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Saturday, February 2, 2019

Toxic cleanups are best done by HazMat people

A while back I wrote a blog post called #MeAsWell: For What It's Worth related to CSA (childhood sexual abuse) and my person experience on the matter.  In the process of talking about it to my wife, I got the sense that she could only understand it to a certain point.  That's not a fault of hers as sometimes you can only fully grasp a circumstance or situation if you've been in a similar one.   She lost her husband abruptly a few years back and had to learn to raise two kids on her own.  I've lost close relatives too and one at a young age.  While I can understand hurt of losing someone at a relatively young age, I cannot appreciate my spouse dying unexpectedly and leaving me kids to raise alone.   Anyway, it got me to thinking about why there are some things that are hard to talk to about even those closest to you.

For me, it is how I was affected by CSA and specifically what struggles I've had including the inability to easily trust others.  It is also some aspects about my late brother's life--he committed suicide. (Don't you forget about me: The blog I needed to write one day about my late brother.)   For others it could be about their struggles with the bottle.  For yet others, it could be about their marriage or job failures, etc.


So, I tried to relate to her about why people might have trouble talking about their most painful experience, issues, concerns, etc.   Many or most people have someone in their life who says, "You can talk to me about anything."  While this sounds good and the intentions are usually good, there are some definite blocks as to why this doesn't always hold true:


  • Sometimes people have had others who have said the same thing and they found it that it wasn't true. The others didn't behave or react in a helpful way.  Alternatively, they found that what was talked about in confidence with their someone was gossiped about later.  In other words, they thought it was safe to talk about very personal subjects and were let down.
  • Sometimes people feel too much shame or embarrassment about a subject matter and they don't want to initially open up with someone close.
    • A professional such as a minister, counselor or therapist is often the best first person to go to.
    • A professional often has the level of detachment necessary for you speak your mind.  Whatever block felt (humiliation, embarrassment, etc.) may not be as strong with a 'stranger' as it would be in front of someone you see all the time.
    • Most professionals are trained to remove or at least not let their biases get in the way.  They are trained not to react, but to listen.
    • Most professionals have likely 'heard it all' or enough that they won't be shocked or rattled by what you open up about.
  • Sometimes people realize that someone close to them is not necessarily the best one to talk to about a given subject.
    • The know their someone would just not be able to understand the issue as they have no experience in dealing with it.
    • They know that their someone has their own issue(s) which may conflict.  For example, if your someone has a history of depression/suicide in their family, talking too much about your depression could be a subject way too close for them to deal with or could trigger them.

I titled this post as I did because the things that really trouble people and are hard to open up about can be toxic--at least to the person who is troubled if not to those around them.   When you have a toxic spill, who would you call?  Why a person trained in toxic cleanup.  That is, HazMat certified people.   Likewise, when you have a subject which is toxic  (at least to you), who should you call?  Someone who is trained to or experienced in dealing with toxic emotional, behavioral, mental and/or spiritual issues.  Now, after the fact, you may realize what was bothering you may have been overblown, but that may not be clear until you have someone 'detoxify' it for you.  That is to say, break it down in such a way that you see it as overblown.  On issues that are truly 'poisonous', a professional will be able to give you the tools to process them and explain what troubles you to those around you.

--


Personal note, I was  able to help one friend off a toxic substance--the bottle--and able to relate to what led them to it.  However, that friend was ready to get sober, but just needed someone to be there for them.  Unfortunately, I later had a friend who I found out was addicted to heroine.  I tried to be there to help, but found that I was in over my head.  My friend had demons that were troubling her that I just wasn't equipped to help out with, though I tried.  Sadly, she died at the age of 25.  The best people to help her were trained professionals.  Family and friends could be supportive and were to the extent they could, but she mostly needed trained professionals as much as possible to guide her.  That is, "HazMat" people.


Anyway, just some food for thought.  I hope this helps others who want to be there for a loved one realize that sometimes there are limits to 'being there' and the best you can do is be supportive while they find their 'Hazmat' person.


