Acceptance

I should rename this blog Becca’s Therapy Chronicles. This week therapist and I talked about finding my place. Not in that passive woman way, c’mon. I have more of a hallway than a kitchen.

After the weekend of 2 baby showers, I spent a weekend in DC with my dearest Valentine and visited with my long lost cousins. I’m not sure when this happened, but looking around me I’m surrounded by babies, couples, house purchases, people with baby fever. That’s awesome, that’s life moving and shaking. I make my life as passionately dramatic as possible, but the stories I tell are usually about the bad TV I watch or fun info learned from my podcasts.

I don’t want my podcasts to be my best friends, I want to keep my friends. I guess I worry that my married, coupled, parent friends are passing me by and I’ll get lost in the wind. Am I supposed to find new, single friends? Lame. I don’t feel lonely, or alone, or jealous. I just don’t want to feel left out. My cousin said I sound like a Sex & the City episode (aka, compliment taken. We muse like Carrie Bradshaw as we frantically type after intakes).

Therapist told me that good friends will stick by you, and all this change is relative. In a few years, who knows, maybe I’ll be the one forcing you to come to my celebration shower. Play silly games and pretend to surprise me with registry gifts. I need to put in the effort with my friends, and the friendships will sustain. Part of this is being vulnerable, bold with the people that have earned the right to hear my story and engage in my life wholeheartedly. (Guess the author)  I remind myself, I have to do the same- despite new additions, partners, and other forward movements.

Basically, I will invite myself over to other people’s house.

 

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Heavy

Our vastly changing government has lead to many actions, thoughts, emotions, and confusion. It’s been hard to understand and accept the supporters of our new politics. I’m trying. Therapist encouraged me to extend compassion to his supporters, compassion for their fear of change and fear of poverty and loss. I’ve tried that for a few weeks…giving compassion in place of understanding.

What’s gotten me stuck, though, are people openly expressing they don’t care about others. A friend of mine described neutrality with our president, as his  own daily life isn’t expected to change much (cough…white male). When asked, “what about everyone else?” he responded with a shrug. When I asked a red coworker that same question, he responded with, “who cares?” Last night I read the Facebook comments of a post by my Uncle, a well educated, kind, articulate man. My Uncle presents the facts of society, and in the midst of the comments, someone wrote (in all caps), “American lives are more important than everyone else. Period.” That is so hard for me to write and repeat. That’s not fear, that’s hate.

I meet strangers everyday. People I don’t know, most likely will never see again. Part of my work is to speak with empathy, without judgment, and to listen without distraction. I can’t imagine not caring about the lives of other people. Don’t get me wrong, there are people I dislike. I’m no saint, but I can’t imagine caring nothing about the people around me.

This world gives me a heavy heart. I try to read positive news, about the lawyers and politicians doing what they can to stand up for what’s right. It’s hard to make sense of this, to find direction. It’s easy to get overwhelmed, disheartened, angry. This isn’t the kind of world I want to live in. Another reminder of our American privilege; there are countless people living in countries that have no voice against their oppressive governments.

Bold

Last week Therapist challenged me to live a “Bolder 2017.” The word bold brings to mind thoughts of becoming more confident, more direct, braver. More sarcastic.

I had a dream recently; someone said to me something along the lines,                                   “If I knew you would be so —, I wouldn’t have…”     That was the jist. I’ve been filling in the blanks myself. Basically, that voice wasn’t someone in my inner circle. It was someone that couldn’t acknowledge that even when I’m down, overall personality still exists.

Man, I feel happier! I’m digging myself out and above the depression hole I fell into. I’m social, made new friends, created mini (albeit some silly) goals. I’m not perfect. Yet all in all, I feel optimistic, bright, cheerful, energetic. I’m moving forward.

Don’t get me wrong, my inner critic can beat me down and I tell myself I should be more friendly, more flirty, skinnier, exercise more, learn to cook…yadda yadda. I face those things with my Brene Brown thoughts, and I get by with a little help from my friends. Those people that supported me when I was grumpy, boring, crying, or resistant to change out of my pj’s. I’m a CBT success story!

Part of me believes that being “bolder” is really just becoming more of myself.

So, people- keep me encouraged to be bold!

My normal

I’ve been pondering the concept of my “normal” recently. As I’ve mentioned, the last thing Ron ever did for me was to be my friend. I wrote to his mother to tell her this, and in her response she asked me to reach out when I returned to DG. I was ready this past August, so I did. Talking to my mom about these plans, she made a comment about this not being expected or common. Then she said, “but you’re a social worker.” As if that made my seemingly un-normal plans with Ron’s mom, something natural for “somebody like me.”

Talking to his mom about the last time I saw him, the last night anyone saw him, I remembered Ron as calm, patient, present. I remembered myself as anxious, distracted, and unhappy.  I don’t want that to be my normal again.

The past few weeks I’ve had moments of sadness. It’s hard to know who to talk to sometimes. I don’t have Ron with me now, but I’m  lucky to have words he sent me in Oct. 2014.  I wrote them in my journal and have reread his thoughts often. His personality was often filled with humor. When he expressed compassion it was meaningful. Reading this today, what strikes me most is missing past emotions, of personal growth, and Ron’s mention of a future he was not able to live:

“I’m having a flashback to better times in my love life and thought of you. Eventually you stop missing the person and only miss the emotions that were felt. I don’t miss him, but I miss that feeling. I don’t know if I will ever have an experience (with Sinatra) to overshadow that, but I try to keep in mind that saying…’Smile, because it happened.’ I realized that I didn’t miss him, but the ghost of a relationship long dead, that helped me immensely. I mean, think of it… you both have grown and changed the past year. Would you take him back if it happened? It took forever to get there but it happened. And once it happens everything suddenly seems so silly.

