I tried to never ask for anything -- school supplies, personal hygiene items, ANYthing -- because my uncle's wife always made it clear that having to make those purchases was inconvenient and a burden for her. I definitely learned never to ask for anything by brand name, because if I were to specify a certain shampoo or toothpaste, she'd make it a point to buy something entirely different. To this date, I detest both Prell® and Crest® , having been forced to use them for years.
Similarly, I didn't ask for help with personal matters, because I knew she really had no interest in helping me, and I certainly didn't want to talk to her. Still, I did ask for advice once, when I was invited to a boy/girl party by one of my high school classmates. I was incredibly ambivalent. On the one hand I wanted to go, to be with other kids, to -- at least for one night -- pretend that I "fit in." On the other hand I was terrified -- that the kids wouldn't like me, that I'd make a fool of myself, that no one would talk to me.
I decided to ask my uncle's wife, thinking perhaps she'd offer a compassionate ear and words of wisdom to help guide my decision. The thought of asking for help was scary, almost as scary as the party, itself.
But I gathered my courage and went into the kitchen where she was in her usual spot at the table, playing her usual game of Solitaire. I sat across from her at the table, red-faced and nervous, and stammered out my question: "I've been invited to go to a party and I'm not sure I want to go. What should I do?"
I had imagined her listening to me and then asking insightful questions to help me make a decision. Instead, without even looking up from the cards, she gave me a terse response:
|She sat at the kitchen table, every day, playing Solitaire.|
"Just tell them your mother says you can't go."
I waited, but when no other words were forthcoming, I stood up and quietly slunk back to my room, no more certain than before of what to do.