-- Rich




* Note sure how well this video fits, but I thought why not?

Thursday, January 24, 2019

Perspective: See you on the other side

I've noticed over the past number of years an amazing phenomenon in my life.   I suspect some of it--the phenomenon--is part of the natural process of gaining age and experience, some of it is karma, and some of it just coincidental.  So, what is it you ask?  Glad you asked!  What I speak of is seeing or being on the other side (of situations or life in general).  I will expand upon what I mean in just a moment, but what brought the concept was a mundane everyday experience.

I was on my drive home earlier tonight and was in the fast lane as is my custom. I noticed someone bearing down on me.   I was going 70MPH + and giving a reasonable distance with the car in front of me (60mph being the speed limit).  Anyway, the driver behind me must have had a hot date or something, because I couldn't make out his headlights in my rearview mirror.  Frankly, I don't know if I could see his license plate?   You know if a driver is that close (especially at a pretty high speed), they are dangerously tailgating you.  As is my custom, I let off the gas a little as I don't appreciate someone risking my safety because he or she is impatient.   I did a kind of jerky move though, once I passed a car off to the side, I noticed that the tailgater was making a power move to get around me.  I wasn't having any of it. After all, I was going to be that jerk's karma this day.  I sped up enough that he couldn't pass me as I caught up to and was now passing another car on my side.  He fell back behind me and continued tailgating, probably pissed off that he couldn't get around me.  He probably also knew what I had done. 

Every since I was involved in a high speed collision with another driver and her irresponsible driving, I don't take kindly to irresponsible, overly aggressive drivers.  If you are behind me and look like you want to drive more quickly than I am, I will probably see you and make every effort to move out of your way.  In other words, safely and reasonably let you pass me.  If you are pushy about it--in a way that threatens my safety such as tailgating or threatening to cut me off--I don't take too kindly to it.  I will make it a point make sure you don't get rewarded for driving in a reckless manner.  I'm sure that's not defensive driving, but who's perfect?

The funny thing about the story above is that I used to be the jerky, impatient driver who tailgated others in the fast lane in an attempt to ENCOURAGE them to change lanes and get out of my way.  My wife said, "Maybe they don't realize how pushy they are being.  They want to get where they want to get and don't really think about the other person."  I disabused her of that notion.  Not to say that that is never the case.  But, I personally know better. I used to think to myself as I was riding close to the driver in front of me, "Aren't you getting the message?  Just the get the hell out of my way."   It's funny though, years and a high impact collision later, I'm the old man effectively screaming, "Get off my lawn" or the driving equivalent of it.  I see it from the other side now.

In my first marriage, when we first lived together, my now ex moved into my apartment and then the house I bought shortly thereafter.  I never realized how much of an adjustment that may have been until years later. I remarried and I was the one that was moving into my significant other's place.  She has owned the place for over 20 years and I'm the person moving in.   It gives me some perspective now from the other side.

Then there is the child to parent role being flipped.  When I was a teen, I remembered thinking my parents were old.  Then one day I found myself being "my parent's age" and having children.  While I wasn't carefree as a teen, I remember that I wasn't super worried about paying the bills and things like that.  Now, I can see it on the other side.  Having to worry more about others than myself.

I suspect one day, I will be the older driver who is taking too long during rush hour.  I will be the older driver who is driving 45 in a 45 zone irritating the people behind me.  In other words, the one who is blocking the younger drivers, you know those drivers who are in a hurry.  If I have the presence of mine and am not too ornery, I might even laugh about it as it is happening.

I guess another way of describing this situation is: If you live long enough you will experience life's rich ironies.  That is, irony with a rich helping of iron.

Regards,
Rich

Saturday, January 5, 2019

Perspective: Wants Being A World Away From Needs

I got an iTunes and Amazon gift cards recently for Christmas (2018), so of course, what do I do?  I sought to supplement my music collection on my iPod.   Anyway, I had been a little sad this Christmas season as I had just turned 50, I didn't have my daughter for Christmas and most of Christmas Eve, I had previously lost three of my immediately family members in recent years and frankly, the year had been very tiring at times and I'd reflected on long-time hurts.  So, one could say I was feeling a bit sorry for myself.

