Thursday, March 26, 2009

Beholden-ness

I was in the bathroom washing my hands when the woman stormed in, rushed into a stall, did her business, and came back out (yes, it takes me that long to wash my hands). The whole time, she was talking on the phone in her lilting Trini accent... something about a 'he' who was taking advantage of a situation, asking for some annoying curse-word-curse-word favours. When she came to wash her hands, or rather, to let the water run full force on them for two seconds, I could hear more clearly what she was saying:
"is a damn shame when you don't have your own things to be able to do things for yourself without having to depend on anybody for anything and put up with people foolishness..."
Then she whooshed out, leaving a slowly dying breeze and a flopping curtain above the window (I lie. No flying curtains. If it was a movie, though, that would have been the mood). For all I know, she could have been a divine messenger from above with that statement. Oh how well I can relate!

Beholden-ness. That wicked noose that traps and slowly suffocates; draining the last vestiges of life from an already tired body. Beholden-ness. It sucks! Too many people in this world already think I owe them this magnanimous debt of gratitude and whatever-the-hell-else. Don't get me wrong. I'm not ungrateful. I'm just tired of compulsory gratefulness (mind you, I could be ungrateful now, but that would hurt me a whole lot more than it would hurt my not-always-so-pleasant benefactors). And alas! I know that bills and rent and providing for yourself isn't all it's cracked up to be, but neither is this wretched state of 'beholden-ness'...

So when that woman stepped into the bathroom breathing fire and brimstone for this stupid man, I could feel the defiance and indignation boiling...

Hasten the day when I achieve the honourable degree and acquire or create (whichever comes first) the ideal, prestigious, well-paying job. Then I can go live however and wherever my heart desires (or can afford to desire, lol) and assert autonomy from all undesirable external entities. And what's more? I can even become a benefactor to my benefactors for a change...

Independence calleth... *sigh* ...I hear it so clearly!

21 comments:

Ruthibelle said...

this is NOT a fad either!

Will said...

girl i can totally relate... like... totally...

i won't go into any details, suffice it to say that - due to financial constraints - i never really felt completely independent till i was 30... seriously...

i owe my father more money than i could ever hope to repay... and no - i don't think it was his duty as my parent to pay for my entire education - maybe everything up to a first degree, but nothing after that... and he has paid for it all... every scrap of knowledge in my head i owe to my father on some level...

ok... so much for not going into detail... hehehe...

this was mildly cathartic and more than a little bit too ruminative for my tastes... i'm going to watch mindless american sitcoms to bring myself back to my usual shallow state of being... ;-)

Long said...

Ayh sah. I am one of those people who believes that parents should provide the best education they can afford for their children - even past first degree an what not, and should be available for their children whenever they are needed. But those parents must also have figured out how to communicate to their children the importance of being independent and that they are acting out of love, without making their children feel beholden to them. That feeling of "beholden'ness" is a nasty one. My stomach is clenching as I write this. I grew up watching people tek it an cuss others, and mek dem feel small. For me, that feeling is evoked, it nuh jus' appen so. It doesn't just come from knowing that someone else has helped and continues to sustain you. It comes from the sense - knowledge even - that THEY are acutely aware of the situation and are likely to remind you at times to show that they are really the ones responsible for your successes (never the failures, you notice?) and to remind you that you OWE them. I hate beholden'ness. Beholden-ness is often about the other person. You are worth whatever has been invested and then some. I feel for you.

Cool Destiny said...

I am beholden to no one. As an only child, I know my parents would do anything for me, but they raised me to be too independent to even ask unless I really needed to. Like, when I was going into the hospital the other day, I needed $$ for deposit, and after being in and out of hospital for weeks, all my savings had been depleted (woe the cost of good health care) ... long and short, my dad gave me 1/2 of the deposit money 3 weeks ago, and he received this money back this week ... Independence is a wonderful thing.

Ruthibelle said...

@Will: I know I owe my parents (I believe that everything they give me post-18 is benevolence and as soon as I can, I want to pay them back for all their wonderful goodness), but they never make me feel any kind of beholden-ness... they're awesome when it comes to giving their very last for their kids, so I feel nothing but love for them.

