The spark is gone


wheel-chair

wheel-chair (Photo credit: qwz)

You know when others say the lights went out in his eyes – or refer to the sparkle in someones eyes?  I have seen it before.  But a few days ago I saw it come and then go again.  A friend of mine had a  two strokes a few years ago.  The first left him half paralysed and unable to speak but he recovered fully.  unfortunately after the second stroke it was only his speech that was recovered.

I can’t help but wonder if the training he does or does not do is the culprit behind his non-recovered ability to use his left side.  That is not what I want to concentrate on although it does add to the lost twinkle.  Before his stroke he was an active man.  Active both physically and creatively.  He has shown me some of his artwork, paintings and carvings that he filled his free time with.  It was a hobby, work and supporting his family financially never really allowed time for the pursuing of his hobbies to  be full-time.

Now, he doesn’t dare start a creative project.  He has personal assistants that help with his daily life and training.  He could have help setting up an artistic adventure but he doesn’t dare.  I took up my courage and asked him why?

We talked for about an hour.  I asked what he would like to do, or even if he would like to draw or paint again? No, he said.  Because he can’t do it with just one hand.  NO, because he doesn’t want to fail.  No, because he will never be able to finish his once started projects and carvings with just one working hand.

Something new then? Like what, he asked me.  I don’t know, water colors? Neither of us are good at that, they are hard to paint with so lets start with just mixing colors, finding things we like.  Shapes or something abstract no one can judge.  Or, painting on wood, scraps or already made items, I don’t know something!

He looked at me, with a sparkle in his eye.  We were outside on the patio, smoke rising from his cigarette.  Only the little patio light above us to reflect this sparkle.  He looked out at the garden, up at the trees and into the star-studded cloudless night.  It was as if time stopped, I just watch him as if I could see his brain at work considering the things we had been talking about for the last hour.  I was excited to hear the project that we could maybe start on, to maybe be part of his new beginning so many years later.  To hear of something he wanted to do, develop, experience besides the hum drum must do to survive things!  He took another puff, and he looked back towards me.

“It’s gone.”  He said, and the sparkle went out.  The light in his eyes actually went out.  “That time is gone.  I don’t want to do anything, it’s to late.”

The moment was gone.  I knew I shouldn’t question him again so I didn’t.  I felt the sadness in the air.  I waited, as he looked out into the darkness, scanning the night for something.  The I asked him what he was thinking about. 

“Just trying to remember the name of that type of bird we saw earlier.” he replied without looking at me. And that was it.  The end of the twinkle that was so short-lived.  The hope of working back to where he once was in his life, was gone.

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It’s not bad if it’s “good” advice


English: Avoid this route in winter conditions...

English: Avoid this route in winter conditions That is the helpful advice on the road sign at the northern end of the Wass Bank Road. Conditions were very wintry, but the road was passable. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

What?  Not bad if it’s good she said to me! I started to laugh and it hurt her feelings. 

“Well did they ask you for help on something or were you just coming with a little of your helpful information?” I asked with undetectable sarcasm in my voice. 

My patience get worn thin as I explain the same things to family close to me.  I know I should be more mature and patient especially because I have more experience  – or at least different experience to support my stance.  Back to the conversation above – no of course no one had asked for help, opinions or information. 

“I was only being helpful and kind, and they know it.  I don’t know why they have to get such an attitude.  They don’t act that way to you.”  She replied, obviously hurt.

So it was time to explain again.  They don’t get mad at me because I don’t tell them what to do.  I have quit assuming I know what is best and the best way to get there for anyone besides me.  I want to be respected and show respect.   I figure if someone thinks I may have something that can help them they will ask me!  If they don’t ask, and I really feel an overwhelming need to save them from a life lesson I start with a, ” I was in a similar situation and I …”  therefore giving an example that they can take and do with what they like.  Use it or not, I don’t care.  And if I feel annoyed by them not using help they have asked for I remember for next time and then just answer by asking them questions from different angles so they come to their own solutions.

This is all very hard, almost impossible – but so necessary.  Advice is not nice, unless asked for.  Then share your life lessons, don’t tell someone what to do unless you want the blame when it goes down the drain!

Good luck!

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Dare to be dependent?


Two middle-aged people in love, running down a...

I almost fell off my chair.  I am watching an innocent program about a middle-aged woman looking for love.  She wants a man to love, she is tired of lavishing her affections on her cat.  We follow her to many different couples homes to find out how they met, when they knew they were in love and what they did after that.

It all seems so clear and simple for those that are able to make it work.  Maybe that’s why they can succeed, they have decided each for themselves what they want and need, what they will settle for and accept.  Then they make space for themselves and someone else.  Simple and beautiful, and yet so impossible for the larger part of the population.

The reasons some couples stayed together.  