I'd always respected Roy Orbison as a musician and I know I heard his life story before.  However, I never really thought to much about it.  But, this time was different.  I'd been looking up ELO on YouTube and stumbled upon the Traveling Willburys which then led me to Roy Orbison.  In a way, this search had taken me to the "End of The Line" as far as Roy Orbison.

Anyway, in researching his music, I came across his life story and it was very tragic and sad.  Yes, he may have eventually accumulated some wealth and not had to worry about where his next meal came from.  However, his life was far from easy.  He was born smack dab in The Great Depression with his parents both struggling with employment.  He was blessed with a guitar and a gift of music.  Though he was talented, it took him a while to get established in the industry.  His star gained momentum in the early 60s, but he was hit with marital problems which led to divorce in 1964.  He and his first wife, Claudette, had patched things up in late 1965, but this was only a temporary reprieve from downtimes and tragedy in his life.  His 1st was killed in a freak accident in June 1966 and in September 1968, his two eldest sons died in fire that burned his house to the ground while he was touring.  His star by that that time had been in decline.  Eventually, it picked up again and he found new success in the 1980s.  He died of a heart attack at age 52.  I'd heard his story before but this time it really got my attention and I felt sadness for him and thought, while I've faced adversity, I hadn't had to face losing a spouse and kids and health problems like he had.   In a way, though I haven't achieved fame and fortune like had, I hadn't faced some of the tragedy he had.  This got me thinking about something I've thought about a lot during my life.

I've long thought that, we in this country, are very fortunate. I have felt some guilt that my want, even in an unnecessarily poor childhood, was still less than need in many other places in the world.  Our poor usually are better off than much of the world, especially places like Haiti.  I guess it's all perspective.  I grew up with less than many/most others in my school and across town and I felt poor, but seeing images of others having to worry about starvation is very humbling.  Anyway, I have a few thought on wants and needs in my life, the life of kids in this generation and in the world as a whole.

Ponderings:
  • Being around people with "more" can give a distorted picture and can create false 'needs'.  
    • For example, if the people I see socially, work with, or are related have large homes and live in a very nice neighborhoods, it might create a sense in me that in order to 'fit in', I need to have that as well.  In reality, in such a case, I don't 'need' those things, but 'want' them to prevent me from feeling 'inferior'.
    • If a kid goes to school and all his friends have nice clothes, nice cars,  and nice things including electronics out the wazoo, then the kid will 'need' some of those things to at least be able to 'relate' or 'fit in'.  The need, in this case, isn't more nice things but to appreciate that you can't always have every nice thing.  The other need is for other parents, with more means, to raise their kids with a healthy respect for others regardless of what others have.
  • Getting used to 'luxuries' can make them seem like needs.
    • Growing up, I didn't have a microwave oven until I finished college, I didn't AC until I went away to college, I didn't have a dishwasher until I moved into my first apartment, I didn't have a TV with remote or with cable until I was on my own.  At the time each of these things seemed like a luxury.  
    • I am so used to having all of these things that to have them taken away makes them seem like a need that is unmet.
  • If you grown up or gotten used to having more, the best way to remind yourself that much of what you have is a luxury is spending time around those who struggle to have basic needs met.
  • Our real needs are sometimes masked by purposely or unwittingly by those things we feel are needs.
    • If we feel ugly, we may feel like we 'need' to shop for clothes.  In other words, substitute an outfit to deal with insecurity.
    • If we feel sad, we may feel a 'need' for the latest electronic or other gadget to distract us.
    • Often times what we really need is not more 'things' but instead peace and serenity.

I don't know if I broke any new ground here, but I felt compelled to write this blog post.  Kids today seem to not appreciate what they have and when I remind them growing up how we did with less, it doesn't impact them.  I forget that its hard to relate to having less when you never have.  In a way, I feel like it is hard to relate to those in the world who do have less and are in real need unless you actually see them with less.  That's why I titled this post as I did.  Anyway, hopefully, others can relate or get something out of this post.