It's all the other people that get to me. I don't think soem benefactors intentionally try to make dependents feel any way, but there's a certain friction that comes from knowing someone depends on you, or from knowing you depend on someone... signs of 'gratefulness' can get interpreted as 'kissing-le-derriere' or 'sucking-up'...

@CD: That's awesome!!

Ruthibelle said...

@Long: I know what you mean!! I have tons of 'aunties' and 'uncles' and some veeery distant cousins who all claim a stake in my successes... I've been luckly enough to never have anything go majorly wrong, so I've never had them disown me or distance themselves from me, but, lord ha mercy, I can just imagine what would transpire if that ever happened!

It's like Jamaica and their athletes... all the males become 'our boys' and all the females become 'our girls', lol.

I aghree that beholden-ness is a feeling that is evoked. And that yes it does come from condescension... but sometimes the recipient can feel a certain amount of discomfort from being in a position of need at all. It's a humbling experience, and human instinct is to defend our 'pride'...

Rae said...

Hehee. Another great read :)

Ruthibelle said...

Thanx Rae!

Lori said...

That's why with this marriage, we kept our finances separate. I write a check every month for my share of the bills. We are a partnership, but we are also independent of each other.

I owe my parents everything, and they can have it. :) But I had to find my SELF before I could give back. I owe my children a good upbringing. I owe my husband my respect. Beyond that, everyone can stand in line! LOL

Ruthibelle said...

lol, Lori! I heard that!

longbench said...

I'm with you Lori, except that, in the strictest of terms, I don't believe I owe my mother or the people who helped raise me anything (in terms of the "payback" - the gifts, the whatever). They did what they did, and if they are halfway decent people, they shouldn't be expecting me to pay them back anyway. Me an dat obligation ting nuh fren atall tall.

But, I do pay them back handsomely by living a decent, honest life i.e. being equally generous to others as they had been with me, and by making my values explicit in my relations with others. I show my gratitude that way, and yes, when the time calls for it, I do say thanks for believing and investing in me from I was a tot; but that was also their job to do, and they did it well; I'm making them look damn good too! Now its time to do what I have to do; no regrets, no obligations, no guilt.

I grew up in a working-class family; we knew and understood everyday that our ability to do what we wanted always depended on somebody else's willingness to do the right thing. If too many somebodies didn't pay dem rent, no big meat no deh fi sunday dinner, and only lunch money, no matinee, you get me? My grandmother's goal was that each successive generation would be less dependent on, and more able to dictate the terms on which they lived. (That's why I hate Butch Stewart; he fired my grandmother from her job but I digress...) But, we also lived in a community where we were always dependent on each other for small and big things. So to take something an cuss somebody or to boast about what you do for somebody else is a very big thing to me, even when it doesn't directly affect me. I don't like people like that; ah dem mek it look bad fi yuh deh depen' pan smaddy else. That's a human situation, and shouldn't be a burden. Instead it should teach humility and make you the kind of empathetic person that others could dependent on, if they needed to. I think that's the fairest way to go.

Ruthibelle said...

well said Long

Stunner said...

I have always wanted to be able to take care of my own, have my independence. That's why I ensured I did what was necessary for me to have my independence and it feels good! The only person I don't feel bad relaying on is God.

As for your independence, I dedicate Roll it Gal, by Alison Hinds: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=prLt-ZQtz0U

Ruthibelle said...

LMAO, Stunner... what a dedication... I should mek dem know dem place?? LOL!

Beth said...

I hate to owe anybody anything but I hate it even more when they remind me that I owe them something!!!

Abeni said...

Generally I do not feel beholden to anyone. I appreciate everyone who have helped me along my way and I give back to them in many ways.I don't do it because I feel it is owed but out of love.

I am still not fully independent but it's a journey I am taking.

Ruthibelle said...

@Beth: I feel you on that!

@Abeni: This journey... :)

Crankyputz said...

Ahh Ruthey! (may I call you that?)

I can say I am beholden to nobody (except the bank) and it ain't all that its cracked up to be.

Sometimes its nice to share and play fair!

So I wish you balance! A fine balance!

Ruthibelle said...

lol CP, yes u may. I wish me balance too!

Believer said...

Good post and great discussion!

I always wanted independence growing up, but found out later in life that I am indebted to a few for a myriad of reasons. Though we never speak of it, I do try to share through gestures of gratefulness.

Ruthibelle said...

well beleiver that's the best we can do, huh?