I am an Adult

To pass the time in lockdown I’ve embarked on a garden project I’ve wanted done for years.  It’s not easy due to my health, and I can only do a tiny bit at a time, but I know that when it’s finished I’ll feel a massive sense of achievement and pride.

It’s been difficult to source the materials I need due to the pandemic, but I managed to get a delivery last week.  I wasn’t going to be in, so advised them to leave it by the side of the house in the driveway which they did.

When I came home in the afternoon the materials were nowhere to be seen.  I knew they’d been delivered, so knocked on my neighbour’s door to ask if he’d seen them.  “Oh, yes, I moved them to your car port – I was worried they’d be pinched”.  Hmmm.  Like I hadn’t given any thought to the safety of materials I’d spent £100 on, and concluded no-one would take them in broad daylight, in a tiny village, surrounded by neighbours all out in their gardens for the 4 hours I was going to be out of the house?!   I told him it was kind of him, just to keep the peace.

Most of the project I can manage on my own, but I did need another person to hold a piece of wood for me for 5 minutes while I secured the other end so I asked the same neighbour to lend a quick hand.

As we worked he asked me about the project and what I was going to do next, then for reasons I can’t work out he decided I needed his ‘help’.  He proceeded to tell me how to complete the project, like I hadn’t given it months of very careful thought, and despite the fact he’d only thought about it for twenty seconds and his idea actually wouldn’t work.

He then picked up all the tools and materials I was using without a seconds thought, in the middle of a highly infectious pandemic, and started taking over.  This took on added significance when the very next day I was told his daughter was being tested for Covid-19 after developing shortness of breath, and while he doesn’t live with her he’d been to her house 2 days previously because she lives on a farm and needed help.  FFS.

I told him three times “thanks, but I can manage” but he simply ignored me.  I then said “I need to stop now as I’m exhausted” so he said “well, you go inside and I’ll just carry on with this”.  NOOO!!!!  FUCK OFF!  Why aren’t you listening to me?!  So I try one more time “Leave it for now please.  I know it’s going to take me longer than it would take you but that’s OK, I’m not in a rush”.

Now, every time I go anywhere near my garden to start on the project he comes out, unbidden, to ‘help’ and I have to keep reminding him that “I can manage”.  It’s stressing me out.  He constantly tells me how I should be doing things like I’m an inept child and despite the fact that he’s the biggest bodge-it merchant going.  He owned the cottage I live in and the DIY horrors I found in here are legendary, including a live electrical wire shoved behind wallpaper on the chimney breast and damp covered up with kitchen foil, which turned out to be from a leaking underground sewer pipe.

He’s now telling all the neighbours “we” are doing the project and in the process completely robbing me of any sense of achievement.  It was such a big deal to me to do this thing I’ve thought about since I moved here 16 years ago and now he’s making out it’s a joint venture (with him at the helm, obviously).  I want to strangle him.

I told my elderly, disabled friend I was doing the project and he immediately went into parent mode.  “It’s too much”.  “You need to be careful.”  “Don’t overdo it.”  were his first words, and while I appreciate his concern I don’t need anyone to tell me how to take care of my health.  I’ve been doing it for 30 years and know more about managing my condition, and what I can and can’t do, than anyone on the fucking planet.

Next he tells me “I’m worried.  I think I should come and keep an eye on you” even though he is nearly 80, so disabled he can barely walk or stand and so muddled he doesn’t know what day of the week it is.  I’d end up looking after him as usual and getting absolutely nothing done.

I politely declined his offer of ‘help’ but he went on and on and eventually I had to put my foot down.  I said “As a 52 year old grown woman, who’s lived on her own for 30 years, I wonder how I’ve managed to not seriously injure or kill myself when doing jobs around the home? Might it be that I have at least have half a brain cell with which to make decisions about my own safety?!” which was rude I know, but seriously the man wasn’t taking any notice of the polite “thanks but no thanks”.  He did have the good grace to apologize.

Men constantly want to control me.  I try really hard to set boundaries but they simply ignore them and do what they think is best for me.  It drives me insane, not least because I’m the most savvy, practical, self-sufficient person I know (my best mate aside) and have survived a life they can only imagine in their nightmares.

I don’t need to be babied, especially as I’m in my fifties and have very successfully lived on my own since I was 22.  It’s absolutely exhausting to have to keep wrestling back control in my interactions with men and to constantly battle their dominance.   Why do they all insist on treating me like I’m a child? I’m not a wallflower.  I’m confident and clearly not stupid.  I don’t get what this parenting of me is all about, not least because both my parents are still alive and kicking.  I don’t need to be ‘looked after’, having looked after myself for my entire adult life.

