We Try Knowing We Will Fail. The Wonderful Journey Of Flawed People.

The t-shirt

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It’s 9:23 PM and our little kids are still awake!  They’ve cried.  They’ve laughed.  We’ve cuddled.  We’ve spanked.  They’ve taken two showers and brushed their teeth twice.  We ate several times.

I was riding my bike, watching a movie, (I love that!), and my daughters were taking turns coming in to complain, wet me with their tears, snuggle, hold me; you get it.  My exercise and my movie were peppered with refreshing breaks.  Sitting on the couch chair nearby with my five-year old during one of these intermissions, holding her, I was able to say,

It’s okay.  

I was able to do this because I was the one in the casita getting pumped up and my husband was the one in the house herding children to bed.  He had the tough job that turns me into a turnip and I had this.

You can do it.  You can try again.  You can try again, even if you are trying for the one-hundredth time.  You try and you try and you try again because that’s what makes our lives beautiful.  The trying part mostly.  Not the arrival.  

And that’s when I grabbed her and held on.  I suddenly felt so blessed.  From this off-night, I was given the reminder that the trying part of life is where it is at.

It’s 9:33 PM and I think they’re asleep.  Sigh.  Tonight was awesome.

We are flawed people.  We try, knowing we will fail.  Who does that?!  Why would anyone do that to themselves!?  Smile.  Ah.  Sounds wonderful.

Questions:  How is your journey?  Have you been enjoying your failures lately?  Please tell me your story.

Self-Care Tip #273  – Enjoy your failures.

Finalé – Me Again. Everything Starts and Ends With Me – Even Emotions and Behaviors.

We are doing a narrative series on understanding where emotions and behaviors come from:

  1. Emotions Are Contagious – Emotions shared
  2. Our own Emotional Junk – Emotions hidden
  3. Positive Emotions and Behaviors are Contagious Too 
  4. Our Conscious Self is Our Board and Paddle at Sea – Small conscious self and BIG unconscious self
  5. Biopsychosocial Model – Biological, Psychological, Social selves
  6. Me! 
  7. Finalé – Me Again.  Everything Starts and Ends With Me – Even Emotions and Behaviors.  (Today’s post.)

We have covered in our series that emotions are contagious.  We know that if we take care of our own first, we might not be as “susceptible” to negative “contagion” in turn and perhaps, be more available to giving and receiving positive “emotion-contagion.”  Further, we hope that if we do this, we might be able to choose to be with people we love even if they don’t do their own self-care.  We can have that connection without personalizing what isn’t about us.  Sigh.  That is nice, isn’t it?  Then …out at sea (away from our narrative for a day,) we talked about the pleasure in engaging with what bits of biology are directly available to us and the relationship we maintain with the big expanse of our unconscious biology.  We reviewed our biopsychosocial model as a tool, and then restated the simplicity in looking for and at Me to discover where emotions and behaviors come from.

Today we leave Rob and meet Iva for our Finalé.

Mother and daughter

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Self-Care Tip #272 – Look!  Me Again!

Iva was crying.  Things could not go on as they were.  It must stop!  The tension and recurring emotional crisis’ between her and her daughter were cancerous to her family.

Iva was trying.  She’d come a long long way.  On antidepressants now, exercising three to five times a week, down twenty pounds and into her honey-moon clothes from many many years ago.  She felt so much better about herself.  She was no longer yelling at every stressor, she felt pleasure again and liked being with her kids, including her daughter… when her daughter wasn’t throwing fits.  However, her daughter was “fits-ing” one to three times a day still.  Iva felt like she had lost control as a parent and gave a lot of blame to her little girl.  This is why Iva came in.  Something wasn’t right about that.  It was evading her, however, what that something was.

To be clear, “little” in this case meant four years old.  Four years old and they could hardly be with each other.  Iva trembled thinking about the teen years ahead.  Iva wondered how a four-year old could drum up so much drama and wield so much power.

Why didn’t she listen?  Why did her daughter make her resort to spanking and punishments to get obedience?  Why did she whine all the time?  

Crying again, Iva was still able to break this down as to where her emotions and behaviors were coming from and specifically keep it about “Me.”  That was our job as we crunched this together.

Emotions shared – Iva had negative emotions that her four-year old was susceptible to?

