Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Meeting Expectations

My sister, one of the people with whom I'm struggling at the moment, often speaks to me in a tone of resigned patience that makes it clear I'm getting on her last nerve and that it's quite an effort for her to slow her thinking down to the level of my lower, reptilian brain function.

I am not the only one who notices this, so I'm sure this is a fair and accurate observation, not my own stuff. Or, not JUST my own stuff.

What is my stuff, however, is how I respond to this: By being as stupid as she clearly expects me to be.

In the rest of the world, I'm my normal, relatively competent self. But put me in the same room--or even the same building--as my sister, and my brain melts like an Otter Pop at a Fourth of July parade. In Death Valley. At high noon.

This morning I needed to send a fax from the office. My sister has moved her office recently and doesn't have the phone lines resituated yet, so it was necessary to unhook the phone line from the phone and plug it into the fax. Well within my capabilities. She offered to do it for me, poor little soul that I am, but I opined that I could manage myself.

Yeah. Sure.

I went to the back room, removed the phone line from the wall and plugged it into the fax. I punched in the number, the screen indicated it was dialing, but all I got was a strange tone rather than ringing or a connection. I hit redial several times and then decided to call the intended recipient of the fax to see if their system was working. When I reached over to reconnect the phone, it hit me. I had connected the fax to the phone rather than to the wall jack.

Now, I screw up as often as the next guy, but not much more than that. Unless my sister is within close proximity. When she is, this is the kind of stuff I fall into.

Thank the Good Lord I figured it out, connected it properly, and got the damn thing sent before she realized what I'd done.

Talk about living down to someone's expectations. Sheeeeesh.


riversgrace said...

Yes, a shining example of the power of belief and expectation. I had a similar dynamic with my older brother, and used to have panic attacks just talking to him. You start seeing yourself through their eyes and it throws you off your seat. But really, you are seeing a reflection of her own lack of self-confidence, strategically covered through arrogance. Just a guess. I literally remind myself not to abandon myself when I feel shaky like that...and that usually ushers in a wise one, the protective one who doesn't give a shit whether I know how to fax or talk or whatever because she knows my strength and calling are in deeper waters.

Lots of love...

Amber said...

How funny that you do that! I think we all have at least one person whom we find we kinda "change" around. My friend--who I really love, but still-- When I am around her, I feel like I am the biggest mut-face EVER. No matter how good I felt about myself just minutes before! It is sooo strange! She never says anything to put me down *exactly*, but I have always felt...something. So it is my odd little stuff.


Deb said...

Is she the original NTKoG?

Ziji Wangmo said...

Great post. Isn't it interesting/scary how we live other's projections of ourselves????
Be thankful you are aware of this - the first step in transformation -You go girl!

Carrie Wilson Link said...

I say go BIG with this!

kario said...

Ugh! I wonder how she sees herself when she looks through your eyes...might be worth considering.

Love you. Love your competence and intelligence and honesty and courage. Love you.

Kim said...

What a great post. I can really relate to this feeling--not with my sisters, but with certain other people who make me feel completely tongue-tied when I know I'm generally an articulate person.

How about writing a nice long list of some of the many ways you are fabulously intelligent and competent? (Think of all the people who read your books! I see you as a woman FULL of answers and valuable info!)

Stacy said...

I get like that whenever someone gets into my car as a passenger. I am a great driver when alone. Put some spectator in there and I sit at the stop sign waiting for the light to change.