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I Didn’t Mean That

Posted Aug 24 2009 12:34pm

Sometimes I get so irritated with trying not to offend someone while that someone doesn’t give a fig about my sensibilities. My family is filled with people who are quick to take offense at the slightest thing, for instance were I to mention I’d like to buy some car accessories, someone would say "You think my car is crappy?" Um, no, I didn’t even mention your car and am, in fact, thinking solely of my own, so don’t feel bad. I don’t know if it’s a cultural thing (another young lady from this neck of the woods blogs and I’ve seen her take offense at pretty much nothing ) because there’s a lot of suspicions in my part of Appalachia or if it’s just me.

My issue is my illness, of course. I’ve mentioned a few times that I have issues getting people to understand the extent of it. Since no one can see that I’m in pain they think I must not actually be in pain. The same holds true for my fatigue. Well, almost because I generally look very tired when I’m dealing with that. It’s incredibly frustrating for me to deal with their attitudes toward my illness especially because I’m always explaining to them why I’m not talking about them and not dropping hints and not even thinking about being offensive toward them. When I discuss things with them I am using hidden meaning and double. I’m simply discussing things. So I spend a lot of time easing their minds and experiencing none of that from their end.

I should explain that by "them" I am, in fact, talking about 3 people in my family: Grump, his mother and my mother. Grump and my mother are especially frustrating because every time I say something they jump to conclusions. I think I chose to marry Grump because he’s so much like my mother (they used to say women chose spouses that are similar to their fathers, but I’ve never known my father) and it’s something that chaps me way too often.

Back to my point. Last night my mother was over and I wasn’t feeling very well. I was actually suffering from cold chills and fatigue. It wasn’t that I didn’t want her here, but I was ill and just wanted to lie down and watch "Monk". Considering that she is in a position where she doesn’t have access to a television I thought she’d like to join me. Well, Grump said something she didn’t like and then went upstairs, so she immediately went on and on about him. When he came back down, she just gave him the silent treatment. This isn’t necessarily something I really care about, to be honest, because I’ve been dealing with their strange relationship for years. Grump then got offended and went back upstairs to stew. The tension was thick and it irritated me to no end. I told my mother that I wasn’t feeling well and could she just ignore Grump "for tonight". She immediately went on a tirade about how if I didn’t want her there she would leave. I told her I wanted her there and would she please stay to watch the show. She calmed down. But, apparently, she didn’t forget.

A little while later I told her I didn’t want to sit on the front porch because I wasn’t feeling well and just wanted to lie under the covers on the couch. Then I spilled soda on my shirt. I said "I’ll be right back. I’ve got to change my shirt." Don’t you know she left the minute I went upstairs? I was walking back downstairs when she was turning her car around. I said to her "You’re just going to leave without telling me?" It’s something I find incredibly rude because, well, she taught me it was rude to leave without saying "Good-bye" to your host. She said she thought I didn’t want her there and that’s why she was leaving. I was so angry. I didn’t even bother to say anything else. I went back inside. I’m over it. If she wants to be offended, well, there’s nothing I can do about it. I won’t hear from her for a couple of weeks and then she’ll be back (usual story).

It’s funny that she made assumptions about my "illness" (they always emphasize "illness" as if it’s not real, which chaps me even more) yesterday. She should know me right? You’d think she’d know when I was being crabby and secretly wanting her to leave, because, well, I’d tell her I didn’t want company. Grump and my mother both know I’m particularly outspoken about certain things. They know there are no hidden meanings behind what I say. Whatever. But Grump’s mother I will allow that maybe she just doesn’t "get" me.

I would appreciate some actual concern from those that I care about the most, especially when I’m not feeling well. I’d appreciate my mother not being offended by every little thing I say. I’d appreciate my husband getting to know me well enough to know that when I say “I’m cold” I’m not saying “TURN OFF THE AIR” (because I would just say “turn off the air” if that’s what I meant). I’ve even told both of them that they are too easily offended. I’ve explained to both of them that it’s hurtful when they question my illness and symptoms. I’ve had those talks with them as if they’re children to whom I’m explaining “the birds and the bees” and it’s not helped. It doesn’t help when I lose my temper either. I think, maybe, there’s just something about me that puts people on edge. I don’t have any other explanation for it.

I can be acerbic at times when I’m truthful. I’ll admit that. Which makes it even more confusing because my people know that when something is on my nerves I’ll just say that something is on my nerves. I don’t dance around the subject. I don’t “drop hints” and hope someone picks them up. That just leads to more of the same. I’ve learned that through therapy. But maybe my therapists (and Dr. Phil) don’t understand the psyche of the perpetually offended/paranoid. I don’t know.

I know that it seems like a cultural thing, because when I lived in another part of the state (just one county up) I didn’t have the same kind of problems communicating with people. And they didn’t have problems communicating with me. I think living up there showed me a different side of people and tainted me to the people that have lived in this county for their entire lives. It’s stressful, but I’m not giving up. I’ll figure out a way to communicate my needs and get them to recognize their offensive actions. One way or the other.

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