Although I have always been one of these infamously lazy individuals, I think our epidemic has made me even lazier.
Once, I was lying on the sofa, didn't really feel like moving, and the television remote was nowhere to be found. "Arrgghhh," I carped. "I know the TV is only 2 feet away, but I'm simply too lazy to reach over and turn it on."
"I'll turn it on for you," my boyfriend offered.
Although I felt an inner thrill of smugness at how much I have honed my womanly wiles in getting any man to do whatever I want, I felt a little guilty about it later.
"That was actually quite Dr. Evil of me. You're such a nice guy, to put up with my shenanigans."
"But nice guys finish last, don't they?"
"Well, I'm a bad girl and I always finish last."
"Very funny," he said sardonically.
Maybe the social distancing thing has also made us a little loopy. Being in his 20's, my man is invariably still in party mode, but isolation never bothered me much, as I always have been something of a hermit crab anyway. The only folks I ever really hang with are just my guy and a few of our closest friends, and now being indoors a lot has forced us to be mainly with each other, which might be making us kinda delusional. Especially when we play video games with boxing or wrestling themes.
"You really are quite undisputedly this century's pro-wrestling champion," he said as he watched me kick virtual ass, in genuine awe, as if this were actually true in reality.
"If it's so undisputed then what's the fightin' all about," I muttered; he grunted a humorless laugh.
One of the things I do miss the most is riding on the back of my bf's Harley with him. There is something about the wind in your hair that can be a real stress reliever. Face masks pretty much take the fun out of it now; but we have been making the best of our newly regimented quarantine glow-up. My guy really knows how to take care of himself; in my mind, he has always been the hottest hunk in the world, but lately it seems he has been getting even hotter; who'da thunk a global pandemic would actually make us both healthier.
At first, my beau had a difficult time not being able to chill with his post-college-aged drinking buddies; although he's cool with it now, our quality time together really has revealed to us who our real friends are...and aren't.
Dodging Religious Evangelizers
One day, I donned one of my face masks (well, more like a scary-looking ski mask that criminals wear) and told my bf in my most formidable voice, "That does it. I am taking a step out of my comfort zone here. I am going to go out and take a walk on Venice Beach, shoot a few hoops, catch up with some old amigos, and maybe even rob a bank or 2 while I'm at it...HA, HA, HA!"
"Have fun," he said.
Of course, I really tried on the scary mask just to try to keep some people I want nothing more to do with from recognizing me. And to see how many people I can freak out, I guess. Plus, I figure it doesn't hurt to further hone my Darth Vader impersonations either.
"Hi, Rosana!" one of my ex-Jehovah's Witness cronies shouted to me, brandishing the latest Watchtower magazine as soon as I stepped out the door.
"Auuughhhhhhh!" I screamed, taking a cowardly dive back into the house, slamming the door shut, then locking, bolting, and hyperventilating against it. "Well, maybe next time," I said, as my guy fed our cat. "Boy, it certainly is hard to breathe through this thing." I ripped off the prank robber's mask. "How do serial burglars put up with this crap?"
"How did that J-Dub recognize you?" my dude asked, baffled.
"I dunno, they already know I'm a silly mofo anyway...oh, and there's the fact that they know I live here."
"Yup, that could be a major contributing factor."
It's not only Co-Vid that has made me a bit agoraphobic. As a recovering Jehovah's Witness, I am grateful for the new laws that have protected me from unwanted encounters with shady religionists.
To be fair, I know not all JW's are toxic—many in the organization have in fact been victimized by fellow members—but in my experience, many are.
There was one ex-J-Dub associate I had in particular who I found incredibly domineering under the guise of "love". Another would frequently and viciously scream at me and insult me in the presence of 15 others while catching me already visibly in a low mood and while her elder husband stood and watched. I could go on and on, but the fact that none of 'em lent me any practical aid when I was on the brink of homelessness and while I was prosecuting my dangerously violent ex after he literally almost killed me stands out in my memory...to speak nothing of the numerous lawsuits against their lewd assaults of children and other widely known scandals. I might touch more on these things in a future article, but for now, I will address the callous, uncaring natures of the ones who violated my trust in ways somewhat less heinous, if not less significant, than in the examples I mentioned.
The following videos bring out these issues, but I might need to warn you that the content might be a bit upsetting for the kiddies or for more sensitive viewers, so use discretion when necessary.
I guess I should first make clear that I would never oblige anyone to give an eff about me, and I understand that even the most loyal friends can be limited in what they can do to be of assistance to someone who is struggling. In many cases, it is not that some folks do not want to be helpful, more so that they are in over their heads with their own problems and genuinely can't.
There are some who might fail to follow through on important appointments, promises, commitments etc., because they have memory disorders they can't control. Think about saying, "How dare you forget" to someone you live with with who might be diagnosed with Alzheimers.
