Thursday, August 6, 2015

The only adult in the room

Barcelona beach.  I'd like to be there right now.
I've been thinking the past few days about how our personalities as adults are really formed by the kinds of adults our parents were.  Or weren't.

There are things going on right now that I'm not going to get into on the blog, other than to say that they're more inconvenient and annoying than serious; no one's health is involved; Mario and I are still happily married; and the cats are all fine.

Anyone who knows me knows that while I'm pretty laid back, I also generally have my environment under tight control.  I know what's going on, because I'm the one who set it up and who keeps it that way.  Everything is my responsibility.  All the time.  It always has been.

This is bad for several reasons.  First off, because it's freaking exhausting to be in charge 24/7, especially when you admit it to yourself.  Second, because the people around you who love you and who actually could take some of the burden from your shoulders either don't ask (because they think you've got it covered) or ask and you blow them off because, hey, you've got this.

I had to admit the other day that I'm not Superwoman, that I can't do everything on my own, that I'm not physically or emotionally strong enough to do everything by myself, every day, all the time, for everyone in my orbit.  And I don't need to.

Explaining myself to Mario the other night -- amid the meltdown that I finally allowed myself, and which he handled beautifully (it's only the second one he's seen in 10 years) -- was weirdly enlightening.  The more I talked, the more I thought to tell him.  I try to do everything because I'm used to it, because I've always been surrounded by people whom I couldn't trust to do their part.  I explained that my behavior isn't a reflection of him, but of me, because I'm so accustomed to the other situation that it's still difficult to believe that I do now have someone I can trust to do their fair share, and occasionally more.

A lot of this stems from my childhood.  My dad died when I was 9, and while he was a grownup, my mom . . . not so much.  She always made sure there was a roof over our head and food on the table, but I never felt secure -- it always felt like she might get distracted and forget to pay the bills, which she did, in fact, do.  So I took over writing out the bills when I was 10, and handled most of our finances.  I "borrowed" money from her wallet while she slept so that when she overspent by the end of the month, there was cash on hand.  I made her grown up existence as easy as possible so that it wouldn't be too difficult for her to do the few adult responsibilities I had left for her.

I moved out 3 years after she remarried.  (She remarried when I was 16, specifically because the Social Security she got on my behalf was drastically reduced, and we couldn't make it otherwise).  But at 19, she was someone else's problem, and I already knew I could take care of me.

This behavior continued on, and now, here I am at 51, just beginning to realize that maybe, just maybe, I'm not the only adult in the room.


patsijean said...

You have adulthood covered. Let yourself be a kid every now and then.

Vicki said...

I feel you. I didn't have that type of childhood yet I still feel that I am the one who is responsible for everything. Hence my divorce, he was just one more thing I had to look after. Hoping your breakthrough will help you let go a bit.

Linda T said...

Never too late to be enlightened--and Mario has your back! Hang in. I, too, struggle with trying to do everything, trying to be everything to everyone, etc. Not easy to live with.

Summer Flies said...

Yes, I hear you. Same, same but different for me, but the result is the same. Do everything and shoo people away who could help. At least when you have someone who can see past that or understand it and still loves and accepts you.

annie said...

It's tough letting people get that close. It's not only having to be responsible but also the shame of letting someone else know what's really happening when you are a child. I had an experience one night and could have used some adult support. Trouble is no one would have believed me. It looked as if I was part of a normal family. Years later, I was described as a quiet child by people who knew me "when." And I still keep my cards fairly close. Very complex.

Joyce P said...


Anonymous said...

Can so relate!