Learning About Myself

I was a shy kid who got teased. I had short hair for a long time, played an unpopular sport, and had a funny last name, all of which provided opportunities for others to tease me. I was talkative to the few friends I had and to my family, but I remained shy for a long time in a lot of situations until college. My roommate for most of college was very outgoing, and it was hard not to absorb a little of that when I got around a group of people. I thought I was an extrovert, partially because I was talkative in comfortable settings and because I work in a social services.

I am not someone who has ever had a large group of friends, like my brother does. Socializing with others comes very easy to him and everyone loves him.  I have mostly had a few people I was close with, and I still prefer to interact on that basis. I get lost in a big crowd, and still have trouble figuring out what to say to people I don’t know unless I can find a connection or it is work-related and I go into that frame of mind.  I went through a period in my twenties, like a lot of people, when I would go to bars and hang out but I still mostly spent time with people I already knew. While I did enjoy some of these times, I allowed myself to make poor or limited choices by not breaking away and branching out a little. The one good choice I made was to talk to the guy who is now Boyfriend, and it took me 20 minutes to think of what to say to him.

By Anneli Rufus
By Anneli Rufus

Boyfriend is an introvert but has a very warm personality. A few years ago he found out about a book called Party Of One: A Loner’s Manifesto by Anneli Rufus and recommended I read it after he did. It was a great book! I found myself intrigued and relating to some of what Rufus talked about. He then read Quiet: The Power of Introverts In  A World That can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain. I read that book, too, which kind of gelled with my interest in psychology. Over time, I’ve read a few more books about introverts and extroverts and learned a lot.  One I really like is Introvert Power by Laurie Helgoe. While I can be very talkative and open in a comfortable setting, I still get nervous, I freeze, and sometimes I react by saying the exact wrong thing. I have learned that, even amongst people I like and feel connected to, I reach a limit and need time to recover and that it is ok to be “boring” and not join the group. After dealing with toxic people I feel stressed and anxious, which I notice more now than I did when I was used to chaos. Writing really helps, so does exercise, and also music, whether after work or other interactions.  I  believe that I am a mix of introvert and extrovert, and that’s fine by me.

By Susan Cain
By Susan Cain
By Laurie Helgoe
By Laurie Helgoe

Learning about yourself and what you need to be healthy and happy is very important. As I’ve written before in other posts, you have to choose wisely because some choices are long-lasting and expensive to change, such as a career path. Yet, sometimes you can scratch a certain itch in other ways, such as writing a blog when you have the desire to be a writer.   I scratch the athlete itch by working out and playing tennis when I have a chance.  I stay away from some social situations that are unhealthy or stressful  so I can be less stressed. I am still learning about myself everyday, and trying to improve for my betterment.

© 2015 blogdaysofchrell

Recovering From The Chaos…

The past few weeks have been… interesting.

First, I had the long-awaited visit from my mother and my aunt, which went well for the most part. My mother and my aunt are the middle and youngest children, respectively, and they are very different in their opinions. Yet, they are both very talkative and competitive of each other, but neither would admit to this. Both women are in their mid-to-late 60’s , overweight, and they love me dearly. I was glad to see my mother and my aunt, but I  was disappointed when my mother became somewhat jealous of me and my aunt talking, as I enjoyed hearing stories about my uncle and eight cousins that I had not previously heard. My mother would interrupt, add to the conversation in ways that didn’t may sense and would throw zingers at both me and my aunt, which Boyfriend witnessed, rather than telling us how she really felt. There were even moments when my mother channeled my father’s impatience, disagreeableness and negativity, which surprised me. Boyfriend and I tried to plan a few things to do and places to go that would allow us all to spend time together, see some sights and eat good food.  The high points, for me, were their appreciate for Boyfriend and for his patience, good nature and how good he is to me, and learning about my family. The low points were two arguments with my mother because she said I was being negative.  To me, sometimes an apple is just an apple, not the most beautiful, tasty red apple ever! All I did was share my account of an event, so I walked away for a few minutes to collect myself, and the second time, when I actually told her how I felt, and she threw a fit in front of the Texas State Capital because I was being real rather than in the clouds. I love both of my parents but I continue to have trouble with the fact that they take it personally if I happen to agree with the other parent on something about which they disagree. Thank God for my aunt, who was not only understanding but able to somewhat mediate and salvage the day. Overall, it was nice to see my mother and my aunt after not being home to see the family for almost two years, and it felt good to share some of my life in Texas with them. My mother and I have talked since, and I think we now having a better understanding of each other.

