N.B. I wrote a post about Assumptions just recently, but this is a subject to which I will likely return very often.
Don’t Make Assumptions is one of the Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz. It sounds like a fairly straightforward Agreement to make with myself. But that’s not how I thought when I read this Agreement for the first time.
Much of my adult life has been centered on the assumptions I’ve made about what other people want and expect of me. That mind-reading, which I both expected of others, and attempted myself, always seemed like there must be one little piece I didn’t understand. And there was — the piece that said Don’t Do It! This was scary.
Kinds of assumptions I’ve made in my life:
- that someone would know what I think without me saying
- that I knew exactly what was on another’s mind at any time, and could base my actions with that person on those beliefs
- that my mom and I had pulled so far away from each other that I shouldn’t even try to get through to her
- that I was an inferior person who deserved the unhappiness I had, because I hadn’t lived up to my own expectations
- that information about people close to me was mine to broadcast as I saw fit
- that my parents should have known from the beginning that I wasn’t handling the diabetes well, and that I was in deep need of intervention of some kind
I’m going to take the last of these, because it is most important, and I only just understood it a short time ago. For decades I felt like my parents should have been able to figure out that something was seriously wrong with my mood and demeanor, after receiving my diagnosis of diabetes. But I hadn’t told my parents how afraid I was, or how hopeless my life seemed to be; I hadn’t given them the information they needed to act on my behalf. I don’t remember that I did.
I know that some would say that parents should be able to figure something like that out by themselves. But I worked very hard at not showing how sad and scared I was. I was active in band, in the drama club, in Rainbow Girls, for goodness sake. My grades were good, because I didn’t know any other way to be.
And when I was in the worst trouble, when I stopped taking my insulin, my doctors didn’t even catch a clue, though how they could have, I’m not sure. Maybe it was that two months before the crisis, I resembled a skeleton with skin. Regardless of the doctors, I had gone away from home for the summer, and my parents hadn’t seen me in a long time.
No one had ever said a word to my parents about the underlying reasons of that kind of behavior, or about any warning signs; I do know that the doctor had told my mother that if I survived to be twenty, I’d do okay. I was 19 when I ended up in critical DKA. The reasons and the memories are all stacked up and mixed together. But I am at peace with the knowledge that my parents did the best they could. Now. Then, I felt differently. Inside, underneath all of the accomplishments, activities, the success in music, I was living with that doctor’s prediction, that I’d be dead by forty. I was terrified, and I never felt more alone.
I don’t feel that way anymore.