- Rich

This post reminds me of another I wrote:
Accepting People Where They Are.

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Cutting Off Escape Routes: Forcing Responsibility

As an outside observer and as a parent myself I noticed a few things about raising kids and frankly 'raising' aka dealing with adults too.  I've spoken before of people having comfort zones.  By this I meant they are comfortable doing thing a certain way regardless if it is necessarily the 'best way'.   For example, for some odd reason, I like eating most leftovers cold.  Not sure if it is not wanting to wait or deal with heating it up or what.  To my wife, it doesn't make sense, but it's what I feel comfortable with.  In any case, escape routes are a comfort zone issue.  Often find ways to avoid doing what we should or need to by locating an escape route.  That is to say a reason, excuse, or delay tactic to take the place of doing what we need to.


Here are a few examples of things we might want to avoid and create an 'escape routes' for.  That is to say, the things we do to try to doing what we don't want to such as:
  • Having to talk to family.
  • Having to go to work. 
  • Having to do homework.  
  • Having to go to sleep/stay awake.
  • Having to go to the store.
-

Below are a couple examples of an escape route and cutting it off:
  • If my daughter isn't awake already (on a school day), I will wake her up to get ready for the day.  She has said, "If you leave (my room)  I will get up and get ready."   That was her escape route, pressing me to leave at which time she could just plop her head down on the pillow. Anyway, my response to her is this: "If you stand up and get out of bed, I will leave.  After sending my wife in a couple of times to see if she's asleep or changing, and being told she's asleep, I confronted her on it and forced her to get out of bed when I was there.   She didn't like it and growled at first, but it was important for both of us she get up and ready so we both could be on time to where we needed to go.  Anyway, my forcing her to get up and stand up was cutting off her escape route of rolling back over and falling back asleep.  I was forcing on her the responsibility of getting ready for school.
  • A family intervention in which the family refuses to leave until their drug-addicted family member 'surrenders' to rehab.  By that point, they likely would have been pressing him or her to seek help, but being brushed off or promised that they will get it.


Before I finish this post on escape routes I did want to make a few observations:
  • From my observation, people usually don't take to well to having an escape route cut off.   It's not called an escape route because you want to stay in the circumstance or situation you are in or face what you need to.  It's an escape route because you are avoiding something you need to deal with.  Being forced to do so isn't exactly comfortable.  
  • The process of cutting off escape routes can be done so verbally and/or by actions.
    •  If a spouse or sibling is avoiding an uncomfortable conversation, for example, you can redirect the conversation back when they try to change subjects or you can logically cut through the verbal objects they throw in the way.
    • If your child refuses to do her homework and instead goes out with their friends, you can take away their keys and take away their ability to leave without doing their homework.
  • Sometimes it is not our place to cut off someone's escape route.
    • Just because we don't like what choices our adult kids are making doesn't automatically give us a right to interfere and force our will on them, especially if they are not dependent on us.
    • When someone has told us they need space or they don't want to be with us anymore, we can push for a discussion on it or to have them hear us out.   But, keeping them from leaving OR keeping tabs on them while it may be a way from keeping them from 'escaping', it is usually considered harassment or stalking, which is not okay.  It's okay to want to be heard out, but it's not okay to control others.
  • Sometimes we need the escape route, especially if we are in an abusive or toxic relationship.
    • Changing our phone number or address is an escape route from an abusive estranged partner.
    • Get a protection order can be an escape route from an abusive estranged partner.
    • This is especially true, when there are no children involved.  There is absolutely no reason in this case for our estranged partner to try to reach out to us.
  • Sometimes an 'escape route' may be a coping mechanism (or safety valve) that the other party needs until he or she can cope better.  For example, if a child loses a parent, he or she may not be ready to talk about it or openly grieve in front of others.   Sometimes, they just need quiet time to reflect on their loss and do what they need to cope--such as listen to music or just cry in private.  Forcing them to do so too quickly can at the least can breed resentment and at could cause unforeseen problems with the grieving process.

