Something that I’m working on:
It has been brought to my attention that my desire to be a pleasant companion, and to make space for the foibles of others, can be interpreted as deceptive. This is a problem, since I do not wish to deceive anyone. I try to be straightforward… and kind. I also tend to be silent when perhaps I should speak. It’s so hard to know when to speak and when to be silent!
I always wanted to be a lady, growing up. And I emulated many of the mannerisms of my grandmother, who was a Southern lady. She was very often silent when she found something that vexed her that she didn’t feel right dealing with in full. Now, push her? Forget about it. You’d find out that that sweet voice covered stubbornness that wouldn’t shame a mule. But the ladylike restraint of self, covering with polite lies… You know, I really DON’T think her favorite piece of chicken was the back! But when everyone sat to dinner and that was the only bit left… guess what she ate? And made much of, too.
Old-school manners. You can read the same sort of thing in the Little House books, with Ma Ingalls. Even Pa Ingalls did it – when the winter of famine came, praising the “pure” taste of potato with nothing but salt to bring out the flavor. No one *really* thought that he wouldn’t rather have a proper meal or butter on his potato…
I think it’s just too old-school. That sort of thing used to be taken for granted as good manners, not truth. We’ll all put ourselves out of our comfort zones for the comfort of those around us, particularly our guests, and there’s a subtle game played where you always, always offer your best to those around you. Does anyone remember how rude it was to reach for the biggest piece of *anything*? And that you ignored poor behavior on the part of a guest unless it was extreme, only remembering not to invite them back? I’m not going to confront you because you displease me! I’m not in authority over you! You’ll lose my trust, or the pleasure of my company. If you regard those things lightly… well. I probably don’t want to associate with you.
Now people expect you to advocate for yourself. I don’t do that particularly well. I can set limits, but I strongly prefer to wallpaper my titanium backbone with plenty of marshmallow so the people around me are comfortable. Make no mistake, being covered in candy doesn’t mean that my backbone is made of caramel instead of metal! But how do I communicate this???
This really is the real me. The marshmallow is as “me” as is the titanium. I don’t like it when people around me are uncomfortable or angry or sad. I have a strong need to ameliorate those emotions. Asking me to cause them is asking quite a lot. I like to go deep with people. I like to know the real them. I find that making people comfortable rather than challenging them tends to set up a better environment to go deep. People tend to feel safe with me.
I’m an old-fashioned girl in a modern world – and I’m not speaking the same language.
(Bloglink to “How to be a lady” over at TC: http://traditionalchristianity.wordpress.com/2013/07/12/how-to-be-a-lady/)