When we feel whispered about, undervalued and misunderstood

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The girl, with her thin lashes and small eyes, looked at her.  What was her name again?  Bee?  Bernice?  Benny?  Something with a B.

Angelica looked back and waited.  “Helloooo?!” she thought to herself, and wanted to knock back as if to say the punchline to a knock-knock joke.

Oh mercy!   This job was getting to her.  She was at the same level as her five-year-old nephew who made up what he thought were jokes, like,

“Knock-knock.

(Mommy say, Whose there?)

‘Whose there?’

Robby.

(Mommy say, Robby who?)

‘Robby who?’  Robby poopy face!”

The kid had a brilliant career in comedy coming.

Brianna was still looking at her and Angelica finally asked her how she could help her.

“It’s your note, Maom.”  Bernice, or was it Brenda, had this way of calling her mom and ma’am all at once, reminding her that she was too young to be either, but she may have well of been since she couldn’t remember the note or many other details about her colleagues.  She’d always been like that though.  It bothered her as she became more aware of how undervalued she thought she was.  All Angelica did notice were the criticisms that came to her from administration.  It made her feel like everyone was talking about her behind her back, but she knew she couldn’t be that special.

Angelica shifted in her chair.

The last boss-message was verbally delivered about when she took her lunches.  She had sat there and taken it.  Wondering, where had all the hard work gone, she gave what she thought was a polite smile.  Where was the appreciation?!  Angelica replied with thanks for the feedback and that she would continue to work on her timeliness.  Yes, she would like to revisit this in a month and how supportive that was, boss-man.

Beonca was holding her hand out and Angelica reflexively shook it.  Wait!  Was she crying?!  Hold on here.  And now she noticed that B was swiping her nose with her sleeve.  Oh hell.  Was she sick?  Great!  Now she’d get it.

“Your note was so sweet!  Thank you for giving that feedback on my job performance in to boss-man!”

Oh yah!  Now Angelica remembered.  After she’d last gotten the pearls thrown at her regarding lunch hour timeliness she had decided to put some words on paper that were good.  Since nobody was noticing her goodli-lishissness she’d notice theirs and start her own powerful paper trail.   Just cuz.

One of their customers who was giving Angelica a hard time was really happy with B and had told Angelica about it.  Instead of losing brain time on wondering what the customer did not like about her, Angelica had put in a note about how much the customer had liked B.

Since then, Angelica kept a stack of customer feedback slips handy to fill out any time she noticed a colleague and/or herself doing “it” right.  She was going to overwhelm boss-man with good stuff and just enjoy knowing that the stuff had been noticed and said.  No more would she be unappreciated.  Even if only by herself.

Angelica looked at the crumpled paper in B’s hand and read,

“Germaine is an excellent worker.  She found merchandise a customer wanted with speedy response today and the customer specifically told me about it.”

Germaine!?  Ah well.

Angelica leaned over and gave her own wet-eyed sticky hug back.

It is universal for all of us to feel whispered about, undervalued and misunderstood.  And then what?  Let us give it the elbow jab and be our own advocate.  Put it on paper.  Say it out loud.  Be grateful about it and ruminate the gratitude.

Personalizing what is not about us gets worse with brain illness.  It is almost pathognomonic for it in fact, when it gets to the point that it cannot be redirected by conscious decision, when it interrupts interpersonal relationships and when it takes away our ability to feel pleasure.  Taking medical treatment can change the way we feel and behave without beating ourselves up over it and moralizing what is not moral.  However, this kind of elbow jabbing Angelica decided to do is just plane friendly.  And if you want…?  Well?

Questions:  Have you felt whispered about, undervalued and misunderstood?  Have you been able to get friendly with it?  Or do you feel the victim?  Please tell us your story.

Self-Care Tip:  Acknowledge yourself and others.

Courage Not To Presume.

Pony Express

Self-Care Tip #116 – Have courage not to presume.

Courage.  Courage is doing what frightens us.  I heard this definition and as usual I got a little stiff.  Definitions sometimes feel sticky to me and I’m trying to understand why.  Why is my lip curled?

In line the other day for the theater, a grandfather in front of me got talking.  I didn’t get any names; just that he was a grandfather of a 7-year-old girl who owned him.  Naturally he drifted into stories about her, including their most recent vacation to Knott’s Berry Farm.  They rode “The Pony Express” despite his fear and instincts.  I asked him if he was proud of his granddaughter’s courage and he replied, “She wasn’t scared!  So she wasn’t the one with courage.  I was!”  He laughed, and then I laughed, but I walked away to the ticket booth whispering, “What does he know about her thoughts?”

I see so many faces flashing across my mind’s eye.  I see them, and I hear them.  I realize their whispers have become mine because I believe them.  My patients are courageous.  These, who have not told others.  Who have not screamed when they wanted to.  These people who have put on the appearance of calm despite their fears.  They are a study in functional mental illness.

Functional mental illness, although historically refers to mal-behaviors and emotions without medical cause, now after years of increased knowledge and study, it includes their biological organic etiology.

As an example of functional mental illness I’ll tell you about Miranda, a mother of 2.  Miranda says her kids stress her out and she can barely take care of them.  However at her job, she performs adequately and no one would say she seems depressed.  She falls into bed when her kids do between 7 or 8 PM yet never feels refreshed.  Crying while pouring their cereal each day, she packs them dry bread and a pickle for their lunches.  No one would know the courage it takes for her to survive the moment and then the next.  They all presume she is fine.

After teasing apart my thoughts on courage, my lip has uncurled.  I understand that definitions bother me because they can sometimes imply freedom to presume more than one should.  We can never know people’s thoughts, motives, feelings entirely and that bit that we don’t know, may be the bit that changes their story.  If you want to read more, check out this post.

So for now, I can push down my fear of definitions, put on the face of calm, …and what?  Be a friend to myself.

And you?

Question:   Where do you need the most courage to do good for yourself?  How do you deal with your fears?  Please tell me your story.