When they don’t want change.

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Recently I’ve heard a lot about teaching our kids to be more resilient. One statement used often is that we need to teach them they can do hard things. I do agree with this statement to a degree, but I think it can be interpreted differently by different people. I see it as if we shield our kids from every hardship throughout the day we can create a reality where the ups and downs are more difficult to handle. Shielding them can be taken too far, and like most things there should be a balance.  Yet once again like many things, it doesn’t look at how everyone’s hard situations are uniquely their own. For me it has raised so many questions.

There are some children who are born into privilege.  How can their situation be compared to other children who are born into very difficult circumstances? One example of this would be economic privilege. I wonder to myself if they think their privilege will go away if those who are less fortunate are given a lift up? I also often wonder who gets to make all the decisions of who needs help and who doesn’t? It seems ridiculous that it is up to just a few individuals, or in some cases just one person. Determining who qualifies as needing help, and who is just whiny and weak is a huge responsibility. So many people want to label others as lazy and taking advantage of the system. Sometimes the loudest voices are the ones fighting to keep things the same.  Until you can have empathy and walk a mile in someone shoes it is probably easy to shout out those ideas. There doesn’t need to be a lot of thought put into what you are saying. Just pure emotion, and at times even rage.

Recently I heard a parent say they didn’t want to raise their son to be a wimp. They wanted him to have street smarts and be tough, and then unfortunately they said they wanted him to be able to do hard things. I cringed as I heard the catch phrase used that way. Until people can admit they are privileged, and have compassion for what some other’s go through it will stay the same. Many are so afraid to change things for the better. It’s too bad their voices are loud and they keep shouting.

-Gertie

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Moving in the surreal

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Being introverted can make it hard to show up. There’s a saying out there that the best feeling for an introvert can be to cancel plans for the night. I can attest to that. I have been noticing I am actually grateful for my time alone on most days. I am grateful that I don’t have the same people in my life, and that things have changed. I unfortunately don’t have as much to give in social situations right now.

Where I still struggle is the days when I feel isolated and when I actually outright question how I live my life. Finding a balance in this has been so difficult. Another struggle has been the realization that a lot of people who come into my life will not understand me being introverted or highly sensitive. Throw in a chronic illness and things start to get scary sometimes. I have been moving in and out of survival mode for years.

I keep getting up for right now though, and I continue to search for a relief from feeling so negative about just being who I am. I keep trying different strategies, and getting advice on therapies to try. I keep trying to have confidence.  It just continues to be a mystery of how to show up and live like other people in this world. Sometimes I feel there are not even words to express what my daily experiences are like. Lately I have described many days to those close to me as surreal. That’s all I can come up with at this point. Just showing up to the different things I have going on in my life really pushes me to a point that is indescribable. For a person who likes to write it has been a strange experience. I’m out of words.

I’m not to the point of just shutting down and checking out, but I know that I am forever changed. I will never be like a saying on a poster or meme where I get my shine back, or what didn’t kill me made me stronger. I’m sitting in my experience in my own way. Some might look at how I’m doing and think it’s great, and some might be disappointed.

-Gertie

The gratitude list

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As I have continued to struggle with chronic health problems, and being highly sensitive over the years, there is one thing that keeps coming up over and over.When I disclose verbally my struggles to people I am close to, or individuals I feel it is appropriate subject matter, I often feel worse afterwards. I haven’t quite figured why, but one response that often feels like a knife in the gut is to get advice and directions on what I should immediately try.

Recently it was suggested by someone that every evening before bed I write a list of things I am grateful for. It wasn’t something I hadn’t heard before. Others have brought up different ideas of how they cope with certain stresses and emotions. I have heard of the gratitude list many times. Along with other suggestions through the years like making a vision board or a collage, knitting or sewing, meditation and yoga, and walking or running. I do appreciate getting ideas from people I am close to in my life, but these things have not worked for me at this point.

Sometimes you really just need someone to listen to your struggles, and try to have empathy. It seems like a tough task for most humans out there. There is more an urge to fix and advise. I continue to try to put myself out there and let people in, even when they do say things that are not helpful. My optimistic side says that one day maybe someone will give me an idea of what has worked for them and it will actually help, or I will meet a very empathetic person who really wants to just be supportive. We are all just doing the best we can.

-Gertie

The Perfect Mom

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I try not to spend too much time reading comments on social media. Especially mommy blogs. I am completely lost on how some people can’t come to terms with the fact that people live their lives differently from each other. It pains me at times to see how defensive and cruel people are once they can comment from the safety of their keyboard, instead of face to face human contact. I’m not sure how to protect or heal myself from feeling so awful after reading these things except to just not expose myself to the comments section.

