Sunday, September 30, 2012

Independence & vulnerability

Whenever I have trouble opening bottles or jars I always wish I had a male around.

It is the most sexist thing, yet I like to think of it as being realistic also. Mr TDH says I need to work on my damsel in distress act--I don't have much of one. The fierce independence comes from my dad; Blink has it too. It was embedded into us, both by example and by circumstance. I'd have said nurture, but I think for me independence is more of a defence mechanism and such things don't generally come about as a response to nuture.

Sometimes I wonder what it would be like to be in partnership with someone. To have someone say, "Hey, you washed the dishes, I'll take out the garbage." It's something so simple, isn't it? In my family the division of labour was traditional: mom cooked, cleaned, ironed, made sure the children got to school on time & did homework; dad went to work, brought home the bacon, mowed the lawn, fixed anything broken in the house and ensured the car was in tip-top condition. We were, in this respect, an utterly traditional family.

When I was growing up, I wanted to be a housewife, like my mother. Not because I wanted to be like her, but because I agreed with the values espoused in the concept: children are important, they are only young once, it's vital to value the time you have with them, to be around to inculcate values and build bonds with them and nurture them. As I grew older, however, I came to almost despise my mother as someone who is weak, powerless. Her world is narrow, confined to the home and family and to her religious faith. She knows nothing of making it "out there"; instead, she seems almost bewildered by the complexities of modern urban life and can barely comprehend the reality of the daily challenges faced by those of us who are, by necessity, part of the rat race.

Still, in wrestling with a bottle and wishing there were a male around to help open it for me, I experience the seductive lure of longing for someone to lean on. I've always thought mom has been exceedingly lucky to meet dad, the quintessential responsible and reliable Man with a capital M. So in a way I don't blame her for leaning on him, because it is just so freeing not to have to think or worry about many of the day-to-day gritty realities of life. Sometimes I wish I could do that, too. I wish there were someone who could send my car for servicing on my behalf, help me file paperwork for taxes, ensure the garbage was taken out. Maybe what I need is a butler... or a PA.

On the other hand, when you choose to lean on someone, you surrender your independence, even if only temporarily. It requires trust and vulnerability, both very scary propositions. I am caught in this tug-of-war between wishing I had someone to depend on and fearing that whoever it is might not be the pillar of strength of my fantasies. Once you allow yourself to be vulnerable, there's no going back. Sometimes I wonder if I will ever meet someone who will inspire me enough to make me want to attempt that leap of faith.

As for that bottle I was wrestling with? I grabbed a pen-knife and lopped the top off. Fortunately it was made of plastic... that wouldn't have gone over nearly so well with glass.

No comments: