It should be easy but it’s not.
I’ve got other things to write about but this has been bugging me. Why can’t I just ask for stuff? On the face of it it’s simple, but really it isn’t. It’s so complicated that often it just becomes impossible.
It’s been a problem with me for, like, ever, even though I really started realising it in the last two or three years. Since asking for things has become more of a necessity – surprise surprise! It’s hard to fight such a deeply ingrained behaviour. Even so, when I look at it logically it sounds super simple just to send a text saying
hey Mum, I’m feeling really lonely and if you have a minute in the next day or two would you mind popping into my room so we can have a chat?
It’s not though.
So first there’s the weird illogic in simultaneously feeling lonely and not having had a real face to face conversation for over a week, yet never wanting to look another carer in the face again. You’d think they would be plenty of social contact; they come in five days a week. But it’s not the same. They’re not people who know me or who get it. They’re not people who leave me feeling better after I’ve talked to them and that’s what I need. Mum gets that, of course, but I still feel like I shouldn’t feel lonely when I see people so often.
Then, secondly, is it even fair to be complaining about loneliness to my mum? She already knows and there’s nothing she can do about it, so what’s the point of making her feel worse by keeping on talking about it? It seems like the only thing I’ll achieve (besides a little mental relief to myself) is making her feel bad.
In the third place, is it emotionally manipulative to ask her to come and see me because I’m feeling lonely? Because then she knows I’m lonely and that if she says ‘would tomorrow be all right?’ I’ll be even lonelier. That doesn’t seem fair, it’s like I’m saying ‘if you don’t come and see me immediately any additional loneliness will be your fault!’ I don’t think it’s really this way; I don’t think that’s what this message would be saying, but I’m not always good at knowing where the precise lines are, and I don’t want to make someone feel like they haven’t got a choice.
And obviously not saying I feel lonely would be even worse. You can’t just text someone and say ‘can we have a chat?’ I get a message like that and I’m there in thirty seconds sobbing and wailing ‘I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I didn’t mean it whatever it was, please please please forgive me!’ So… my choice is between freaking someone out and emotionally manipulating them. Great great great.
Fourthly, I don’t feel good asking for emotional care from Mum as well as all the physical care-taking she already does. Any conversation where I tell any kind of truth is inevitably going to go to a negative place; how much I hate being ill, hate not being able to do the things I feel I ought to be able to do, how hard it is having carers coming in all the time. And yet she’s also the only one who’s physically available to have face to face conversations with me, and however hard I try to do without them I can’t.
And fifthly, this whole timeframe thing is hard to calculate. What’s a reasonable amount of time to specify? Not to specify seems careless and uncertain; if I just say ‘sometime’ she might decide to come the day after tomorrow but then forget about it, and then how long do I wait to ask again before it seems like pestering? Alternatively she feels like she has to come immediately, and that just feels rude. ‘Today’ seems too urgent… what if she’s busy or ill or just tired? Is ‘in the next day or two’ right? Is it weird? I have no idea.
Lastly (and sixthly), I have a whole asking for things issue. I just don’t like doing it. That’s not who I’m supposed to be. I’m supposed to be the person who helps other people and is practical and can do all the things. It’s always been a problem, but it’s much less of a problem when you rarely need to ask for things (or at least when you think you don’t!). Now I haven’t any choice. It’s not so bad asking my carers to do things; they are at least getting paid. Mum’s not. And it isn’t as though I can return the favour. I can’t do something for her in return for helping me. It’s all taking, never giving, and it feels shameful and humiliating.
Well, I never did send the text. It was all too complicated and I couldn’t tell whether I was getting it right or wrong, and I didn’t want to have to ask or to actually ask. On this occasion the problem was resolved because a couple of hours later I knocked over a glass of water on my bedside table and, although I managed to clean it up myself, I had to ask mum to put the lamp back because it’s a bit heavy and I was shaky by then and afraid I might drop it. That quite naturally segued into a more general conversation and my loneliness was assuaged, at least for the time being.
Obviously that’s not a permanent solution though. And yes, of course I’m aware that many of the thought processes I’ve described above fall firmly into the ‘overthinking’ category and a couple are dangerously close to the ‘total nonsense’ line, but that’s just how my brain works at the moment. I’m working on it. Believe it or not, I’m a lot better than I used to be! And… I’ll let you know if I ever send that text.