Depending on your point of view, I am either really bad at jumping through hoops, or really good at it.
Yesterday was a hoop jumping day; medical insurance issues for my parents, technical support, warranty claims, all the little games of step, step, jump, jump that marketers have built into the system.
You know why marketers love rebates, right? They can advertise dollars off knowing that many people won’y jump through the hoops required to actually claim the money. It’s all part of gimmick pricing, offering a deal only to people who jump through hoops.
I ran a software technical support operation in the 1980s, and I know the games one can use to put the onus back on the customer. Yesterday I had to write a two page descripton of my home network, including firmware revisions and lists of illuminated lights, just to get the people at the VOIP provider to find the problem in their system. I received multiple responses from an insurance company just redirecting me to the homepage of the site I am already on.
I will tell you that jumping through these hoops makes me crazy. I get a headache, my heart pounds, I just shake and hit myself, trying to bring focus.
Yesterday, with all this going on, my sister also wanted to twig me about getting my financial house in order. It is a reasonable request, but one that has been crazy-making for me for years.
It looks like I am very bad at jumping through the hoops of everyday life today. Insanely bad.
But the hoops I have to jump through every moment, the hoops of having to take all the twists, to be calm and absorbing for my family, for the neighborhood, for everything, well, those are hoops that have bound me up and held me down for decades now.
People tolerate some hoop jumping because they have some nature, some freedom, some happiness.
Me? Well, there are no wins, no relaxation, no nature. I am constrained in every minute, jumping through the hoops of others fear and refusal to engage. I know how to enter the worlds of others, how to take care of them, how to be there for others, yet I have not found people who are comfortable with me. Sure, part of that is the tension I hold, the old self-fulfilling role of stigma, where the stigmatized get crazy from the isolation and are then written off as crazy, but there is more to it than that.
I end up jumping alone, holding the twists alone, and it is bad for me, and sets me up for worse. I am so hoop-bound that I can’t even do the little normal hoops, and that makes me seem broken and incompetent. There is never credit given for how much you have come through to stand here, rather you are almost always judged on how you satisfy people in this moment, and if you have nothing left to give, well, tough.
To those people, I am insanely bad at jumping through hoops, the hoops they expect everyone to go through to get what they want or need.
But to me, my own capacity to jump through hoops is astounding, as overtaxed as it is.
And it is what is killing me.