Are You Empowered to Start Everything and End Everything With Me?

Yesterdays blog-post brought a few neighborly questions for us to follow-up with.

One is regarding emotions from bluebee.  Is jealousy medical?  Followed by, What part of emotion is under our control?  Indeed.

Second, Sarah quietly slipped the question under our door of how to respond to emotions and behaviors that come from brain illness.  How?  Indeed.

Third, Carl banged a little louder when asking, what keeps him in a relationship with someone who is maltreating him verses leaving?  Indeed.

There is a nice flow to these.  They are leading into the next and circle back.  Emotions and behaviors come from the brain, much which is out of our control and some of which is.  The choice to engage in the life of the ill is like any other choice.  Our own.  If it matters to us if the way the brain is working in the “other” is in their control or not, we can spend more time trying to sus that out.  I’m not sure myself when I get it good from someone mean, but it has become easier to take care of my junk rather than there’s.  For that, I will say a million thanks.  If I’m getting yelled at, I do the checks on myself – anxiety? fear? anger? fatigue? shaking? dizzy? tone of my voice? do I know what this person is yelling about? (most often it has nothing to do with Me), empathy? empowerment? You’ve told me that you are growing in similar refreshing ways.

Face Down w/Laundry and Gwen Stefani

Image by NCM3 via Flickr

I’ve seen this play out a little in my children.  My daughters and son are supposed to do the laundry every morning before they play.  I don’t know how many years now, but their arguments haven’t changed.

I’m doing this all by myself.  No one is helping me!

Mom!  He’s just laying on top of the clothes!  

Mom!  …

These questions above…;

  • where emotions and behaviors come from,
  • control over biological symptoms,
  • do I respond to others with brain illness
  • or do I walk away

These questions don’t mean much if we don’t find where our empowerment comes from.  Me.  Everything starts and ends with Me.

I’m ill for reasons I have nothing to do with, yet I will be accountable for myself and how I affect others.

I feel emotions I didn’t ask for, behaving ways that I am a spectator to rather than a whole person, yet I will do what I can to gain health.  In that, I have control.

I surrender what I don’t control to my Higher Power.  I take medication.  I exercise, guard my sleep hygiene and get regular sleep, eat responsibly, gather and engage community, attend therapy groups and/or individual, I try while at the same time I let go, I love my flaws as I love my perfections, I try to develop my natural genius, try as often as I can to pour any energies I have in that direction as I know I will heal faster, enjoy life more and be more successful at all my efforts when I do.

It reminds me of that saying, that if I have success, it is from standing on the shoulders of giant midgets.  We are all flawed.  We are all wonderful.  We are supported by others who also are full of flawed perfections.

Do I have control?  You bet.  …And no way.  Always, there are both.

Do I talk when someone is mistreating me? or mistreating themselves by neglecting their own self-care? by letting their illnesses shape their lives?  Do I walk away as that may be what my self-care demands.

Everything starts and ends with me.  There are a lot of stops along the way with other forces, but empowerment is mine.  Indeed.  That’s what I hope my kids will learn when doing the laundry.

22 thoughts on “Are You Empowered to Start Everything and End Everything With Me?

  1. Seems the central idea for discussion is when Dr. SJ-Q presents that “The choice to engage in the life of the ill…” On the one hand, we try to have empathy and compassion and tolerance. But if the relationship remains toxic those kind attitudes are of no avail. If it is chronic it has to wear us down and deplete us and contribute to our own emotional imbalance. If we begin to develop attitudes of frustration, hate and contempt that ought to be the red flag. Of course we can’t divorce family members and coping in those situations will be particularly harmful to one’s self because it seems there is no exit. If the relationship remains abusive we must find an exit. Constant coping or accepting chronic abuse or unhappiness means we choose to have it remain so. The fact that our own flaws have a role further complicates what we should do. Since putting poison in the person’s food is not socially acceptable , what options exist to resolve the conflict?