Emotions hidden – Iva hadn’t gone towards her own something or other?  Maybe she didn’t even realize the negative emotions she felt toward her daughter in the first place to go towards them and see what was there.

small conscious self and BIG unconscious self – Iva had an opportunity to play, work, know and own this little portion of what made her who she was.  The BIG unconscious self she was doing well taking care of with her basic needs – time with her Higher Power, medication compliant, exercise, sleep, diet, water and so on.

Biological, Psychological, Social selves – (A whole bunch of stuff you’ll have to read the previous blog-posts on!  Awesome paradigm.)

And then, finally, Me.  In the space between her and her daughter, Iva had forgotten that it was about Me.  Iva was putting a lot of blame on her little girl.  That’s a lot of pressure for a child to shoulder.  It is not appropriate for a parent to shame her child this way.  This isn’t a moral statement unless we make it one.  It just is.  It-is-not-appropriate.  That’s all.  Iva circled back around and saw herself there.  Her Me.

Iva left thinking things were looking up.

Questions:  Even in your most difficult relationships, how do you own your emotions and behaviors?  Or is there a reason for them outside of yourself?  Please tell me your story.

Free To Do Self-Care, Despite Our Bully

Demonstration in London supporting Serbia

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Bullying:  Series Continued.  (I didn’t even realize I was writing a series until now!)

  • #144 Leave Space In Your Beliefs To Grow
  • #163 “He’s Never Hit Me.” Abuse.
  • #251 Just Ordinary Bullying – The Bully and The Bullied
  • #253 How to Be A Friend To Yourself When Thinking About Your Bully

Bit’s and parts of us are unbelieving in what number of options to self-care that we have, when it comes to being bullied.  I don’t say this lightly about terrors.  Terrors change us irrevocably and hurt to the brink of our own abyss.

The question is, are we free to do self-care even when we are bullied?

Yesterday, Carl in his candid way, said,

Empathy and forgiveness? You gotta be kidding. Do you know what it is like for a twelve year-old to face this…  for an entire school term? Probably not? Cope? Isn’t coping with a chronic negative stimulus as debilitating as being unable to cope….  There may be situations where “book smart” stuff is not applicable because we cannot negotiate with the bully.

Go Serbia

Image by SanforaQ8 via Flickr

We cannot negotiate with the bully.  True, to the degree that Carl said, if I understand him.  (Carl you will surely set me straight soon.)

It is true that people who like to fight, fight well.  People who bully generally will bully better than I can ever defend myself.  They have had a lot more practice.  Have you heard this?  You never want to go up against someone who has nothing to lose because the only one that will lose is you.

When someone is agitated, in psychiatry we learn that it is good not to make eye-contact.  Avert the body.  Keep your voice low and don’t engage as much as possible.  It reminds me of letting the mist of early morning dew expire the coals in the camp fire.  Getting attacked is something we want to avoid.

Early on in my training, I was rounding on the inpatient psychiatry ward.  We often have people who are agitated admitted there and this morning, I remember it was about seven AM on a Sunday….  This particular patient hadn’t slept well.  He wasn’t well-groomed and he scowled.  All the nurses where in another room in a nurses meeting and I didn’t notice he and I were alone in the hallway.  I looked him in the eyes directly.  I didn’t concern myself with tempering my interview.  I was still sleepy myself and wanted to get out of there as quickly as possible to start my Sunday stuff at home.  (I know.  Stellar attitude for a resident-physician, right?)  He grabbed me around the waist and I nearly lost my water!  I screamed at him like a she-dog and he let go.  That was all.  No big deal right?  Well I was ticked at him and at the nurses for not being available.  No one was at the nurses station, which is illegal too.

In truth, I was pretty much an idiot on all accounts.  It doesn’t condone the assault but I have since been better about not negotiating with the bully.  

That probably wasn’t exactly what Carl was talking about but it is related.  It is by no means a full year of negative harassment, but when responding to the concept of not being able to negotiate with the bully, I don’t know at what point in degrees of trauma experiences that becomes true for us.  Perhaps it isn’t a matter of qualifying them or quantifying them.  Perhaps more depends on the victim.  I don’t know.  Do you?

