Monday, 28 May 2012

Things I am not very good at: Not being a neurotic nitwit

 I have a long running conversation with my husband Greg that usually takes place after every social gathering we host.
“Do you think they had a good time? Do you think they liked the food? Do you think they like us?”
To which he usually responds: “Of course they had a good time, yes they liked the food and they definitely like me, I am not so sure about you,” (he has a cruel sense of humour).
We had some friends over recently and I was sure everyone was having a good time judging by the amount of chatter, laughter and food and drink being consumed. Plus they all thanked us profusely and said what a great time they had as they left, with kisses and hugs all round.  
“Do you think they enjoyed themselves? Did they like the food? Do you think they like us?”  I asked Greg a few minutes later. He couldn’t even be bothered to respond in his usual loving way, but just rolled his eyes, and went to bed.

This is me on a really bad day
Over the years I have managed to take the art of insecurity to a whole new level. I can feel hurt about almost anything if I put my mind to it. If I don’t get an email for a while from my family (I have a very large extended family) then I think that maybe they are all just writing to each other and leaving me out. If I hear that one friend has been to another friend’s house and I wasn’t included, I am hurt and think it means they like each other much more than they like me.  If someone tells me they really like Greg and think he is so funny, I think that means they don’t really like me and I am not funny. If my children don’t bother to contact me for a while I think they have found a new mother they like better. (OK I may be exaggerating a tiny bit). But I am aware that I have a teeny problem in this area and sometimes ask Greg to interpret interactions I have had with people because my sensitivity radar can just sometimes be just ever so slightly,  off kilter. As he never experiences a moment of self-doubt or inadequacy (some could even accuse him of being arrogant and highly annoying, but I don’t know who those people are!) he can usually provide a much better version of events. For example, say we are out with friends at a dinner and someone says to me; “So Fay, what do you do with yourself all day since you are not working?”
I interpret that to mean; “So Fay, your life must have no meaning and purpose, you have no real  identity and really you are good for nothing and this is kind of what I expected as I have always thought you are a pretty useless person, what on this good great earth could you possibly do to fill your time that would have any meaning and all you seem to do is make small and irritating mistakes.”  
Greg’s version goes something like this; “I thought he meant what do you do with yourself all day now that you are not working.”
Amazing isn’t it? How did he come up with that???

This is one of the reasons I love Anne Lamott, and her books on faith and writing. They have encouraged me to keep writing and praying, have highlighted that there are some people out there who are as neurotic and insecure and paranoid as I am, and as importantly, have made me laugh. She includes this poem by Phillip Lopate in her book Bird by Bird which seems to be written just for me: 
We who are
your closest friends
feel the time
has come to tell you
that every Thursday
we have been meeting,
as a group,
to devise ways
to keep you
in perpetual uncertainty
discontent and
by neither loving you
as much as you want
nor cutting you adrift.
(Added my own 4 lines below as he talks about ex husbands and analysts which don’t apply)
Your priest is
in on it,
plus your extended family,
your children
and your husband;
and we have pledged
to disappoint you
as long as you need us.
In announcing our
we realize we have
placed in your hands
a possible antidote
against uncertainty
indeed against ourselves.
But since our Thursday nights
have brought us
to a community
of purpose
rare in itself
with you as
the natural center,
we feel hopeful you
will continue to make unreasonable
demands for affection
if not as a consequence
of your disastrous personality
then for the good of the collective 

This is me on a good day
 Silly right? Who would really feel like that? And yes I have tried prayer and therapy, and yes my husband is a saint for putting up with me. Talk about high maintenance. Believe it or not, I think I am a little more secure now that I am have become a lady of certain age (ie over 50). But I have come to accept that I will always be somewhat neurotic, and as long as I can laugh about it, I will survive. It has also helped me to be more sensitive to other people's feelings which some at least seem to appreciate.  Greg has even learned a few things from me and he no longer asks someone a question, like how their work is going and then wanders off while they are still talking, leaving them somewhat confused and forcing them to tell me the answer because I am still standing there pretending to be interested (something he used to do all the time when we first got married). And really, when I think about it, if I was stable and secure like him, how boring our lives would be. What on earth would we talk about after everyone has gone home??


  1. :~) You are a crazy lady and very funny and I love your writing! And I hope you spend at least a few minutes wondering what I meant by that! Sharon

    1. Thanks so much Sharon! I was awake all night wondering just what you meant!!

  2. LOL!! Inbetween the coughing this morning, this post really made me laugh. Thanks Fay - you have more guts than you give yourself credit for. I have my own batch of totally insane, inane and sommer downright ridiculous insecurities, and it's wonderful to know that I'm not alone.

    1. I am glad I made you laugh on your birthday Sanchia of the semi sane mind!!

  3. Yep we are alike. Where has this come from. its been passed down the generations somehow! Great post!

    1. From Julie Black

    2. Hi Julie, thanks so much for the encouragement and yes I think we have all inherited some of this, but that is why we are all so interesting!!

  4. Hi Fay. Thanks for letting us in to your private hell.You describe it so so well! I think we've all got a few neuroses -- seldom fatal but they sure do make our heads uncomfortable from time to time. I'll let you know how to deal with your neuroses just as soon I get on top of my own! Actually wrapping them up in words and sticking them on a blog sounds like excellent therapy - I wish I was brave enough to do it myself. Good stuff Fay.

    1. Thanks John, this means a lot coming from someone who I consider to be a heck of a lot more neurotic than I am!!

  5. But I thought you dd not really lie me Fay! Are you implying I am insecure???? Seriously a great read and I felt like you were in my kitchen having a cuppa and a chat/gossip

    1. Thanks Nome, and I don't really like you, I have just been pretending for the past 30 odd years!!

  6. Ha Ha Fay --nicely done ( don't analyze that and think does she mean it as rare, medium, well cooked OR burnt !!!) I don't think that it is necessarily a " gene " thing ( and I don't mean if you look good in jeans, ok--you do by the way !! Just to clarify that ! ) as we in-laws can feel the same at times . Mind you, we could have "caught it " being married-in so many decades . lol But seriously , I think it all stems for all of us from being told multiple times by a certain older man in the family " You're cracked " :-)
    But, hey you gotta crack an egg or two to make an Omelette . . and you're one of my favorite flavors !
    Love ya --Keep writing ! Di xx

    1. Ha ha, thanks Di, I am glad we are all a little cracked together! As you say, makes for a great family flavoured omelette!

  7. You do have a way with words and emotions! Love. and particularly like the graphic accompaniments on this post.

    1. Thanks my friend! I love that cat too!