Life has just seemed so complicated and overwhelming lately. For me, for everyone.
Right now, you are probably all in or completely tuned out. From the 2020 election to the Coronavirus to the celebrity scandals, you either know and care about what is going on in the world or you don’t and are waiting for Facebook/Instagram/Twitter/etc. to tell you what you need to know and if you should care. Try to convince someone who doesn’t care, see how far you get! 😲
Your take on these news events will be framed by your news source. If you are a person who gets his/her news from the mainstream media or even from Social Media, you will have a different view than Infowars / Natural News / Breitbart / other alternative news sources. You might have a confusing mix of all of the above. Either way, it is exhausting, gut-wrenching, and stressful. On both sides, we are waiting with endless anticipation of what will happen next, who will ruin our lives, and how they will do it. All of this on top of your job, your family, your bills, health issues, and other things pulling on you at the same time. The instinct is to cover our ears, close our eyes and block it all out, but that only works for a little while.
All we can do is stay tuned and hope for the best while preparing for the worst. Eat right, take your vitamins, pay your bills, keep needed supplies on hand. And what ever you do, don’t expect the government to fix all of your problems.
I went to a workshop recently to learn about Trauma Exposure Response and the effects of secondary trauma on people who work with trauma victims. The speaker was Laura Van Dernoot Lipsky of the Trauma Stewardship Institute. I saw her TED talk, so I had a little insight as to what the workshop would cover but was pleasantly surprised at the knowledge I gained and the feelings it brought out of me and others in attendance.
While working in mental health/ social services for 15 years, and dealing with my own stress, family conflict, grief/loss, etc. concurrently, I know that life and the type of work I have done are not easy. I have had good days and bad days, success, failures, internal conflicts and personal conflicts, concerns about safety, sadness about how I tried to help someone which did not work out, and I have seen substance abuse, child abuse, the list is endless. I realize that I have faired much better than other field workers and yet the job and life take their toll all the same. You and I and others have to figure out have to live life while addressing theses issues with and for others on a daily basis.
A few topics came up during the course of the workshop which are not in my cup of tea, but I kept an open mind and I am glad to draw from the knowledge well at any time. I am sure that there are some differing world views, but I chose to focus on why I was at the workshop and to learn how I can get back on track and feel better. I realized that I spend more time than I should focusing on what isn’t and how I wish it would be. I have learned about being mindful, concepts of Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (including Radical Acceptance), stress management, anger management, the five stages of change, and more. I have tried each of them and other coping methods, including exercise, but understanding how everything fits together and leaves long-lasting effects was powerful. Knowing that you need to take a brief walk at work is not the same as making a plan to manage your stress and exposure to trauma so you can live and work in healthy ways. I am now aware of this, and have a long way to go toward fixing, reconciling, and mending. My first step is to read “Trauma Stewardship: An Everyday Guide to Caring for Self While Caring for Others” , and the second step is to make some healthy changes, including regular exercise and mindfulness. So far, I am enjoying the book and working to implement Laura’s suggestions.
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
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 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.
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.
Life has been a bit busy in the past few weeks. Boyfriend has been looking for a different job, I tried to qualify for a part-time work-from-home job that didn’t work out, I have family coming to visit this weekend, and Boyfriend has had to make somewhat unexpected plans to visit family due to some, shall we say, difficulties beyond his control and he has be the better person in a no-win situation. We have both been busy and stressed out, to say the least.
I have not forgotten about the blogosphere known as Word Press and I have been reading Daily Prompts and blogs when I have a few minutes, but time has not allowed for me to sit down and get creative myself over the past few weeks. I plan for that to change in the next week or so. While I am not the greatest writer ever, I have enjoyed the months I have spent posting on Word Press and I have enjoyed seeing the thoughts, pictures and other acts of creativity and free speech that people have exercised for both theirs and others benefit.
Life, it seems, gets harder for a lot of people, not easier. The news, real news, if you can find it and read it has been tough, too. I try to remain hopeful that the best is ahead of us all, not in the past. I shall look forward to writing about my upcoming family adventures as well as the challenges of life.