In summary, there are times when it is imperative to cut off 'escape routes' and force responsibility on our loved ones.  However, escape routes are sometimes in place for our benefit and the benefit of others and we should consider the purpose and circumstance of the escape route before mindlessly cutting it off.

Just some thoughts for the day after Christmas (2018).

Cheers.


Monday, December 24, 2018

The 3-Legged Stool: Difficulty in Shaking off Narcissists

I was discussing with my wife recently about why I believe abuse survivors can have a harder time shaking off encounters with a narcissists, specifically those who attempt to control or and/or use belligerence to dominate.  For her it, the solution was to simply ignore the person.  In other words, if the person gives you 'unwanted advice', tries to 'suggest' (aka TELL) you what to do or some attempt at shaming, you either a) humor them or b) just totally ignore them or blow them off.  In other words, don't let them have any 'real estate in your head'.

Now anyone who has ever has ever 'survived' dealing with narcissists, especially those in a position of power over them and/or present in their childhood, probably knows what I am talking about.

In many cases ignoring or humoring them is very sound advice. This is especially true IMHO where their interaction with you doesn't undermine your authority in an appreciable way.  In other words, some things just aren't worth getting riled up over risking a fight.  However, I believe to someone who is an abuse/attack survivor, might find it hard to 'let it go' so to speak.

Her argument was that her dad could be a dominant personality and she was able to stand up for myself.   I understand her point and was struggling to find a way to help her understand.  I tried to find a way to answer why I react more passionately and get more upset when I am completely disrespected or controlled.  I finally stumbled upon an idea.   A table or stool with three legs is harder to collapse or flip over than those with fewer.  That is to say the more destructive factors you've had in your life, the less likely it is that you'll be able to 'let it go'.

Consider it this way:
  • When we think of a stool, we think of a handy product which can be used to hold us up when are reaching to get something we need.   Imagine the stool instead of holding us up, is used to hold up our baggage up and 'in place'.   Is that really a stool we'd want or is that a stool we'd want to see collapsed?
  • We know a 3-legged stool or table is more sturdy or stable than those with fewer legs.  From what I can see, abuse survivors don't just have 'abuse' in play.  From personal experience, observations and talking with others, people who are ultimately abused are often vulnerable to abuse because of other factors--overbearing parents/adults in their formative years and bullying for example.


Anyway, here are three legs of the stool which holds up inability to shake off encounters with narcissists in adulthood:
* Overbearing parent or other authoritative adult figure during childhood.
* Bullying (verbal or menacing)
* Attack/abuse

Now, these three legs or factors aren't necessarily exclusive.  That is to say the same person or persons can supply more than one leg of the stool.  That is to say, a bully can also be an abuser/attacker and that the overbearing parent or adult can be the bully who abuses or attacks for example.

We hear all the time, back in the day if I talked back like that, my mom/dad would have beaten me.  Sometimes the speaker might say how his/her voice was overrode by his/her parent, but that he or she eventually found his or her voice.   As a parent myself, I have found that I sometimes have to be assertive and override voices of a child/children.  Now, taken to the extreme that can be damaging and compel a kid to shut down or fear authority.  I do believe in most cases kids do gain a measure of a voice (and sometimes 'too much'), but I digress.  Like a one-legged stool/table, they can learn to easily push aside disrespect/lack of control later in life.  That is to say, the baggage associated with 'not having a voice', if others negative factors aren't in play, can thrown off more easily in adulthood. As people of my generation understood, that's part of growing up.

