As we reach the end of the month, I will share the stats for April.
Most people have had two surgeries. Many of us struggle with boundaries for a variety of reasons, not just one reason in particular. We have been in love but fewer than five times. Many have lost children, and the most common loss was through miscarriages. My sympathy to anyone who has gone through such a loss.
The top five countries reading this blog after the U.S.A. were: Canada, United Kingdom, Australia, Ireland and Spain.
The two most popular blogs this month tied for 1st place were, Goodbye to Love and Guest Blog #6 which was by Dorothy Small. The most popular time for reading the blog was Sunday evening at 6pm.
I would like to remind everyone that the Annual SNAP meeting will be held in person this year. It will be held in Denver, Colorado in July. Please check out the SNAP website for details in how to sign up for this weekend. It will be wonderful to see everyone in person again. From what I understand, the conference will also be able to be viewed on-line.
Last week I wrote about how we perceive love at different times in our lives. It’s funny how that even in writing about a personal experience and how I perceived it once compared to how I later perceived it or how I feel about it now, that someone saw themselves in what they saw as a similar situation from the male point of view. And in doing so, they tried to defend the male side, which I thought was okay, but I have to point out that the relationships were not alike. The reason being…I did not have a relationship with the young man I wrote about.
That was kind of my point in a way. At the age of 14, I thought I was in a relationship. I thought this person was my boyfriend. But I had no reference to go by. When I look back now, I see that I was in love with what I thought was happening. In reality, I was a 14-year-old girl in the 8th grade of a Catholic school, getting picked up in a car by a boy who could drive and who had his own car, who was 17 years old, and who was about to enter his senior year in high school. It was not a relationship. It was not love on his part. At 14, I did not know in reality that someone would ask me out and be my first kiss and all of that and not have feelings for me. But I don’t remember doing things with him or talking about things with him. I do remember a lot of hanging out in my parents’ basement. And that is all I will say about that. Except, I was not male bashing. I was saying that I did not know that sometimes people…in this case, a guy who I thought I was in a relationship with…could tell me he was going to take me to a concert, and then just walk out the door never to be heard from again. And then I had to go to high school the next Fall, knowing I would probably see him in the hallways. I felt crushed and rejected.
Anyway, that is what affected my self-esteem when I was 14 going into high school. Not the fact that I had tied for the top score on the entrance exams in the city. Not the fact that I was offered a one-year scholarship at an all-girls school, or that shocked teachers told me that I was surprisingly intelligent. What mattered to me most was what some boy who was in my life for only three months thought about me.
And yet, do those early relationships set the stage for how we see ourselves later on? I’m thinking they do. Or perhaps they just confirm what we were already thinking about ourselves.
There were conversations this week about how Covid-19 has affected us and our relationships. I’m not just talking about if we have been sick or if we have lost someone. We have gone through a very stressful time in our world. It’s strained the seams of not just our jeans but our lives as well. We have had more time to have the news bombard us. Everything seems closer and worse as tensions rise and inflation soars, and beloved celebrities pass away, and we get our daily dose of the depression and abusive marriage of Johnny Depp and his ex as they fling dirt back and forth.
All of this input has to affect how we are feeling. Rising food costs affect how we are eating. Rising gas prices affect if we can go anywhere or if we still have to stay home. The world feels grey. It can be hard…really hard…to see our blessings. It can be hard not to see anything but annoyances in the people we live with. Fear and sadness may already have a permanent residence inside of our heads. Somedays it may feel hard to do anything if you feel you’ve done it before, and nothing is making a difference. How are we supposed to cope?
If you are a sensitive person or a person who has grown up learning to put yourself last after everyone else has been taken care of, seeing bad things happening in the world and around you daily can bring back feelings of being responsible. Logically, we know that we can’t help everyone. But emotionally, we find it so hard to read about suffering. That weighs on us and we bring those feelings into our lives. It’s hard not to. And it’s hard to feel that we are helpless. That feeling of helplessness can arouse feelings of anxiety and depression.
