I had a breakthrough the other week. At the market. No one else realized I had a breakthrough. It all looked completely ordinary. To the untrained eye, I conducted a business transaction with my go-to produce vendor. But to me? It was a giant leap.
I’ve been on a big green onion kick lately. Or scallions. Or chives. Whatever you call those things. (Here, they are cipollini fresca. Or maybe not. But that seems to work when I order them.) I’ve been throwing those suckers on everything. I feel like they make a ho-hum dish exciting, ya know?
So my market guy selects my scallions. We have a conversation about how much to chop off the top. I think I’m conveying that I want to keep “tutti”; he thinks I want to cut it all. You can see where this is going. My onions got a serious hair cut.
A quick aside though: does anyone do anything with the white part of the green onions? It it useful for anything? I always just use the stem parts and ditch the bulbs. Here, he thought I only wanted the bulbs? I mean, I guess I could plant them to grow more? But surely this is not a normal request. Right??
But this is where it gets good. Instead of thinking to myself oh, well, I guess I’ll grab some other onions later or I didn’t really need onions this week, I actually SAID something. In broken Italian, no less, I attempted to explain that wasn’t what I meant.
He got it. I just wanted him to pull the green part off the scrap heap. He gave me all new onions. Easy peasy.
*Insert Michael Bay mental explosion here*
See, I’m not great at this. We can’t even call this “standing up for myself” or “negotiating.” Here, this just means calmly, firmly talking about what you want.
I make excuses for myself.
If I get ignored at the bar, I’ll convince myself that I didn’t really want a cappuccino anyway.
I’ll try not to internally seethe when I get a table but secretly wanted another table but the waiter has no idea because I didn’t actually ask for the other table.
I could cite a million examples, all of them pathetic. I really do hope they seem pathetic to you. I hope that you are a strong, confident truth teller who is actually confused why on earth somebody wouldn’t speak up about these things.
But if you aren’t, then you’ll get why taking the next step–actually ASKING for something–is even harder.
I’ve been doing some solo parenting lately. Nothing too crazy. But days strung together with the adorable weirdos on my own.
It isn’t impossible. I feel lame even saying it is hard. It isn’t being a single parent or fighting cancer or having a spouse deployed or about a bazillion things that are much harder.
But I will concede that the days were long.
One of my favorite things about living here is the wonderful community. I’ve met some incredible people who would spot me cash, watch my kids so I could take a shower, or pick up something at the store. All at the drop of a hat. I know this because I would do it for any of them in a heartbeat.
I enjoy helping other people out. It makes me smile. Giving somebody a break helps pull me out of spinning around my own head. It actually helps me.
So why is it so hard to ask?
People are not mind readers. They don’t sit around trying to anticipate your needs. They want to help. But you have to ask.
I don’t know exactly why it is so hard.
Some of it is worrying about being a burden. Some of it is worrying that they’ll never ask you and then you just feel like a taker. Some of it could be because women find it harder to ask.
Some of it, for me apparently, is being so bad at communication that you aren’t even used to saying what you want, much less asking for it.
The kids have helped. Not directly. But it is easier to be an advocate for them than for myself. I’d also like to set an example of someone who isn’t afraid to speak up. Politely, of course. But speaking.
It’s a work in progress.
In the meantime, I’ll be working on expressing my needs, particularly on James’s next trip.
And enjoying green onions on EVERYTHING.