Changing old habits

October 26, 2014

I am probably in the habit of dealing with being expected to pick up the slack in my family by doing some version of stoic and a female version of macho.

Well, today I tried something different.  My mother has substantial mobility issues, and I have been trying to figure out how to drop her off at, for example, the building she needs to go to, get her safely ensconced, and then go park the car.  Do I leave the engine running?  Do I turn it off and risk being in violation of parking where there is no parking?

I asked my mother about getting a disability placard.  She said she had never thought of it, which was no surprise to me  —  she admits she thinks of herself in terms of a much younger version of herself.  I have been trying to point out that this “Let’s pretend” makes things, makes difficult situations, even harder, including at my end.  She said she would ask her doctor about it.

That’s another thing I’ve learned:  we can only do something if an M.D. says so.  It’s how she finally decided to move out of her house and close to me.  My doctor advised me at my annual check-up that I had too many stressful things on my plate, including trying to care long distance for an elderly frail person increasingly in need of supports.  That got her attention when nothing previous had.  She had been listening before to people who seem to have been encouraging a situation that was unsafe, and without taking any responsibility for it.

We work with what we have, including the people involved.

It struck me that I find it tough to have to suggest such ameliorative measures, because if they are rejected, then what attitude do I take?  I have broken the pretense that the situation is okay, and we cannot go back to the status quo ante, including how I played my role.

I learned some years ago that people’s level of cooperation varies, that different people have different degrees of cooperativeness.  Some people drag their feet or make everything into an argument or dismiss a call to make an adjustment.  It is especially pronounced, not surprisingly, when the status quo is working for them and they are not considering whether it is working for others.

Willy was eminently cooperative, even pro-active in that direction.  I wish more people were like that.  Maybe only a spouse does that and I became miscalibrated in my expectations.  Or maybe he was exceptional and I became miscalibrated on account of that.

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5 Responses to “Changing old habits”

  1. Matthew Brooks Says:

    My wife and I were talking about something similar tonight regarding factory farming (partaking of factory farmed food). I work with a couple people who are of average intelligence, and I wrote off their failure to recognise the rightness of organic/humane meat as an intelligence failure. They’re fairly simple, conventional people who let the current take them.

    But then we reflected that most of the people close to us, even ostensibly very well educated, very bright people continue to eat factory farmed meat. They’re smart enough to understand the problem and their complicity; it’s been explained to them (in pictures, even) over and again; but they haven’t changed their eating habits. My wife said it’s simple selfishness (factory farmed meat is cheap and easy (eg. fast food)). I think it’s that, but also that we live in an age where individuality/autonomy are overemphasised, and admitting fault and realigning their behavior would be a tacit loss of autonomy.

    It seems to me if they were comfortable with the level of autonomy society and they have come to expect of themselves, they wouldn’t be so rigid and resistant. Then it’s the paradox that the social expectation of autonomy is actually constraining people (from doing the right thing) – that there’s a point beyond which the distance we put between each other is not liberating at all (or so liberated as to be lost). Connection involves obligation to one another and also to the mutual recognition of what is right. That reminds me further of Emerson and others’ idea that freedom comes with aligning oneself with what is good. Doing the wrong thing involves essential friction/resistance; and people build walls/masks to contain what they’re ashamed/afraid of.

    I think there’s more to it than that too. They say you are what you eat. These people are eating trapped/suffering energy. Why would they want to feel like that? Maybe it’s just how they already feel. And/or maybe they feel forsaken themselves, for various reasons, so they A) don’t care and/or B) are spiteful because of it.

    • Diana Moses Says:

      I think there are plenty of people who fear that others are as predatory as they are, just as trusting people assume others are as trustworthy.

      I have never found that vegetarianism is correlated when any particular overall spiritual development, so while I take your point about what we put into our bodies, I don’t see it as particularly determinative, I might even speculate that people are attracted to certain styles of eating on account of preexisting issues they have and continue to work on.

      But I don’t disagree with your general points.

      • Matthew Brooks Says:

        We’re not vegetarians. We eat meat. There is nothing immoral or unnatural, imo, about killing animals for food. There is something unnatural and cruel about making animals suffer for our convenience (factory farming).

      • Diana Moses Says:

        I understood that you are not vegetarians, I was making a different point. There is often an assumption that being a vegetarian has significance that I don’t think it probably has.

      • Matthew Brooks Says:

        I see; agreed.


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