My hairdresser hit it right about the nonsense I’ve been dealing with from others. In last week’s post, Only Child tumbles into overwhelm (May 3, 2011), I mentioned some of the situations that have thrown me into overwhelm. Well, it’s not just the situations per se, but the people involved in them. While colouring my hair on Saturday, she listened to me rant and grabbed onto the incident about the person who kept phoning me with questions and comments a couple of hours before a meeting we were both going to attend.
“She’s disrespecting you,” my hairdresser said.
I never thought of it that way, but yes, it’s true. Ditto for the fellow doing the excavation and grading work outside my house. After promising me a new-used picnic table (his idea to remedy his breaking the leg off the old table when moving it. A new leg on the old table would have satisfied me), he is now incommunicado. He didn’t show up when he said to do the table exchange and refused to return my one follow-up phone call. Note, I said “one,” as I’ve put him on “delay” until the time arrives for him to do the grading.
All this lack of respect got me thinking in two directions. First, there is a lot of disrespect in our actions in both business and the personal. Think voice mail and the dreaded message, “Your call is very important to us.” Think rude e-mails and Facebook retaliations. This may go against what I also said last week – trying to gain control and get out of overwhelm. But perhaps, a lot of the disrespect stems from people believing they have no or little control in their lives – business or personal. My hairdresser says she’s noticed people are very cranky lately and is blaming it on a shift in the planets. Even if you don’t believe in her “why” she is right about people being grumpy. I know from my own state of mind.
The other thing I started thinking about is not just why I may not be getting the respect that I deserve but why I’ve let it happen many times. Growing up as an only child I was bullied by both a friend and a teacher (a nun). Of course, I had no brother or sister to stand up for me and as a shy person, I was terrified to stand up for myself – unless pushed to do so. On one occasion when the bully friend and I had sharp words, I acted – with a little help from my mom.
I don’t remember the issue, but we’re standing outside on my front veranda. The Bully is letting me have it; I am burning hotter and hotter inside. Mom must hear us because when I run inside to get a knife, she hands me a ruler. The Bully knows she’s in trouble and she runs down the steps. Brandishing the ruler like I’m Zorro without the mask, I tear after her down the stairs, down the street, and around the corner. I’m steaming with how good it will feel to whack her one across the back and head, but she is too far ahead of me. Unlike Zorro, I have no horse, only my short eight-year old legs. I go right up to the side door of her house after she dashes inside. I yell and shake my ruler. I wish I had the nerve to run into her house and finish the job, but what will her mother think and do?
Maybe Mom is trying to protect me by teaching me to stand up for myself.
(Excerpted from You Can Go Home – Deconstructing the Demons, copyright 2011 Sharon Crawford)
Of course I haven’t been Ms Doormat up to now. I’ve learned from practice to be assertive in my work and sometimes in my personal life. Not without fear sometimes. I think the answer is “mutual respect.” Don’t push the person too far. Watch your timing and words when you ask for information or a favour. Mutual respect is offering to give something in return.
And here I have to add one instance in the last few days where mutual respect is happening. One of my East End Writers’ Group members has offered to help me with an area of my book proposal for my memoir because she says I have helped her with her writing within the group. In return I have offered to provide supper the evening she comes over to assist me.
Aretha Franklin had it right in her song, Respect. Spell it out like she does and listen to the words, especially the beginning, the end, and the chorus. And follow them. Lyrics at http://www.lyrics007.com/Aretha%20Franklin%20Lyrics/Respect%20Lyrics.html, plus several video downloads on Y0u Tube.
Only Child Writes