This should be a fairly easy choice, but I also begin to question myself about doing things like that. I am already pretty isolated and introverted. I want to know what others think. I am genuinely curious about the experiences of other humans. I just want the confidence to know deep down that the decisions I am making in my life are okay. Whether it’s parenting choices, ethical choices, or choices about my health and self care. I know I will never be that perfect mom that has all the answers. I’m always somewhere in the middle.

I worry so much about my son, and feel completely in the dark about certain issues he struggles with. When I see another mom’s comments come up that are so confident it’s depressing. It’s been hard to change my way of thinking. It’s a journey that I’m on, but I haven’t figured it out yet. No matter what I try to tell myself about what the reality probably is for these supposed “perfect” moms, I can’t pull myself out of a dark place. So for now I am taking a break from the comments section of the blogs I like on social media. I really don’t know what else to do.

-Gertie

Brain chemistry and nature

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A few years ago we decided to adopt and foster two dogs from animal rescues that are coonhound mixes. They had not been socialized enough as young puppies. We didn’t get all the information about their histories, but it was clear they had been abused as well. They were transported up to Minneapolis from Alabama because the shelter system in the twin cities had room at the time to import some dogs. As a veterinary technician I was excited to finally be a foster mom for dogs that others couldn’t handle, and save them from euthanasia.

Over the years it has been a struggle at times to make sure the dogs are safe, and other people are safe in our house and neighborhood. One dog is timid and shy, and one is fearful and  aggressive to people outside our family. They have made slow progress on things other dogs just do naturally. It has been a lot of work.

We decided to take a family vacation this summer and so I asked my parents if they could watch my dogs while we were gone. They live up in northern Minnesota far from civilization. The dogs had been there before, and my parents agreed to help. I dropped them off in late June, and went up to pick them up in mid July. We stayed up there for two weeks as well, to visit family and vacation there. We just arrived home last week.

Since the dogs have returned home they have changed in personality. They have both made huge leaps and bounds towards acting like “normal” family pets. My Mom didn’t really do training with them, or put them through doggy boot camp. It seems like just being out in a really natural setting affected their brain chemistry. One dog seems more confident and at peace with loud noises and people walking by our yard, and the other dog is less aggressive towards outside people and listens to commands perfectly.

Dogs love the smells and sights of everything nature holds. Small things one might not think of like squirrels, yard chickens, and small song birds constantly kept their minds busy. After everything these two dogs have been through it is great to see them begin to feel safe, and act confident. I was told by some that once a dog isn’t socialized right, or has been through certain types of abuse, they will never become like a “normal” dog. Part of this may be true, but the power of being out in raw nature really has helped move these dogs forward.

I believe this is true of people as well. The affects of being in nature have helped me to heal. It is like a switch getting turned on in my brain. Sometimes with people things are definitely more complicated then just sitting out in the woods for a few weeks, but I also believe I can learn a lot from these two furry children. I can’t wait to go back up north.

-Gertie

 

 

 

 

 

Constantly learning about boundaries.

 

barFor thirty nine years I have been searching for confidence and the ability to feel comfortable in my own skin. I have inched along slowly, and at times have felt I am making progress. In the past I have always been excited to feel something new manifesting. I have had the joy of experiencing it several times in my lifetime. My marriage, the birth of my son, receiving my degree. This latest shift has at times been frightening though. It is something much deeper. I am unconsciously fighting against it most of the time. The change is that I am becoming a different person because of healthy boundaries. It’s the moment I say no to someone, or allow myself to be seen when it’s uncomfortable and vulnerable. It may possibly be one of the most important shifts that happen in my life. I am in it right now, so writing about it makes me dizzy. We all have things about ourselves we want to work on. For a highly sensitive person like me I think it’s an even steeper climb to really push through, and change possible personality defects. It’s even hard for me to label them defects. It’s hard to write about it and put it into words. I’ve realized I have to start there. No one else can fix me. So I’m having to constantly learn over and over through often painful experiences what I need to do. It’s my turn to heal myself. Therapy has helped, but the most powerful healing experiences have been moments where I stand my ground with family, friends, and acquaintances. Not hours or days after the moment, but right when it happens. Normally I have waited and tried to bring up problems later. This hasn’t worked for me. One moment at a time is all I can do, and it’s starting to shift. I’ve still tried to be perfect when I say no, and create boundaries. Some habits are hard to break. I have worked to deliver my messages in certainty and kindness. I have tried to pay attention to my tone of voice. I am still constantly learning that this is exhausting. So many people that I cared about have left. I have fought against fears of isolation. This was one of my greatest fears of setting up boundaries. I have always wanted everyone to like me. The confidence is in the idea that nobody else gets to define me by their experience. I don’t have this part of my life figured out, but I’m still fighting and learning. I’m not giving up even when some people have left my life and it seems hopeless. Learning to have boundaries is my gift to myself. I will try not to be afraid anymore.

