Monday, September 27, 2010

Simple is... complicated

I am a very simplistic thinker. I mean there are usually only two options right? Right and wrong. Good and bad. Correct and incorrect. Well that isn't actually right but that is how my brain works anyway. I have a very hard time seeing the complexity in situations. I make judgments pretty much solely on what I perceive to be good or right. I shun what is wrong or bad. I am terribly hard on myself if I turn out to be doing something I see as wrong or if I did make a mistake. And as simple as the way I think is... it makes my life very difficult and complex because it colors every single relationship that I have (or will have). I have a very hard time accepting people for who they are. I either play someone up a lot because they seem really good to me (my husband for example... though he is great man, I often have an inflated view of him and hold him to really high standards) or they seem... evil... to me. This makes relationships very hard for me to figure out because I just can't wrap my head around "grey areas". That doing something "grey" does not make someone bad or unworthy of my friendship. This is something we deal with in my counseling sessions quite frequently. How do you get your expectations down to reasonable when you have this way of thinking about things? The obvious solution is to slowly change how you think and to lower expectations of others.

To me that is not as easy or obvious to do just because I literally have a hard time processing events and people in a way that seems reasonable to most other people. I get why I do it but change is slow and slow bothers me. My friend said to me today that I just need to be okay where I am at right now. And maybe she is right but it seems like I am stalling out and feeling worse about a lot of things. And I know that is just how it is. But I just want to be able to hear what I need to do, and do it. I can't, but I wish I could. It takes work and slow, methodical changes. It takes pushing myself but slowly enough that I don't have panic attacks or make very big mistakes when trying to pummel through to the end. It takes dedication. I am dedicated to becoming a healthier person. I am dedicated to setting appropriate boundaries with family and friends for the sake of my own well being and the well being of my boys. I am dedicated to slowly and methodically realizing I contribute to some of the issues and working to change those parts about myself. But I don't think its simple. And I am sad that I am learning to do things you are supposed to pick up along the way in childhood at 25. It makes no sense to me and it forces me to face the facts about my expectations... they can't be met so I have to let them go.

So, I think simply. Some people think that my honesty and sense of integrity are great traits. They are most likely the 2 friends I have. ha. But for the most part, the simple way I think hurts relationships because it doesn't allow people to be who they are and where they are. And it hinders me from accepting them. Acceptance. I am not very good at accepting things outside of my ideals. I have to realize the world is not perfect and people are not perfect. I am not sure what this actually means for some relationships because I know there is a balance. Accepting too much allows pain. Not accepting breeds loneliness. I have to set boundaries. Real, identifiable boundaries to keep from being continuously hurt and to pave the way for the next several months and big decisions in my life. But acceptance has to be part of it too. Realizing that there is grey and there are things in peoples lives that need empathy and grace. So I am sorry if I have been less than accepting of any of you. I don't mean to be and I am trying to work on it. My counselor keeps telling me these are things I can learn and I am trusting her. She is challenging me in lots of ways and the growing pains are, at times, pretty miserable. But I am trusting her and trusting that one day, I will have more healthy, meaningful relationships. Until then, I am learning a whole lot about how my simple ways of thinking make things more complicated sometimes.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Lesson Learned

I have spent a lot of time thinking about faith and religion lately. I think often about the parts I love about it and the parts that are less than desirable. I love God. I love community. I love the principles of the Bible (loving God, loving others, selflessness are among the tops...). And there are other aspects of faith that I love. The comfort having belief in God provides me with. The feeling that bad things are being used for God's glory even when I don't get why in the heck they happened.

There are also quite a few things that I can't stand about religion. This is more about religion than it is about faith and belief. But I think those go hand in hand in perception, if that makes sense. I don't like hypocrisy. I can't stand how segregated most American churches are (seriously... all white, all Chinese, all black, all Korean are just some of the examples in my own community). I want to go to church and see lots of beautiful faces from all walks of life. I don't like judgmental churches or the fact that many people feel judged or put down because they know what I believe. I am not a fan of people who spend their time becoming media spectacles and give other, very good people bad names. And I certainly and heavily don't like that it seems so many churches are not really doing anything in the community to take care of the poor, widowed and orphaned. I don't like these things because they don't represent... me. They also don't represent God.