That’s part of growth. You get smarter, wiser, not so foolish, a bit apprehensive, and a lot more cautious. When the time comes to let your walls down again you will be much more savvy about it. The person will have to prove even more worthy. You will take longer because you’ve been burned, and if he is worth anything, he will understand, and maybe he has been burned too.

I guess it’s my acceptance of being single. I also don’t view life as happening so swiftly. Everyone seems to be getting married and having kids…we are not even 30 years old! Maybe it will take me until I’m 40 to find a guy I consider to be the love of my life. That is a long time from now! I have time to work on me, and if I’m not good with me, things with a guy are not going to be as great as they can be. Every day, every week is a growth. I’m not the same person I was 4 months ago but I’m always better. Life is a lesson and I will learn no matter what card is dealt. Right here is where I would normally say, ‘and I’m trying to get back to my old self,’ except that I’m not. I have no interest in my old self. My old self was weak and suggestive and not at all who I am now or want to be. Instead of ‘getting back to my old self,’ I’m paving a new path.”

Celebrate

Saturday was my Colorado Party! I was surprised how many people came out to celebrate. My heart felt so full.

Today I realized it was more than “Becca in Colorado turns 4.” It was celebrating myself, surrounded by the people that showed up in my life when I needed them. As I’ve written, this year threw me overboard. While it’s hard to lean on others, I acknowledge the importance of supporting each other when things are tough, and being grateful, joyful with each other when things are great. I remember earlier this year worrying about being a burden, being a downer, looking miserable. A few things I was told: “They’re your friends, they want to be there for you,” “Most of us are therapists, everyone in this room can handle your tears,” and “Don’t worry, we’re your family.” These words came from significant, yet not expected, stellar people in my life. It felt so wonderful to invite my people together, in my home, looking happy, simply because I asked them to.

As a female, I do my fair share celebrating significant life changes as they occur for people around me. Don’t get me wrong, no emotion compares with feeling intense happiness for another person. In the same breathe, I want to celebrate other things that happen in our lives, from accomplishing career goals, performances, buying property, or simply feeling better after a crappy few months- life can have so much to celebrate.

My 92 year old Great Aunt recently said, “You better hurry up and get married.” And while yes, that is the path society tells me I should take, (darn you romantic comedies!) how can I be upset with my single, adult life? If I were to regret not having a husband, it would be regretting the multitude of adventures I’ve experienced, the people that crossed into my life, and even the plain ole personal growth that has made me who I am. How could I ask for anything more? That is more than enough reason to celebrate.

#respectmyjourney

 

Overexposure

Claiming sensitivity means I need to be aware of what I take in, what I choose to expose myself to. I stumbled my way into reading a book about the former Czechoslovakia and its experience during WWII, written by Madeline Albright. It was a great read- a mix of her family’s history, personal stories and reflection, and a history lesson on WWII. Being somewhat of a history nerd, I really enjoyed the book. (“2nd dorkiest thing about me.”) My new party question will be, “Do you believe the former Czechoslovakia took land from Hungary following the war?”

The book reminded me so much of present politics. The overshadowing hatred for people that are different, blaming immigrants, opinions formed in fear. After finishing this book, I watched the news, twice. I saw Barack advocate for progressive laws. I’ve been having wretched dreams about people from my past, keeping me awake or leading me to wake up unsettled. The world is jam-packed with injustice, oppression, hate. Depressing, and all that combined depressed me.

Right around this time, I had an experience that led me to believe I’m not smart “enough.” Part of what Brené calls scarcity thinking, never being enough, never having enough, never doing enough. I sat with this for a few days. Then I realized this was a dumb thought process. I am smart, and my perception of myself is more important than making assumptions of how others may view me. I don’t need to shove my face reading everything related to current events, politics or the meaning of life to prove something to myself.

I’ve found a new outlet to indulge my desire for reality exposure…podcasts! And John Oliver. More on that another day.

That being said, we should probably go the The Moth show next week!

On being Sensitive

Recently I was described as ‘sensitive.’ Ick.

I was skeptical. Taken back. When I think of being sensitive, I think of being meek, shy, easily trampled. I don’t want to be that! I wanted her to say I’m sarcastic and engaging and energetic and loving. I couldn’t get it out of my head. So I did what my generation does, I looked up the definition in an Encyclopedia. Ok, I googled it.  The internet taught me sensitivity is:

  • having acute mental or emotional sensibility; aware of and responsive to the attitudes, feelings, or circumstance of others,
  • displaying a quick and delicate appreciation of others’ feelings, 
  • One held to be endowed with psychic or occult powers.”

Can I say yes! I always knew I was psychic! But the important part, being aware of other’s feelings, noticing changes, that’s what I do on a daily basis at work. I meet people once and formulate a description of their life in a 90 minute nutshell. The important stuff is the hardest to talk about, but it comes up and I have to be sensitive to the conversation.

I love to make jokes about my feelings wheel, but it’s the real deal. I can identify my own feelings, triggers, and anxieties fairly easy. Well, recognize. I’m still learning how to recognize and not react…reacting is easy. Storytelling, being dramatic, making jokes is easy. Sitting with the truth, emotions, and the tough stuff I’d rather run away from is a lot harder. Brené has taught me a lot about how I live my life, but the most important is to live and love with my whole heart. To be a whole hearted warrior, a dear friend once described, is to fall down and be brave enough to stand back up. I know when I’m sad, I’m downright sad. The best part though, is to be happy and feel truly, 100%, off the wall happy. And experiencing all the emotions that show up in-between and upside down. Knowing that happiness isn’t forever, but knowing it will return again and again in the future. I’ll take that sensitivity.

“Those who do no know how to weep with their whole heart don’t know how to laugh either.”