Friday, March 16, 2018

Knowing No - A Response

Coyote has an interesting post here:

What is "knowing" no?

It got me thinking about something that happened recently. Dad asked me to do a chore that I really wasn't feeling up to doing, and I hesitated. Mom chimed in with "you can always say no." I immediately said no.

And then I decided to explain to Mom how the phrase "you can always say no" did not feel like an accurate phrase when Dad is asking me for chores. How, very often, I feel like saying no to doing a chore is not a safe option for me.

Housework not being done seems to trigger my Dad's depression a lot. He has relatively high standards for cleanliness - I don't know how he compares to the average, but his standards are definitely higher than mine or my brother's, and maybe higher than my Mom. And the idea that he is helpless to get and keep our household at his standard of cleanliness triggers feelings of despair and resentment in him that I really don't understand.

He also frequently expresses the feeling that he's not getting enough/any help keeping the house. Even when my parents were living together, and Mom probably did about an equal amount of cleaning to him, he would complain about not getting help cleaning. I remember arguments about it, because Mom would get offended that he was discounting the work she'd done.

So, when he asks me for help with a chore, I never know if a refusal will be fine or if it'll set him off. When I help, I don't know if my efforts will be recognized, or if he won't notice, or if he'll start complaining about something else. He also seems to vacillate between remembering that I'm autistic and having realistic expectations, or randomly assuming that my lack of cleaning is because I'm deliberately trying to force him to live in a pigsty. And periodically, he'll just start ranting about it, with no real warning.

Meanwhile, when I stay at Mom's place, my efforts get more consistent results. If she asks me to do something, I can give an honest assessment of my likelihood of being able to do it. If I forget to do it, she accepts that without much emotion. If I do it, she might not notice, but if she does, she'll definitely be happy about it. And she basically never gets into random tirades about how the house is a pigsty and she feels like just giving up.

So there's an example of what 'not knowing I can say no' feels like.

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