I hope you all are doing well and staying safe with the coronavirus scare. In times like this, it’s not easy to stay healthy, be positive, and find moments of laughter or joy to balance the fear, frustration, or other negative sensations that may rise.
For people who enjoy being active outside and/or interacting with others face-to-face, this is an especially challenging time. Being confined alone or with others for extended periods of time can bring out the best and the worst in relationships or highlight things we’ve all tried to ignore or deny about ourselves and each other. Tempers get roused easily. People react and act to stuff they normally wouldn’t. Maybe out of fear. Maybe out of frustration. Maybe the stressful times are their version of an excuse for behaving in such ways?
Please remember that we still have choices.
We can choose react from a position of fear-based choices.
We can to argue and fight and lose our tempers. Be angry at the world and socialize and continue with our routines like nothing is going on (denial). We can ignore government mandates and health authority warnings. We can let prejudice rule our opinions and influence our interactions with others. We can choose to feel and express anger in ways that hurt ourselves and the people around us.
Or we can choose to to react from a position of love-based choices.
We can use effective communication and compromise strategies. Use Active Listening skills to to ourselves and each other. Check in from a position of love and acceptance. Be kind to ourselves and each other no matter how scared or stressed out we feel. And most important, express our fear, anger, shame, or other negative emotions in healthy ways that support us and the others around us instead of hurting ourselves and those other people.
Sometimes we might not have choices in how we act or react. Instinct and learned behavior (i.e. survival skills) override everything else when we feel overwhelmed or pushed too far.
In situations like that, when “the damage is done” we till have choices to make. We can pretend nothing happened. We can continue to escalate the negativity and cause more damage to an existing relationship until nothing is left. We can acknowledge the situation and try to make reparation and/or amends or listen with compassion to the other party and work out a solution. We can acknowledge our part in what happened, reflect on the situation, and work out ways to prepare for future ones. Maybe preventative actions or a coping strategy?
But no matter what, we humans are a resilient species. And we can survive this. We will survive and learn to thrive in the changed and changing world.
I believe in you. Please believe in yourselves too.
Disclaimer: this is a place of learning, safety, and hope. Take what you want from the post and forget the rest. Maybe this will help you. Maybe it won’t.
All of us in the AlterXpressions system (i or we) decided to share some more about our personal story as a follow up to last week’s post.
First because our journey to where we are now has been filled with directional changes.
Second because many guests have been asking about how we got to where we are now.
Finally, because all of us are here to emphasize that this place is about sharing knowledge and resources – not telling people what to do or how to live their lives.
Being smart doesn’t get a person anywhere unless the individual knows how to use and apply those smarts. Same with education and experience.
It takes courage, resilience, compassion, love, acceptance and an open mind to pick up the pieces of life after trauma and figure out how to live again. We mean how to have the
Courage to believe in, love, and accept ourselves as we are in that moment knowing we are different and will never be who we were again
Resilience to learn how to roll with the changes that life throws at us as we learn our new “normal”
Compassion for ourselves and the people around us as mistakes happen, hurt triggers all kinds of emotions and sensations, and we fall
Because everyone falls, makes mistakes, hurts self/others, and gets hurt
Open mind to ask for/accept help, learn the tools we need to be who we want to be, and thrive as our authentic selves – happy, loving, loved, safe, – in alignment with our personal values
All parts of me agree to share this with you, so please don’t be surprised by shifts in language or writing style. We tend to interrupt, talk over, or repeat each other writing like this.
College did not exactly prepare me for “real world” work. But it did give me insight into how much I didn’t know about life and people because of how I was raised. The classes and instructors provided lots of book learning, but living on campus taught me about hope and made “happy ever after” seem possible. It was a break from the reality of my other life – almost like a bubble – until my past caught up with me there too.
That”s when I realized college life didn’t fit me in the same way high school didn’t fit because my life experience taught me to value different life goals/career objectives. I was in survival mode and didn’t realize it.
