The “Lack of Backbone” Club & Why I’m turning in my Card

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I’ve written about self worth in some depth, both in my novels and blog posts. While this has been a very long journey, recently something came up that made me see how far I’ve yet to go.

Lupus, in spiritual terms, is a result of giving up, of the preference to die rather than stand up for one’s self. Ouch.

That’s me. The woman in the corner who makes a lot of noise sometimes, but that’s a distraction, something to draw attention while I run away. You see, I’ve never been good at standing up for myself or what I want. In fact, I’m actually convinced it’s selfish, and that I’m stealing away someone else’s joy by sticking up for what I want and my boundaries. Yeah, we’re sicker than we think sometimes.

For all my clamouring about finding your value, I haven’t been able to draw a line in the sand… ever. My course instead has been to walk away. Oh hell, I freaking run at mach speeds.

Now my lupus may or may not have resulted from this lack of backbone, but every time I’m confronted with a conflict I will err on the side of doing what’s right for others. I get stressed by this internal moral dilemma to the point of sickness.


I’m living in a beautiful house on a hundred acre farm. The plumbing upstairs doesn’t work, the toilets function properly about half the time, a few windows are broken, the front door doesn’t stay closed or lock, there’s mold in the basement, the fuse box pops regularly, there are holes in two of the bedroom ceilings, and we can only effectively heat the kitchen and family room during the winter. The other rooms are ice cold unless we use electric heaters, which result in $500 – $600 electric bills.

Every time we have a major problem — the sewage breaking or other such issue — I’m terrified to call the landlord. Last time I did he threatened to evict us and told me to go to hell. He did, however, eventually send someone over to fix it. So there’s that.

My girlfriend and I don’t want to move our three munchkins out of another school district, and with the extortion rent prices in Jefferson county, our choices if this plan doesn’t work out are limited. I can’t spend another winter in a house that can’t be properly heated. This past winter had me in bed for nearly three months. We can’t afford that happening again.

I recently came up with the crazy plan of putting two years of the rent money into fixing these problems, then signing a ten year lease at a higher rate. I figure he’ll get his money back in the repairs and the higher rent over time. Let me point out that this guy is a multimillionaire with hundreds of properties, many in the same condition, some not even able to be inhabited. Having said that, it’s still a business for him, so I get the need to make money from his properties.

So, I brought this plan to the landlord. When he started becoming difficult, I said, “Hey, if this isn’t going to work, then we’ll find another place.”

“Wait, that was my initial reaction,” he responded.

But that was also the end of the discussion. I haven’t heard from him in over a month, though he’s gone around and questioned my ability and honor to mutual friends.

Here’s the moment I should go and confront him. I should stand in his office and press until I get an answer, but…

It has caused so much stress that I’m head-deep in another flare-up. My joints throb, my muscles ache, I’m coughing up fluid again, and my chest is so tight, due to swollen tissue around my lungs, that it’s difficult to breath.

So my fellow hippie dippie spiritualists may not be far off. In fact, just writing this makes me feel better. At least, a little better.

Bottom line, whenever I’m confronted with issues like these my mind instantly thinks… “It’s not fair to ask him to fix these things” and “What a selfish bitch I am for even considering it” and “Maybe I can fix the house and pay rent and electric, so he’s not inconvenienced.”

I consider every possible way to make it easier on other people while piling a mountain of expectation, responsibility, stress, and work on my shoulders.

The world is about to make an incredible shift. Everyone, even the least connected person, feels the approaching change, and I don’t want to be stuck in these old patterns when it happens. I want to stand up for the things I believe in and what’s right for me without the whole martyr thing going on. ‘Cause yeah, I’ve done that more than once in my life, and it’s getting a little cliche.

Will I have the guts to stand up to him or anyone else?

Maybe… maybe not, but I’m going to try. It’s the only thing I can think to do because what I’ve done isn’t working, and I don’t want to be sick anymore.


Categories: Drive by life | Tags: , , , , , | 3 Comments

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3 thoughts on “The “Lack of Backbone” Club & Why I’m turning in my Card

  1. Standing up for yourself – especially when you’re in what feels like a precarious situation – is INCREDIBLY hard. Having to deal with intense physical effects encouraged by your stress probably doesn’t help, but it’s good to see those connections and make note of them for other days and situations.

    Have you done research about your options in case this doesn’t work out – in terms of moving elsewhere? If you’re already tacking on hundreds of extra dollars in electrical bills and possibly medical bills (and other financial effects) due to the shabby state of the place, you might actually find that it wouldn’t be all that more expensive to pay more for a place with more reasonable utility costs and a lower likelihood of making you ill. I don’t say that because I think you should have to move, but sometimes one of the best things I’ve found to do is to actually write out the doomsday scenario that has me freaking out. Not in abstract terms, but in practical “what would I do next” terms. Those day-after-doomsday paths are sometimes less scary or cumbersome than we think, which can make facing down confrontations like this with possible ultimatums less like heading to a firing squad wearing a blindfold and more like going into battle with full armor on and a decent escape route stage right.


  2. Wow !!! Powerfully written. Congrats !!!
    From a “hippy, dippy, spiritualist”.

  3. Ctrine

    Booyahhh! I Think the shift and change is us. We don’t seem to make others do this. You always land on your feet cause your a smart cookie. I love you

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