I dreamed about you the other night. You said you had been calling me and getting no answer — and how true is that in a way!
I’m about to go upstairs for a shower and then, with luck (neckache gone or intensity reduced), drive into the village and work for a bit. Things are still far behind (like, years) and these things are serious, like tax-collected reports to government and such, and three days a week simply doesn’t give me time to do them. Worse, the village owes so much money to various places that paying me even for those three days will mean going thousands of dollars into the overdraft at the end of this month.
So I won’t reread your last couple letters right now, will just respond to a couple subjects you wrote about as I recall them.
Eating — different bodies no doubt have different needs, and no one is an accurate judge of someone else’s requirements. Judging other people’s choices isn’t productive. Talking about our own choices may be interesting to others if we manage not to be self-righteous. Even when we do manage it, some people will feel criticized. Why anyone should care if others don’t eat dead animals or animal products, I don’t know. Perhaps because everyone who doesn’t do as they do makes them question their own choices? It seems to be taken personally by Himself if I don’t like what he likes: meat and potatoes. Which I often eat — I too was raised on them — but not three times a day, or every day.
I’ve always been wary of pressure cookers because of the possibility of explosions, which can happen when you don’t know what you’re doing as you operate them. The first time I used the one Himself bought, I had to read the book that came with it, sometimes I had questions that weren’t answered in the book or when I searched online and I’d already started cooking, and this made me sweat. I’ve used it three times so far, all satisfyingly. The taste of stew meat I tried didn’t even seem so bad; I don’t usually like stew except for the potatoes and gravy in it.
I got over my anger at Himself as soon as he “heard” when I explained why receiving kitchen items from him made me feel like his chief cook and bottle washer instead of his sweetheart. You are absolutely right, though; sometimes I don’t like him very much. I don’t like everything he says and does, or doesn’t do. Underneath that, I love him. We may not be very good for each other, however. The jury’s still out. I’m enjoying my time away, though we talk several times a day. Apparently neither of us finds the other easy to live with.
You said you were trying to help me by pointing out what seemed to you to be my blind spots about myself. Last time I tried to do the same for you — when I suggested that putting your marriage first, at the expense of your own self-esteem, might be an unhealthy thing to do — you insisted you were in fine mental fettle thank you very much and how dare I suggest that you, who is considered so wise by so many who have come to you for advice, might want to consider putting your own self-esteem top of priority; and that I had best change into someone who does things more like other people do if I ever hope to be happy.
After that, I don’t try to correct you in any way (for “your own good,” though it was, of course; but is it really? isn’t that what people always convince themselves they are doing when they analyse other people’s motivations?); not because I’m afraid of your anger, but because I could see how upset you were and to me, this meant you were hurt and wouldn’t hear me anyway. Maybe I had touched a sore spot you have because of your brother’s condition?
So to be fair, you’re not the only one who takes care with what she says to the other, and how she says it. I tiptoe around you every bit as much as you say you tiptoe around me.
This is a good thing; it shows respect for another person and a faith that, unless I’m asked for my opinion or guidance, my friend is well able to know herself and figure things out for herself. I hold my tongue fairly often rather than respond to some of your statements about how and why you manage your life and marriage as you do. If to me they seem misguided at times, enough to fail you in the end, they’re yours and you’ve a right to them. You know yourself better than I do and you know what’s working for you and what isn’t. I assume you’re acting according to your beliefs and convictions while meeting your challenges. The idea of acting in spite of my objections and serving men and marriage has only ever sickened me, though it’s been suggested many times by you and by the culture we live in; for you it’s possible the result is totally different! If it gets you what you want and you feel good about the way you got it, more power to you. I don’t know how much of your success is real and how much is rationalizing your choices, some of which I see as manipulative as much as strategic, as self-preserving more than courage to stand unapproved; I don’t know how much of my behaviour is that, too. When I read about how you approach things, I take and use what I think are helpful ideas (and thank you) and ignore those that are out of character for me. That’s not to say I never try approaches that are uncomfortable; if they help you, they might help me. But generally, as much as I often wish to get over myself and be more like someone else — anyone else! — I don’t really believe this can be done. There are games we can play to positive result, and games we can’t.
It’s all too easy to misjudge a person when you don’t actually spend time together. Writing is good because there is time to think before one “speaks” and when alone, writing, it’s easier to be clear on what I mean. Those with whom I’ve spent time in person over the years don’t find me hot-tempered or bullying, or whatever the words you used were; I trust their observations of and experience with me more than yours for that simple reason. The one person who has seen me quick-tempered or “intense” is the one who behaves in ways that would make anybody angry, make anybody speak up; if it has made that person think twice about what he says and does, it’s a good thing. I hate to imagine what kind of doormat I’d have to be to let verbal abuse and lack of consideration slide too often. Thanks to that very temper you speak of (if that’s what it is; is anger always temper or bad-temperedness or whatever you called it? or is it sometimes quite justified? I think the latter), he has gotten a handle on his habits and although he still slips up from time to time, I’ve seen real growth in self-control from both of us.
I don’t want to “fight” either. I hope that’s not what our long friendship is turning into. I’ve written all the above in an effort to be as forthcoming with you about you as you said you were being about me, ostensibly to help me see myself more clearly and/or honestly. I’m sure you won’t agree with some of my perspective about you any more than I see myself as you have described me. Blind spots are blind spots; I’m not the only one who has them, or whose ego or “pain body” are sometimes in the driver’s seat. It requires ongoing effort to be aware of them. Getting free of them is a whole other story.
I never got this email finished and had best get it sent off before it languishes long enough to be even more “dated.” My sister’s coming over this afternoon and I’m going to hop into the shower first; there’s a lovely enclosed shower in a warm upstairs bathroom where I can have a quick rinse every day … my life is complete! Between that luxury and a dishwasher to run every two or three days, I’m having a nice little holiday. Did you get the job at the funeral home?