Graduate school taught me that I wasn’t meant to spend my life in a rigid classroom. It also gave me the opportunity to explore skills that I disregarded as useless in high school or college. It also highlighted areas where I was completely lacking in knowledge and experience. Like interpersonal communication and time management; saying “no” and setting boundaries.
Still, graduate school helped me find a temporary job that turned into a 13-year long career with the same company and allowed me to start this website/blog. I learned foundational skills in architecture and design from graduate school. Combined that knowledge with my writing and organizational skills to land a job helping a project manager create deliverables for a client.
My hard work, eagerness to learn and apply knowledge, and commitment to meeting deadlines caught the attention of other managers and people in the department. They mentored me and taught me more than I can ever express. In that organization, I got to be myself. Acceptance and respect was based on my actions and reactions instead of rumors and assumptions.
My past didn’t matter to them when they learned about it. Instead of firing me or suspending me, they offered support and helped me find ways to keep working no matter how bad my symptoms got. As long as I was honest with them, they worked with me to create flexible schedules and go through the red tape so I got to keep my benefits and job.
Now, thirteen years later, I have job security and a role that allows me to continue doing what I started while also taking on new challenges that help my team and enjoy work again.
College education and graduate school classes gave me the foundation skills to understand the work I do, but the school of hard knocks provided me the important life lessons that helped me earn credibility, respect, and acceptance.
Without both parts of that equation, I would not be as valuable or useful in my day job or here on the blog.
Finally, I acknowledge that I am lucky and blessed to have found an organization that accepts me, values me, and allows me to continue on the winding path that is my career with them.
Today is your birthday. I wish you all the best and a joyful day full of fun and laughter. I love you and accept you as you are always. You are my mother, a wife, an aunt, a sister, and a daughter to many. To others, you are a friend, a co-worker, or some other label.
We will never be traditional mother and daughter. You don’t always like to admit having a full grown daughter, let alone one like me. That’s okay too. I forgive you for all that has happened between us. I forgive myself for sometimes hating what happened to both of us. Hate only gives me heartburn…but pockets still exist and need to be released.
I used to shudder and sleep through nightmares on your birthday – living in remembered fear of the past. Now, I celebrate your special day with unconditional love and acceptance. I hope some day you will accept me as I am too.
This time of year, I think about my family often. A lot of “firsts” happened between November and May. Including the first time my dad chose someone else instead of me. That choice left me feeling shamed, rejected, and hurt (physically and emotionally).
Perspective has taught me that, no matter what he said or did, my father loves me. He has never chosen me or put me first, but he does love me and did try to take care of me as best he could. In fact, I sometimes wonder if some of the things he said and did after I reached adulthood were his way of protecting me and ensuring I had the means to become and independent adult.
Self-Reflection over the past few months has taught me that I am truly in a better place overall. I feel physically safe 99% of the time and emotionally safe about 80% of the time except during the rough periods. My life is prosperous and overall happy. Because of all this, I am in a position to reach out and contact my dad without the crippling anxiety or fear of discovery/intrusion into my present life.
So I am composing a letter to him. Right now, the drafts are in my mind. At some point, I will decide whether or not to type or hand write the letter and mail it in an envelope with only my initials. No contact info or ability to trace anything back to me.
I miss my dad. I worry about him and his health. And I worry about the responsibility he has in taking care of the egg donor.
Yes, I am still reluctant to call her “mom” or “mother”, etc. She didn’t raise me. And she never really took care of me. I only got her attention when I embarrassed, insulted, shamed, or offended her in some way. Or when she decided to “be a nice mom” and involve herself in my life to show how much she loves me and how little I appreciate her.
No I don’t want anything to do with her or my sibling and his circle of people.
Will this be difficult? Yes because they all share a house.
Do I care? Not anymore.
Wish me luck. The goal is to have this letter written and mailed out by summer.