Being Reminded

Hello, dear reader. How have you been? Well, I hope.

This past week has been difficult. On Wednesday when I was trying to be genuinely upbeat while helping someone on the phone I was told that I didn’t “have to use that tone of voice.” When I responded that this was just how my voice sounded, I was told, “You don’t have to speak to me in that high-pitched, 18-year-old tone of voice.” Do I need to say here that the caller sounded like they were probably a man, or did you just infer that your own?

Later that same day someone higher up the work food chain that I overheard me explaining foreclosure mediation to some particularly difficult clients. She interrupted my basic definition by saying to the clients, “Hi. I am an actual counselor here. I heard you talking about mediation and I didn’t want you to get any wr— …I wanted to make sure that all the information you got was correct.” Later that same day she called me over to her desk so that she could reassure me that I hadn’t done anything wrong.

The very next day I spent an hour and ten minutes listening to the condescending ramblings of a program director who shouted at me every time I did not answer a question the way she wanted.

All of this got me thinking again about the paths I choose. I choose the difficult paths. They are certainly not the only difficult ways to go, nor are they even the most difficult (if such a thing can be quantified). But, they are indeed difficult.

I married a person who was diagnosed with Asperger’s. He’s “high-functioning,” meaning that he can hide it most of the time from most of the world. I know that he loves me, but I also know that he loves things, and that a slight majority of the time I feel that he loves his things and himself more deeply and more loyally than he could love me.

I chose service-oriented, buffer jobs, in which my role is to act as a buffer between the clientele and the organization that employs me. It requires a disposition of patience, flexibility, and clear delineation of boundaries that does not come naturally to me.

I moved to a new place. I’ve given up potential community membership here three times. I’m in the process of giving up a fourth because none of them were right.

These choices feel like choices. The vast majority of the time they feel right. My responses feel like they are a choice I have to make. And the way people act towards me: those are choices too. I don’t get to forget who people think I am: some girl who shouldn’t be in any position of any power; some young, Asian woman who couldn’t possibly know anything about state or federal law, or disability rights or scholarship; a set of ears and a smile existing to make the listener feel important. I give out gifts of my time and energy all day, and I give them out knowing that they are the most precious things I have.

The life I’m trying to lead is exceptional. So I take jobs that feel foreign and give me opportunities to strengthen my weaknesses. I listen to my instincts and follow where they lead. And, on nights like tonight, where I feel tired and as if parts of me are being eaten away, I lean into that sensation and start to feel lighter and freer already.

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