She makes  my life bigger, more exciting and better.  Everything I do with this woman is an adventure, even breakfast in the morning.  She is interesting and I want to know everything about her, even after 10 years I want to know more as I see her evolve as a person I want to be part of the evolution.

One couple was asked how they keep their relationship growing together, they are very different people and it is easy to see in their interests and career choices. 

Well we both had been single for a long time.  Many years actually.  I didn’t want to be alone and I thought he was a nice person, interesting, sweet and dependable .  All those things I need to feel safe so I can let someone in to be close to me – to be safe enough to take the risk of becoming a couple.  We moved in together.  We both felt it is important to live our separate lives, and develop our different interests and so on, but we are together, share things we experience, and accept our differences.  We meet each other in the “middle” of everything.

Interesting.  The whole program is very interesting.  I want to be in love too! I want to be happy, giddy and plan my life with that man that helps me feel safe and makes everything bigger and more of an adventure just by sharing the experience with him! How? 

Brace yourself.  Now, picture a psychologist entering the tv screen.  And then he proceeds to tell the audience that in order to have a successful relationship we have to be willing to be dependent on the other person.  He then goes on to explain that society teaches us differently from the very start.  We are taught to fail in creating relationships.  How? Well, parents teach children to do everything on their own, it is important to be able to do everything yourself.   We want the to sleep in their own room alone as soon as possible.  (an example) And we go snuggle up with eachother. No one else cares or will do “it” for you.(except your mum for a while if your lucky.)So what are we missing?  What are we not being taught?  We have to dare to be dependent for a relationship to work.

If one person dictates the decision-making and takes all the responsibility  – they are also responsible for the consequences.  The stronger partner creates an apathy in the other partner.  The co-dependent no longer functions without the incorporation, craziness or approval of the other partner.  Co-dependency is unhealthy.  This other “willingness to be dependent” on your partner is healthy. 

Sounds interesting. A balance of some kind that they seem to understand.  I hope they explain it before the end of the show.  I hope they give examples and a work book, references and maybe some homework exercises. 

Good luck! I would love for you to share your own tips with me!

 

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Help is not always helpful


WTJ-Make a Mess - CLEAN it up - pages 98-99 - ...

Yes we have covered this subject before but I have just been given a new perspective.  Maybe I have never thought about this sort of help being harmful but I guess it can be – I have recently been to a lecture about Caseworkers and what they are supposed to do.  After the three hours I left with the biggest impression being  that  people who have a role in helping organise and take care of others cross boundaries in a well-meaning yet harmful way.

How many times have we helped someone because we feel good afterward – maybe they never even asked for the help in the first place.  Have you ever taken the liberty of organising or helping out because you can get it done faster? (it being whatever you like). 

It was funny to sit and listen to how caseworkers  overstep boundaries and in their effectiveness sever the already strained connection between family members and those that need extra support.  How?  Well everyone has family – everyone with an addiction or handicap or illness have people who care about them. Now, not every family has the skills, or energy to handle all addiction, handicaps and illnesses.  The family members do their best but as caseworkers step in and do better, quicker jobs – the family is not needed.  This can be a relief in strained relations – “good someone else can deal with him/her”. What does that mean to a case worker or others in the health care business?  Well it means someone has to clean up the mess – the question is whom and how.  Should the caseworker they do the job, organize the job, or just orchestrate?  How much can family help and be involved? 

  As the patient becomes stronger how will we gradually lessen the help so it does not become a crutch they lean on?  Hmm this actually reminds me a bit of co-dependency.  It is a fine line between helping, and harming here.  If we do the work the person we are helping is not getting out there and doing the job, learning the process, taking responsibility and so on.  Sure we should assist where the ability is weak but we should encourage where there is ability!  Not easy to do when human nature is pretty lazy – hey you want to clean my house for me because you don’t think its clean enough? Go ahead!  But don’t think it encourages me to clean up, actually maybe I will wait untill you can’t stand the mess and help me out again.

 Co-dependents  clean up a load of messes that are not our responsibility –  for many different reasons.  The biggest reason being for ourselves when we are honest about it.  We get pats on the back, thank you’s and we get the control (imagined or otherwise) we want.  Ordered chaos – not just a theory but sometimes a method of survival.

Where do I want to go with this?  Like anything else we do I hope we think before we act.  Ask before we assume.  And allow others the room to grow and step up to their own challenges.  No more advice. Just listen.  Ask yourself, is my helping hand really a help or a long-term hurt – before we extend it.

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to know or understand


Dolphin Sonar

Dolphin Sonar (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I heard something thought-provoking today.  A professor asked his listeners if the understood the sonar that bats use to locate food or to find their way.   They said yes. 

So he asked again “You understand it?”  Again several answer “yes” that they understood  bat sonar. 

The professor rephrased his question, ” Do you mean you know about it, you know the facts of how it works.” 