Add the factor of being bullied in your formative years.  Not only are you trying to seek their voice among adults in your life, but you are also trying to fend off those who would challenge their well-being and/or peace of mind.  With authoritative adults in a child's life, we typically think that the adult figure has the child's interests in mind.  In the case of a bully, for whatever reason, the bully typically doesn't tend to factor in the child's interest.  For whatever reason, they bully feels that it is okay to pick on his or her target.  Sometimes they don't care, but sometimes they can attempt to justify their behavior.  They might claim that they are helping a kid learn how to deal.   They might also that their 'victim' deserved it.  Whatever their reasoning their behavior it can reinforce the inability of a child to shake off disrespectful (or controlling behavior) later in life.  If you are so used to dealing with this sort of behavior, even minor 'bullying' in your adulthood can seem like more of the same (and hence hard to shake off).  Like adding a second leg, it can strengthen the stool or table which holds up the anger, frustration and/or resentment which results from facing 'bullying' behavior later in life.  A stool with two legs has some degree of stability, but is still by its nature can be collapsed relatively easily.

As with a stool/table, once you add a third leg (or factor), the stool becomes very steady and very sturdy.  In other words, it will tend to stay upright and not collapsed unless you apply a great deal of force to it.  A person who has dealt with an overbearing adult may have had to 'justify' their voice.  A person who has dealt with a bully may have had to create or find a space for their voice.  But a youngster who has been abused or attacked, especially sexually, has had to recover from their voice being stolen outright from them.  It's bad enough having to justify your voice or find a place to exercise it safely, but like the third leg of the stool, having your voice stolen from you, reinforces the anger, frustration and/or resentment.  A response to narcissist behavior in later life isn't simply ignoring attempt it.  It is using whatever tools you have at your resource to make sure your voice isn't stolen again.  Anger, frustration, resentment and the like can be seen as tools to be deployed to ensure you he or she who could hold you down and crush or steal your voice is not given that opportunity.  It isn't simply being annoyed that you are being 'bullied'. Nor is it 'stepping away' and finding a place where your voice is safe.  To a survivor of abuse and/or an attack, there is a sense that the one who would control, disrespect you and/or otherwise bully you must be guarded against and in some cases be shut down.  In other words, sometimes you need to bare your teeth, build a wall or counterattack to make sure their threat to you is neutralized.

To someone who has just dealt with strict parents and maybe some bullying, but has never had to face the insecurity of abuse, a severe reaction to a narcissist can look like an overreaction.  That is to say intense anger, frustration, resentment, etc. can look like an overreaction to a when dealing with a narcissist.  I've dealt with the all three--CSA (childhood sexual abuse), bullying and an overbearing/controlling parent.  As an adult, I've come to understand situations better than I did as a kid.  However, I still am more inclined to, like a cat, arch my back, when I feel under threat or attack, 'hiss' and keep a wary eye open.  

Hopefully, this gives more perspective on why some people can let attempts at abusive/controlling/bullying behavior slide, where others cannot.  The more negative experiences you have had to deal with in life, the more likely you are to see are to see 'more of the same' when it comes to dealing with narcissists.   It isn't just dealing with a jerk, it is dealing with someone who is a threat to your serenity (or at least it can feel like it).

Anyway, I'm tired when writing this, so hopefully, it does make some sense.  Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night.

Rich


Sunday, December 16, 2018

Half a Pie is Still Half a Pie and Other Mistakes in Relating

I believe that unless we are a really big jerk to everyone or we are surrounding ourselves with a toxic people who don't like us and/or don't respect us at all, most of the people whom we run across in our lives will try to relate or empathize with us.  They may do it on a sincere desire to empathize, a feeling of duty that they should try, a desire to look thoughtful or a cynical attempt to virtue signal.   Whatever the motivation, I believe people unwittingly make mistakes in trying to do so.

First a few notes:
* Audience = The person you are trying to 'relate' to.
* Speaker = You, the one who is trying to 'relate'.

