Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Talk Too Much


I love to talk about what's on my mind. For a lot of my young life that involved sorting through what was happening to me. Though I have no memory of threats related to not telling about abuse, I can only guess that something was said.

I didn't tell my mother the babysitter lady beat on me. I only told my mother abut the sexual abuse when she separated from him. She did deny that he could do that. When I was an adult she told me she did that to protect me. That's total bullshit.

When I was a kid, we didn't have all those talk shows like Oprah, but we did have daytime shows sort of like The Talk or The View. Only usually hosted by men or a couple. Guests would sit down and talk about their lives on particular topics.

Because these daytime shows were mostly on while I was at school, I only saw them on rare occasions  This one called "Hour Magazine," hosted by an actor named Gary Collins was one of my favorites. They had segments kind of set up like the night time talk shows where they'd interview a celebrity, have a cooking segment and possibly a new product demonstration.

One day, I remember I was about 12. They had a dark haired lady talking about being an alcoholic. How once she quit drinking that all these memories of her difficult childhood started to come up. She had been molested and started to drink to suppress all the confusing feelings that comes from surviving that kind of childhood trauma.

She said that in order to recover, she had to talk about and deal with those feelings. I watched my mother and her husbands drink and realized they must be covering something up as well.

I never wanted to drink and this made me realize that I had to talk about and deal with my own experiences. I see that I bet I drove people, especially my mother, crazy with my talking.

Mom and my sister Kathey constantly told me to "stop dwelling on the past." I wouldn't, couldn't stop. I wanted to be happy. I didn't see how being silent helped make anyone happy.

So I sought out every chance for guidance. I went to counseling and support groups. I count myself lucky to have found a couple of good therapy people who helped me sort through major and minor traumas and to realize that I can be okay.

Because my family and my ex husband all gave me the message that I talked too much, I felt somewhat guilty about talking about my past. I still did it, I still do it, but that guilt was a bit of a sting.

Meeting my Murry changed that guilt during a drive one day. I noticed I was talking a lot and I said "I'm babbling too much, I'd better shut up. " Murry casually says "Talk as much as you want, when you're done, you'll stop."

The acceptance in that simple statement still blows me away. I don't even think my therapy people gave me the permission to talk as much as I needed to.

I sort things out by talking. Repeating the same story, reduces its emotional impact. It hurts less. It becomes a historical account rather than a painful memory.

Pain unexpressed, festers in dark shadows that lead to emotional breakdowns. Murry said, I see your pain and because I didn't cause it, I can hear it. It's weird that as an atheist I discovered the value of confession. Only I'm not expressing the burden of my sin, but letting go of the weight of my personal suffering.

I'm a gonna lay down, this heavy load.

Kind comments encouraged.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Papa, can you see me?

I woke up a couple days ago realizing I have a very simple dream that I cannot find any reason to be afraid of. I want to be seen and understood.

Not everyone will understand the crazy scheme mind I live with, and that's fine. I ask that people ask me to clarify myself. I don't expect anyone to do anything beyond those two things.

How do I want to be seen? I want the world to be aware of my existence. I want to participate in social customary greetings and be included in social activities.

When I was a kid, my differences separated me from others. Though this did lead me to find my own posse of buddies, it's time to e part of the general goings on within the world.

As for being understood, I'd like to know that what I am saying here in this blog, on Twitter or Facebook, gets read. I don't even care of other's disagree with me. If people did, and they had a better argument than mine, I can and will change my mind.

Sometimes I take a point of view to explore the ideas related to that topic. For instance, I heard a joke recently that struck me as totally true. Hitler did one excellent thing, he killed Hitler. That made me think, after I stopped laughing.

I like to think strange thoughts and sometimes opposing thoughts. I like peanuts and chocolate but not peanut butter and chocolate. That seems weird to me but it's my truth.  Though I love peanut butter separate from chocolate.

So, see me and understand me. If you don't understand, ask me to explain in a way you can understand. There's a chance you'll still not "get" me and that's okay. I know that I'm odd with what I ponder.

Kind comments encouraged.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Blindness

Last night on Charlie Rose he had a bunch of guests talking about curing blindness. Very interesting science, but quite humiliating depictions of blind folks.

I'm all for a cure for my blindishness. Sign me up today! But what are you going to do for me if it doesn't work on my condition?

The only representative from the blind community lost his sight at age 20. That's rough for anyone. Going from one state to the next, all of life's major transitions, come as a shock.

Add to this how Charlie and some of the other guests spoke of the devastation and fear associated with blindness. Be afraid, be very afraid. Live in fear of losing something and fail to prepare for reality. Yeah, that's a great strategy.

Stop projecting your fear onto our existence. JUST STOP IT!

Sighted people's fear creates a public that lives in fear of associating with blind people. Then there are the do gooders. The software makers who decide what accessibility features work best without consulting those with visual impairments.

For example, the magnifying glass application that I use has a major flaw. It puts the mouse right in the middle of the enlargement window, enlarged of course. This covers up what I'm trying to read. I can't change where the mouse rests within the window. So I make the window bigger than necessary and read on the other side of the mouse. This imperfect solution works okay. It's better than having to download and test yet another piece of software.

I image there are all kinds of published studies on imperfect people. I bet they show that we are happy and sad and angry and fearful at about the same rate as more "average" people. We want to have meaningful lives and get married, just like the average person.

I expect that if you see me struggling, you'll offer to help. JUST like if I am aware of your struggles, I will offer mine. Both of us can say no thank you. Don't assume your help is needed and just try and do something for me. Some things I want or need to work out on my own.

I realize my disability factors in as part of my existence. It's rough to find work if you don't fit into the mold of the potential employers. We can change that mold by requesting that people are portrayed more as they are and less as a caricature of who someone thinks they are.

Kind comments encouraged.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Scared of Flying

I lived near Los Angeles in the late '80s when we had a serial killer called the "Nightstalker" prowling the streets. This guy found open windows and crept in and murdered people while they slept.

To anyone who didn't have air conditioning this made for fretful nights. I found a way to keep my windows slightly ajar and yet still safe from a break in. Then I did a reality check.

Out of 11 million people in the Los Angeles basin, how likely was it that this guy would find and kill me? Not very. Plus I didn't live in the area he committed these crimes. Though he was moving around a bit.

I reasoned out, it was not very likely and I started to relax myself. Then the news put a shrink on to say the same thing I had worked out on my own.

Fear exists as a great legitimate tool to prevent us from doing something totally stupid. It keeps us from poking bears and kicking sleeping tigers. Sometimes those instincts get in the way of modern life.

Getting on an airplane I feel a sense of apprehension. I ignore it because I know that I am safer in the aircraft than I was riding in the car to the airport. This knowledge doesn't prevent the fretting, it just lets me keep going with confidence. Most people think nothing of getting in a car.

I'm not asking you to feel stress on the roads. Though some attentive care may save you from crashing into that motorcycle that cuts you off.

I've seen several desensitizing techniques for overcoming fear that I feel are worthy of sharing. First, don't deny that you have dark thoughts. Let them be real, write them down so you can see what you're really thinking. You might be surprised what your subconscious thinks.

Judging your fear at this point may just push them deeper. Let them be okay so long as they are not directly creating problems for you right now. In that case, think of ways that you can do what you need, the minimum amount, with the least amount of fear. For instance, if you fear flying and have to take a trip for business, is it close enough to drive or take other transportation? Can you telecommute or ask someone else to go instead?

If you have no alternative but to do what you fear, start by treating yourself with the most kindness. Tell the people involved that you are fearful of what is about to happen. You may hear things like "Don't be afraid, " but most likely you'll hear someone else say that they understand and have a similar fear. Let the fear deniers know that you expect them to be kind, even if they do not share your concerns.

