I Don't Get It

5 years ago

A recurring theme throughout my life has been that I don't quite "get it."  Despite all my best efforts and intentions, I somehow fuck shit up.

In second grade, I remember first noticing this when my class was playing kickball, as a large playground ball collided with my head. I had been scanning the sky for signs of bird activity that might indicate that the people from the parallel universe from which I was sure I had been ushered were coming for me soon. Several classmates expressed a great deal of irritation at the fact that I was "not playing" when my classroom teacher explained to them sharply that I "didn't understand."

This situation has not necessarily improved.

I park crooked. After carefully aiming my minivan, carefully backing up to straighten out, carefully driving back in again, and turning the engine off, inevitably I get out and see that yes–once again the car has been parked as if by a drunken teenager. I don't even bother to parallel park, except under extreme duress, my relation to spatial matters being such that somehow my car is invariably parked two feet out into traffic.

I have worked at my job for four and a half years, during which time we have used the same time sheets to record our work hours, and yet, I fuck these up. I record my work hours in the leave column. I miscalculate my  leave. I scribble. I cross out. Often, I throw out a whole time sheet and transcribe an entire two week period onto a new one out of sheer embarrassment. Sometimes, I transcribe the errors onto the new sheet, too.

I cannot adjust swim goggles, bicycle helmets or ice skates. I have to get another adult to assist me with these matters. I cannot remember how to tie slip knots. In fact, I cannot tie a child's shoes in such a way that they will  remain tied. When I open a Band-Aid package, I invariably twist the Band-Aid so that the latex adheres to part of itself and sticks on the child in a lumpy way. I cannot fix a little girls's pony tail or braid when called to do so. At least, not unless it's Crazy Hair Day at school. When called upon to perform basic mental math, as often as not, I am wrong.

And yet, I am allowed to instruct your children to read.

My students, who regard me mostly with affection–especially my second graders–often giggle to themselves as I routinely knock over water bottles, drop dry erase markers and wonder aloud where I have put something. I suppose this allows them to feel that, although I am there to instruct them with their reading, perhaps they may be of some assistance to me in coping with my basic life skills, and so the situation is more egalitarian than a normal teacher-student relationship. I am good for their self-esteem.

I am not entirely sure why it is that, although I believe my intelligence to above average in general, I am so sub-par in these basic life skills. It does seem to be an experience common to many recovering alcoholics and addicts. I think the source may be a basic defect in attitude. While most people, when discovering a major defect or deficit in their situations, I believe tend to deal directly with it, alcoholics and addicts tend to try to adapt to it, thus learning nothing.

For example, we have an older dishwasher and the silverware basket has worn a hole in one of its sections. The result of this is that utensils dropped into this section fall partway through and prevent the entire rack from rolling in and out. It is massively irritating. So, literally for months, my husband (also a recovering alcoholic) has contrived a specific strategy of placing utensils in this section just so and attempted to teach this to the five other people who load the dishwasher in this house, with the level of success you might expect, which is quite limited. My strategy, which is even less effective, is to ignore the situation until I become extremely irritated by the blockage caused by utensils in the dishwasher.

After four months, it just occurred to me that I could replace the silverware basket. And for about twenty dollars, and the investment of  ten minutes of time online, I was able to order a new part. Duh.

This, I think, is what is wrong with me. After almost twenty years of continuous sobriety, I have taken on a lot of really important flaws in my character, but I have ignored most of the little ones. I suppose I could undertake to actually learn how to adjust a swim goggle, tighten an ice skate or properly park a car.

But I am pretty busy blogging, so I might not have time.

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