Let's think about a few scenarios:
  •  I know how you feel or I understand what you are going through.
    • Sometimes people have faced very similar circumstances and can relate or understand, but many times, others simply can't know how we feel until they've actually been in our shoes.  Sometimes, it may be beyond their understanding as well.
    • I believe when said genuinely, it is a statement designed to convey solidarity, but it said the wrong way it can wring hollow or can even be condescending.
      • In other words, you--the speaker--are just trying to hard to stand with them.
      • Sometimes, it is better just to quietly stand by another going through trying or tearful times.
    • It is important to try to understand yourself and your audience when considering saying this.
      • Is there any real possible way you could even remotely know?
      • Have you been through a circumstance even remotely close?
      • How well do you actually know the person you are considering saying this too? 
        • Are you close enough that they know what you mean and/or would take it as a solidarity statement?  
        • Are you just an acquaintance and unsure what your audience is thinking but feel compelled to say something 'appropriate'?
    • I can relate to what you are going through (followed by how).
      • Sometimes you can relate and sometimes you can't.
      • Sometimes your audience just wants to vent or 'cry' and they really aren't looking for your reassurance.  They are just looking for a 'pat on the back', not a 'solution' or 'proof' that you know.
        • There is a time for serious reassurance and there is a time to just nod or say, "I hear you" or just a hug.
          • Maybe your audience does want some reassurance and are open to hearing your situation and how you can make it through tough times.
          • Maybe everything will be alright or one day they may feel better, but at the moment your audience may not feel that way.  Perhaps they still need to mourn a bit more before they get to a point of being open to hearing someone who has been there.
        • There is time to jump in and 'problem solve' and there is a time to let your audience figure out there own path.
          • If your audience asks questions about you and a particular situation--in other words, seeks you out-- obviously, they are open to letting you help them.
          • If your audience rebuffs moderate attempts to relate, then they probably aren't ready for your assistance.
          • Sometimes, as painful as it is, you have to watch your audience make his or her way through their own tough circumstances.
            • People process grief and hurt differently, sometimes they have to figure out their own way or pace.  You can't artificially impose a deadline or a path for another.  You can help, but you can't force it.
            • Trying to hard to shield loved ones from the effects of grief and hurt can keep them from gaining the strength they need for future grief or trauma, when they may not have the same 'help' available.
        • There is a time to relate and there is a time in which relating could seem like minimizing.
          • Age or a similar difference in circumstance could cause a problem in relating.
            • People tend to relate better to their own age/circumstance.   I believe this is especially true when life experience levels are different.
            • Trying to relate could sound like "in my day" or "where I come from" or some similar disconnect.  Even if you can see the parallel on the relatable issue, your audience may not.   Besides, due to difference in personal circumstances, your audience may not be open to seeing the parallel.
          • Perceived expertise or regard could cause a problem in relating.
            • Sometimes if your audience hears the same thing from a 'professional', even if you have the life experience to know the same thing, your audience will tend to respond better to the professional.   That's why counseling is such an in demand profession.
            • If there is a disconnect or block with your audience, you might say the right things, but your audience may perceive it 'not getting me'.   Once again, an outsider such as a counselor or minister or highly regarded family or other leader might be the answer as they could be perceived as being more 'objective'.

I could go on indefinitely about mistakes in relating, but I will finish the main part of my post there.  Why I called the post "Half a Pie is Still Half a Pie..." is this.   I have never had a very close knit family and I barely knew family outside of immediate family.   This at points in my life has left a void.  Let's face it, for worse or for better, family has an outsized influence on our life.   They are our first example and in many cases, strongest example.  They are the ones who are expected to be the most loyal and at least initially whom we seek the strongest validation from.   Anyway, at times, I have mourned not knowing my extended family and not having a close knit family.   I've been told by people a few times in my life that well, that knowing your (extended) family and getting together with family isn't all that it's cracked up to be.   In other words, 'having' family is not all it's cracked up to be.  To me that has felt tone deaf.   I came up with an analogy to express this.   Mainly that "Half a Pie is Still Half a Pie".   That is, yes, your circumstances aren't perfect either.  In other words, your family might have its problems, but they are still a unit and they have some close, albeit, not perfect relationships.  In other words, you have half a pie.  Some people, for all practical purposes they don't have a family (little overall cohesion with any that they do know and most that they never knew).  That would be little or no pie.   So, trying to relate by saying, well family isn't all it is cracked up to be seems 'tone-deaf'.  Their intentions may be well in stating that, but it doesn't feel relatable.  Anyway, this was just an obvious example of where I've seen mistakes in relating.

Just my 1/50th of a $1.  As with all my blog posts, feel free to take that which helps.  I write them in hopes that it helps people either can find someone to relate to and/or sees a perspective which they hadn't necessarily thought of.

Cheers,
Rich  


Thursday, November 15, 2018

Mission Accomplished: Declaring victory too soon.

Few people ever want to admit defeat.  People generally want to think  well of themselves (unless they are what I call a negative narcissist), but I digress.  People generally want to think reasonably well about themselves.   Sometimes that means ignoring your flaws and seeing an inflated view of yourself, that is to say you are a narcissist.  History is littered with tyrants who justified their tyranny because they felt they were serving the greater good--Hitler is probably the most well known.  Sometimes that means measuring your flaws against your good points and concluding your good points exceed that of your flaws.  We see that in politics, where people who have used bad judgement in their life or made mistakes survive their negatives and go on to become successful and well thought of.  Sometimes, it means working on your flaws or failings and 'overcoming' them or achieving victory over them.  We see that in the friend who puts down the bottle for good, the parent who does a better job with their second or third kid or the felon that who finds peace in their faith and makes something of themselves once they are out of prison.

The focus of this post is those who know they have difficulties, flaws or failings and see themselves as overcoming or having overcome them.   Sometimes if we tie our worth too much to our 'issues', then we create an incentive to 'declare victory' prematurely.  I believe everyone has examples from their own life or from those close to them.   I will list examples or cases I've seen of been a part of.

Declaring victory too soon
  • In my post, #MeAsWell: For What It's Worth, I detail sexual abuse I faced as a child.  In my mind despite some hiccups, I had successfully made it into adulthood gainfully and successfully employed most of the time.  I had bought a decent house in a good part of town, had a nice car, was married and was well on my way to parenthood.  In other words, the American Dream.  I had convinced myself and the few others around me that knew about it that I had survived and escaped the damage of my childhood, despite the fact that I'd never sought counseling for it.  The signs of 'success' were there, so hey...    Meanwhile, I had a generalized anxiety disorder raging since age 17, I had a problem trusting people--even those close to me--and my behavior didn't always measure up to the standards that my faith would imply.  Anyone who knows me, realizes that eventually like any great fa├žade, eventually the truth has an ugly way of rearing its head.  The truth was that I had never really fully healed from the abuse during my childhood.  The distrust, the anxiety, the flaws eventually came to a head and by 2011, the signs of success had largely been swept away like a sign on the beach during a hurricane.  House, marriage, job, etc. were no more.
  • I had a friend who had a heroine addiction.  I stood by that friend as long as I could.  I saw her 'successfully' complete a stint at a drug treatment center.  I heard her hopefulness that she was done with it.   In short, she was seeking to declare victory.   Supposedly she was clean (at least for a short time)  when she tragically died in an auto accident.  Her life had spiraled out of control and at the very least I think she was very fragile by that point.  That is to say, even if drugs hadn't contributed directly to her accident, indirectly I think she was still reeling.  I'd seen another friend successfully through detox and sobriety for alcoholism, so I thought my friend with the heroine addiction could make it too.  I didn't realize at the time how addictive and deadly heroine is/was and was fooled into being optimistic.
  • I've seen someone I dated push aside anger, grief and other such feelings and claim she was fine and didn't need counseling.  Yet, every time things got rough or she faced adversity she could be seen running to grief and regret that she couldn't help her mom avoid dying young from pneumonia. 

I think for most of us, if we honestly look into our lives, we can find area or two in our lives in which were have 'declared victory' too soon.  That is to say, we are not in as good of a place as we would like to believe we are.  That's not to say that everyone is totally screwed up or has areas in their life which hold them back excessively.  However, I think it is safe to say that most people have misjudged their progress in an area in which they can improve.  I believe sometimes it is easier to 'declare victory' than to do the hard work of self-improvement.   

Just my 1/50th of a $1 for the day.  

Cheers from a snowy day in the Gateway to the West.