Three months of basic trades, followed by six months of construction… “Jennifer knows how to do it,” someone says. No, I don’t, I think in a panic, we never got past the framing. And while I would like to know how to do all of these things, and while I would like to be able to help, I really don’t have any idea.
Don’t come to me as a specialist, I beg of them (though not in words), but they don’t understand. For them, having people believe in them, encourages them to try, and allows them to find success. This is not true of me, however.
If someone believes I can do something, and tries encouraging me in it, the pressure becomes too much for me. And like I cannot function while being watched, I also cannot function under the pressure of having someone believe I would be good at something. Under that encouragement, I end up failing, where others would succeed.
“She fixed out basement toilet,” he mentions proudly. Wait a minute – no I didn’t! I shout back to him in my mind. It didn’t work. I failed. Now I have to tell them I failed, where they otherwise wouldn’t have known I tried. Edification… is that the word? My husband is really good at it, only it doesn’t work for me. Suddenly I feel the attention on me, and that attention causes me to fall… to fail… I just can’t.
Taking things in the other direction doesn’t work for me, either. If believing I can succeed leads to failure, than telling me where I have failed should lead to success, right? But no. Any criticism. Any concerns over my abilities. Any mention of where I have gone wrong. Any comments that lead me to feel like you believe I will fail, and I will fail!
So how do others help me to succeed? It is best if I feel invisible. No thoughts of failure, no comments on success, mostly to have no one know… or if they know, to just ask me what I am doing, and not comment on how I am doing it.
But then, even I will share information on things I am doing in my life – just so it doesn’t always look like I am doing nothing, I suppose. I speak of the classes I am taking, or the kitchen I am painting, or the things I am trying to learn, or do… and in speaking of them, I feel the expectation from others grow. I feel them watching me. And I wish I hadn’t spoken in the first place.
Then a few months later, when I have decided working in construction is not for me… when the paint in the kitchen begins to chip, and I wish I hadn’t tried to fix it… when the toilet still rocks, and the plants begin to die, and I have become too tired to continue on… when all I have tried and spoken of have failed, I feel like a failure, and maybe it wouldn’t have been so bad if none of them knew.
So maybe it is easier to speak of my struggles. If others know where I am failing, or know what I can’t do, the only direction I can go is up. Then they won’t expect anything from me – invisible – and if I do anything well, it might be a pleasant surprise. Maybe that is why I spoke so often of the struggles I had with my children. All were true, but apparently people wanted to know that all was well. How can all be well when working with traumatized, alcohol damaged children? Fulfilling, yes! But well??? It didn’t seem possible.
Yet speaking at all puts eyes on me – and so either people believe I am succeeding (in which case I will fail,) or people think I am failing (in which case I will prove them right.) It seems there is no way to win. So often, as has been true since childhood, I wish to be invisible. Then perhaps I would find the freedom to grow.