      • Carl asked what I was wondering, what if it’s more than toxic; if there was a level of psychosis that posed danger. I’m interested to know the laws in Calif and elsewhere. I think in South Africa you can have someone committed to care, but it a hellish rigmarole and I think it robs people of dignity?

        • we have what’s called a 5150 (Involuntary psychiatric hold), of California’s Welfare and Institutions Code which can be implemented when someone is either a danger to self (DTS), danger to others (DTO) or gravely disabled – meaning unable to provide food, shelter or clothing for themselves. In the community, if someone thinks this is true for another person, they would call the police who then come and make their own evaluation of the person. Or, they could take the person to an emergency room or to a psychiatric inpatient hospital. In any of those places, someone would be (hypothetically) evaluated and kept safe appropriately.
          As a physician, I am required to keep everything confidential a patient tells me, except if they demonstrate any of the 5150 qualifications. Then, I’m required to notify the officials who then follow through as described above. As a physician, I don’t have as many difficulties getting someone on a 5150 as someone might in the community as physicians are thought to have qualifications to make a professional judgment on that. any thoughts?

          • Oh I should think you’re qualified, Doc. I just wondered this morning, like if there was a situation where the person wouldn’t get help for themselves. What a confounding business mental health is. I learn something new every day.

  2. Just got back from the vacation from #$%^ during which our accomodations, shared with our daughter, son-in-law and granddaughter, were miniscule, our son-in-law’s boat sank in a major thunderstorm, his truck died the day we were leaving, the heat, humidity and mosquitoes were ungodly, and I was physically ill from before we left home until now with I-don’t-know (and neither do “they”!) what. I realize that this doesn’t sound like a response to this particular posting, but it is in that I actually didn’t lose it, emotionally, even being miserable, feeling awful and seeing things I wasn’t really aware of before going on in my daughter’s family. No abuse. Just stuff that made me unhappy…and wishing that they could take care of themselves in a different way. Taking care of me was difficult but not confronting them was my only way to be honest with my self-care. I love them so much and they love each other in a way that’s beautiful to watch. It’s just that……well, let’s just leave it that I finally know how to take care of Me and that makes it much easier to live with myself and with others.

    • wow! some day u may come back and read your comment and totally laugh. u reminded me of a chevy chase movie. i do luv him.
      hearing about your personal successes puts big loopy smiles on me. nicely done. u r taking this “good spell” to the nth degree. sorry about the sad stuff. keep on.

  3. In toxic relationships or inbeing mistreated, I have walked away. However, sometimes it doesn’t feel like I’m in control. I do it because it is easier and less hurtful than confrontation and less stressful than being involved…and still some of those people I must continue to deal with which leaves me walking away fairly often.

  4. My mother was an alcoholic abuser with 5 distinct personalities (they didn’t know this until late in her life and she is still alive) she has so many mental disorders that its hard to name them all. Being a child of this person was very difficult for myself and my siblings. We have all divorced (see Carl above) her out of our lives. There was no choice . . . or perhaps there is always different choices. Our own mental, physical and spiritual well being were and continue to be in jeopardy even though we are grown adults.
    All of the adult males in our lives were sexual abusers as well including our own father and any of the men she had around, also we don’t know for certain who are fathers are and she is not telling.

    The reason I preface my following statement with the above is because I am realizing that I am choosing (unconsciously and now consciously) to live my life based on another persons mental illness. READ INSANITY!

    My mother-in-law has severe mental illness and is choosing to live in it and is paralyzed by it since my father-in-law has passed away. Her three sons (one of which is my husband) and the one closest to her have little or nothing to do with her. From all appearances they grew up with Harriet Nelson in the most “normal” home. However not so much. And trust me that is confusing everything looks good on the outside and the inside is rather mushy and rotten. Like the proverbial rotten apple.

    So where am I going with this? My own husband and his brothers are exhibiting some traits of their mother, and she is living in her own hell.

