The bleach joke


Woah. Two posts in two days. What’s up with that? The thing is that I’ve had one of those BFOs my business coach predicts – a Blinding Flash of the Obvious – and I just NEED to record it so that I don’t forget it. All of y’all get to share it with me. Ain’t you the lucky ones?

This is a little personal and messy so feel free to skip over to videos of kittens if you prefer something lighter on your Monday).

I’m going to unpack it all for you (as you do) so that you can see how I got to where I am now.

I keep feeling something’s missing from my processing. I self-sabotage and I can’t work out why. Every now and then I find myself looking for something elusive, which I can’t identify or find. (It’s hard to find a thing when you don’t know what it is).

More and more, lately, I will work solely to get that “click”, that amazing feeling when a thing just *works* … do you know what I mean? When you just KNOW you’ve nailed it?

There’s a specific sensation I get, a physical sensation down the back of my neck, when I get praise for being awesome. (I know how it sounds, but go with it. It’s relevant, I swear ;))

So when a client calls and tells me the work I did was great, I do more work because I like how it feels when they say that nice thing. And when I don’t get that (which is most of the time because, let’s face it, good work is what you pay for – it’s taken for granted, as it should be, because it’s the “default”), then I feel valueless.

I have been increasingly aware of this, and aware of the fact that in particular I feel like my words don’t have value and I’m not interesting or valuable or entertaining or engaging, and trying to unearth why it should be that I feel like this, since my rational brain asserts that it’s not true.

My folks certainly put a lot of energy into telling me I was amazing, and making me feel good about the stuff I could do well. And some of that stuff included writing. And being entertaining (even when sober!!)

Then I spoke to an amazing and insightful friend this weekend about how, when our SOs don’t hear us out, we begin to feel that perhaps what we have to say isn’t worth hearing, or that we aren’t that interesting to listen to. (And we both know how patently false that is.) The truth is evidenced by how much fun we have when we chat to each other, and how much we both learn and grow.

The bleach joke
The bleach joke

So this feeling of not being appreciated, not being interesting, not being good at anything, not having value – it isn’t rooted in my childhood. And it isn’t rooted in truth, since the amazing people I have as friends have made it clear that they find me interesting and engaging.

(Unless they’re all really kind and also very good liars).

(And TBH, they’re mostly more honest than kind. Like the bleach joke — >. I’m lucky like that ;))

Then it hit me this morning, all at once – a blinding flash of the obvious. I have utterly defined myself by my ability to please my husband. Growing up, I completely blamed my Mom for the breakdown of my parent’s marriage, even though (having married a man a LOT like my dad), I now see that what she did “wrong” was to express herself, not destroy an entire relationship single-handedly. But since I blamed her, I decided I’d do better.

I’d be the perfect wife.

I know what the Scriptures say about that, and I am the Queen Ace Ninja of homework and following the rules (when they’re clear).

So that’s why I always do all the things.

But my dear darling ADD-addled spouse is a) utterly unaware of what he needs or even that he needs it, and b) utterly incapable of expressing appreciation. Or noticing that there’s a thing to be appreciated.

He just has no idea.

He thinks it’s okay and even CORRECT to tease and mock and deride all the time, and that showing appreciation is soppy and mawkish. Every now and then he’ll compliment me on a physical attribute, sort of like I’m a really cool car he’s bought, with a whole range of great features. But it’s super-rare that I’ll be thanked for doing literally everything. At best I’ll get a grudging snort that kind of loads a whole lot of “stop making me look bad” on the side.

I’m not complaining, you understand. I’m just – well, I’m just COMPREHENDING. I’m working my butt off for a thing I’ll never get.

Because he can’t give it.
He doesn’t have it.

And then I think, (subconsciously. Deeply subconsciously), “Ooh, I wonder if homeschooling really IS right. I mean, Papa Bear’s not invested in it. And I do want to please him. So maybe they should be in school … ” But then I try to suggest that in conversation, and he leaves the room and sulks all evening because some part of the concept is more than he can process.

Or I’ll think, “Maybe working for myself isn’t best, since I can’t do EVERYTHING and because he’s not helping he obviously isn’t happy for me to be working all the time, so perhaps I should give it up, or get a job or yadda yadda …”

You can see how flawed that is.

Or it’ll go, “He won’t let me do his marketing so maybe it’s because I’m rubbish at it. Perhaps I should wait tables, or man a till at the local superette.”

I’m projecting, of course. I’m reading motives into his actions that aren’t there.

He has ADD. He can’t concentrate on ANYTHING.

He certainly can’t concentrate on appreciating what I do – especially since a) his mom has been doing it for him and his dad since forever, and b) I’ve picked up where she left off.

As far as he knows, this is not an unfair distribution of labour.
It’s just life.

So what I need to do now is figure out how to stop it.

There are two parts – well, three:

  • ONE is to stop doing everything and start getting more help.
  • TWO is to find a new way to define myself and feel satisfied (and I want that to be through this amazing business we’re building and the incredible vision at it’s core).
  • And THREE is to NOT go all Cersei Lannister about the whole thing and act like a – well, not like a lady.

So I need to work out what matters to ME, what I want, what I believe in, and what I will not tolerate, and then firmly (but kindly) ensure that I get that. I have absolutely no idea where to start, although I think this is already a good start.

I certainly have shed a TONNE of doubt and fear today alone – and it’s not even lunch time!

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