Yesterday I lied to J, my therapist, about what my supervisor said to me when I told her I was resigning. I felt bad about lying, but I didn’t want him to know that she said good things about me. I didn’t want him to have “evidence” that maybe I am good at the hotline. I’m sure she said nice things because that is what you do when an employee/volunteer leaves. What are you going to say, “Don’t let the door hit you on the way out?” So she said nice things.
But I felt badly about lying so I sent him an email apologizing and I copied her email so that he could see what she said about me. Then he sent me an email in response saying, “I imagine you being very competent at just about everything you take on. No worries about the “lie”.”
Yes, that is me! Competent at everything I take on. I am the supreme competent human being. I have been told by friends, “You are the most competent person I know!” Yay for me!
Being so competent means that people always ask me to do things (and they know I’ll never say no). It means people never ask me if I need help. It means that even though I look functional at all times, no one would ever suspect that something might be wrong. It means that I can’t ask for help, or ever seem incompetent, because that would destroy the appearance, the illusion.
When my son was in school I tried to get him an individualized education plan (special education). I started this process when he was in 4th grade and finally succeeded in the second half of his 11th grade (too late for it to be useful). The line I used that finally made an impression on the administration was that my son had “an illusion of competency”. His intelligence was able to compensate for his learning disabilities for that long. But he wasn’t competent, despite what every teacher believed.
It sucks to be thought of as competent in everything one does. Where does that leave room for mistakes, for imperfection, for the occasional bout of laziness? I know that people mean it as a compliment, no one intends to be hurtful when they say someone is competent. But I think it is an overstatement to say that I am competent in everything I take on. I obviously am not so competent at therapy. And what does competent mean anyway? It’s a subjective term. To some it might mean “good enough”, to others it might mean being an expert. J didn’t just say I was competent, he said I was “very” competent. At just about everything I take on. Yay me.
And why did he put the word “lie” in quotation marks? Perhaps he thinks my lie wasn’t a lie. I sometimes lie by omission, and that may not be considered lying. But this was a definite lie. He didn’t ask why I lied, I wonder if he is wondering about that. He doesn’t do therapy via email, and I appreciate that. Too easy to get everything screwed up. But I’m sure he won’t ever ask me about it. I will probably bring it up in the future though.
In the meantime, I am going to continue competently doing my work and then I will go home and competently make my son dinner, and then perhaps I will competently go for a walk (I am a very competent walker). Finally I plan to competently fold the laundry and competently put it away. Makes for a very competent day.