Again his listeners shook their heads in agreement –   This is really important.  The professor goes on to explain that just because they may know the facts and details of something does mean that they understand it.  Some examples he gave were as follows.

Do you know about childbirth or do you understand it?  Do you know about divorce or do you understand how it is to experience it.  Do you know about autism or do you understand how it is to live in the world of autism?  Do you know about the process off addiction or do you understand what addiction is all about?  Do you know about co-dependency or do you understand it?

Understanding something seems to be a more intimate relationship with whatever it may be we are discussing.  I actually caught myself later saying to a patient I work with that I understood how he felt and I immediately apologised and said,” No, I can’t understand how you feel, I don’t have the experience to understand but I am listening and want to help you.  I have tools and information that may help you.”  It was interesting, the patient was able to calm down, to explain, to discuss with me his situation so I could be of more help.  He felt cared for and understood.

I have had the opportunity to work with MI (motivational interview).  It is wonderful to be able to help someone open up, explain how they feel and even be able to encourage them to make changes – changes that come from within them.  To assist someones discovery of what they want and need.  Change can be a very long process – even when we want the change.

So, to know or to understand.   Big difference!   

 

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Scars of a whipped slave (April 2, 1863, Baton...

Scars of a whipped slave (April 2, 1863, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, USA. Original caption: “Overseer Artayou Carrier whipped me. I was two months in bed sore from the whipping. My master come after I was whipped; he discharged the overseer. The very words of poor Peter, taken as he sat for his picture.” (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Co-dependency depending on how severe the situation can be like slavery.  Mental even physical slavery.  I found this amazing presentation on modern-day slavery and just have to share it!  It is not about co-dependency per say but as you see these individuals and realise they are totally dependent on the masters that run their lives – dependent for their survival it becomes a dependency  – an unhealthy way of life they are powerless to change or even to see without help.  I have been thinking about how, when and where I will be able to help and counsel others when I am finished with my education and then I see amazing things like this… sometimes I feel sorry for myself and the things I have to deal with in my life, this was a reality check for today.

http://on.ted.com/Kristine  I hope this inspires you too.

 

 

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Fill up the hole


Anti-alcoholism comic book ad

Anti-alcoholism comic book ad (Photo credit: solviturambulando)

What hole?  Not the hole in your wallet, head or stomach.  Not the hole in your jeans, sock, or shoe.  The hole in you.

An amazing KBT therapist I have had the opportunity to listening to and study with  shared something with my class.   Something profound that she learned during her never-ending journey of the recovering alcoholic.  She said,

” Eventually I accepted that fact that I have a hole in my heart and soul.  I have to live with it because it is a hole, and it is a part of me. I can’t fill it with anything – I have tried.”

She continued to share with us the things she tried to fill this hole with.  All of them destructive because she was unable to use these things with any kind of measured control.  She allowed these things to take over in order to try to fill her longing, loss, sorrow, anger, need and whatever else the hole represents.  

” It still hurts, but I have accepted it as a part of me.”

We all have holes.  How they got there is not important, if you are now grown-up and an adult.  Others may have hurt us, punished, neglected, manipulated, mutilated us for whatever reason.  (Probably due to the pain of their own holes and needing to have someone to blame.)  Instead it is time to be responsible for ourselves.

What do I mean?  Well, an example.  The young woman who has been verbally abused by her father and tried to please him her whole life – never receiving the loving words of appreciation and acceptance she longed to hear.  She grew up and stayed close by, and he continued to verbally abuse her and then her children.  The children moved away.  And yet this woman stayed close, loving, serving, fixing taking care of (enabling) him, allowing her father opportunities to continue the verbal abuse.   She didn’t understand, didn’t actually see that when she became an adult she received the freedom  to get away from him.  She couldn’t see the option so it didn’t exist.  Today her father is dead.  She now cries over the fact that he never apologised,  he never took back the horrible words her buried her under her whole life – and now he is gone and she pines for his confession.  

She should be able to feel her pain, and then find the joy in his absence!  But he was such a big part of her life that she  now fills the hole he left behind with the sorrow, pain and emptiness of never getting what she need from him.  And sadly she will never get that closure, not from him.  If she can take  responsibility of having to get or take  closure for herself she can end her torture.  But untill she wants to take some responsibility for where she is now in her life, there will just be memories and demons to blame it on.

Addiction is selfish and manipulative.  Co-dependents are selfish and manipulative.  We dance a mean, painful dance together trying desperately to fill our individual hole with something (each other and stuff) instead of realising – well crap there seems to be a hole here. 

A black hole? Yep, I am just going to let it be, if I leave it alone it won’t hurt me. 

(more anyway.) 

Serenity Prayer- 

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.

 

 

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Time to talk about passion


Time to talk about passion.