These are not the individuals I am referring to, but the ones who tell you stuff like "I love you like my child/enough to die for you" and yet whose actions never seem to support their words; or who even after you tell them, "I really need to know I can count on you for this favor, because it's almost a life-or-death matter, if you can't or don't want to I respect that but just need to know if I should move on to someone else for help or not," they still say yes and yet still cancel at the last minute, leaving you in deep doggy doo.
I went through this sort of thing repeatedly, and even worse, in my former religion (now a euphemism for "sect" in much of ex-JW jargon, I'm sure.) The JW lady who conducted the individual Bible study with me, (which translates into, stuck with it halfway with me before I ended up finishing it myself), seemed to "remember" her religious obligations to me, only when it was comfortable and convenient for her.
My former Kingdom Hall congregation knew I was dealing with an abusive ex and had no family or anyone else who cared for me, but the Hall essentially deserted me in favor of members whose problems appeared easier to deal with. Any assistance they did provide me was surface level and perfunctory at best. In the end, I felt deceived by all of 'em.
Although I myself try my best to be a loyal, reliable friend to others, I can't remain in anything in which everything is give on my part and take on theirs. If they are showing no signs of wanting to be of any help in return, or of ever wanting to help themselves, this is where I draw a line.
Sayings like "I forgot" and "I got busy" might be legit if there really are extenuating issues involved, but in some instances, this also means, "You are not a priority to me. You are an option. I would rather be chillin' on the couch watching the NBA play-offs. Step outta my way, Biznitch."
Babe, this ain't a friend, this is an acquaintance.
Not that there's anything wrong with casual, superficial friendships if you're into that sort of thing, it's just that if a person is repeatedly playing and even exploiting you, it's best to move on. I often find I am better off with no friends than fake ones.
Go with your gut. If anything feels abusive, it probably is.
Why Abusers Often Don't Acknowledge Their Own Behavior Nor Apologize
Drawing on the examples of the JW frenemies I mentioned, I noticed a recurring pattern to their tactics. After doing something abusive to me, some would pretend the abuse never happened, or say it was some type of an accident, or mistake. Or, they would shower me with small gifts then expect or demand an immediate thank you. Abusers often pay off their victims as an effective way of silencing them. (They ain't slick...not with me.)
When I refused to hand over narcissistic fuel, they still failed to apologize, but instead doubled down on their hubris with even more manipulative bullying. In their obstinate efforts to project their issues onto me, I had even my very housing endangered....and finally threatened them with the police.
This behavior is passive-aggressive and often used by narcissists; it's how they try to control victims. Churches are frequently rife with abusers and enablers. The focus inclines more towards image than Christ-like humility and love.
I noticed these folks regularly used these methods to attempt to con me into forgiving them without their giving me an actual, direct apology; I think the reason they habitually avoided openly verbalizing that they were sorry was because doing so would be an admission of their wrongdoing, and any evidence of that admission would incriminate themselves and thereby cause them to lose whatever status or privileges they had...maybe even get them disfellowshipped, or in other deep horse manure.
Abusers, as most may know, are master manipulators. They effusively "apologize" after their chosen abuse, be it emotional, physical, financial, or otherwise by inundating you with material gifts, suddenly becoming an amazing partner for a few days/weeks/months, lulling you into believing they changed. A sincere, heartfelt apology costs no money...but I wouldn't hold my breath waiting for one.
Usually, those who allow others to abuse them have low self-esteem or might even believe they deserve the abuse.
One of the main reasons that abusers don't own up to their behavior is because they want to keep the person around. They try to keep the fantasy alive with small gestures and favors as a way of normalizing their ridiculousness.
The most prominent reason narcissists won't admit to their wrongdoing is that it is incredibly difficult for them to fess up to being wrong (duh). While it is human nature to hate to admit to one's own faults, it appears especially exaggerated in abusers, who tend to believe they are superior to everyone else and have no need to change. They can't face any consequences, or even themselves. I find the ones who justify their own cruelty the most dangerous; I don't know if they even understand that in constantly masking over their transgressions, they only hurt themselves in the long run.
Getting back to "Sorry, I'm just forgetful", I find that what makes or breaks a relationship is the presence of excuses, whether yours or theirs.
In the worst of scenarios, where you find yourself constantly denying/rationalizing/minimizing, you might be making excuses for their excuses, which proves how poor the original excuse was.
Just as on the other side of a jumped boundary lies disrespect, on the other side of an excuse often lies not only some element of disrespect, but also the real reason.
An excuse is a reason given to justify an offense or fault, but its primary purpose is to lessen responsibility by getting you to overlook, excuse, or even forgive off the back of it.
This strategy is quite sketchy because wherein lies an excuse lies the lack of commitment, which makes everything tied to it pretty flimsy. Without knowing it, you might be glossing over stuff that are busting up your boundaries.
Folks often get "reasons" and "excuses" mixed up because there appears to be some crossover. Excuses allow people to remain in their uncomfortable comfort zones, dodge conflict by avoiding honesty both with others and themselves, deflect accountability, and cast themselves in a better light.