I can’t win in my interactions with them either.  If I’m polite they ignore me, if I’m forceful they get offended or tell me I’m a narky bitch!

This has been happening to me my entire life.  Last year I went to the petrol station to buy a ticket for the car wash.  It wasn’t working, so I walked back to the car.  A man followed me, who I didn’t know from Adam, stuck his head through my car window and proceeded to tell me how to wash my vehicle.  “You shouldn’t be using the car wash anyway” he profers “it scratches it.  You should be using the pressure washer with the soft brush.”  Would he have walked up to a strange man at the petrol station, stuck his head through his window and told him how to wash his car?  No he fucking would not!  And I can’t use the sodding pressure washer on account of the fact I’m not well enough – not that I told him that because it was none of his sodding business.

If I need help or advice, which we all occasionally do, I will ASK for it and if I don’t ask it’s because I don’t need or want it.

 

 

 

 

8 thoughts on “I am an Adult

  1. Jan Groh

    I’ve had a very similar experience of being patronized and infantilized my whole life. And still do at 53, when it’s getting well nigh tedious. I needed a mom and dad 50 years ago… not now. Some people just have very poor boundaries, and also lack respect for us. Don’t know if this will ever change. Good luck.

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    1. Jak Post author

      In their mind they are just being helpful, but they wouldn’t think to ‘help’ a man in the same situation because they have been conditioned to think that women are feckless when it comes to perceived “male” pursuits. And some of them are, but then so are some men! I’ve always been able to do DIY better than any man I’ve ever met 😉

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  2. Lindsay

    Fucking mansplainers – they explain everything to women because they can’t comprehend that a woman could actually know how to do something. Or want to figure it out on her own. I imagine it stems from some patronizing belief that women are less capable when it comes to working with our hands (or anything, really). I’d like to say they learn once we prove ourselves, but….they don’t.

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  3. sarah002685

    Oh sorry but thank god it’s not just me! My recent encounter was with my pensioner neighbour used to bullying women into getting his own way
    I have a very large garden. At the bottom is a greenhouse and a shed and he lives on another road at a 90 degree angle
    He was annoyed there were weeds coming through the fence and because he had come round last summer aggressively I might add, I said I would try to sort it out. I explained my medical history and financial situation when he suggested I get a gardener. In disability benefits and a mortgage, how exactly?
    Anyway I only manage to cut some stuff off at the base because I had 3 fractured bones in my foot. That was not a reason for him to why I hadn’t done it! I should pay for someone else to do it. To be fair, it’s not overrun as the foxes have been digging there. Not a good idea to go there with the holes they’ve dug and a foot that fractures without trauma
    Years previously he badgered me to get the hedge cur down which killed it. It was a joint effort with my friend telling me I needed to do this. I didn’t want to cut it down! I lost my privacy
    Well, that encounter landed me in hospital that night as I’d been suffering with stomach pains and I had internal bleeding which the stress made it worse
    I’m in the shielded group. I’m not allowed within 2 metres of my boundary anyway
    So when I can, that hedge is going back. He was trying to get me to pay for a new fence. Nice try, I told him. I’ve lived here over 20 years and he’s never even repaired it!
    Sorry to rant, but being on my own I’m now nervous to go down the end of the garden where I hang my washing out
    He also bullied my direct neighbours to take down his Laurel. That laurel had dropped loads of seeds on my side, so now I have loads if plants to grow my hedge and ironically for him now, I have a large plant in the exact same spot as my neighbours one he cut down but in my garden
    Now if he’d just been nice and offered help…… Paybacks a b***h!

    With your situation, I totally get it. Being disabled just means it takes longer to do something and sometimes we need help, but it doesn’t mean we don’t know how to do things. Taking over a project is like someone sitting next to you and doing your jigsaw….just not on!

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    1. sarah002685

      Also, he said he was going to call environmental health…..for weeds?! No, he was suggesting I had rats. I don’t, there’s no evidence and I have cats in my garage and neighbours cats who are kicked out all day in all weather using my greenhouse! He made me feel like I’m dirty, unhygienic. Awful man
      Luckily the same friend who cut down the hedge is a solicitor so I told him I would give her a call. I’ve not heard from the environmental health at all! No surprise there then! What a bully. What tactics a man will stoop to when he comes across a woman he CAN’T control
      My main problem has been my other neighbours left part if their garden to weeds and brambles which have constantly run into my garden. With this lockdown, he has cleared it all and sown grass seed so hopefully my never ending battle is over. But they have ruined my fencing, the difference is I didn’t have a go at him and expect him to pay. I’m just relieved but I might ask him to help put the new fencing in
      Sorry to go on. I’m not in a good place. I lost one of my furries 2 days ago

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