    And I am standing on the sidelines feeling like I am the only one who is in the realm of healing hoping and moving through my life. I am lonely, rather frightened some days and wondering. I am wondering what I do with the rest of my life and how I want to live it. How to create and keep friendships as our children are growing and leaving the home for their own lives. (Which they should and need to do)

    How do I live my life while remaining in a relationship with my husband of 25 years who I do love and like (most days). Who is very home bound and small thinking (like his mother) and sits in the same spot doing the same thing day in and day out when he is not at work.

    I realized this morning that he is exactly like my mother in that way too. She would sit in the same spot staring at the tv and he and his mother sit in the same spot she staring off into space and my husband at the computer.

    I can feel myself rebelling hugely right now and that isn’t healthy. I am living my life and how I keep my home and how I interact and view the world around me based on another’s mental illness. And for so many years (decades) I wasn’t aware of how deeply I was.

    So today I can chose to live in another persons nightmare (The Four Agreements) or I can chose my dream. Or even better the life God has for me.

    Living in another persons nightmare is crazy making and we don’t even know we are doing it. It is insidious. Lastly, I do look at my mother in her 80’s and alone and feel deeply saddened. I often say to my sisters, if she had cancer we would be there supporting her and taking care of her, because she has a contagious mental disease we all stay away. There is only so much we can take from her and I for one am taking care of myself the best way I know how today.

  5. wow. i rarely hear “contagious mental disease” from anyone. u have self-care insight. thank u for sharing this story. you sound empowered to continue your life-journey, though it is not paved yet. keep us posted.

  6. Omgosh I’ve had my fill of people with personality flaws in recent days due to a sudden death in the family! My self-care has remained my top priority through all of this even though it had meant leaving a grieving widow by herself for a few hours. The problem is her daughter-in-law. My problem is my friend’s unwillingness to stand up to the wench. This is a volatile situation and I have to walk away in order to preserve my sanity and inner peace (and the daughter-in-law’s teeth). I have to realize this doesn’t involve me and choose that I won’t let it destroy my inner peace or derail my self care. so, walk away from those with brain flaws or personality disorders or whatever? you bet!

  7. Thanks for this reply, Sana 🙂 “The choice to engage in the life of the ill is like any other choice.” and “Everything starts and ends with me” – I agree with this – but even when we are well, we sometimes need a little help or a different perspective on how our behaviour affects other people. I think we can try and help friends to see if we think their behaviour is destructive but sometimes we have to walk away for purposes of self-preservation, even if it means losing a friend (and, of course, that works both ways)

  8. I enjoyed this post and found it a useful reminder to try to keep up one’s mental and physical resources in the face of bad times – especially the sleep part. That’s where I personally fall down at times.

    I also laughed at the laundry story. Reminds me of the past few days.
    Son and Daughter were detailed to hang out the washing to dry. Next thing I hear from Son was that Daughter wasn’t doing it. The odd thing about that was that he was telling me this in passing as he wandered back inside the house – in the opposite direction from the washing line. Hmmm. Off to the bathroom apparently – potentially to coincide with the duration of the supposedly shared task. Hmmm. Guess who end up having to do it all himself when he re-emerged?
    Top tip for children. Make sure you look busy before informing on a sibling.

    (I’d better add in a link to you too.)

  9. I have had my share of toxic people and I am not ashamed to say that I stay away 100%… of course I do this after I tried for many years to make things work, open communications, sharing of ideas, identifying triggers, and so on. I can honestly say that I tried everything ‘in the book’ to make the relationships work.
    Oh well, it is their loss not mine.

  10. Of course, we can only control our own actions. We can’t control others. We must make sure we do what’s right; we’re the only ones that can really make changes in our lives. And if other people cause us problems, instead of trying to change them, we need to change our own attitude towards what they’re doing. It’s good to know that we can handle anything if we choose to.

    • “if other people cause us problems, instead of trying to change them, we need to change our own attitude towards what they’re doing.” – yay! of course “changing our own attitude” may entail a whole lot of stuff such as taking medication and many other self-care kick my butt efforts. it may be a work of a life-time. hugs

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