Desensitize yourself with information. For me, I feel percentages help. If I know that there's a bigger chance to get hurt in a car, I feel less afraid of airplanes. Then, expose yourself to some of the item that gives you trepidation. Have a friend place a photo of an airplane on a wall as far from you as possible. Then every few minutes, look that direction. Get used to the idea of seeing what you most fear. this can take as little as a few minutes to calm yourself.

Remember to breath and be kind. Concentrate on breathing in on the count of four, holding for a count of two, then out on four. Once you're calmer start moving closer to the picture of the plane.

Move on to a video of planes. Nothing scary, just average plane sights and sounds. Notice that most people smile when they ride in airplanes. Notice that they get on and get off  calmly and some even relax enough to sleep.

Remember, it's perfectly okay to still say that you are afraid. Be kind to yourself.

Now go near the airport and watch some planes from a distance. Remember to breath. It's not always possible to find airplane seats, but you could put a couple chairs close together and get some airplane sounds and pretend.

Finally, if easing up to the fearful activity doesn't work strong enough for you, consider asking your doctor about a sedative. There are lots of calming things that are over the counter, they might suggest one of them or they might write you a prescription. Some people use alcohol to alleviate fears, but I find that makes me more stressed. Find the least action that gives you the best handle on the fear.

As I said, I'm still afraid when flying. All I need is the breathing and the awareness of the safety. When I had my day surgery, I cried until the nurse reminded me to breath. The crying lessened but didn't stop completely. I am proud that I had a way to handle the fear.

I'd like to hear if you have your own fear reducing activities. Kind comments always welcome!

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Someone Left the Cake Out in the Rain

I don't begrudge anyone their piece of cake. I celebrate the mom who takes care of herself and provides a loving stable guiding life for her kids. No one can get anywhere on an empty tank.

Where did some people get the notion that it's selfish to take care of one's own needs? Realize the difference between a sense of healthy self interest and the very real selfish tendencies of some, but let go of the idea that taking a fair slice makes you bad.

We all build on our past. We learn to add and subtract so that we can understand how to multiply and divide. One builds on the ground of the other.

Remember that fuel comes in many forms. I'm excited by new and interesting ideas. When I don't get the chance to talk with people about some crazy idea I've had, I start to feel empty. It almost doesn't matter if the idea has any merit, it's just important to express and explore it.

To put gas in my own tank, I found a group of like minded people and I go and meet them twice a month. To rev up my engine, I go and exercise. These things build my foundation platform so that I can build myself into the architectural dream I see inside my head.

So now it's your turn. What ways to you fuel up? How can you learn to take care of your own needs so that you have the capacity to care for others?

Kind comments welcome!

Sunday, April 6, 2014

We Are Family


I went to Survivors of Incest Anonymous meetings for just over a year. After a few months, I separated from my ex husband and then moved out of the area. They helped keep me sane through all that. I loved those gals and the fellowship we developed over that time.

In 12-step programs we talk about two kinds of relationship ties:  family of origin, the one you're born into and family of affiliation, the one you form from friendships. I've always been closer to people outside my family of origin, mainly because I felt unwanted by the people who were supposed to care for me.

Since my father died last year, I've been quite wary of contact with my sister and niece. I don't say this to hurt them. I wish all people peace. I say it to explain my point of view.

My sister told me that my mother made her take care of me and I bonded to my sister as if she were my mother. I have no memories of it, but my she told me that I wouldn't let my her new husband sleep in bed with her. I do remember when she had a baby and I didn't want to hold him. I wanted to push him off my lap and step on him. I didn't. I was four. Sounds like sibling rivalry to me.

I am closer in age to my sister's oldest children than I am to my own siblings. Though I didn't bond that close with them. Mainly because my sister's family moved far away not long after she had her first baby.

My parents divorced and my other sister and I went to live with dad for less than two years. Then we moved in with a babysitter. That lasted about the same amount of time as living with dad. My mother took custody back and I lived with her and her new husband for just over a year.

My older sister had her own family difficulties and after she moved back to my home town, I ended up living with her and her now two children. At some point her first born went back to live with his dad. My sister started dating a man and they decided to live together.

