I got back from visiting my father this past week. It was the first time I have seen him since I started having more insight about our relationship and our issues, and it was very interesting to observe him with this knowledge.
I have mentioned before here that my father has boundary/consent issues. Wow, did he ever display this! The interesting part was that he stayed out of my physical space, and I didn’t feel the normal clenching in the pit of my stomach, no matter how close I went to him. I think my insight, independence, and greater confidence have a lot to do with that.
Still, my dad has this habit of thinking he can read my mind. I mentioned that Meryl Streep is awesome (because she is), and he decides she is my favorite actress. When there is a lack of fruit tarts, I tell him to take the last one, because I want to eat ice cream cake, and he decides he can read my mind and I really want fruit tarts, so he will go without.
Several times this past week, I literally told him: “I said what I want with my words, I meant it, and I would like you to believe me and respect that.” He ate the tart.
I don’t see my dad very often, and I live on the opposite coast, so that will continue to be the case. I’m okay with that. But my dad can sometimes be a swift learner, and I hope that if I continue to say things like this, he will eventually come to trust that I do not want him to mind read, that I say what I mean, and that he should act in accordance with what I actually say, and not any of the purely hypothetical subtext he makes up.
It really helps that I no longer have a subtext.
SO! Banishing subtext is made of awesome-sauce. Despite the success Havelock Vetinari has manipulating people, in the real world, things actually turn out much better when you can say what you mean, and people believe that you say what you mean.