Something I need to learn

I’ve been a bit out of sorts the last few days. Maybe you know the place I am talking about… where everything, and nothing, is actually wrong. Well, not exactly ‘nothing’, but they’re things you can’t control and so sitting and being worried or stressed because of them is a futile exercise.
But then something happens that you did have control of, and now there is stress because maybe you made a mistake, or maybe it’s left you questioning something about yourself…
And suddenly ‘everything and nothing’ affect you.

I can’t pinpoint the particular thing, or moment… but the last few days have been a slow descent, on my buttocks, over the rocky terrain of a hill – going down.

But if anyone saw me, or spoke to me, I’d appear calm, cool and collected – as if nothing was actually wrong….
Kind of like this image I saw on Pinterest 😛

My son picked up on it only yesterday. And commented, ”Mom, what’s wrong? You’re not yourself.”
And I listed a few things – he’s nearly 23, and it always amazes me that my ‘kid’ is so darn grown up!
When I ran out of breath, and just ended up sighing out loud, ”and….”, and not saying anymore, he responded with,
”Why didn’t you say anything?”
My reply? ”You didn’t ask.”

In saying the above, it sounds like I am a person who bottles up my feelings, right? Like I am someone who missed the value of the lesson, ‘a problem shared is a problem halved’.
Neither one is true…. and if you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you’ll know that I am actually quite an ‘open’ person – sometimes even to the point of overshare 😛

The thing is, I am one of those people that observe the question ‘how are you’ as someone merely being polite. Because isn’t it just a standard greeting?
”Hi! How are you?”
I’ll admit that there are times where I use it as such.
And most of us have accustomed ourselves to the standard reply – the polite response – the one that says something along the lines of : ” good, thanks, and you?”; ”fine, thanks. You?”
You know what I mean.

Sometimes though, there is a different response. And not just from friends and family. There have been times where I have done the polite thing with an employee at a local store, or an old school acquaintance that I may have bumped into. And what should have been a polite two minute exchange turns into a thirty minute conversation.
This doesn’t irritate me in the least bit, even if it makes me late for whatever else I am supposed to be doing.

Because that is MY nature. It’s a piece of who I am, and I believe it is a part of my purpose.
If YOU are a person who gets annoyed by it, it doesn’t mean there is something wrong with you! So PLEASE don’t take this as a personal dig, or beat yourself up over it, or feel guilty. NOT AT ALL.

WE ARE ALL DIFFERENT! Remember? And the way that you are different? There’s very likely something in that difference that gives YOU value where I am lacking – that brings value to those around you. I am NOT better than you. I am NOT right, and you are wrong. We’re just different.

There are many people who do the polite thing, and ask how I am… and there are many times that I give the generic, required, polite response. Not because there is anything wrong with the person asking… but most times it’s because I can see they are in a hurry, or experiencing their own stress, and I just don’t want to burden them. But perhaps in this, I am also wrong. Maybe they have been sent my way so that I can ‘burden’ them – because perhaps they have a solution, or a word of encouragement. Perhaps saying the words out loud to them will help me in processing what is actually happening in my situation, and I’ll provide myself with my own solution?

There are so many questions in life that are very difficult to answer ‘correctly’. It’s not easy making the ‘right decisions’. Choices are sometimes limited, and none of the options are ideal. We stumble, we fall, we have moments (or days) where we feel out of sorts.

MY lesson in this blog post? Something that I have realised that I need to ‘learn’?

I don’t have many people in my life that I can go to. My circle is very small. BUT!!! I HAVE a circle! I have got a handful of people who truly love me – even though I am different to them, and don’t always do things the way they want me to. I expect them to let me know when something is wrong – I want them to call on me when they need something, even if it’s just a pep talk!
I don’t want them to wait until I ask how they are – I want them to reach out and tell me how they are, how I can help, what they need!

AND I NEED TO LEARN TO APPLY THAT IN MY LIFE... and maybe I can save my butt from that rough terrain of the downhill 😛
Maybe I feel so overwhelmed because I am so stuck in the problem, that I forget the lifelines of people who do love me that I have been given. They may not have a solution. They may not be able to help. But they might just remind me of the beauty of the stars in a very dark night sky.

No, I won’t be telling the public people who treat me with politeness. No, I won’t be posting my problems on social media. Because it is not who I am.
And again, there’s nothing wrong with taking that approach! I have seen many people helped because they had the courage to do so! (And it isn’t easy baring your soul to the world! It’s definitely a brave thing to do!)