Next, Boyfriend starts getting calls from relatives about his mother and some problems caused by his older brother. His mother and brother, as mentioned in a previous post, are both narcissists, and are enemies and best friends depending on the day. Boyfriend limits contact with both of them but did talk to his mother for her birthday (in March), Easter and Mother’s Day. The calls from relatives came somewhere in between, and culminated in Boyfriend’s decision to fly home for a few days to see for himself about his mother’s health and the accusations about his brother’s, um, shenanigans. The stories changed a little once Boyfriend started investigating and he found out the truth, which he already suspected. Let’s just say that, due to my dealings with these people over 12 years, I have much respect and admiration for Boyfriend being courageous enough to ask tough questions and stand up for himself in the presence of a women who does not deserve the title of mother due to her blatant favoritism, manipulation and standard  narcissist behavior, and he still put a plan in place for his mother to be cared for and helped. I don’t think I could have done it, but Boyfriend is the strongest person I know.

This has been a lot of stress on both of us. Then, there is work. Boyfriend started a new job about two weeks ago, and they were kind enough to allow him the time to go home. I had several days off recently while preparing for and during my family visit, and I have felt emotionally drained from everything.  While I am grateful to have a job, but it has its own set of challenges. Working as somewhat of a team has it perks and its drawbacks. Sometimes it is nice to have someone there to help with complicated cases but you don’t get to make decisions on your own, and you have to do what the team agrees with. Also, it is tough when each person has a different relationship with the boss, and there is some favoritism from time to time. I realize that I have not handled my stress the best as of late, but it makes things even tougher when you don’t get the same benefit of the doubt or the same information as others do. I know I must do better and work harder, and accept things as they are.

While it has been hard for Boyfriend to be gone due to concerns about how he would be treated by his family, I am glad to hear that he gained support from a few surprising sources. I hope that, in between his chaos, he got a little time to himself that is hard to get living in a 650 square foot apartment with me and the Cat, and I was glad to get a little time to recover from my chaos by talking on the phone to family and watching a few favorite movies, You’ve Got Mail and keeping the Faith. The best recovery for me, though, will be picking Boyfriend up from the airport tonight.

© 2015 blogdaysofchrell

 

Forgive and Forget…. I think not.

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Forgive and Forget?.”

I think that forgiveness can be healthy and appropriate for healing, but forgetting, not so much. Some actions cannot betaken back, regardless of the words spoken in the aftermath. Extending forgiveness to someone who is TRULY sorry and has taken responsibility for their action s is understandable, and we’ve all done it, just as we have all had to ask for forgiveness, too.  Forgetting is another matter. Sometimes it can be done, sometimes it cannot.  What’s done is done and a memory has been created, good or bad. Forgetting what someone has done can set us up to be hurt or taken advantage of again, just like the old saying…

fool me once
courtesy of quotationslibrary.com

I’ve learned recently in research I have done about narcissism, that it is common to be fooled repeatedly due to the abusive and manipulative nature of the narcissist. Boyfriend got me into reading and learning about narcissism because his mother and brother are both narcissists that have caused him much pain and suffering, even to this day. Thank God we moved to Texas, it’s amazing what  little distance can do. The best thing would be no contact but… easier said than done. I mention these two people because I could not forgive them if God himself ask me to. They are two of the most angry, deceptive, hateful, manipulative, unfeeling, inhuman people I have ever met. If we knew then what we know now, I would like to think that Boyfriend and I would have made different choices with regarding to both of our dealings with them.  Moving on with without certain people is the best thing to do. I would not call it forgiveness but simply moving on. Thank you to Narcissism Survivor on YouTube!!!!! You are teaching us so much.

With regard to my family, I have forgiven a few things, just as have they, but the forgetting is hard. I do try to balance bad memories with good memories because my parents tried their best. I just wish they had made a few choices that would have made us all happier, possibly going their separates ways to be free of drama. I know that I am not perfect and neither are they, and we meet in the middle enough to make things still work. It is easier to see and talk to my parents separately because of their personal differences, and they both feel special.

As for friends, I have tried to forgive and forget and, ultimately, the friendship eventually ended. Relationships can run their course. We contribute something to the other person’s life and they to ours, possibly for reasons unknown. Ultimately, we each have to do what is best for our health and happiness, which can mean leaving some people in our past.

Poster By Flavia Weedn

 

© 2015 blogdaysofchrell

It’s a great life if you don’t weaken…

Growing up, I remember my Dad saying, “It’s a great life if you don’t weaken.” I looked up the origins of this saying, and found that it was featured in a cartoon a long time ago, that has been attributed to John Buchan, a Scottish novelist, unionist and Canadian politician, and that it has been used as song lyrics, first by Maurice Chevalier and later by the Tragically Hip. No matter where my Dad got it from, I can relate to it and the words have stuck with me.

courtesy of izquotes.com
  1. I work in social services and have in some variety for the past 15 years. I have worked with youth, family, elderly, homeless, mentally ill and drug addicted people. As I mentioned in a previous post, I like helping people and I am someone who helps other whether I am at work or among friends. This does not mean that my job(s) has been easy, that I have not gone through burnout, and that I don’t have days when I fantasize about winning the lottery and walking away from the world of social services, and work, forever. I try to have more good days than bad, I do the best I can to do my job, and I try to not bring others’ problems home with me, which is a lot easier than it used to be. I have a set schedule now rather than a few set days and a mostly fluid schedule, which means I am usually done with work at a certain time but my day lacks flexibility. I don’t have to take phone calls once I am off the clock, which fluctuated when I scheduled my own appointments and was trying to get in touch with working parents.

