07 March, 2008

Why can't I be good?

that song has been running through my/our mind all day. all week maybe. trying to figure out what's going on, why i/we push so hard against the rules.

the current one that we've been pushing hardest against is the one that we asked for. we asked w to give us tasks to get done each day. yeah, something a responsible adult wouldn't have to ask for. something i was expected to intuit even as a teenager--you know what needs to be done, so you should just do it. but i wasn't. i couldn't.

it's a complicated thing. some of it is because there are parts who get triggered by particular tasks, like putting away plates. some of it is because lots of us are terrified of beginning to seem to function as an adult, because the more we do that, the less it feels like we're able to get support. some of it is because, in the midst of everything else, it's so hard to be able to focus enough to break tasks down into their various pieces any more. i know i used to be able to do that, but it hasn't been happening for a long time. and some of it is because if w gives us specific tasks, that means we're not responsible for getting everything done, and it gets a little less intimidating. and helps the more, er, ├╝ber-responsible parts to be able to back off before the entire house is clean, and every other concievable task has been done. presuming i/we did the task, that would be all that needed to get done.

so we asked w for some help with getting tasks done. and then discovered some problems. i don't think any of the teenaged parts really trust her to follow through with consequences. but at the same time, there's a desperation to break some kind of rules. i think even if i/we trusted her completely, we'd still be breaking the rules sometimes. i've seen it with the little kid parts: sometimes, they just need to be reassured that it's safe to break the rules, that w will still be there for us. but more, that the response to rule-breaking isn't going to be catastrophic.

had i not done expected tasks when i was in high school, things would've been out of hand. and it would have included a lot of emotional abuse, and i think there are parts who say that there would also have been physical abuse. honestly, even had i completed them, had they not been done to exacting standards, it still would have been bad.

even though i should be old enough to understand this without experiencing it, i can't quite understand emotionally that things are different, not without pushing at the rules to see what happens.

and some of it is being desperate for the reassurance from w, that she's really going to follow through, and keep on dealing with me, even if it's hard.

so i didn't do my tasks this week. and they're the same tasks, more or less, that i didn't do last week. and tonight, i got a spanking for it.

i had done some of the task (washing some of the dishes), and since w didn't say anything about consequences when she got home, just commented on the number of dishes i had washed, i kind of fell apart. it was like, "well, ok, see, i knew that she wasn't going to follow through on consequences, if i made even a token effort."

there'd been a lot of arguing to that effect. one of the things that's really hard to admit is, we don't all get along inside. and us teenagers are probably the worst in that respect. ellis is too responsible. she tends to want to do all of the work we're supposed to, and to push really hard to make sure that gets done before the fun stuff. jamie tends to like to do things that are rebellious just kind of because she likes to do things that are rebellious. and grace... well, grace kind of has trouble letting go of the idea that no one is going to help us if we look like we're even a little bit ok. and a lot of the rules center around either self-care (eating, sleeping) or around daily functioning (like tasks). and so we argue and fight.

i guess it's kind of like if we were sisters or something, not that i was ever this... communicative with my actual sisters. and not like we were ever that close in age. jamie is 14, ellis is 15, and grace... not sure exactly, but somewhere around there in age. we are kind of stuck with each other, and we have a few things in common (like, oh, living in the same body) but aside from that, we're really no more alike than if we were sisters. which is inconvenient, because it's not like we can go off and spend time elsewhere, you know?

oh, right, so back to the spanking. w hadn't said anything about the task not being finished, and so i wasn't doing so well. that was mostly grace this evening... seeing it as confirmation that even the least little bit of seeming to be ok, and i'm back being expected to cope without help.

so when w asked whether i was ready for bed, and then told me we had "unfinished business," i felt a serious wave of... relief? kind of. mingled with being nervous, because it's not like i wanted the spanking, no matter what my behavior might have indicated. i guess it's a matter of the difference between "want" and "need." i definitely needed it, but i most certainly did not want it.

so i got the spanking, and it's over, and i can only hope this will mean that i'm able to have a good week.

i can hope.

but now for a kind of gross analogy (thank you, jamie): limit-pushing is kind of like a zit. it builds up and builds up. and a spanking, or other consequence, is kind of like popping that zit. sometimes, doing it just once works fine. apply a little pressure, pus goes zooming out (ew. i hate writing with other parts!) and everything is ok for a while.

other times, it takes more than that, and the pressure builds back up again really soon.

but i (ellis) am going to add that sometimes, it will seem like the zit didn't get sufficiently popped, but then after an hour or two, the pressure backs off on its own. you know, just for the record.

one thing w talked about, and our therapist has been talking about, is how ellis needs to not have to be responsible for everything all the time. she was crying today about feeling like she has to be too responsible, and feels like she has to figure out how to get all of us to cooperate, and it's hard. and the thing is, ellis does not cry easily. and i guess it is hard on her. on the other hand, we (that is, right now, grace and jamie) also realize that ellis won't often let the rest of us do anything fun if she feels like there is work we ought to be doing. and she's not very good at listening to the rest of us, or feeling like we've listened to her if we haven't just fallen into line and done exactly what she wants. i mean, yeah, she is pretty smart. and she's made some good decisions. but she's not the only one who can make good decisions, and sometimes, things she thinks were a bad idea turn out to have been the best choice we could have made. just for the record.


Anonymous said...

You know, one thing I can do if I'm not ready to deal with it is tell you a specific time when I WILL deal with it so it isn't hanging over your head whether I will or won't. I think that will help you. i.e.
"I'm going to go in my roo now and read my email. You will come in at ten and we'll deal with this."

Jigsaw Analogy said...

that would help a LOT, since it would acknowledge it, and i wouldn't have the whole spiral of thinking that you're not going to deal with it, and just kind of ramping up.