :)

I am beginning to think a lot about the continuum of neurotypicality-to-neurodiversity. Much of what I've learned about B's neurological differences have caused me to wonder about myself & others' neurotipicality... & I don't believe it's an over-identification with my kid issue at all. Many of your posts ring true to me personally, not just from what I observe with my kid. I suppose it's a matter of degree- of how much we are able to blend in- that determines how "diverse" we are perceived to be...

 

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