What I do know, is that Carl and I are both partly wrong.  We can.  I don’t know about then.  We can now.  We are free even from those molesting monsters because of who we are.  We were created free and those horrors can’t extinguish that bit of us.  We are free not because of the protection or lack of protection we’ve lived in life.  We are free.

We don’t claim to know all the innumerable forms of suffering out there.  That is not what this self-care engages with.

Questions:  How do you find yourself free at this time in your life, despite it all?  How do you describe your freedom, even with your bully?  How have you seen others in this context?    Please tell me your story.

Self-Care Tip #254 – Free yourself from your bully.

Additional Resources:

Imagine If You Were Your Own Friend, And Take Your Advice

Postcard - Sexy Woman writing a letter

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Self-Care Tip #234 – Imagine if you were your own friend, and take your advice.

Joana Johnson, author of CreatingBrains.com, full-time mom of six, part-time University history teacher, student, wife, confidant, friend and sister-in-law… (no she’s not running for president) …Joana asked me today,

Write a letter to someone you love sharing what you want them to do to take better care of themselves.  You don’t have to give it to them or you can.

Now imagine what letter with what self-care requests would someone who loved you write to you?

…You’re right.  I’m going to have to talk her into running for president.

And so, I offer this challenge to you.  I wonder after you.  I am sitting in waiting.  Please tell us this part or more of your story.

Living Where We Feel Safe is Part of Self-Care

Self-Care Tip #213 – Live in safety.  Be a friend to yourself.

In My Fridge

Image by Nikita Kashner via Flickr

I love psychiatry because for me it is a safe place.  A place where I am comfortable pushing aside distractions.  The blinking lights disappear and I don’t have to waste myself on B.S.  Some time ago, I told you about how Mom has been when Dad’s been hospitalized in the past.  When she pushed his tubing aside and just got in bed with him to hold him.  All that mattered then was Love.  They didn’t see the clutter any more.  That’s what psychiatry offers.  If we want, we  can come together and be real.  In twenty to forty minutes, we can hune and warp time and find a gravity where we breathe differently.

Chewbacca

Image by Andres Rueda via Flickr

Unfortunately, I have found that the longer I do this psychiatry thing, the worse I am with life otherwise.  Whether I’m with the grocer, dog-trainer, my child’s teacher or person in front of me in the coffee-line – I just don’t graze well.  (See blog-post, “Do You Feel Pleasure.”)  I’m always yelling, “Hit it Chewbacca!” and we’re off at warp speed into asteroids of personal information; perhaps inappropriate to the setting.  (See blog-post, “Using The Force.”)  I hate to think what I’ll become when I’m more thoroughly demented and disinhibited.  These things just get more pronounced with age and soon I’ll just be that crazy Auntie with her bra snapped on top of her bathing-suit in winter yelling at the young kids to turn the music down so we can talk.

The truth is, I’ve never been so wonderful in tinsel-town.  I found home and found that home needs to be a place where we are safe.  In fact, this is true materially in the home we live in.  It starts there and diffuses out.  If at home we are able to speak uncensored knowing we respect others and are respected because we are human, not because we have to earn it, if we can enter our kitchen and not fear temptation from chocolate chip cookies, open the fridge and know as an alcoholic the wife or husband didn’t buy beer, argue and trust that we are loved enough to be a priority, we know the issue won’t be lazily passed up, we know we are safe – then there is a ripple and a ring of safety and another ripple and another ring of safety and soon safety follows us because we just aren’t interested in anything else.  (That was a super-sentence.)  We have found home.

Questions:  How do you define safety?  What feels safe for you?  How do you grow your circle of safety?  Please tell me your story.

So Many Choices, So Little Time …For Self-Care

"Sophia Western", engraving after Bu...

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Self-Care Tip #198 – Being a friend to yourself might be saying,

No.

Our culture is brimming.  Brimming with…, well take your pick; walking the dogs, turning in a take-home test, watching The King’s Speech, writing a journal entry, making pancakes or reading Savvy – we have options.

However, today and often, options are stalkers we think difficult to restrain.  …More difficult, say than filing a restraining order against your husband.

Walter filed for divorce with his unhappy wife.  Vengefully, his wife turned around and filed a restraining order on him and just like that, he was unable to see his kid for over two months.  That was easy.  All she had to do was file it.

And when we have these many options, all we need to do is say, “Yes,” to one and to the rest,

No.

