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

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

Blog post #5

 

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

The emotional toll.

blog 18

It keeps coming up over and over that if you live a privileged life you benefit from taking time to help those less fortunate. One hard thing about being a certain personality type is knowing when to ask for help instead of being the volunteer to always help. When I was diagnosed with graves disease I didn’t know what my next step would be. I felt as though I switched to a survival mode. Just trying to get the bare minimum done in a day. I knew deep down that I needed more physical help from family and friends, but the reality was that wasn’t going to happen. At one point I asked the nurse who communicates with my endocrinologist if they offer information on resources or support recommendations for the mental and emotional toll that occurs when through the diagnosis of a auto immune disease like graves. The nurse told me in a bothered tone that no one had ever asked about that, and so no she had no information to help me. On my own I have chosen to isolate and rest the last seven months. I have a four year old son, so I’m really not that isolated. With the resources I’ve been given this has been the reality. I can’t say if it’s been the right choice by some people’s standards. Unless you’ve gone through it though, it’s hard to say what the right thing to do is. I’ve just been trying to survive. Keep things going. One choice I know is not right is to constantly put others well being before my own. I can’t believe after all these years of heartbreak I finally can ask for time to rest. Not just for healing from my diagnoses, but for protection of my boundaries as a highly sensitive person. No matter how dark some days are feeling lately I know that I finally can fight to have my quiet time, and nobody gets to have an opinion on it.

-Gertie

 

Another layer to this story

Blog post #7

When you are walking through a life experience that seems so much more difficult than those around you, because of a highly sensitive personality, it is a constant battle. Having a chronic illness caused by an autoimmune problem is really what I like to think of as the icing on the not so great cake. It has been somewhat of a relief to realize our society is talking about highly sensitive people in a certain way. Even the most close minded have probably come across some kind of material or information regarding it. I am thankful that it can be accessed and understood so easily.  Being understood by a larger population of people in your life is helpful. What’s funny is that I have not found that people understand chronic illnesses. Unless they have gone through it, or someone they are very close to has, I have gotten a lot of blank stares when I explain I was diagnosed with graves disease. I’m on a journey now to explore why people don’t really care to know about all the complex layers, of not just graves disease, but all the autoimmune/chronic illnesses members of our society are suffering from. Why are people so quiet about it? I have trouble understanding why it is interpreted as whining. I’ve never been lazy. I have in the last ten years of my life felt I needed to  defend my actions of self care though. There are some layers of pain and suffering going on in our communities that are not being met with empathy. Statistically the numbers of our population that are struggling with chronic illnesses  is huge. It’s unfortunate that we aren’t able to find support from professionals as easily as some things. You can possibly find medical treatment for some of the chronic illnesses, but what about the mental and emotional support? I don’t understand why that layer is so overlooked.

-Gertie

 

 

 

 

True self

 

Blog photo #2

Lately I have noticed that I have a desire to have the people in my life understand my highly sensitive personality type. This has been an eye opener, and a roller coaster of an experience. When I turned thirty years old I started to come across books and blogs related to the highly sensitive person. It was a great relief to see some of the issues I’ve dealt with all my life laid out in easy to understand terms. I began to feel a little more comfortable standing up for myself, if I could catch it in the moment. I found some ways to explain myself and my feelings. I was so excited at first. I could more easily fight the thoughts constantly going through my head that something was wrong with me, and I needed to be more like others. What I wasn’t prepared for was the fact that even though I had a better grasp of a way to communicate my reality, and argue it’s validity, many friends and family couldn’t wrap their brains around it. Just recently I responded very emotionally to my son not being able to do certain things at swim lessons. He was scared and held back jumping into the water and putting his head in the water. It broke my heart as I watched him be the only child that didn’t. My emotion was so strong it scared me. When I looked for support from family, just for my heartbreak, I was immediately told the list of things I’ve always been told my whole life. You are too thin skinned, he will be just fine, don’t take him out of class, and you’re being selfish. I felt like I always feel after I put my true self out there. That the true point I was trying to make was completely missed. My son is fine and wants to go back to class. He stands up for himself, and feels okay with saying no to jumping in. He isn’t like me. There are some big differences. We will make it through this together. The thing I will carry now as I heal from this newest wound is that no matter how much I try to explain who I am to certain people, they may never understand. It’s a sad realization. I’ve lost many people on my journey the last eight or nine years. I have felt so betrayed at times, but I have felt confident in making my circle very small, and have learned the hard way not to over share in small talk situations. The hardest part in this stage of life as get near to forty years old is being able to tolerate certain close family who can never really be a support system. You can wish and wish for someone to be one way, but you also have to be real and truthful with yourself. I will continue to try to be okay with being highly sensitive. I will try to be grateful for the people who do understand. At this point at least I have hope. The outside voices don’t hold the power they used to anymore. It’s a quick sting that heals faster.

-Gertie

Searching

025One helpful reminder that a highly sensitive person can try give themselves is that their minor mistakes are okay. I have to try to attempt to do this often. Unfortunately it’s so easy to overthink certain situations where we were not perfect. The tendency towards perfectionism is very common with people who are highly sensitive. It is very exhausting. I’ve had many situations lately where I beat myself up for not dealing with it in the right way. It’s a path that leads to low confidence. I just want to be free of this burden. I’m searching for that self compassion right when it happens, and the confidence to get back up again. I’m still learning what works for  me. My way of thinking has had many years to become a habit. Ingrained in my daily existence. It’s hard to change, but it’s harder to keep doing something so painful to yourself. For right now all I can do is continue to try to find things in my life the heal and restore my emotional state after a situation occurs, and most often I need alone time and rest. I need to be away from people. We have to continue to learn and fight to find ways to live with this habit. If you are highly sensitive it may be something you carry your whole life. I will keep searching.

-Gertie

 

 

 

Going Backwards

068A month ago a publication was sent home with my son from preschool. It was a collaboration of different educators and community members. It gave information on communicating with your child, and supporting healthy development. I thought it was very educational except for one article.
The half page article was a long rant by a stay at home Dad in the community. He had a very impassioned view on what changes he has seen in our society. He had many concerns about how children are being raised now compared to back in the day. He brought up viewpoints on how much better it was when he and his parents generations were growing up. He spoke negatively of varying aspects of parenting styles that have emerged recently. It went on and on.
The only thing I took from the article is that this person comes from a place of privilege. It had a condescending tone towards anyone who isn’t similar to the people he knows in his small bubble. There was no empathy or intelligent thought behind it. It really just attacked new information and ideas on child development. Information that has been studied by experts.We really need to look forward.I am still shocked that a family resource center and the school district would support these kind of ideas but our society as a whole is thinking we can make America great again if we go backwards.

-Gertie

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