But perhaps I need to start giving the people I love so very much the opportunity to love me back in all the ways that I love them?

acceptance without affect

This is the first paragraph… but I’ve written it last. Weird, right?
It’s taken me a week to put this together – not because there is anything in here that is amazingly informative or stunningly interesting. It’s because it has been hard to put into words. I never thought I would find it so difficult to ‘speak my mind’. But here I am.

There may be triggers in here… so please tread carefully if you are a sufferer. I’ve tried to do this ‘clinically’.. without too much extra. That’s difficult in itself for someone like me who is an empath and tends to be rather emotional. Here goes the explanation of absence… although I am determined to do better…. to at least try…. and there’s a lot to be said for that.

PTSD. C-PTSD. CFS.

A lovely bunch of acronyms. Not. I’ll break them down for you…..

PTSD : POST TRAUMATIC STRESS DISORDER
A disorder characterised by failure to recover after experiencing or witnessing a terrifying event.
The condition may last months or years, with triggers that can bring back memories of the trauma accompanied by intense emotional and physical reactions.Symptoms may include nightmares or flashbacks, avoidance of situations that bring back the trauma, heightened reactivity to stimuli, anxiety or depressed mood.

C-PTSD : COMPLEX POST TRAUMATIC STRESS DISORDER
Complex post-traumatic stress disorder (complex PTSD, sometimes abbreviated to c-PTSD or CPTSD) is a condition where you experience some symptoms of PTSD along with some additional symptoms, such as:
difficulty controlling your emotions
feeling very hostile or distrustful towards the world
constant feelings of emptiness or hopelessness
feeling as if you are permanently damaged or worthless
feeling as if you are completely different to other people
feeling like nobody can understand what happened to you
avoiding friendships and relationships, or finding them very difficult
often experiencing dissociative symptoms such as depersonalisation or derealisation
regular suicidal feelings.

CFS : CHRONIC FATIGUE SYNDROME
Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is a complicated disorder characterized by extreme fatigue that lasts for at least six months and that can’t be fully explained by an underlying medical condition. The fatigue worsens with physical or mental activity, but doesn’t improve with rest.
Other characteristic symptoms include:
Sleep that isn’t refreshing
Difficulties with memory, focus and concentration
Dizziness that worsens with moving from lying down or sitting to standing

In the past month, I have had my fair share of medical professionals : Vet, Dentist, Doctor, Psychologist. And I even bumped into the Pfizer rep that I knew from my days of working for a doctor, so there was her too 😉

I knew I had PTSD – related to trauma from 2012. What no one told me is that it can last years… and that when you think you’re ‘over it’, it can come back. The focus was on the 2012 trauma – I have recently discovered that the situation and numerous occasions of abuse when I was married had me already living with PTSD, just not knowing.

This past month, after two years of undergoing blood tests and x-rays, the conclusion that has been drawn is that I have all three of the above. Wait, what? (The only thing missing has been an MRI – so the conclusion is based on evidence and investigation sans that.) This is all just ‘diagnosis’ though. I accept that they’re all educated and know better than me. I accept their diagnosis. This doesn’t mean that I won’t question though… or fight against it… or try and determine otherwise. Stubbornness has it’s advantages 😉 and so does being so focused on hope! 😉

I have never fully understood when people have said to me, ”I just can’t explain it.” I do now.

But we are all different. And respond differently. And as I have researched and read up, and begun ‘unpacking my mind/debriefing’, I have been made even more aware of how different we all are, and how differently we respond.

I can’t walk you through it all… I am only just starting this journey, as such, and am still walking through childhood. Sigh.

And it’s hard. And I am so tired.
(Although the psychologist says I need to stop saying the word tired. Tired can be solved through sleep and rest. Fatigue cannot.)

What I can say for now is this : I am an empathetic and compassionate individual. But this has taken me into a whole new level of understanding and compassion. I hurt for people who are suffering from these things and are doing it alone because people don’t know or comprehend what it is and how much damage it actually does. I hurt for people who have been, and are being judged, because of what is seemingly their actions, and supposed bad choices.
I hurt because I am one of those people. And I wish my arms were wide enough and big enough to stretch over the entire world of those people, so that I could just hold them. Because I know that there is a part of me that just wishes to be held for a while.