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Push me pull you


Remember Dr.Doolittle?  I loved that movie as a child I dreamed of being able to talk to animals and understand them.  Today many people refer to other humans as animals in different sayings or references; crazy animal, party animal etc.  This animal reference to our human counterparts brings me to an interesting idea of the push me pull you.  I have become the human example of that animal.  Not only does life, work, family, interests, relationships push me and pull me in my choices but so do all the internal conflicts those same “people” introduce in my life everyday.

Don’t get me wrong – no one is pushing me around, it is me and my translation of their needs and desires that are pushing and pulling me.  Last sunday I sat down to write on WordPress and I fell apart.  literally, I just cried and cried about pretty much everything.  I needed to feel sorry for myself and the straw that broke this “push me pull you” back was my son.  Poor boy was just pushing my buttons as children do and that was it for me.  I knew it as it happened, I felt the dam breaking and really could just turn it all inside untill we got home so I could break down all by myself.  It is important to me that I was able to be responsible in this, I couldn’t let my avalanche of disappointment and hurt for everything fall all over my son just because he threw the straw that broke my back.

Nope, it is ultimately my fault that” I collect straws.”

We all know we are not to collect straws.  As we gain life experience we understand the danger of collecting straws but sometimes do it anyway.  The danger here is really that we are teaching the next generation to collect straws too.  How? School is a huge problem.  Adults in school are telling our children that are NOT causing the problems to not engage the bully.  Dont hit back.  Dont’ give the bully attention.  WHAT??

Lets get this straight.  YOU MEAN;

Don’t get upset when the bully verbally abuses you.  Ignore him and maybe he will find another victim. (poor victim number two can also hope the bully moves on eventually)

Don’t hit and kick back because violence just encourages more violence.  Take it, and if you don’t fight back the bully will eventually get bored and move on or grow up.  (hopefully before he breaks some bones or goes to jail.)

Don’t tell on the bully.  Because then the adult you turn to will tell you just don’t worry about the problem and it will go away.  OR please don’t bother adults with problems they don’t know how to handle.  Adults want you, child with problem, to be quiet and go away.  (It doesn’t matter if they don’t say it, kids know they figure it out.)

I have been discussing this within the school system for seven years now.  I am not done with school and don’t have letters behind my name so I am pretty much just a pain in the butt parent.  But, I have learned to love my position as pain in the butt.  Other parents wish they could be more like me but they run out of energy and give up.  I know, because we talk about it.  I talk to other parents, children, teachers and principals.  It makes me tired.  tired because it becomes words and I have to handle daily life, raise my children, do my own homework, and work full-time.  Every night  I go to bed with dreams of changing the world by changing what is closest around me.  I can change the world by instilling these ideas, morals and ideas within my children and –

walking the walk, talking the talk.

My breakdown leaves me stronger.  I don’t look forward to the next one, but the strength it leaves behind is welcome.  Very welcome.

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Who am I?


I thought I knew who I was.  What I liked and where I was going.  I remember writing my five-year plan and beginning the breakdown of big goals to easy to take steps.  It was great! But it was a long time ago.

We read and learn new techniques for getting where and what we want out of life but sometimes we continue following old strategies.  It has become time to look at my old goals and make new ones.  No I am not one of those amazingly efficient people who have crossed everything off my list but I have realised that some of the old goals don’t fit me anymore.  Good and bad, it is time for revamping the plan.

Our interests change, thank goodness! We grow ap and grow wise – at least we hope to.  Part of getting started again is really looking at myself and answering those simple questions.  Still the same food, book and movie I had ten or even twenty years ago? Doubtful! Same friends, interests and hobbies? Do I even have any hobbies anymore! Pretty funny!

About eight years ago I ransacked my life, threw out a lot of my old things, clothes and accomplishments.  I felt like I was hiding behind them. I was no longer able to define myself as for example a ballet dancer since I quit dancing at eighteen.  I was no longer a teacher because I stopped teaching at twenty-four.  I was now a mother, and wife and needed to find out what else made up this new person I had become.  It was a scary transition, and not being able to answer all my own questions about the new me I needed some dates to get to know myself.  Once again this sounds ridiculous – but it is so true!

As I stated before, I went through this eight years ago and feel the time has arrived again.  The time to finish my studies is soon approaching.  This means, new job, in my new career! My children are not toddlers but school age and starting to develop interests and hobbies of their own.  Needless to say I need to up my mommy skills and prepare for teenagers and young adults in my home.  If I treat them like babies, I will be resented.  If I force myself to continue on paths I have traveled or outgrown I will resent it too.

So, time to look in the mirror and get to know this more mature version of the quirky me.  It can be exciting, daunting and well an adventure of a lifetime.  Again. 

Safe travels my friends.  And all courage to meet your new challenges and goals.

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