I hail from the Al Bundy era.
Something that I’m simultaneously proud and secretly ashamed of, I guess. Those were the days, folks, those were the days.
These days that show, to many, is a desperate reminder of all that was once wrong with the world. Or still is, in many ways. A shining example of misogyny, capitalism, the American way of life and love gone wrong.
I still think it’s fucking hilarious.
And spot on.
And still very very hilariously amazingly so wrong that it’s right.
You catch my drift, right?
Married with Children was awesome. Period.
But what’s always stayed with me the most, as it was both a huge part of my upbringing as well as a subconsciously ingrained into my mindset is the thought that lies at the very core of that show – and my understanding of life:
‘It is someone elses job to make me happy’.
Me being a ‘mere’ woman like Peg. A wife. Spouse. Trophy. Or eternal ball and chain. Call it what you will.
It was interesting, growing up. Because even when I was watching that show and clutching my sides from laughing too hard at Pegs shenanigans and Als hopeless mean attempts at sputtering back – I sorta knew that her expectations were so wrong. Unrealistic. Unfair.
But I was taught the same exact thing myself. From a mom that was a classic ‘victim’ of the world. Of men. Of life. From a mom that was, probably, a classic mix of damsel in distress, barbie doll and golddigger that is ideally attractive to always-the-same-wrong-men. A Peg, to the core.
And it is there that I was infused with these thoughts…these beliefs…these undeniable ideas of how relationships should be. How love worked. How a life together should look, and feel and be. Because in the world of Peg, and my mom and that time and this current age still, sort of – it is someone else’s responsibility to ensure my happiness.
They are in control of doing the things that give me joy. So they should do them. They are capable of providing happiness. So they should give it. They. Them. THEM.
Me being unhappy? Their fault.
Me not feeling great? Their problem.
Me not getting all I want from ‘us’? Their fix.
Me having needs that are unmet? Their responsibility.
It’s how I always treated my partners. How I always felt it WOULD be. How I was always taught it SHOULD go. No matter my own opinions of the matter, of course. That’s what your childhood is right. Fitting that certain drawn out mold, regardless of how well you fit it. You do things the way you’re supposed to do them because that’s how they’re done.
And I know you’re reading this KNOWING how wrong it is to feel that way, right? I mean, we’re a strong, progressive and independent bunch around here, are we not. Or, at the very least, we’re very familiar with all of the selfhelp books and power-Instas slinging quotes our way on how we’re the captains of our own ships.
I knew it was wrong too. Like. The way you can sometimes feel something’s wrong without knowing why it’s wrong or how you should be fixing it. Just wrong. Still did it. I still DO it, actually. Expect that. From them. Freakily.
Admittedly – I HAVE gotten better at it, over the years. Providing my own happiness. Fixing my own shit. Owning my own (and our) issues. But the damsel in distress mode is still programmed into my brain. I’m still wired to be the poolbunny waiting for her cocktails. I’m still Rapunzel waiting for her prince to make everything right. It’s still my go-to-move. And I somehow kinda still sorta maybe want to be…too…if that makes sense.
This ‘job’ of theirs is still my first expectancy and first disappointment in any new connection. That need for them to MAKE me happy. Sense my needs, tune in to them, value them, uphold them. Preferably without me telling them how to. It’s still how I’m built to love.
Even though I KNOW it’s not their job to make me happy. It’s mine. It’s MY JOB to BE happy, and do everything I, myself, can to make that happen.
And, if we’re lucky – it’s our PRIVILIGE to share that mutual happiness. Together. Not work at achieving it for the other. THAT’S how it SHOULD be.
But let’s be honest. That new mindset is a whole lot harder to achieve than it is to admit. And that old way of living is a whole lot harder to lose than to complain about. Because sometimes I wonder how much of these types of faulty wirings we can still fix at this point.
Maybe it’s easier to find someone exceptionally good at doing that job that shouldn’t be a job. Just kidding.