Wednesday, August 5, 2009

The Falling of Pride

If public humiliation builds character, like my mom says, I should be a cartoon.

I recognize my pride. It's not always the prettiest side of me; stubborn, arrogant, and willfull, but it's me. I own it, and more importantly, I'm learning to let it go when I need to. I tend to use humor as a defensive mechanism, so when I'm so doing embarrassing things in public it's not too big of a problem for me. Make a joke, get a laugh, move on. However, the headaches are depleting my intellect so making a quick, clever joke isn't as easy as it used to be. And being in pain has definitely lessened my patience with others, so I'm not laughing quite as hard at my own expense.

For example, whenever I tell someone I have earplugs in, I run a high risk of them signing and mouthing words to me, trying to be funny. It's not really that funny, except to the person doing the lip-synching, but I'll play along, ask "what?" a few times, if I'm feeling good. If not, I'll just stare and wait for them to stop. (Note: THIS IS EFFECTIVE.)

I have some cognitive trouble when I'm in a high-stimulus situation, like a restaurant. This can make ordering a meal difficult. I can always narrow it down to a few choices, being a picky pescatarian helps, there. But sometimes I get stuck. I can't choose. I feel like crying. I stare at the menu and it stops making sense. Then, I turn to my dining companion and ask, "You choose for me, okay?" They don't mind. I usually get a little teasing for this, but losing ones intellect is a sad and scary thing, so we generally don't joke much about it.

It's not just at restaurants, though. With the barrage of stimulus that daily life brings, the pain in my head, and the medication I take to dull it, my brain isn't working as quickly as it once did, which is giving me a bit of the old Flowers for Algernon effect. The loss of faculties is painful and sometimes terrifying, but the humility it's bringing me is good. It's a well-needed reminder that we are fragile, fallible creatures, and we all have an expiration date.

My ultimate downfall may be my limited ability to ask for help. I have a true dislike of asking others to do what I can't or won't. My ever-henpecked boyfriend would argue this point, as I ask (tell) him to do chores and run errands for me all the time. but, I also wash and fold his underwear, so he has his own special category. He is not everyone else. I could use some help, help that I know my family members and friends could provide. But, I don't ask. I don't know how to. I haven't even admitted, except in ironic or joking situations, that I am disabled. That I am unabled. I am mislabeled. I have digital cable. SEE? I can't even say it without making a joke! Pride will be my undoing.

I went to the beach a while back with some friends. I like to collect seaglass and shells for my garden and can happily spend hours walking up and down the beach, bending to inspect every little shine in the sand. Well, my head doesn't allow much of that anymore, bending over gives me a migrainous head rush that leaves me nauseous and tired, almost immediately. That day at the beach, I had picked up only a few shiny bits of pretty before my head ordered me to stop. I was sad, and told my friend what was up, and that we could continue to walk, if he wanted, but that my quest for pretties was over. When he offered to pick things up for me, I couldn't say yes right away. I was embarrassed and uncomfortable; I have a weird guilt complex about asking for help, even for little things. He didn't wait for me to say yes, just started picking things up that I didn't want and offering them to me, which nudged my bossy gland in just the right spot for me to start giving him direction and pointing out what I wanted. But even later, when my hands and pockets were full, I still hesitated to ask him to carry some shells for me. And yes, I can see how ridiculous I am.

I am not greedy or envious. My wrath is kept in check, as are my gluttony and lust. I'm definitely a lazy person (have I mentioned how much I love sleep?), but it's nothing compared to my burning need to hide all weakness. It's the pride, for sure, that'll get me in the end. I'm getting better about it; letting down my guard more, and asking for help more often and with less shame, but I'm a work in progress. I may reject all forms of pity but gratefully welcome your patience.


Aviva said...

Asking for help is the hardest thing on earth, I think. Good for you for being able to accept it when it was thrust upon you (and good for you for having friends who help take care of you whether you ask for it or not!).

FWIW, I found you thanks to PFAM, but I expect to be back often. :-)