Mar 14, 2011

little children should be seen and not heard

In the interest of being fair, it is more than possible I developed facets of this trait as a result of my own devious nature. Most intelligent children who are not looking for attention realize it is better, often, to avoid it. The amount of things that will fly under the radar if you are generally accomodating, mostly co-operative, and steer just clear of punishment, might be surprising to you. And even, at an early age, I realized sometimes it was best to say as little as possible when asked, and to ask for as little as possible, when all was said and done.

And to be honest, I will not diminish a certain amount of this awareness as a positive character trait. Nothing grates more on my attention than a child who needs constant attention, or constant tending. Nothing frustrates me more than the person who digs their own grave because they will JUST.NOT.LET.IT GO. Dude. shut up and you won't get detention. Lord, does your mom have to approve every step you take and every bowel movement you have? Man, does it matter? Let's just get out of here and blow up this shit when they aren't paying attention.

There is a flip side to this though. Because being generall conflict savvy can quickly degrade to being conflict adverse, and all the accompanying thoughts: Just don't ask for too much and they will love you more. Just make it easy and they won't find a reason to get angry.

This is a difficult lesson to teach someone who never learned it. And believe me, for better or worse, some people never learned to NOT MAKE WAVES. I see it when everything is a paramount issue. I see it when they just don't understand why I didn't speak up.

But it's true. Sooner or later the fear of negative attention can outshine the promise of wish fulfilment, and you begin to do away with not just your needs, but your personality.
No, no, I don't need to take ballet, I am fine with not enrolling in a class only offered across time at rush hour. No, it's fine. I'll walk home up this dangerous road. No, really, you don't have to say you love me. I mean, why should I need to hear that if you aren't ready to say it? No, really, you can see other people, I mean, maybe I want you to. Maybe I want everything you want. When you want it, even your absence.

You get it. It is called being conflict adverse or avoidant. But it is more than that. It is being need adverse. And it is tantamount to valuing your own silence above your own voice. It is the point in which you try so hard to be easy, that you forget sometimes the best moments are born from challenges and conflict. And you neglect to realize how very much you are selling everyone, including yourself, short.

If I could describe to you the amount of things I have chosen, in my life, to not experience, because I didn't want to disrupt others, because I didn't want to hear "no", because I was so afraid if they noticed me they might begin to hate me, it would horrify you. If I could surmise the opportunities I may have missed in an effort to make others comfortable, and own my own self less accountable, you might be stunned. If I could enumerate the instances in which I not only chose to not ask for something I really wanted and needed, but decided I didn't really need to want it, in an effort to avoid resentment, to avoid being a burden...well you get my drift.

It is,a s they say, a slippery slope.
And I do not mean to discount the ability to understand when prudence or cooperation are called for. I think it is an admirable trait to aspire to accomodation in all things you feel mostly ambivelent about. But one must have priorities. And the second you think your relative ease is your biggest asset, is the moment you sell all your relationships short, and even begin to silence your innervoice. It gives wings to the voice that says that not just your needs, but that you are a burden.
And the anger, the frustration, the confusion and fear only grow. And that static you hear is every request you never made when it was something you had a right to want.

Like I said, it is a balance. It is lovely to consider others needs and wants, others goals and limitations. But it is just as important to give yourself an equal voice when you deserve it.

No comments: