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Showing posts with label responsibility. Show all posts
Showing posts with label responsibility. Show all posts

Friday, May 21, 2021

Controlling your life starts with controlling you

You know sometimes you start a blog post about an idea that hits you that you can relate to and before you know it, it becomes deeply personal to the point of being a little vulnerable.  But, here goes.  As a CSA (childhood sexual abuse) survivor who was raised in a dysfunctional home with alcoholism and domestic violence, I became aware at a young age of idea of powerlessness and the idea of having any control over anything was ridiculous to me.   Add to that the fact that our house looked run down and just not generally presentable, that I wore worn clothes to school, that I was bullied and that I never felt like I fit in and then you can see even more clearly why I would feel that way.

Had someone said control starts with you, I would have laughed at them.  The idea of 'being in control' would have sounded utterly absurd to me.   As previously mentioned, I didn't have control over what I could wear or what eat, the home in which I live in and its state of repair or disrepair.   In my house, I didn't have control over the dysfunction--the yelling, the screaming, in some cases the domestic violence.  On my person, I didn't have control over the sexual abuse that happened to me and the bullying in the neighborhood and at school.   So, to me the idea to me that I controlled anything would have met with like a "yeah, right" type stare.  Before I go on, I just want to state that I'm not focused on what I "didn't have" but am setting up a point.   I do realize that I am still fortunate in some ways living in the wealthiest country in the world.   But, I digress.  I didn't realize it then, but I realize these days that in some ways I had much more control than I understood. 

Let's move forward into my adulthood.   I was always the 'peacemaker' which in some ways is another way of saying "approval seeker" or "people pleaser".   I had started that role in my childhood and played that role in my adult life too.  It didn't help that I developed a moderate to severe anxiety condition as a 17 year old and as such sought calm as a result.  In any case,  this desire for approval (or better yet to not be disliked) led me to not properly stand up for myself.   I didn't stand up for myself as a kid and as a young adult I continued this pattern.  In some ways, I let those closest to me continued to control me by using my need for approval and my need not to be disliked or unwanted.   So, in some ways to me it felt like a progression from my childhood with the manipulation and being controlled that was part of needing acceptance.


Despite having the sense of 'powerlessness' in my early years and my earlier adulthood,  I believe I gradually have awakened to a different view or perspective of control (or power).  I used to be view power or control as:

  • Something that is given or allowed.  
  • Something we have to grab aggressively to gain.
  • Necessarily involve or interact with that which is outside out.
I've seen the results of a child who had everything taken from him.  This child ended up being a bully.  He felt like he needed to try to control others to gain control himself.  Instead of realizing that he was just a kid and as such his authority was limited, he felt like he needed be pushy with adults to get his way and he needed to demand that he get to do what or get he wanted when he wanted.   When he felt his 'authority' being challenged he would get belligerent.  When he felt like what he had was at risk, even if that wasn't the case, he felt the need to make proactive threats.  In short, he was relying on trying to control others, being aggressive to get and 'keep' power, and blatantly involving outside forces.  As you might imagine this didn't work out well for him.   If anything he pushed others away, he tended to not get what he wanted in the long run and in many ways lost some of the control or power he had had.  In short, he represented the downfall of viewing power the way I had.

As I've grown and matured, I've come to realize that power or control can be:
  • That which we can implicitly gain or earn.
  • That which we can find within ourselves.
  • It isn't necessarily something we are given or allowed, but what we own.

As a teen, when my parents divorced, I was my dad's helper.  He wasn't very good at the 'bachelor' thing.  I had somewhat taken over cooking near the end of my parent's marriage as my mom spent a lot of time out trying to escape her unhappiness.  My dad noted this and when they got divorced, I had 'earned' the role of cooking and shopping.  For someone who didn't feel like he had any control that is pretty significant.  I had gained my dad's trust in 'taking care of' the house in some ways.

While I've had to push back on family and friends who I felt took me for granted or in some cases took advantage and had to assert control.  I've come to realize that control also comes is not necessarily asserting power externally.  For this young person I'd met, he often didn't think his behaviors through.  He was captive to his emotions.  In other words, he wasn't even in control of himself.   Often times, control is as simple as making a decision not to let your emotions rule and ruin your day as well as cause conflict.  In other words, control in your life is to put yourself in the best position to succeed.  When I trained over the summer running during high school, I exhibited control.  Running was never easy, especially by myself.  But, in order to perform well, I would have to do that which was not comfortable.  In a sense, I made a conscience decision to control my actions and in the process exert control over my own future (performance).  In short, control here is a conscience decision to what I needed to and try to avoid doing things which were harmful to me.

When my daughter's mom was pregnant with her, often I didn't feel like I was given the respect or taken as seriously as I should have been.  I had wondered exactly how I would the "parenting authority".  In time, I came to realize it does not have to be something that I would given.  Such as voters give to the winning candidate for public office.  Nor does it have to be something allowed, like my parents letting me hang out with my friends.  What I realized in time was this little person, my infant daughter was learning something profound.  In her own infant (and then toddler way), she sensed that her parents were taking care of her, were meeting her needs,  we being supportive of her.   We didn't really ask for permission so much as we accepted the role of parents.   We owned our responsibility.  In her own way our baby/infant daughter had learned that she should mind us as she 'knew' that we were there to meet her needs.  So, we owned the role and therefore the power or authority that comes with it. 


So, what is my takeaways?
  • When someone in your life tries to control you, to a large degree the control over you is what you allow or tolerate from them.
  • Control doesn't need to be something achieved via threats over others.  It is best achieved or earned by doing the right things for the right reason and therefore gaining authority or power with that role. 
  • You can't control how people treat you, but you can control your response.  You can influence your outcomes positively with control of yourself.

Anyway, just another perspective on control when others in position of power raise endless sum of money trying to essentially 'buy' it.   In many regards we are more free than those who seek to gain power.  

Thanks for reading and I hope you took something from it.


Thursday, April 25, 2019

Take on Me: A take on romance and romanticism.

I recently heard A-ha's Take On Me and I've heard it on the many times before, on the radio and on TV. I've heard it in pop culture and seen it in parody. I always thought it had a nice sound and intriguing video but I never really thought too much about it until... I was driving home and the song came on my Satellite Radio and I felt a little sadness. So, what do you when a song brings out sadness? You play it over and over again of course. HA.

Well, I played it over and over and listened to the words and later watched the video and it struck me as a song of young romance where you don't overthink everything and you go all in with your heart. To me it represents where the future is open with possibilities and love and romance haven't been sidetracked with the daily grind of raising children or poisoned by cynicism or jadedness brought on by failure.  To me, it represents where you take chances and give of your heart without reservation and without overthinking it.

The young woman in the video is intensely following the young hero of the comic book adventure which shows him racing and winning a motorcycle sidecar race. Unfortunately, he had two opponents who had no good in mind for him and who are very unhappy that he won. Anyway, she's following the race closely and she then follows his celebrating the win. In the process of celebrating, he seemingly looks at her.  He then unmistakably winks at her from the pages of the comic, catching her attention. It is as if her interest and dreaminess about him and his story somehow crossed the 2D barrier and into the story. In other words, he feels her longing and he shares it and that crossed some of spiritual boundary. So, he extends his hand out of the strip inviting her in.  After the initial shock wears off, she decides to pursue what her heart wants and lets him pull her in. They court each other to music in strip with a mirror that brings their 3D nature to life. Their courtship is abruptly interrupted by the two thugs that are none too happy with him. The couple runs off together. They run into a dead end with the thugs menacing them. Like a true romantic, he opens the portal back into the 'real world' allowing her to escape while putting himself in mortal danger. The young woman had been reading the comic strip book at a booth in a restaurant but had seemingly disappeared to her server.  When her server came back and didn't see her there, she assumed the young woman had stiffed her the comic strip book in the trash in anger. But having been brought back to the 'real world', the young woman now to the shock of other patrons and her server, abruptly appeared by the trash. Embarrassed and wanting to see what became of her love interest, she rushed home and uncrumbled the comic strip book. Reading ahead, her hero appeared to lifeless after the brawl with thugs, causing her to cry.  In the boxes that follow, she sees him struggling to break out of the strip and into the 3D world. He was banging back and forth against the walls until, he stabilized as in 3D world.  He finally succeeds and she rushes to embrace him, lovingly.  Anyway, anyone who grew up with their music, knows what I speak of.

 A few themes in song and video caught my attention.
  • She is open to love and giving of herself, even when there is a risk to it.  She is open to taking chances.  He sings, "...Say after me, it's no better to be safe than sorry..."   By virtue of her following the opening he gave her, she shows this.  This shows her a romantic side.
  • Love is selfless.   The hero of the strip knew that his 3D love interest was at risk to be severely injured.  However, he helped her escape as the thugs were approaching him, putting himself at mortal risk.   To me this is a very romantic notion.
  • Love can cross what society deems is proper or realistic.  I touched upon this in another post called The heart doesn't care what is proper...  By all accounts, this couple should have never been.  They were constrained by the boundaries of real life vs. fantasy and 2D vs. 3D, but somehow, someway each was able to feel and reach across their boundaries and connect.  Griping romance stories are built on having to fight against the odds and obstacles to be able to get the one you love.
  • Love is hopeful.  The video ends with her embracing the hero when he finally is able to successfully transition into the 3D real world.   You get the sense the future is theirs for the taking.
While I was a little sad realizing that the younger carefree days of relationships have passed as kids, responsibilities and just life's difficulties can get in the way, I've come to accept that love isn't just built on living in the carefree days of youth.  Love can start there, but for it to flourish, it must go through the ups and downs and the impact of everyday life to solidify it.  You can always look back on the 'carefree days', but as I explored in Wanting to be somewhere else in our lives and the role of faith, inevitably I believe it is common that no matter where we are in our lives, we can always locate somewhere else that we'd want to be.  If you are young, you want to be older.  If you are single you want to be attached, if you are attached, you focus on the the carefree nature of being single, etc.  In other words, it's okay to think about the 'carefree days', but it's only a place to vacation.  😏

So, without further ado:

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).