Thursday, April 20, 2006

Help somebody (but not me)

"Fight your fights, find your grace/and all the things that you can't change/and help somebody if you can."--Van Zant

Today, I cried in the bathroom because we had a new computer program installed in my department and a couple of others, and I was "playing with it" as I'd been told to try doing, and a woman from payroll kept offering to help and show me things. She'd gotten training directly from the guy who installed it. Smug bitch, I called her, but thankfully only in my head.

I know I'm not the only woman who has this problem, even though I was told I "had issues" (and who the hell doesn't?!) at the MBOL for bringing it up, among other extremely not-helpful things. It is a bit ironic that I'm going to ask readers for advice about this, but it's so much emotionally "safer" for me to do it online than it is face-to-face. Face-to-face is where the problems come up. Face-to-face is where I get extremely embarrassed and cry in the bathroom and other stupid shit. So here it is: I can't take help with anything that even looks like good grace.

I can give help, if I have it to give. I don't even think any less of the other person if they take it, unless they're just blatantly taking advantage of me.

But it just kills me to recognize that I need any kind of help, let alone to ask for it. Even if it's something that's really no reflection on me at all, like the piece of furniture's too heavy for me to comfortably lift, I get so embarrassed and choke out the request.

And if someone doesn't *wait* for me to ask? If they just up and decide that I need it, on their own, and make an offer, even if it's something that's really kind of little like a new computer program that I wasn't exactly born knowing? Good Gaia, I get upset. I have to repress the urge to slap the presumptuous bitch or son-of-a-bitch who dared to offer and yell out something hateful. I grunt out, "I'll *get* it. I've *got* it." I shake, I get so angry! The thing is, I feel insulted. I feel like they're calling me stupid or incompetent, and telling me I can't do it on my own. And then I have to go cry just to cool my face off.

It occurred to me, as I was hiding the evidence of tears this afternoon, that maybe this is one of the reasons why I eat as many antacids as I do. Amazing how going out in the larger world, away from the people you're closest to, can bring it home to you that you're not being normal or healthy about something. Compared to a couple women I know, love, and respect--my mom and L'Ailee--I feel like an absolute model of grace when it comes to help, which is sad. My mom can't stand asking for help or receiving it, feels insulted just like I do when someone asks, and sort of dangles it over peoples' heads if she gives it. Hers is the kind of barbed "generosity" Marie on Everybody Loves Raymond offers. And L'Ailee is so, so, so generous, instinctively so, but she'll deny it until the cows come home. If one of the many people she's helped offer her any unsolicited help, she won't talk to them for weeks. On smaller issues (like painting a ceiling), she's gotten better about asking, but for the most part, she won't ask for help even if she is actually on fire.

I think part of it is an LD thing. I have dyscalculia, or numeric-dyslexia. That can give a kid so many opportunities to feel stupid, and so much desire to prove that she's not! I wrote this poem, my senior year of high school, about how it wasn't going to rule my life now that I was leaving school. Boy, was I wrong. It doesn't rule my life, but it's never going to stop being a factor. Inside me is still this little girl who wants to scream out to the entire world, "I'm not stupid, goddamn it! I can *get* this! I'm as good as everyone else, if you just let me show you! I'm okay! Leave me alone!" Except none of us are smart at everything, and none of us can or should be left alone all the time.

Even if I don't get advice, it feels good to write it out and let it out. I have a hard time even telling the people who I pay to help me, like my therapist, about places where I need help. So even if I'm reduced to grunting inarticulateness on the way to her office early next week, I can print this out for her. Thanks for indulging me, if nothing else.

I do have other stuff to talk about.

Things are just frustrating anyway. L'Ailee's working late again. I am so impressionable. I've been getting into YouTube again. My friend (whom I talked about earlier this week; we're cool) and myself have been swapping videos. And on my own I looked for some vintage INXS last night, with Michael Hutchence. (Sorry, Jaded, that little JD kid's always gonna be nothing but a pretender to me.) Back in the day, in my early teens, watching Michael and Sinead on MTV would send me into this absolutely delightful, thrilling, almost scary hormone hurricane. Now I look at Michael Hutchence and think, "Even if he were alive, he'd be too skinny and smooth for me now, unless he was a woman. But oh, those lips! That voice!" And then there's the video for "Taste It." There is a reason that thing wasn't on MTV. There are a LOT of reasons. You can see them here, unless you're at work or kids are around. The...oh, how do I put this? Female lead? Well, she cut Michael out of his clothes with scissors while he was laying on the floor, much as an EMT would, only waaaaaaaay hotter! And then I spent a fair portion of today thinking about how hot it would be to cut my smooth, skinny L'Ailee out of one of her many tank tops, EMT-style. I told her so on her voicemail today, sitting on a bucket of I-don't-wanna-know-what in a broom closet. (And if you think that's TMI, at least I'm not sharing her response voicemail. I'll tell you, if James and Nora Joyce had had voicemail...)