I'm sure my sister didn't want to be taking care of me. Though I know I was never her child to raise, I felt rejected again. I deeply resented my sister's now husband. As I got older, he never made any effort to understand me.

While the rest of the family praised my brother in law's high powered job and monied background, I felt he put me back into a terrible family. I have no memories of further abuse, but I had to live with my mother and the man who molested me.

To be fair to my sister's husband, he might have had zero knowledge of what had happened to me. It's also possible that my sister didn't know. I hope that if they had, they would have take care of me.

My brother in law always treated me like the outsider "bad seed" child. Well, no, they all treated me that way. In light of life threatening abuse and sexual molestation, the rest of my family's action seem almost mild.

No one ever spanked or did time out punishment. It seems they all had either crazy over reaction or ignore as their parenting tools. Mom once pulled me around the house by the hair because she was upset I didn't answer the phone. She left me home alone at night and I went next door to be around the neighbor kids.

I happened to be at my sister's house when her husband returned from an out of town trip. He brought trinkets for the little ones and I asked if he brought something for me. He replied, "You're not my kid." I didn't think about it at the time, but neither was my sister's daughter. He didn't have to be an asshole about it. I so desperately just wanted to be part of a family.

I remember being quite a needy little girl. For years, I felt guilty for being molested because I liked the attention. I learned that guilt runs deep and springs from a common river in children who survived sexual abuse. Kids take on a lot of family problems.

I don't feel guilt or shame about what other people have done to me anymore. At least not for the really bad stuff. I do feel some guilt, a little naggy bit, about all the rejection. Knowing that it isn't about me helps. Not always enough.

I have some small talent for finding a family of affiliation. Though, I do see that I don't bond too close to people. I put Murry off four years before I would even meet him in person.

When we had to ask a customer to leave because he was rude to one of our employees, he asked, "What? Are they like your kids or something?" I thought, YEAH, they're FAMILY! Now get out of my store and stop being a jackass.

Either stop being a JACKASS or get out of my life. I know that sounds harsh, but I put up with and felt guilty for..  too many already. No more. Kind people are part of my family. Unkind people  are sick and I hope they find their happy place, it's not near me.

As always, kind comments welcome!

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

School's Out for Summer

Science and math compliment each other. Most of the classes I took had a math prerequisite. Having them taught with two different instructors, left me somewhat confused.

While taking chemistry and pre-calculus during the same semester, we covered logarithms at the same time. Finally the value of logs made sense. I aced the test in both classes because the subjects paralleled each other.

I told the math teacher that the "word problems" within the text book were vague and difficult to understand, but doing the exact same thing IN chemistry, made it all become clear.

I think that math and science classes need to be taught together. I mentioned this to some friends and they suggested that humanities have similar complimentary classes. Things like social studies, literature and even history all go together. Often my literature instructor talked about the times in which a story was written and explained how that colored the perspective of the author. Dry history  turns into exciting river rapids if taught with a flair for the social nuances of the times in which it was happening.

Teaching these classes in a complimentary way would benefit students by engaging them more in the topics. With math, it's way easier to understand logs if you use the calculation for something you can see. With literature, Jonothan Swift's "A Modest Proposal,' takes on a whole new meaning if you understand the Irish famine and political problems of the day.

Yes, it's a more complicated educational model and would require far more educator coordination. Plus it goes against the status quo.

Perhaps such a plan could begin with a simple coordination of subjects. When I took college level theater as literature along with film as literature, the professor complimented the two classes. Not everything did a direct connection, but we did watch two different films about Shakespeare's Richard III while we read the play. We also saw a live performance. All in the span of a week.

We didn't, but we could have talked about the history of that king in our history class. Those two professors could have simply coordinated and shared a brief examination of the truth versus reality of the fictional accounts.

We did talk about these things with regard to the fictional portrayal of William Wallace. Though Braveheart wasn't one of the films we viewed in our literature class.

What class combinations would you like to see? For educators, have you had experience with any kind of coordination with other subjects? How did these work out? Kind and thoughtful comments welcome.