"I'm extremely busy" gives the impression that you're so busy, (you know, busier than a world leader), that you haven't had the time to contact or see someone whereas "I'm not interested/am half-hearted/have been trying to get back with an old flame" will position you to say something most squirm at and potentially invite "conflict" but if you're the type who likes to hedge your bets, you may want to keep them as an option. If nothing else, you might hope they'll take the hint and do your job for you and at the worst of times, you may hope the excuse allows you to avail of their "usefulness".
Excuses are innately negative whereas stuff happens daily that are positive with real reasons behind them. This is what a reason is, a cause or explanation, and, yes, sometimes a justification for something happening.
A reason does not trivialize accountability nor even serve as a precursor to being pardoned or forgiven; I find that what separates a reason from an excuse is that when someone provides a reason for why something has or hasn't happened, a solution is in the offing.
People who make excuses aren't really looking to make sh*t happen or find a solution you can both live with, or to even rectify or make amends. Excuses aren't actual reasons; they are BS ones.
Understanding the Language of Frenemies
When someone gets on your case about accepting their apology, or forgiving them, it really means:
"Look, can you hurry the eff up and get over it so I can stop feeling bad? You perceiving me as wronging, hurting, abusing, is horribly inconvenient and my ego doesn't like the pinch of reality, so get a shuffle-on so I can slam my hand down on the Reset button."
"Let's move on from this so I can get my shag/ego stroke/shoulder to lean on/money/perfect image back. You calling me out is setting off my responsibility alarm bells which is setting off my reality alarm bells, which is setting off my commitment, expectation and intimacy alarm bells. The sooner I'm excused, the sooner I can get back to what I always do."
Or: "Can you get off my back because I'm offering up this feeble rationale for what I've said/done, failed to say/do because the real reason won't sound great when said out loud and may invite conflict, plus if I gave you the real reason it would position me to actually do something."
Or: "Please reduce your expectations of me and this relationship immediately."
Or: "Look, we both know what's happening here but if you want to go along with this charade, I'll throw you an excuse and see how much more of a free ride I can get."
Sometimes, they really mean, "Wow, you just refuse to see what's really crack-a-lackin', huh? Can't you see I ain't sh*t? Can't you see I ain't putting the time and effort here? Well, I won't be real with you because I don't want to look like the bad guy here. So once again, I'll palm you off with this lame excuse in the hopes that you take the hint. And if you don't, well, it would be almost rude not to avail of what's on offer."
Usually, it's literally: "I can't be assed into putting some real effort into a real reason."
Behind every excuse is the real reason.
Much of it boils down to "I don't want to try". What really matters is that we don't clog our lives up with excuses whether it's ours or theirs. This will only make us people of inaction who don't make decisions. Excuses, especially when we buy into them, make things appear more complicated than they are.
Taking Real Action
One day, while flopped on the sofa watching cartoons, I found myself in another dilemma. A commercial had come on, and the remote was more than 3 feet away. "Maybe the DVD remote will bring it back to me," I said, aiming it at the TV remote. It refused to work.
"You can probably make it move using your mind if you try really hard," my would-be husband suggested. "Or, maybe I can..."
"No!" I insisted. "I have to do this myself."
It was a good thing I have been cursed, I mean, blessed, with these absurdly long limbs because after enough stretching, reaching, grunting, cussing, and blaming everyone except myself for my own rotten luck, I managed to knock the remote off the TV stand with my fingertips and then used a pen to inch it back towards me.
"Yesss!" I cheered, waving around the remote in triumph. "It was more than a whole arm's-length away, but by golly, I did it! And without ever leaving the c...whoooaaaaa!" I yelped as I nearly fell off the edge of the coach doing my lazy victory dance, then somehow managed to right myself.
"See, Rose? I knew you could accomplish anything you want if you set your mind to it."
"Yeah, but I almost bit the dust there for a second."
So this close call taught me a valuable life lesson: action good, no action bad. The next time you are presented with an excuse, whether yours or the other guy's, a good question to ask yourself is, "What does this really mean?" or "What happens next?"
If Mr./Ms. Flakey tells you for the upteenth time, "I'm not ready for a real relationship", the most honest, obvious response might be, "You clearly have no time for a relationship which means this 'relationship' is over."
That's the inherent meaning behind their words and that's what happens next when others repeatedly excuse themselves for not having the time, energy, decency or even ability to evolve into a co-pilot in a relationship.
I'm being real in telling you that when others are looking to maintain the status quo and are continually palming you off with excuses, no solutions are on the horizon; after all, if they are the ones making the excuses, they need to be part of the solution, which means responsibility for them in the relationship, which means that their excuses are redundant.
You'll know you are in a healthy relationship when you don't have to listen to excuses or make them. Instead of accepting excuses, start accepting the reasons. Although for a long time I avoided men before I could trust again, and had to weed through plenty of baddies to get to the stand-up stud I have now, he was certainly well worth the wait.
No TV remotes were harmed during the production of this article.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2021 Rosana Clarkson