“It’s a great life if you don’t weaken.”

Some days I find it hard to get up and go to work to deal with others’ problems and dysfunctions while I am dealing with stress and dysfunctions in my life and coupled with the reality that life is not getting better or easier for most people, me included.  I struggle with the limited time I have in the evening and on weekends to relax and do things that keep me sane, after I help Boyfriend with daily apartment tasks, such as dishes, cooking, shopping, cleaning, laundry, playing with the cat, and getting enough sleep. Exercise, writing, watching baseball, talking with family/friends and playing tennis are things that I enjoy. The tough thing is that if I take time to write, I am probably not going to exercise, play tennis or do much else, especially during the evening. It’s a juggling act for me, and I know this sounds like nothing for someone who also has kids, but this is enough for me. On good days, I feel like I can do what I need to do, I relish in getting all of my home and work tasks done and I believe that things will, and can, get better.

I doubt that I am the only one who feels this way. Life can be great and yet we all have days when we not only weaken but we want to hide under the covers and not come out. I find strength in the support I get from Boyfriend, who has a bad back and other injuries that ail him but he never complains. I find strength in our one-year old cat who loves us and brings us her toy mice in the night, and in the clients who are truly grateful for my assistance. I find strength in my ability to get up, even when I don’t want to so I can fulfill my responsibilities. “It’s a great life if you don’t weaken,” and I try my best to keep going.

© 2015 blogdaysofchrell

Choose Wisely

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “IMHO.”

When I worked with youth, I would complete a service plan with each of them, which included questions about hobbies, future plans and college/career interests. Part of my job was to not only address the negative situation (these youth were enrolled in a juvenile court diversion program), but to help the youth look beyond today to the future. I emphasized the importance of learning from mistakes, because we all make mistakes, and that you can make choices to improve your situation even if the options are not ideal. Great advice that even I needed to hear from time to time. Other advice I gave was for youth to make a plan and a back-up plan so they could change course if needed.

It was a foregone conclusion that I would go to college when I finished high school, and I did, on a tennis scholarship. Although my parent meant well, especially my Dad, they scoffed at a few of my career interests with statements like, “your grades need to be higher to get into the right college to be a lawyer,” or “Journalism is very competitive, and you often start your career in a Podunk town until you can move up to a bigger market.” I was a city girl, somewhat shy and lacking in confidence with mostly B+ grades, so I didn’t pursue these avenues. I’d like to think that if the internet was available back then that I would have found a way to pursue one of those careers, but…there is no way to know that for sure. My Dad is someone who plans for the worse-case-scenario and is big on “doing your duty,” including working a job you don’t like to provide for your family. I appreciate that he did this for us, but I wish he would have pursued some of his interests and talents that might have still allowed him to provide for his family.

I think that some things happen for a reason, and that some situations are of our own making. Although I had an interest in Psychology, I basically pursued my bachelor’s degree by default- I wasn’t interested in the careers suggested to me, and I was advised against other careers, so I kind of just went in a familiar direction without a plan of how to proceed after I got my degree. It didn’t help matters that I made various poor choices (friends, relationships, and how I spent my free time), struggled with my management of these choices, and that I didn’t live up to my academic potential.  There were times when I figured I would just get through whatever was going on, and that “it” would just work out. There were other times when I just didn’t care, as much as I hate to admit it. If I had just figured out ME, what I wanted, where I wanted to go and what I wanted to do without worrying about what others did or thought, I would have been fine.  Easier said than done, especially after years of being the outsider with few friends. Ultimately, I have learned that it is best to be who you are, and let others accept it.

I believe that there is more than one path to success, including paths that don’t involve college, but I believe that you should make a plan and a back-up plan, and that you should try to map a way to your goals without too many pitfalls and without going into massive debt. Before you pursue a degree, look into the options it will offer you long-term. Unless you plan on becoming a psychologist or a professor, or you plan to obtain a master’s degree with licensure, I would advise against getting a bachelor’s degree in psychology. You will take interesting classes but you will be limited in career opportunities. Being a case manager (or other social service worker) can be very rewarding but typically doesn’t allow for too much advancement or big money-making, and is a career path with a high probability of burnout. This is why many people working in social services move around, in addition to the frequent changes in funding their agencies deal with each year.

If I had it to do over, which would now cost me too much, I would have been a journalist. I like helping people, but writing is something I have done in some form or fashion for a long time. Thank you, Word Press, for giving people like me a healthy outlet for their passion and their daily stress!

 © 2015 blogdaysofchrell