Prisoner of Expectations
Through the silence I find one of my big issues pop up. Sometimes I find I’m upset or mad about stuff and I can’t articulate what the main issue is. Currently it’s the business culture of recognizing some people with awards for service and continually bypassing others. The different rules for different people syndrome! I know it all too well. I lived it in my childhood home first and am still regularly faced with it.
Back in 2000 or 2001 when I was going through similar changes but worse, I went to see a movie Café Ole with my girlfriend Tricia. It’s a cute little Montreal film about a guy that does for everyone else and somehow his life is passing him by while everyone depends on him and takes him for granted. Towards the end of the movie when he makes a drastic change he says a line that spoke to my life and made me cry. Tricia and I left the movie theatre and I was still crying. We walked through the Manulife Centre and I was still crying. As we were about to leave, she looked at me and asked, “Are you okay?” and I said, “I can’t get it together, that line is playing in my head. It’s me” and we stood outside the hair salon that I’d worked at earlier that year as I sobbed in Tricia’s arms. It was pretty big!
Here I am, present day, faced with the recognition issue. I study the times I’ve been taken for granted or not acknowledged for who I am. I don’t do anything for recognition but when others are recognized for less than what I’ve done as part of who I am the red flag comes up in my mind and I think, “Humph! I’ve been doing that and more forever and not a soul has mentioned anything.” Interesting!
As a Pisces, just about anything you read says that they are always last and are used to it. They walk through life not being recognized. Blah, blah, blah. But seriously, is it because I’m a freakin’ Pisces? And of all the things that are Pisces, why does that have to be the thing that is true? These days I see the lack of recognition, the high expectations and the general taking for granted of, as a message from the Universe not to feel guilty about moving on and following my inner voice and what dreams she concocts.
I’ve come a long way since that day I cried in Tricia’s arms and it’s been a long road, with dropping friends and changing jobs and sometimes yelling or slamming doors or fire bombing an incendiary email as a last resort. But it bowls me over when it creeps back in.
It’s the reason why we rebel against our parents. We’re trying so hard to identify ourselves and to be identified as who we are separate from who they want us to be for their own comfort level. I never really rebelled against my mother while she was alive. Not on this issue anyway. I was always the daughter I was expected to be. I’ve always been the employee, the friend, the lover I am expected to be. I am dependable and available and cheerful to do it and I don’t ask for much other than peace. But where are the people who are grateful for people like me? People who can express their gratitude? People like me are so easy to take for granted.
At the arts organization I worked at for 10 years, my boss scheduled me for the shitty shifts and worse, with people she knew I couldn’t stand on a regular basis. If it was a festival, all the lazy asses would be scheduled with their buds and I’d be stuck with shady character like clock work. Lazy asses would ask, “Are you being punished?” It made me wonder. When I discussed it, I was either told that she depended on me or (the slap in the face) I can’t schedule every body only with people they like. Hmm, but you depend on me, isn’t there some reward in that? Even with friends in the past (people I’ve since dropped or limited my contact), there were the constant stupid situations I’d be put into. And it’s not like I never speak up for myself.
When I finally reach my limit because surprisingly, to every one who watches it happen, I do have a limit, although it can take years, the culprits get uncomfortable. Or come up with lame ass excuses. Most recently I was told that I had all these walls so built up that this specific person felt that he didn’t have to worry about me (that was when I was in pain for three months and I’d asked, what kind of friend doesn’t call or email even once). I was told a few years back that the reason why I didn’t want to be included in invitations that included these two women that I didn’t like (and said I didn’t like the first time I met both of them) was that I was intimidated by strong women. Those two examples still irk me. And at work, past and present, well there’s a whole whack of examples of interesting reasons that are never quite based in reality. *sigh*
There is always that air that something is wrong with me for wanting to break out of the mold that makes everyone else comfortable but leaves me feeling unfulfilled. That level of invisibility, not being heard, not being recognized, being taken for granted, who wants to be constantly jiggling in that Jello mold? It’s always a shock when I make that large sweeping decision merely because people haven’t heard a fucking thing I said. I say it in a nice voice first because I genuinely like those people. Then I say it in a loud voice because I’m nearing the end and this is my final warning. And then I leave and their so damn surprised.
Why do I attract so many people who need so much attention that they can’t hear anything but the sound of their own voices? I believe that I live in a supportive universe and obviously the way I’m dealing with this issue isn’t working. I need to work on my thoughts, my energy and my actions. That’s what I contend with. That’s what clanked around my brain at 1am when all of a sudden, I was awake with no signs of falling back to sleep. I sat on my bed with my journal and started to write. I turned on the television to CBC and lo and behold, Café Ole was on. The supportive universe poking me to see if I remembered that there was a line in the movie that was so apt back in 2000 or 2001 and it was going to be again if I was going to wait to hear it.
The character writes it in a letter to the lady he’d been playing the piano for on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays for $5 each session. I’d forgotten that she had said a part of it first, which was what propelled him. And instead of Malcolm Kaye, the character playing piano, the lady now has Sal there (a character who Malcolm also helped). Because when we leave, people always find someone else to take our place, and I need to remember that. She asks Sal to read the letter again and in it Malcolm writes, “I am not going to be there to play the piano for you anymore because I am tired of being a prisoner of expectations.” And she smiles because she was a prisoner of expectations and missed out on what could have been her one true love.
And when I heard it I didn’t cry this time but I nodded my head. Yep, I’ve changed some but I still have some work to do. And because I know the universe is supportive, I just need to get my thoughts and actions and energy in line and constantly ask myself, what do I want? If I believe that I am taken for granted, I will constantly be faced with opportunities where I am taken for granted. And people are so seductive in their guilt trippy I depend on you speeches but when I leave they always find a replacement. It’s worth repeating.
It was only supposed to be for a short time, in my childhood home, when all this began. It was so the step sisters would be comfortable and would know that they were welcome. Somehow there was always an excuse to maintain the status quo. And I never rebelled as all of us must, at some point, in order to grow up.
So I step into this full-fledged realization with a little bit of rebellion and an awareness that I need to do what’s good for me (which I’ve gotten better at). That there will always be an excuse, a justification to keep me a prisoner and I just don’t look good in prison stripes.