Tonight I am writing with the full knowledge that there are times we become exactly what we always swore we would never be. Maybe we are selfish and cruel. Maybe we are insincere or angry. Maybe we are lost in a large world of opportunities and possibilities. Or maybe we are a dancing chicken.
Years ago, in various attempts at entertainment, vendors would place a heater under chicken’s feet and “make them dance”. The heat burned the small feet and in an effort to find surcease, those chickens moved their legs. People laughed. They often didn’t know how the chickens were doing those dance moves, but they enjoyed it all the same.
In many ways I think I have become that dancing chicken. I believe deeply that my personality has led me to this revelation. I am a pleaser and I truthfully have no ability to stop others from taking advantage of me. This is who I am.
When I was in college I studied what my father thought was best for me. When I was in high school I wore what my mother thought was best for me. I rarely if ever rebelled; that isn’t who I am. It didn’t matter if I lost my identity, and it didn’t matter if I succeeded or not; I was doing what I believed best. My friends would tell me where to go, and it didn’t matter if I was uncomfortable – I was going to please them always.
As you can imagine, I get take advantage of often. At jobs, I have coworkers give me their duties, bosses who always need one more thing, and lunch often becomes a time to catch up on my own duties.
In my family, I don’t pick where we eat or where we are going shopping. The guilt that I feel when I need (read need) to go to another store that is not on that day’s agenda can literally cause me to try and spend untold hours making it up to them. Rarely do I get to go to restaurants I want to go to – it is a rule and I am not in the lead.
I deal with all of this; I deal with those taking advantage. I deal with it because I like to know somewhere, that one day, I will help someone who is genuinely in need.
I am not sure why I thought my marriage would be different. I don’t know why I thought that it was possible for someone with my personality to ever find someone stronger than I am. I don’t know when I learned that I could never been the strong princess in a fairy tale.
To be fair, I allow this kind of behavior to be used against me. To be fair, I often make excuses about my disease, my sadness, my frustration because I don’t want to rock the boat. People taking advantage of me is in fact my norm. Changing that requires more passion and I don’t know if I have it in me.
My husband and I have been together for sixteen years. And it wasn’t until last night that I realized that I am truly the dancing chicken in our relationship. My husband chooses how hot to turn the heat, and leaves me to dance.
Last night it was such a simple thing that change my whole image of this marriage. My husband had come into our room to give me a good night hug. I recoiled. I literally backed steps away from the idea; in many ways he saw it as a rejection. But what it was, was a lesson I have learned too many times.
For sixteen years my husband has been teaching me. I can’t count the number of times he has acted like he was going to give a hug, and instead he tickled me, goosed me on my ribs, or used me to warm his cold hands. This is pretty much the only time he hugs me. The rest of the time there is nothing. He rarely if ever gives comfort hugs, or hello/goodbye hugs. He doesn’t do it.
So if my only lesson in a hug represents a chance for my husband to get his sarcastic and mean fun off, why wouldn’t I be prepared to throw him off? Isn’t that what I have been trained to do.
The scary part is I look at my marriage and I realize that I am truly a dancing chicken. In so many ways in my marriage I am forced to react to verbal cruelty, double standards, sarcastic comments meant to be disrespectful, and still be forgiving and loving. I have to bring myself, and he gets to bring the heater.
I am so tired of this realization. I am tired of being the dancing chicken; but I wonder if I know how to even get off the heat. If this is my personality, my state of being, is the one you know better? Is there something other than fairy tales, or at least a story about a girl who would be happy just being kind?