My Story

The chronicle of the journey from infertility, to miscarriage, to finally raising twin girls born in June 2012.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Learned helplessness

If I were ever to go on Survivor, I'm pretty sure I would be the first one voted off.  While I'm actually a very capable woman, I doubt myself to the point that I hang back on any project and allow others to dictate how I can help or what I should do.  Even though I can see what needs to be done and how to do it, I just have so much doubt that I wait for instruction.

I wasn't raised helping out with things.  I often heard "your father will take care of it" or "let your dad do it".  Anything that required a tool and my mother was afraid I'd hurt myself.  I was told that I was capable and could do anything, but actions speak louder than words, so I got this really mixed message.

In gym class, I learned that if I hang back and let the better players keep the ball, I wouldn't disappoint everyone by missing the goal/basket/whatever.  And it was really important to me not to disappoint people.  I'm so afraid of doing something wrong that I often end up not doing anything at all. 

In offices, I could see easier ways of doing things, but I would always assume that things were done the way they were done for a reason that I just wasn't aware of yet.  A lot of people would think I was copping an attitude because I would ask "Is there a reason we're doing things this way instead of that way?"  It comes across as such a smartass question, but that's not how I mean it.  I honestly assume that others know something that I don't know so I'm asking what that something is.

Then I went to university and studied theater tech.  I learned that most people don't have any secrets that I don't have, they just muddle through as best they can until they eventually get to the result.  I keep relearning this lesson and I'm still surprised every time I relearn it.  I learned that I was actually very capable.  I could do construction just as well as the next person.  I could see how things worked and figure them out.

This turned a lot of things around for me.  I became less scared of everything.  If something was wrong in my apartment, I had the confidence that I could fix it (unless it was electrical, you don't fuck with electrical things).

In recent years, I've backslid into my old scared self.  K is wonderful in that he'll just do things for me and kind of allow me to be helpless.  When there's a project to be done, I'm always afraid of not being aware of one vital piece of information that will screw up the whole thing so I have to google the hell out of everything and end up in an over-informed tizzy still not sure of how to get started.

I've been trying to figure out the flooring in our house for a while now.  In my google tizzy, I've learned about underlay and why it's needed.  Learning about that just freaked me out that there might be something else like that to be considered that I might not know about, so I went on endless searches to find any potential missing pieces of information until we finally bit the bullet and got started.

It's been years since I've handled proper power tools and I've gone back to my nervous self about them even though I actually know how to use them.  I made K show me the chop saw again even though in university it was my favorite tool.  I realized how ridiculous this all is.  I let him take the lead on this project, just like I always do, and kind of sat back doing the minimum required to be helpful with as least amount of risk at making a mistake as I could get away with.

Today, I decided it was time to get out of this pattern.  I met K after university so while he knows intellectually that I'm capable, I don't think he's ever really witnessed it.  So today, while he was at work with no opportunity to watch me make any potential mistakes, I took over the flooring project and got a significant amount of it done while the girls played in their exersaucers.

Sometimes I just need to prove to myself (and K) that I'm not helpless.  I really can do this stuff.  I gotta remember to demonstrate that more often not only for my own good, but so the girls aren't so afraid to do things like I tend to be.  I don't want them to be afraid of mistakes the way that I am.  Making a mistake means you're trying to further your own abilities, and that's always a good thing.

1 comment:

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