“You aren’t going to meet a stranger from craigslist at his house. You aren’t. It’s not safe.” Mary tone is firm and insistent. She has her serious expression on. I can tell her sense of threat has been triggered and she won’t let this go until she feels everyone in the homepod is safe again (i.e. until I do what she wants).
I, for my part, have already made my decision. I feel myself settle deeper into my choice. I’m not available for negotiation. I am an unmoveable rock, rooted firmly in the earth and mud. “It’s not like that. I’m just going over to look at his lot of leatherworking supplies. He’s volunteered to show me how some of the handtools work. The guy seems fine via email. I’ll give you the address and contact you before and after.”
I know at this point it doesn’t matter what I say. Mary has detected a threat, and she will pursue the matter until her sense of threat has been resolved.
“Why can’t he just haul it in his car and meet you at the park and ride like a normal person?”
“It’s too big to be hauling around casually. The workspace is set up in his basement and I want to have a chunk of time to really look through the supplies without pressure. There’s a lot there.”
“It’s in his basement? Really? You definitely aren’t going.”
“Yes, I am. I already made the appointment. End of discussion.”
It goes on from there. This conflict isn’t because of my brain injury. In fact, it’s possible because I am slowly healing and becoming more like myself. I am (sometimes) able to remember and hold on to my own opinions, even in the face of anger or pressure. That is a gift.
For most of the past three years I haven’t had the energy or will to fight. Or we’d start fighting and I’d get confused and I wouldn’t remember what we were fighting about. Not fun. Sometime, having Mary angry or even unhappy felt so deeply threatening in my core, so wounding, that I would do anything to avoid it – including give in, give up, or let go of my own perspective and needs. As my brain heals, as my spirit and sense of self heal, I am sometimes able to stand up for myself and my perspective again. That feels good.
Yes, as Mary points out later in the argument, I would never meet a date for the first time at their house. That’d just be stupid. But, in very rare circumstances, I will meet someone from craigslist at their home. Sometimes alone. And that choice is not due to brain injury impairment, but my belief in my freedom.
Actually, freedom of movement is very important to me. I refuse to limit my movements just because I am female and a woman. I refuse to live in a prison of “safety”, when we all know that women are in much more danger from people they know than from strangers. I could go on about this a while, but it isn’t the purpose of my story. Just accept that my decision to meet the craigslist guy alone and go to his basement is completely me, and not my brain injury.
That said, I am aware I am much weaker, more vulnerable, more easily confused than I have ever been, because of my mTBIs. My focus, my awareness of things around me are spotty at best. My ability to anticipate others actions and perceive their intent has suffered. My physical strength has been undermined, and my aggressive spirit dimmed. So I understand Mary’s concern. And, I feel like I am together enough, at this moment in time, to be able to sense the guy’s energy and intent before entering his house. That I can trust my judgement and perceptions. That I can trust myself.
That’s another good feeling. The feeling of being able to trust myself. That is something that is slowly returning, too, as I heal.
But back to my story. The fight continued along a predictable path. I’m not budging. Mary’s not budging. But then she switches tactics. Instead of pushing the safety button, she started to poke the money button.
“Why spend so much money on a hobby you haven’t even tried? Doesn’t it make more sense to get cheap tools and supplies and try it before making such a big investment?” She says as she puruses the craigslist ad I had answered.
“I hate buying crappy tools. What they make now are cheap compared to the tools made 50 years ago. This guy is a lifetime leatherworker, so his tools are pretty amazing quality.” I say with conviction. I do hate wasting money on crappy tools; poor quality tools seem like a crime against nature.
Mary continues along the money vein for bit, and I listen. Why do I want to make a big investment in a hobby I haven’t even tried? I don’t have much money to spare. Spending it on one thing, that I might not even like, doesn’t make any sense.
And then I consider the last few weeks, since I got the leatherworking bug. My search for a local store, and then a search of books at the library. Craigslist, then amazon and ebay. So many choices. Everyone online has an opinion about what I should get, what I need. Dozens of tools for one simple craft.
Confusion quickly builds into being overwhelmed. What do I need again? Where’s the best place to buy? How much easier it is if I just get it all in one place, from someone who knows what they’re talking about. Only one decision instead of dozens or hundreds of decisions. One guy’s collection, ready to go.
And that’s how I made the decision to pursue a several hundred dollar craigslist ad. But really, as I reconsider it with Mary’s prompting, things came into a different focus. When I look at the bigger picture, the purchase doesn’t make any sense. It just doesn’t. So how about I don’t do it.
Mary seals the deal when she pulls up a leatherworking kit on ebay for $40. Yes, it seems to have most of what I need. Yah, the tool quality looks pretty sketchy, but they will work for a bit. How about I just do that, see if I like leatherworking, and go from there.
And that’s what I do. Thanks Mary.
It is so frustrating. To be so sure of something, and then realize my choice is full of holes. To find the foundation of my decision collapses at the first real challenge of logic. It is not the first time this has happened since my brain injury. Nor the 100th. And each time it is disheartening, each time it undermines my trust of myself.
At Mary’s prompting, I email the craigslist guy and cancelled my appointment. Not because I was nervous to see him alone. No. But because it made no frikkin sense for me to spend a bunch of money when I haven’t even tried the hobby. Word.
So, friends, I’m going to explore leatherworking. I’ll let you know how it goes. The last few weeks, I have felt compelled to make something tangible, something real. My hands ache to create, literally. I’ve spent months crocheting, and now it’s time for me to try something new.
And on I go. Learning. Making. Creating a whole new life for myself, one step at a time.