I am not your stereotypical female. I hate idle chit chat. I despise shopping for shopping’s sake. I am completely inept at accessorizing. Girly, romantic movies make me retch. And, the truth is that I suck at two roles traditionally associated with women: 1) taking care of others and 2) being aware of and concerned about other people’s feelings. Before you imagine that I am being overly unkind to myself, let me just openly admit than in the past few years two of my immediate family members (both female) blatantly called me out for these things. Sadly, I had to accept that they could not both be incorrect and that I must be somewhat uncaring and insensitive, albeit unintentionally so.
Steve and I have joked for years that in every friendship we share with another couple, instead of relating more to the wife, I normally think more like the husband. (Yes. That means Steve and I share the pants in the family.) Sad, but true. Despite being born physically and obviously female, I missed out on the sensitivity gene normally provided to women. I’d like to be sad about it and apologize, but I just don’t give a flying fig. And, this is how I know I’m not your stereotypical woman. I normally don’t obsess over feelings. In fact, I often don’t notice them. I often am puzzled when people are offended by things I do or say or don’t do or don’t say. Beyond that, I don’t care what others think of me. It matters not if anyone likes my outfit or thinks my chocolate cake is the best cake they’ve ever tasted (it is, by the way). If a family member or friend doesn’t speak to me for weeks, I don’t worry about what I might have done to offend them. I simply figure they’ve been too busy to contact me. Sometimes, my assumptions are wrong. Because I am (at least technically) female, other women occasionally take offense that I don’t recognize their cues and work to acknowledge their feelings. It’s been a problem for some of them.
Today I was talking on and off with both my sisters, one of whom is getting married and the other of whom is going through a divorce. They both have a lot on their plates right now, so I am consciously working toward being a more caring, sensitive person. It is not easy for me. Currently, in all my relationships, when someone is telling me something and my mind starts its trek to the usual LaLa Land it inhabits while filtering out information that doesn’t directly affect me, I direct it to pay attention, listen, and provide support. It’s an arduous endeavor for me.
While working on dinner tonight, I was shuffling around, barely functioning. I kept turning in circles trying to figure out what I was supposed to be working on. I would leave the room to collect something only to get where I was supposed to find it and not have a clue why I was even there. It went beyond the normal old-age, forget-my-head-if-it-wasn’t-attached mom confusion. Even Steve noticed it.
“Are you okay?” he asked. “You seem off.”
“I’m so tired. I talked to my sisters today.”
Steve, knowing how I am working to be a more competent, attentive listener, simply nodded his head.
“When I have to think about people’s feelings, I get exhausted,” I said, shrugging my shoulders.
I paused to consider that statement and then went back to cutting the stems off the broccoli because the males in my household only like the fluffy broccoli tree tops that hold all the sauce.
I’m working on being a better woman, on taking better care of others and considering people’s feelings. I don’t think I will ever be as caring and sensitive as some would like me to be, but at least I’m trying. I would also like to remind those who would like to see me change that everyone has something to offer. Sometimes insensitivity can be a good thing. If I weren’t as clueless and insensitive as I am, my family members’ comments to me about my perceived negative personality traits might have damaged our familial relationships. There’s something to be said for acting like a guy and not taking everything so personally. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go sit on the couch, drink a beer, and scratch myself.