I will also say this : my response to all of this has been a little strange. There is an acceptance without affect. My brain is saying,
”Okay fine. They say you have this. It sure explains a lot, and you need to now stop being so hard on yourself. It’s happened. ”Stuff” has happened. You can’t change it, and you can’t change the people who inflicted the hurt and put their issues on you. You can’t take back the reactions and choices you made as a result. So let’s do what we need to, even when it hurts and when it’s hard…. but let’s also figure out how NOT to let it affect every part of your life in a negative way.”

I think it’s that ‘prisoner of hope’ attitude of mine that I now think was developed many years ago to protect my peace in some way. I’m not entirely sure. But I feel like it might have been. And as much as I want to wake up in the morning, and pull the blankets back over my head and just stay like that all day, until the next day… I can’t. And that in itself causes me confusion.

Something else that has me confused….
I can understand why people who suffer feel the way they do. 😦 I am confused as to why I don’t feel the same way.
According to the psychologist, and almost every support group forum I have visited, a vast majority express the ‘suicidal feelings’ symptom. Not always in the way that they would actually DO something… but in a way where they say : ”I just want to die. I pray for God to take me. I just want it to be over.”
Yes, I want the ‘bad feelings’ and the days I struggle to be over and gone. I don’t want to wake up after a good nights rest ‘tired’. BUT I don’t want to die. My strongest desire is to still LIVE, despite this. To find ways for life to go on, and have meaning, and be fruitful, even when I am fatigued and struggling. See? That prisoner of hope thing again, I guess.

I am not medicated. I have opted instead for vitamins, and a herbal supplement aimed at anxiety and stress. This is NOT to say that the variety of medications to treat these acronyms are useless. In fact there is a strong possibility that some form of ‘chemical help’ would benefit me. But this is part of MY issue – a mental block of sorts when it comes to ‘medication’. A part of the past from childhood that is being unpacked.

I share all of the above for two reasons.
The first is to create an awareness of sorts. Because I know this from personal experience : sometimes when something doesn’t directly affect me, I don’t really take the time to learn about it. For example : MS (multiple sclerosis) is not something that has affected anyone I know personally. And so although I know what it is, I have never really delved into it. So I am aware of what it is, but clueless as to the way it impacts someone’s life… and the lives of those around them.
The second reason is this : I value each and every one of my regular readers and followers. (And even those who just pop by for a specific post have meaning to me.) By having my personal blog – and making it so very personal because of the way I am – I have invited and allowed each of you to become ‘part of my world’. And although many of you don’t require an explanation, I needed to tell you – for me. I love connecting with people (another symptom I seem to defy) and part of that connection is honesty and baring a part of my soul, I guess.

So there’s my mind, and soul… slowly unpacking. Apologies for the lengthy post. If you’ve read it all, thank you. ❤

inside the box

As I have been making my way through the book a second time, noting down things that are important for my journey, I was reminded of something that I would like to share.

I thought of the ‘me’ I was twenty years ago, and how she would have reacted had she read this book back then. That ‘me’ was inclined to still be quite naive, and opinionated in a sense that what I believed was the only way and if you didn’t agree, you were wrong.
Oh my! How I missed out on so many valuable things along the way!

It had a lot to do with the belief systems that were taught to me from a young age – passed down to me. (I wrote a post about belief systems here last year – pardon the language.) The thing is that I was never encouraged to form and build on my own belief system. There was no freedom to think out of the box – it was a scenario relatively close to ‘’it’s my way, or the highway’’. And if I didn’t live inside that box, then I was a failure, and unworthy. And I BELIEVED I was!

But you see….

That particular belief system probably originated from the generation prior. Because we build and live according to what we know. And some of us are not fortunate enough to ever ‘broaden our horizons’. I’ve had a lot of life experience in a lot of areas – sometimes I feel like I’ve already done life three times over. 😛

There are studies that have shown that as a child, the more we get exposed to, the more our immune system builds. It gets strengthened by the yucky stuff. I often joke that part of the reason my immune system is so strong can be accredited to gravel (a selection of small stones all together).  When I was 5, our school had gravel beneath the swings. In hindsight, it wasn’t such a wonderful thing because if you jumped off the swing and lost your balance, it hurt! I would sit in that swing and gently rock myself back and forth, sucking stones that I had picked out from the gravel. Ewwww! I know! I also played in the dirt a lot, even in my white dress with red polka dots, much to my mother’s horror. (I ruined that dress on my 6th birthday at my party when I fell out of a tree 😛 )
But I also wasn’t very sick as a child, so perhaps that’s why?