-Gertie

The Mom Who is Sitting on the Bench at the Park.

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It seems like people in our society are constantly judging each other. No place is this running more rampant then with moms. If someone is not raising their child the same people often attack viciously. I have found that so often there are valid reasons why a person makes the choices they do. Not always of course, but I think it’s definitely time for moms to begin building each other up instead of constantly judging what the other one is doing. This morning when I brought my son to the park I had to sit on a bench instead of playing with him. I had to make this decision because I have been diagnosed with graves disease and I was in a lot of pain. My body on certain days just gives out. I don’t have the energy to pick myself up and do what many other moms out there love to do. I can’t chase my child around the park laughing while getting exercise in the sun. For me just getting to the park can be a huge accomplishment some days. I have actually read negative blogs or comments on Facebook regarding seeing a mom sitting on a bench instead of playing with their child. I can understand how it looks bad next to the active, laughing Mom, but I have learned lately to try hard not to judge what someone is doing. The pain that I physically feel some mornings makes the prospect of running around at the park not an option. Would someone know that if I didn’t tell them? I look completely healthy from the outside. That is the thing about autoimmune diseases that can completely run a person down. I have heard of family members and friends actually confronting people with autoimmune diseases with advice such as quit complaining, and just exercise and eat better. These comments usually are meant to be nice, but they can really hurt. I’m not crazy or lazy, I just need to be the mom that sits on the bench at the park today.

Releasing the boulder

thumbnail_20160912_105934When my life feels out of control with the different stresses that come up I often clean. It gives me a feeling of some measure of control and organization. I never thought I would be a person who deals with stress in this way. I have questioned if it’s even healthy. The huge boulder of stress I carry on my shoulders the last few years is often comprised of resentment. The root of the problem is I am really disappointed in people over and over again. Humanity on many levels just continues to manifest itself in the most awful ways. I’ve tried so often to shed this outlook. Like generations of women before me I can’t. They passed it down in their genes to me. It’s deeply ingrained in the deepest part of who I am. Everybody I’ve ever met has probably dealt with a certain level of resentment towards whatever they have come across on their own personal journeys. Some have found ways to release it. I have not yet. In my rigorous cleaning I find only quick moments of relief. I will keep trying to find my way to release this resentment though. Something where I find results, but stay true to my beliefs. I have hope.

-Gertie

We are all connected

Blog post #6

Existential depression is often very common among highly sensitive individuals. The dissatisfaction with society, and a disconnected feeling from others can be a powerful agent that takes away joy and gratefulness. Figuring out tools to help, and taking the next step to find relief is difficult. There are no easy answers, no matter what stage of life you are in it is difficult. Typical therapy or antidepressants often don’t help. Add on to that the constant tendency of our society towards always being busy and overbooked. It is a dangerous mix.

Why do we feel the need to constantly be on the go, and social if that isn’t our thing. Life should entail some compromise, but there always should be room for alone time and the authenticity of not pretending to be happy and joyful all day everyday. It’s hard at times to go out there and show up time after time when you feel like you are constantly fighting against a certain viewpoint. The loudest in our society want constant entertainment and happiness. It is now common to put up smiling faces on instagram to make sure people can see how content your life is. When you are living a more complex life that isn’t an option. It causes such negative feelings when I observe so many people who are oblivious to the pain and suffering of other humans on this planet. I am not suggesting that everyone give up all hope and walk around moping all day. It has been suggested that we as a human race can not be truly happy while so many other humans suffer in ways we can not imagine. It is because we as a human race are all connected. There are so many times on a day to day basis I don’t feel like smiling, or as some people have described it shining. I often do not shine. I don’t think that is a problem. I believe the people who can pretend to go through life shining are frauds. I’m not going to call them out on it, it’s their journey, but I will stand up for my journey. I don’t have all the answers. I’m constantly searching for a way to live the best life for me, but some things are beginning to become clear. I am not ashamed of thinking about the suffering around the world and how I can help. It makes me feel hopeless most days, but I will still do it until I can do more. So don’t ask me to smile, or get my shine back. I will save that for a day when it really matters.

-Gertie

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