Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Who Cares Most

Think about this statement:

In any relationship, the person who cares the least, has the most power.

In most relationships, power is an issue, especially with some people who depend on power to boost egos or reign over other people.

Do you really understand the statement above? If not, I'll try to explain it succinctly.

Two people in a room, say a dorm room. An agreement made before the union states that one person will do the dishes, the other will pick up trash and empty it into the dumpster.

The person who does dishes, is diligent and every day, walks around the small apartment, picks up all the dirty dishes and then washes, dries and puts them all away. The other person appears lazy and often waits 2-3 days before picking up the trash.

Dishwasher becomes angry at Trasher and one day yells at Trasher that his job is to pick up trash and he is trusted to do so in a timely manner. Later in the day, Dishwasher renews his anger at Trasher and yells some more as he walks around picking up the trash. He yells that this is the last time Dishwasher will do Trasher's job.

Think about this scenario for a minute. Go back up and re read it, if you'd like to.   ...   ...   ...

Okay, here it is. Trasher holds most of the power over Dishwasher. Dishwasher doesn't like it, and he continually tries to exert power over Trasher to get him to do the job he promised to do. Trasher cares the least about a clean apartment, so he doesn't mind the trash laying all over. When Dishwasher yells, Trasher doesn't care enough to pick up the trash. His apparent laziness is not lazy, it is his disinterest in the situation, which to Dishwasher is a big deal.

The big deal to Dishwasher shows he cares more about a [not having a] trashy apartment. So - the person who cares the least will have enough power over the other to spur the other into action and he will eventually clean the apartment himself. Trasher will be able to force Dishwasher into cleaning the apartment and he doesn't have to do anything, except not care.

I am the Dishwasher in nearly every relationship. It sucks.


Grace said...

This has left my brain spinning...so I'll have to come back later to read...
But in the situation when I called my therapist in the midst of a horrible flashback panic attack and she hung up on me because I was not able to "verbalize" what I needed ~ would that make her the diswasher or trasher?

Exhale said...

That's very cool and so true. I can totally relate. Thanks for sharing that!

Kerro said...

Ivory, being the Dishwasher really does suck. I'm sorry you feel in this situation. There are two comments I'd like to make:

1) the Dishwasher really needs to decide if the Trash is that important. Obviously with cleanliness, things are a bit different, but if, say, it was the person who squeezes the toothpaste in the middle of the tube, or something, then Dishwasher really needs to decide if Toothpaste Squeezing is really that important, and if it's worth going into battle over.

2) if the Dishwasher decides that Trash or Toothpaste Squeezing is fundamentally important, then they really need to communicate with Trasher and talk about the agreement you made and the impact it is having on you. Eg, "When you are the Trasher, we get rats and mice in the house and that's a risk to our health. I thought we agreed you would pick up the trash while I do the dishes? Is there something we can do so that you don't forget to pick up the trash?"

My therapist often says that telling people what I need is fundamental to my recovery, especially given my history. Perhaps this is one of those times for you as well?

(((hugs))) to you.

Michael Finley said...

Perhaps a step towards not being the dishwasher is knowing it sucks?

Ivory said...

Grace - I'm not sure which one she would be. Because this is about power and control, I think it would depend on how much you got upset when she hung up. If you didn't care, then you have the power. If you cared a great deal, then she has the power.

Exhale - You're welcome. It is a bit difficult to 'get' but makes a lot of sense.

Kerro - I don't have any problem verbalizing (my T said just last Monday, "Yes, I can tell you're a writer, you always fill in all the spaces [when i'm telling him about an issue]. Anyway, I once thot that if my husband knew what I wanted/how I felt, he would not be so callous - didn't work. He didn't care - that gave him all the power, because I did care.

Michael - We think alike. I believe that being aware is the beginning. I actually learned this in a Psych of Prejudice class - not from my therapist. I've been trying to 'not care' about a lot of things, but I still do care. I'm not good at being a butt-head and not caring.

Ethereal Highway said...

Trasher will only have this power until dishwasher gets so fed up that he kicks his lazy butt out and gets a new roommate.

Ivory said...

Ethereal Highway - SO TRUE! So true.

Kate said...

Hi Ivory,

Me too. Slowly as I heal I have been learning that I am important enough and that I love myself enough, that my close healing friends love me, and so I don't need to give myself away to be loved and cared about and be with others. It took a long time, but I have come a long way. I see that you have come a long way as well. I'm sorry that you are dealing with this.

You are a wonderful person and deserve so much more than this. Good and healing thoughts to you.