That’s what she called it. My attempt to bring something into her life that might help mend a bridge between us. A crock of shit.
Maybe some background.
You might remember that a couple of weeks ago I wrote a little bit about a book my therapist recommend I read, Healing The Shame That Binds You, by John Bradshaw. I haven’t finished it yet, but it has already given me so many great insights into myself and my family dynamics, why I feel the way I feel, why I way I act the way I act, and is helping me see another side of the picture as far as my parents’ own abusive pasts are concerned.
I couldn’t help but buy two more copies.
One I gave to a friend at work (one of the few people in my trusted inner circle) who expressed real interest in it for her husband. The other, I bought for my parents to read. Perhaps that was my first mistake. Or was having the hope that she and I were actually making a little progress my first mistake?
So, last night I sought her advice about a career issue. She’s always been really good when it comes to those things. I was feeling vulnerable about a choice I made and let her in on it. I talked to her about how it’s been a rough week. She tried to convince me to work from home today. I had no real desire to skip the office. Although it’s crazier than ever around there, I actually kind of like going in to work these days. Plus, I have a shit ton to do and there ain’t no rest for the wicked. I know she means well, so I laughed it off.
Come lunch time, she texts me asking if I’ve left work for the day. I was still in meetings at the time, and considering that my boss is on spring break with his kids all next week and is leaving me to run the show by my lonesome in his absence, an early day was not ever going to happen. I see the text, but don’t respond because I have a hundred other things going on.
Then, at about 2:00 p.m., she shows up at my office unannounced. Lets see, that makes this the fifth time I’ve seen her in the last two years? Someone please tell me how that would ever be appropriate, ever, please? Naturally I can’t react, I’m at work. She did bring food, a gesture of good will of some kind I suppose, so I acquiesce.
I had also been wanting to find a time to give her the copy of Bradshaw’s book and happened to have it in my car. Perhaps after the week I had, it wasn’t the best timing, but now or never, right? I was obviously hesitant and as I handed it to her, I prefaced the delivery with something along the lines of, “I’ve been reading this book and it has really been helping me see a new perspective and I think it would help you and our relationship.”
I tried to explain a little bit about Bradshaw’s premise to her, how abuse turns into toxic shame and manifests in our lives, and why it’s been helpful, but was a bit inarticulate. Her response was two fold: she feels no shame (no surprise there) and an overly broad, narrow minded, and purely ignorant statement that self help books are all a crock of shit. I couldn’t begin to come up with the right words and that was neither the time nor the place to get into the nitty gritty. So, I just assured her that if I didn’t think it would be helpful, I’d never have bought it for her.
As it turns out, what I heard and felt were: the hard work I’m putting into dealing with my issues is a crock of shit; the clarity and peace I’ve been discovering while reading this book is a crock of shit; the effort I’m putting into trying to maintain some type of relationship with them (and especially her) is a crock of shit; I am a crock of shit.
I am not a crock of shit, though. Trust me, I am not a self help book kind of girl (wonder where that comes from) and never would have picked this one out on my own. But my therapist, who has gotten to know my intelligent and analytical side, knows that I need data, case studies, and other scientific or empirical evidence to satisfy the logical side of my brain before the emotional aspect comes into play, recommended this book. I’m learning to trust in him and this healing process and I have not been disappointed so far.
Why else would I have bought two more copies? I’m an intelligent woman who struggles with emotion. This book has helped me tap into some of my most difficult emotions. If I thought it was anything close to a crock of shit, I’d never have made it past the first chapter.
She is the crock of shit. I don’t think she’ll ever read it.
That makes me incredibly sad. In fact, that being a real possibility triggers so many familiar feelings of inadequacy, helplessness, and hopelessness. I really put myself out there by offering her a little look into what I’m doing in therapy. It would mean an incredible amount to me if they took the time to do a little work too. I was vulnerable with her in a mostly safe way, and I’m proud of that. I also know now that my self worth doesn’t hang on what she chooses to do with the book, or with anything really. Still, having that little bit of hope I had built up dashed is terribly disappointing.
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