Problem is, we can't actually realistically do anything about these ideas we're coming up with until Friday night, if then. Oh, schnap.

You've been so patient! I have some links. Wanna see them?

It's Happy Bunny car stuff!!!! Oh, if I had a car, I'd have the "Driving Like a Psycho Is Fun!" mat and steering wheel cover! Thanks to OOMM for the heads-up!

I love lip balm, but I didn't appreciate how funny they could be until I saw these.

There is a wonderful article in New York magazine about the radical moderate-ness of New York City.

Evolution in the big city. You can forget you're still a part of nature in a big, bustling city. Nature has its ways of reminding you, though.

Finally, look where I'm gonna be next Saturday!


Blogzie said...

“Laughter and tears are both responses to frustration and exhaustion . . . .
I myself prefer to laugh, since there is less cleaning up to do afterward.”

-Kurt Vonnegut


Blogzie said...

The song going through my head while reading your post was “Bad Day”, the one they play when they kick someone to the curb on AI.

As far as math is concerned, one of the nuns embarrassed me badly in front of the entire class when I was ten years old. I was up at the chalkboard, unable to solve a math problem. I’ll never forget the shame I felt and I’ll never forget Sister Mary Jean. I ended up hating math throughout Junior High and High School. When I was twenty-eight, I took a job as a bookkeeper and discovered I had an aptitude for math and problem solving and I ended up working as a controller for the next twenty years.

That’s not say I didn’t spend a fair amount of time over the years crying in the loo. Because we all know women aren’t supposed to cry in the business world…

But I love help. I’m good at accepting it. “Please, just do it for me” is my mantra.

Unfortunately, no one ever does…


Clandestine said...

Perhaps one day people will realize that women cry, and that it's fine, and it doesn't mean we're weak or unprofessional. Until then, though, we all know about crying in the bathroom/office with the door closed/car, etc.

And as for asking for help - practice makes perfect. Just remember that when you help people, you don't think less of them and you know they're not 'stupid.' That is just exactly what anyone who helps you thinks.


sttropezbutler said...

Hey Cracker...

I will be marching with you in spirit!


cats said...

i read this post last night and spent some time thinking about it.

clandestine is right. practicing asking for help is a good idea and it doesn't mean that you are stupid. asking for help actually means that you are smart because it means that you want to learn about something.

when it comes to getting help in the form of brute strength... well sometimes even my hubby needs help with that.

and there is one more way to look at it. lots of people get pleasure out of helping others. when you let them help... you are actually helping them to have pleasure in their lives. you are affirming them and their abilities and making them feel needed.

and that's a really nice thing to do for someone else.

Trudy Booty Scooty said...

Crackers...I wish I could hug you. You're such a doll.

I was reading this thinking that you sort of asked for help/advice from us...your announymous fans...but then you added a bunch of stuff at the end to bury that initial request.

I'm like you..not in the asking for help thing....but I react the same way if anyone sees me angry. I don't know how to deal with it. I do everything I can to avoid letting that happen. But I am getting better about it with age...and am finally finding peace within my imperfections.

Just remember, most people who offer help are doing it for the good feeling it gives them to be helpful...not because they think you are an idiot.

Vulnerabilities suck sometimes....but they make us who we are: perfectly imperfect....and EVERYONE has them.

Perhaps if you find someone at work who can be your safe person....who understands your quirk about being helped...and allow that one person to help you if you need it. Think of a nice way to tell the others that you learn new things faster on your own by trial and error. Start slow...and (like Clandy suggests) practice trusting a person or two.

Don't hate me for making this suggestion...just tell me to F-off. I'll be ok with it. Hugsss :)

Christine said...

((((hugs to you))))

I totally get it...

My "crying in the bathroom" moments always come when I feel like someone hasn't listened or understood me. Which, unfortunatley, happens far too often in this world, doesn't it, just like needing help...(sigh)

Anonymous said...

You know, I have a hard time telling my therapist stuff like that too. I keep telling myself "Shit, you're paying for this girlie...USE it!" As for crying, nothing is wrong with crying hunny. I'm not real fond of asking for help either...BUT I am realizing more and more that it's how I feel about myself at a particular time that makes it easier or harder. (((((Cracker)))))

Liadan said...

On a less-related note, I actually have the Wash Away Your Sins lip balm (in Cheap Wine flavor: it tastes like grape juice).

oomm said...

My thinking:

1. MBOL=bah. Base what you think of yourself on the opinions of those women and you'll go crazy.

2. A trick to possibly help you react with slighly more grace when offered help: Consider that the person offering may have had much difficulty with the task themselves before and your gruff pushing away of their help is telling them that they were stupid and weak for not getting it on their own. Perhaps your compassion for others will win out over your lack of compassion for yourself.

3. Michael H. = big sad sigh. Love. Miss.

4. I don't tell you nearly enough how very much I love you.