I want to stress how important it is to take care of yourself. We can become off-balance without even realizing it. Like how they say we are already dehydrated by the time we feel thirsty. A couple of weeks ago, I had a night where I just felt emotionally flat. I didn’t know exactly what was wrong. I felt like I didn’t exist. Not angry. Not depressed exactly. Just that outside of what I did for everyone else, who was I? It turned out it was most likely a medication thing. I had been on strong meds for my bronchitis, and I had abruptly stopped taking other meds because I didn’t want things to interact. It wasn’t until a day or so later when I felt like someone had turned on a furnace inside of me that I realized I hadn’t taken my thyroid meds in almost two weeks. Plus, taking prednisone can actually bring about psychosis when taken in higher doses.
Meds can affect how you feel. Lack of sleep. Stress. Again, what can we do?
There is so little we can do about the world. We cannot buy Twitter. Heck, I’m willing to bet that many of us cannot even seem to manage their crazy lives. And you may say that you are managing. Really? Are you managing or placating? Do we feel we need people so much that we spend most of our time making sure their needs are met so we won’t be alone?
This past week, my therapist asked me if I had any hesitation in letting my son buy my house from me. This is a house he has been living in for the past six years or so. He has been paying me about half of what I pay for the mortgage. He has gotten quite handy but for the most part, I have paid for the expensive repairs. We have argued. He has told me that if I hadn’t retired, I would have the money to fix up the house.
I told my therapist no…I am ready to cut this cord. Because that is the first step to changing anything in your life. You have to be ready to take action.
Tony Robbins, the self-help guru, talks about what stops us from taking actions that can help change our lives. One main reason why we don’t take the steps we need to move forward or to free ourselves from the things we do have the power to change….is the fear of pain. Think about that. We live in our world, uncomfortable though it may be, but it is the devil we know. We are comfortable living in our familiar un comfortability. We are comfortable being in control of a situation that may be draining us financially or emotionally because it is familiar. Change may be fearful. Fear equals pain. The thought of pain keeps us rooted to where we are.
My life is not as bad as many people that I talk with. Whatever troubles I have, I have either created or I’ve been fearful of changing, or I have felt overwhelmed by other people…which leads us back to boundaries.
But while my issues may not compare with someone who is homeless or someone who does not have children, they are issues because I have given too much or allowed too much or let things go on too long. And those are issues to which we can all relate to some degree. They are issues that are causing me a great deal of stress. I have to say, my therapist has been a big help.
When I am in the right state of mind and can deal with things calmly and clearly, what has and is working for me in interactions with other people and boundaries…is to not try to tackle everything at once. I’ve actually got two major things going on right now with family…maybe three actually. But I am dealing with them one at a time. Let me tell you why this is important.
I have always lived with very emotional people. These people have always told me that I cannot do things. I get laughed at if I suggest I will do something. I will be in the middle of working on one thing and someone will bring up something that I have no control over, and they will get all worked up about that. They will expect me to get worked up too. Or someone will decide they want to do something RIGHT NOW and I need to help them. Or perhaps if I solve this problem, they will say, something horrible might happen afterwards. What will you do then? You cannot handle that by yourself, you know!!
You probably think I’m kidding. I’m not. By focusing on one thing at a time, it helps to see the progress and to see that some things need to be handled by other people and that I cannot take care of everything and if the plumbing starts to leak while I’m putting on a new roof, well at least the rain won’t get in.
I know that many of you have not had supportive people in your life. I know that it is easy to feel that you are trying really hard but that it just doesn’t matter.
I know how that can feel. I was once working full time, going to school at night, doing research in the library, taking care of my kids, living with my parents, and holding everything together when our family imploded due to substance abuse and untreated psychiatric issues. I came home from school, books in one hand, can of diet soda in the other…my dad opened the door for me. His remark? “Just like your brother, always have a drink in your hand.”
I felt that nothing I did mattered.
I’m not the spokesperson for angst. I have always had a roof over my head and for the most part, felt safe enough. So, I can’t pretend to know how it feels not to have that. I’ve had my head played with but have felt physically safe. I’ve been a scapegoat and have been verbally abused but have had people who love me. But, as we know, we do not come out of what we go through without bringing pieces of everyone else with us. We don’t ever really escape, but we can learn to take steps to separate and relearn so that we can begin to focus on what we can control.
And we can begin to let go of letting other people’s anxieties stick to us. And we can begin to stop taking care of other people if it means that we aren’t allowing them to learn their own lessons…or if it ends up hurting us instead.
There is so much we need to relearn. One step. One problem. One thing. One day. One at a time. Focus.