Thursday, May 23, 2019

I'm Just Tired

I don't know about you, but

I'm tired of being nice. I'm tired of being thoughtful and of offering consideration toward others, without receiving the same in return. I'm tired of being responsible, and productive, but also of not being able to do enough. I'm tired of being strong, and of doing so much on my own. Of pulling up my boot straps while knowing it's because I have no other choice.

I'm tired of smiling, and putting on a brave face. I'm tired of having to work so hard at my peace. I'm tired of having to work so hard at my assertiveness, where for others it comes so naturally; and of believing they benefit with no hesitation from the universe.

I'm tired of people who don't operate honestly or by integrity, getting (seemingly) everything they want in life---and of believing they benefit with no hesitation from the universe---while the rest of us work so hard to get the things we gain and yet still find certain bits of life lacking.

I'm tired of the cheats and liars and sociopaths we encounter every day, who take advantage and claim more than they deserve, and also hurt people in the process.

I don't know about you, but

I'm just tired.

I'm burned out at work, and at home. Burned out carrying more than my own load; working hard when others don't. Burned out with customer service. Burned out with meal planning and prep, with dirty dishes and laundry, both dirty and clean, and pet care. With car maintenance and commuting. Burned out here at the end of the school year, though it's my teens wrapping up their spring academics, not me. Burned out over being single, and with the hope of eventually not being single anymore. Burned out by disappointment.

I'm in a pitiful mood. Going through a rough patch. I know that's what it is, and that it'll turn around, but can't fix it yet. No one else can fix it, I know that, too.

No one wants to listen to their upbeat friend who normally has her shit together whine and complain.

I don't even want to hear me whine and complain. But I write it here, my internet safe-space established years ago, where I used to share without a second guess. This is where I used to write about the human condition.

I don't know about you, but

today's human condition for me is pretty pitiful.

In five days I'll embark on a week-long vacation from my day job. Home time. Project time. A chance to retreat, disconnect and decompress more than for just one evening or a Sunday, to find my reset button, and reboot.

I know my rough patch will turn around. It always does, after the pitiful wears away.

Maybe this time next month I won't be so tired.

Friday, May 17, 2019


Torn between hope

"Always expect something wonderful to happen"

and self-preservation

"The only way to be happy is to stop expecting anything from other people"

in perpetuity.

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

How Our "Selves" Help Us Heal from Abuse

I’ve been thinking about something since last weekend, and knew an essay was coming. Here it be.
What follows are my personal interpretations of a theory presented by Mark Ettensohn, Psy.D., in his book, Unmasking Narcissism: A Guide to Understanding the Narcissist in Your Life.
Dr. Ettensohn suggests the idea that we each have three selves. I feel strongly that understanding these selves is imperative to ALL of us for living a well-adjusted, enlightened life, as well to domestic abuse survivors for living a healed one. Stay with me...
First, and again, in my own words, is the conceptualized self. This is the day-to-day portion of our awareness, and it bogs us down in thought, which is often superficial, and in reaction. In definition. In labels. Example: I conceive -- have conceptualized -- that I’m a single mom. I’m a fatherless daughter. I’m a worker bee. I’m a victim. I drive an old car. I live in a tiny duplex. I am tired. I am sad. I am anxious and worry about my future. I am weak and unworthy... That’s my conceptualized self. It sees vulnerability and mistakes or problems. It focuses on the upsetting or the stressful, and lets the negative hold court.
But, “you are not your thoughts,” says Dr. Ettensohn.
Second comes our observing self. This self takes into inventory the entire picture. Bird’s-eye view of whole experience. Through this self I am more than the labels my brain assigns. I’m human---more than a mom or daughter or sister or friend, or on my own---and I am the human condition. I love. I feel. I understand. I’m not just a worker bee; I work for myself and for others. I am bigger than what I drive and where I live. I am a survivor, and one who looks and lives beyond having been a victim. I am strong because I have been weak, and alongside my ever-present vulnerabilities, because I’m worthy. There isn’t just negative in me, there is also positive. I am not good or bad, black and white, I am both, and neither is wrong nor right. This part of us is constant, offers Ettensohn, and is unaffected by our thoughts. Think about that for a moment.
How much more peace could we feel every day if we embraced that those passing thoughts do not affect our whole?
Lastly is self-as-context. This is where the two other selves co-exist. Our conceptualized self is important for daily operations, because it helps us make decisions and solve problems and move forward. But the awareness of our observing self is how we maintain a greater perspective. It’s how we understand that trees create a forest, to borrow from Ettensohn.
The point of this theory in the book is that narcissists can’t see beyond the conceptualized self. They cannot observe the whole, so they don’t reflect or grasp perspective, or an understanding of how their disordered behaviors affect others.
So, too, in reading these theories, I recognized that many survivors of domestic abuse (by a narcissist) become suspended in the conceptualized self. We get stuck in those labels we were conditioned to believe for years. We mistakenly, at times, think that is all there is.
But it’s important to understand there is more. We are more than those things we were taught. We are good. We are worthy. We are greater than loss. We are purpose, not just task. We are whole experience, beyond abuse.
Think about that for a moment, too. And then have a talk with your selves.
[I absolutely recommend reading this book for yourself if the topic strikes any interest or need for understanding.

Once again, my summary here may not reflect Dr. Ettensohn’s intention as presented in Unmasking Narcissism (pgs. 160-163).]

Monday, April 1, 2019

Hello, Beautiful! (A Book Review)

Finally Love Yourself Just As You Are: An Interactive Devotional Journal for Women

With voices both affectionate and thought-provoking, Hello, Beautiful! co-authors Jeanette Levellie and Beth Gormong jump into a clear truth.
“We’ve all known women who’ve put their husbands, children, and friends ahead of their own genuine need for value and love, only to end up mentally burned out, physically beaten up, or emotionally bruised.”
Maybe we are those women.
Maybe we don’t have to be.
Hello, Beautiful! declares, “There is a better way to a life of joy: love yourself.”
Through warm, transparent anecdotes and with their Christian faith at the helm, Beth and Jeanette reach out to the insecurities and self-doubt most of us harbor, and ask:
Why are we so hard on ourselves?
Why shouldn’t we love and accept ourselves as wholly as we love and accept our dearest friends—and even mere acquaintances?
What does it take to recognize our worth once and for all?
Follow Jeanette and Beth through story, interactive challenges, prayer prompts, Scripture review, and even coloring pages to answer these questions.
“Are you broken? If you said yes, then good for you. I say yes to brokenness too. We’re all broken in one place… or ten. And when we readily admit it, we’re on our way to finding the help we need to become whole.”

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Check on Your Friends

We deal with a significant, heartbreaking amount of suicide at the funeral home where I work. I have yet to see a pattern.
So check on your friends.
The ones who are single, widowed, or divorced.
The friends who are coupled, even if they tout and shout happiness and fulfillment, but especially if they don't.
The ones who don't worry about finances, and the ones who do.
The ones living with disease, as well as the healthiest of them.
The ones who have asked for help, and the ones who haven't.
The ones who are lonely, and the ones you assume aren't.
The ones you don't see often, and the ones you do.

Check on the military veterans, and the military spouses.
Those who are set in a career path, and the ones finding their way. Professionals to blue collar.
The ones with clear sign of mental illness, and those who present like they have it all together.
Busy friends and idle friends.
The ones who are quiet on social media but loud in life.
The ones who are active on social media and reserved in person.
The friends who laugh a lot.
The friends who cry a lot.
The friends who give a lot.
The friends who have nothing to give.
The angels and the rebels.
Your straight friends. The LGBTQ ones.
The teenagers, young adults, middle aged, and retirees.
The Republicans, Democrats, and who's in between.
The Christians and Atheists, and who's in between.
The intellectuals and morons, and who's in between.
Check on the introverts, and the extroverts.
The confident friends, and not-so.
Check on the parents. All of them.
Any time someone crosses your mind, check on them.

Saturday, February 2, 2019

Walking Was My Therapy

Several years back we lived in a small town of about 1800 people. It never felt like home to me, and for a couple of reasons. One was that life for my kids and me had changed drastically, but not so as to allow the fresh start I truly needed. (That would come later, and with good timing.) Two, because I grew up in the Northland of Kansas City on the Missouri side, and I will always be a city girl at core.

But our locale was good for a few things, among them the walks I took often and by myself. For me those walks were about physical fitness, mental awareness, and emotional repair.

I pushed myself pretty far. Down the street, through the neighborhood---traffic and uneven pavement be damned---to the other side of town, outside city limits among the gravel roads and livestock---including two horses who came to recognize me as well as I them---and back again. I minded my heart's pounding, my lungs breathing, my muscles working. I walked myself through.

I pushed myself pretty far. Those footsteps were matched in tempo and quantity by my thoughts. I assessed with naked honesty who I'd been for too long, with little autonomy, and also who I wanted to be. I turned over ugly, painful experiences, and looked at them head-on. I dissected what I'd begun learning about something called narcissistic personality disorder, and how that had ruled my marriage. I considered that, maybe, everything I'd been brainwashed to believe for years may not be true after all. I talked myself through.

During those walks I came to see I am in this moment. I am in this life. I get to choose how it goes now, from here forward.

I pushed myself pretty far, because nature and solitude don't judge. I let the feelings come to surface and lift away. Feelings of hurt, smallness, and regret from the abuse I'd left; feelings of potential, hope, and self-love because I'd gotten out.

The time and attention I gave myself on those walks were healing. It was about forgiving myself as much as grieving, and identifying my aim for the future as much as rehashing---and then letting go the hold on---my past.

I've never gone to formal therapy. Many have told me I should. I have nothing against it, can't pinpoint a reason I didn't seek out help for healing from a professional. I just didn't.

But I did walk. And I wouldn't be where I am right now if I hadn't.