Had an odd bit of conversation today with my mom after work. Today was an atypical day because I had to completely re-adjust my lunch schedule because of a training webinar that took up a large chunk of the afternoon. So I decided to eat out for lunch (despite having made a box lunch), as otherwise I’d be eating alone in my cubicle. It was kind of a spontaneous decision. When I do this (infrequently), I either take home my box lunch to eat as my dinner, or else I leave it overnight in the fridge at work and have it for lunch the following day instead, which is what I opted to do today.
I decided to sample the lunch-cut Chicken Fried Steak at Salt Grass Steak House just off the Highway near work. It was really quite good, though I barely made it back to work on time (actually was a few minutes late, so may get some vacation time docked off but whatever).
I attended the training but it was so dull (and mostly covered stuff I already knew) that I did nod off a couple of times…training like this needs to be more interactive if they’re gonna schedule it after lunch…it was hard to stay focused and awake. Luckily we got extensive handouts, and I can always go back and re-listen to the parts I missed. I did perk up for about the last half hour and learned one or two useful things.
Anyway, I did email my mom about my changed lunch/dinner plans, and she re-confirmed with me that I’d leave my lunchbox overnight in the work fridge and eat my supper as usual.
Inevitably, when I got home, mom had to ask why I’d decided to eat out for lunch and where. I told her the truth about where I’d gone and what I’d eaten, and of course, she clicked her teeth in disapproval and asked why I’d done so….
“Because I wanted to.”
And she got angry at that, much to my confused consternation.
“Don’t give me an answer like that!!” she shot back, raising her voice.
Then I got mad. Part of me wondered if the “correct answer” would be averting my eyes, looking guilty and repentant and saying “I’m sorry” or saying something else in a tone of contrition?
“What the hell answer to you want?! It’s the truth. I went out because I wanted to, end of story.”
“Did your schedule change? Did you have to eat alone?”, she asked.
This irritated me further, as I’d already explained all this in my email.
“YES,” I said, huffily, “As I’d already said in my email, if you’d been paying attention.”
“John, why do you have to talk so UGLY to me all the time…”
This scene has played itself out in numberless permutations and combinations throughout our relationship in my alleged adulthood.
I wouldn’t say we have a “turbulent and complex” relationship per se; I just have a flair for the dramatic.
But I did push back on the resistance to a perfectly valid answer to her question as asked. “Because I wanted to” is exactly true, exactly honest.
I read–or I think it was in an Anime series I recently watched–that many times when we’re angry with someone it’s because through their actions they reveal something we dislike strongly about OURSELVES. My mother has struggled with her weight all her adult life. I have too, but I also admit that I simply love to eat. I do what I can to moderate, I realize my exercise rituals are only enough to arrest or retard further weight gain, that I usually often take in more calories than I burn, etc. I realize if I wanted to get down to size 36 and actually STAY there, I’d have to be constantly vigilant and exercise an iron self discipline that I simply don’t have. I think it pisses mom off that I can be so blase about what I eat at times and admit that I do so because it gives me pleasure because SHE cannot allow this for herself. Lots of projection going on, I suspect. She resents that I am so nonchalant and carefree about my eating and exercise habits while she works so hard on hers. She resents that I don’t exercise the same level of self-discipline that she does, that I don’t seem to care as much as she does…and yet because of my (relative) youth and constitution am still in pretty good overall health. It may catch up with me one day, but I’ll deal with that then. I might live longer if I exercised greater discipline, got a nicer physique, etc…might even have a better chance of attracting a girlfriend and remarrying….but I’m such a freak and social klutz that really, I ask myself, what’s the point? I could have a smoking hot bod, but inside my head is the same clueless dork so…again, what’s the point? It’s not as if I’m a crass, reckless hedonist either…I’m more epicurean and refined than that. I don’t binge on junk food/snacks/sweets between meals (the way my mom often does when she slips up). But when I have a meal, I like a substantive meal that tastes good. I like to sample different foods of different cultures–be adventurous in my culinary delights, etc.
I resent having to explain myself and explain my actions all the time to my mother. I never feel completely free to just impulsively change my plans and go out to eat on a whim. I do sometimes do so, but always with a sense of dread at having to explain myself somehow later. I sometimes lie and say I went out with my friends from work, pretend my arm got twisted to go along with the gang…it’s easier than just saying “I did it because I wanted to.” (and I don’t care if you don’t like that I did). And I do sometimes go out with the group–sometimes they do invite me and I typically always accept because why not? It’s fun to do something different every now and then.
Anyway, this tidbit of conversation this early evening after work was so baffling and frustrating to me that I kept it in my head with the aim to blog about it; I felt the need to get down these disparate thoughts and share them, as I think they’re illustrative of the perennial Aspie/NT disconnect in communication.