Here’s how I think this relates to my own belief system (which is continuously growing, just by the way) :

I was brought up inside the box. To the extreme. And from a little girl, I fought with that lid.
I have had more than my fair share of bad experiences – some where I carry the responsibility, and some that were circumstantial and out of my control. I have also had some good experiences, and although they have left me with positive emotions and a lot to laugh about, none of them have ‘changed’ me.
The bad experiences have allowed me to grow, and become stronger. The lid has flown right off that box, and I am no longer bound by the way I was taught that things ‘should be’.

I don’t fully agree with everything written in the book I am now ‘studying’. Does that make the author a bad person, a failure in some areas, not worth listening to? NO! Because there is a LOT that I do agree with, and needed to hear. And the things I don’t agree with? I have ‘listened to’ anyway, because it has given me another view of something in me that was ‘concrete’ (no, I didn’t swallow any of the gravel 😛 ). And quite honestly, I need to think about what she has said.

It comes down to a firm belief that everyone is different, and that just because I believe or think the way I do, you don’t have to! And it doesn’t mean that you are worth less as a person, or that you cannot impact my life, or that we can’t be friends.

My perspectives and my beliefs and values? They’re mine. I can share them with you, I can hope that my experiences will help you or just impact you positively. But I can’t fight with you and be angry with you just because you aren’t in complete agreement with me.
Besides, you may have much to teach me if we don’t think alike, and I might miss out of the beauties of friendship and life in general if I build myself back into a box.
(I do have to add this though: I can’t put myself in harm’s way, and so sadly there are some interactions that I am forced to avoid. But these are definitely few and far between.)

We need to embrace what makes us different – celebrate your quirks, and even the things that you can’t do. And then pause for a moment and accept that someone else is probably in the same boat as you : different… trying to embrace themselves.

I’ll end with this : Someone told me the other day (in agreement with me saying that I am a very open person who doesn’t leave much to the imagination) that ‘mystery is not my superpower’.
I loved that! And had a good laugh! Of course I’d like to NOT always be so open, because I love a good mystery and so do many other people out there, but it’s the way I am and it makes me ‘me’. And I have learned to embrace it and celebrate it.

Besides, I have other superpowers 😉 *stands and swoops her cape dramatically and clicks ‘publish’*

 

Jail Bail?

Every now and then, I take a break from my usual blog posts and post something lighter and less inspiring, more unusual. This normally contains word definitions or idiom explanations – things of that nature. Today isn’t all that interesting, but I did find it kind of funny 😉
Today was inspired by none other than my 14 year old daughter.

We all know what teens are like. They have their very own language – in fact each generation seems to 😛

Each country too, as a matter of fact. It’s no surprise then that words and expressions used in different countries are, well, different. So I can’t claim what I am about to share next as a guide to ‘teen speak’.
(Interestingly enough, my son’s teen speak was similar to what I grew up with, carrying the same definitions. My, how times have changed in the last seven years!!! Enter my daughter. 😛 )

We got out the car at a local store, and she exclaimed, ”Oh my word, Mom! I need to bail!”

Entering the store, I asked, “Who you hiding from?”

I turned around and was greeted with a blank stare.

A little further into the store, I asked, “Why did you need to bail from the car so fast?”

The total look of confusion on her face told me we weren’t talking about the same thing!

In ‘my days’, bail was pretty much defined as I need to go; bounce; take off. 
My usual go to place when it comes to trying to find the more trendy meanings of words is the Urban Dictionary (although I find the language inappropriate a lot of the time). After checking it now, I see it wouldn’t have helped me this time though anyway since it seems to be in line with my definition. Therefore not cool. Not trendy. “Way back when you were a teen, Mom….”
(It really wasn’t that long ago 😛 )

Seeing her confusion, I naturally asked, “Okay. What does bail mean to you kids then?”

She shushed me, blushed (the cute guy nearby had turned to look our way) and pulled me to a quieter corner of the store. There she stammered out,
“Well…uh… it means to…um….you know? When your undies get…um…..and you need to…um….”

From that completely unhelpful explanation, I somehow got the drift of what she was saying. So I whispered back, “You mean when you get a wedgie and you need to pull your panties back where they belong?” She nodded, shrugged her shoulders, and replied with,

“Yeah, you know, bail.”

I think I am going to have a tough time understanding this new teen speak of our local kids! 😛 😉