I love it when my four year-old son is rocking carelessly on my outstretched legs, flopping about, a happy-drunk bird-on-a-wire, and predictably although unintentionally falls.  Crumpled on the floor, he flicks his bangs back and says rather coolly,

I was okay, Mommy.  I was okaaaay.

I had tried to rest on the couch and type, doing my self-care thing after doing Mommy-stuff with the kids for a large chunk of the day.  But telling him to stop doing that really cute thing he does was not so easy.

According to The Economic and Social Research Council,

Having older siblings is not related to children’s happiness with their family, but having younger siblings in the household is associated with lower levels of satisfaction and this effect is greater the more younger siblings present in the household.

It turns out that children feel more happiness in their homes when there are fewer younger children.  They perceive that there is less energy available for them from their parents with each born child.  And I’m here to say, there is.  With my son on the floor, flicking his hair and going,

I was okaaay…,

my middle daughter kissing my shoulder and burrowing into my arm like an ear-wig, my eldest daughter came back to ask for the sixth time if I would play jump rope with her – I remembered this study.  So true.  I don’t need more options, i.e. more children who ask and I say,

No.

With these many wonderful options, choosing Me, is not always easy.  (See post, “‘You’ Are the Best Gift.”)

Now throw in a little inappropriate guilt, some ruminating thoughts, self-loathing, bad sleep, some low motivation and energy and choosing Me becomes the hardest thing anyone has come up against.

Questions: How do you choose you when you could pick so many other great options?  How has this helped quality of life for you and others in your life?  Please tell me your story.

Love – Take What is Already Yours. You Have Been Given Love.

Stef's Present with Handmade Wrapping

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Self-Care Tip #194 – Take what is already yours.  Be a friend to yourself.

Parenting, we hold the power in the relationship between us and our child/ren.  If we are emotionally maltreated by our child/ren, we parents are still the ones with the power.  What are we giving to her if we teach her that we will take the terrible words and dark emotions?  When we take the projected anger when we have the power to choose not to, what message are we giving to ourselves about ourselves?  What is the message if we say by our actions that Love demands from us to accept, to take and to be a victim to the emotional abuse?  Is that what love tells us?

It is difficult to receive maltreatment from anyone.  And because of the suffering involved, we can misinterpret the message, “This is the sacrifice that Love demands” – the sacrifice is doing what other people want before taking care of yourself.

It is difficult not to receive maltreatment as well.  Which choice is more consistent with our understanding of Love?  The words in the message might be the same, “This is the sacrifice that Love demands.”  However, the interpretation of the message, of what the sacrifice is – that meaning is different.  The sacrifice is, rather, taking care of yourself first so that you have the best of you to offer to others.

To read more on this topic, please see posts, Criticize if You Love MeListen to The Intention in What People Say and Stop! Before Hurting Yourself or Others.

Because we as parents hold the power in the relationship, we can feel trapped by our own power.  What a confusion for many of us.  Holding power but feeling helpless.  Holding a stick in both hands, so to speak, not seeing that we can still use our occupied hands for anything else in the mean time.

This kind of choice takes Love.  This is the kind of choice that is a work of a life-time or of a moment, but is life.  See, Let It Go and Keep Going.

We can’t teach others that we are valuable and how to treat us with Love if we don’t do it ourselves for ourselves.  When we act on Love, self-care means that we don’t accept treatment that is inconsistent with Love.  If we accept bad treatment, we are saying that self-care is accepting our lack of choices versus making the choices that are still available despite the circumstance.

FriendShip... A gift of God.

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This of course applies to any relationship.  It applies to any connection, whether it is in the work-place, marriage, if you are the child in the parent-child role, friendships – take your pick.  You can choose Love.  You can choose.  Self-care starts and ends with “Me.”

Freedom is a gift.  No matter how many times it is wrapped up and placed in our hands, if we don’t open it, use it, own it, we will never have it.  Freedom to choose has been given to us before we were born, just like our salvation.  The salvation will never be taken away.  Nor the freedom.  Both are elemental and constant.  But if we don’t pull on the ribbon, lift the lid and take – we can’t expect anything but living without what was inside.  Does the title “victim” even hold if it was our choice not to take what was already ours?

Question:  How do you claim your freedom to choose when all you perceive at the time is what has been taken away?  Please tell me your story.