And as I go through all the stuff I am dealing with right now, it makes me really question what I believe and why I believe it and how I believe it and how I live it and where I live it. It makes me wonder about the importance of community within church. Sometimes I feel kind of like a lost little kid at church. Trying to just figure out what it all means. Why aren't churches, for the most part, REALLY helping people? What is it going to take for people to stop plodding through life at their social club churches and actually get out there and make a difference. To change the perception that Christians preach a lot of good values but don't follow through on those values. I get frustrated with that. And the perception is there because really, how many churches are helping people in real and tangible ways. People no longer think of a church being the first place they can go if they have no shelter or food.

This is part of me though. I live in a world stuck between ideals and reality. I cling to the ideals hard core and mourn the reality. It is very hard for me to see something as okay if it doesn't meet my ideal. And I always feel so... unsettled with religion and church. I have been listening to a new song a lot lately called "I Refuse" by Josh Wilson. This is where the lesson comes in... God has called me to move. I can't wait for everyone else to do what I am supposed to be doing on my own. And each one of us individually has to decide that before the world sees God move collectively through churches. It is not the Churches heart that is to blame. The church is a bunch of people who love God coming together to function collectively, right? So if I am not loving God and doing what he has called me, alone, to do (because obedience is an expression of love so I can at least say I fail to fully love God even if I try hard)... that is on me and it is something I need to work on. I need to work on better exemplifying the Love of God to others. I need to be the one out there taking care of the people I can take care of and help and love. I guess what I am saying is that... I know God's basic will for man. I do not even try to attempt to act like I know what God's will looks like in anyone's own, individual life. But I do know that God's will is made clear on a few things. We need to love God and love others. I have heard it said once that if you are loving God and loving others you can't be sinning. It makes sense to me that if I am pursuing both of those things it would be difficult for me to be too wrapped up in things I shouldn't be focusing on. Jesus spoke over and over again about taking care of the widows, poor and orphans so I know that is God's will. I just gotta stop expecting other people to do things I am supposed to be doing myself. I have to jump in and contribute with my own hands and feet and my own money and my own talents. Conviction.

Anyway, here is the song...

Monday, September 13, 2010

Sharing too much

As I have discussed in the past, I have a hard time making friends. This is something I talk about a fair bit in counseling. I don't live very close to my family and it is important for me to build a network of people I can trust and depend on. But also, people who are there for my kids in ways that my family can not be there for them. They need more than JUST me and their dad. As much as I would like that to be sufficient, I realize that as they get older their support group will need to be larger. Heck, my support group needs to be larger, so why wouldn't theirs?

Apparently making friends is like dating. Or this is what I have been told. I never really "dated" though. I met my husband in the 4th grade. We didn't go to middle school together but met back up in high school. After our freshman year we started a serious relationship. And... 10 years later, we are married and have 2 little boys. So the dating analogy doesn't work real well with me. But when discussing how you make friends we did talk a bit about dating. Like, the idea that when you date someone and you reveal way too much way too fast... you scare people off! Telling your date that you (making up a scenario here) were locked in your closet for 6 hours a day every weekend as a child... might be a little much. So this is what I struggle with because I don't know some of these social skills... This is what I am working on learning. How to know how much information to give to people and how much they actually care and if they are trustworthy. I can't just tell a new friend on a "first date" too much. I also don't want to feel like they are not getting to know me (which is another common way for me to cope). So apparently I can learn this stuff... I feel like sometimes I am going to school for the socially inept. I am okay with that if it helps :) But I am learning that this means I am going to have to really think about what I talk about and when. And that is hard for me. I am typically a super honest person and I answer questions as they come pretty bluntly. I have never really been overly vague and if I don't feel like talking about it I am way more likely to say "that isn't really something I want to talk about" than to answer in a vague, but honest, enough way for people to accept and not be sharing too much. I never really knew that making friendships had so many rules. Maybe for other people they don't? But this seems really complicated to me.

I think that is one of my issues... I don't want people close and I really dislike how complicated it all seems. But if I find someone I might like to have a friendship with, I don't know how to initiate or give the right pieces of information and at the right times and in the right amounts. I guess one day I will get it figured out but today I left my appointment feeling a bit defeated about the whole friend thing. But I have resolved to try and kind of pay more attention to the information I give people. My goal is to not share too much but to also not put up walls. Balance.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Moving past Anger

My counseling assignment this week is to write out all of the reasons I am angry with someone who has been very influential in my life. I didn't really want to do it and I still don't. The thought I keep having is that I don't want to focus on anger! Because it upsets me and adds to my anxiety. But as I started writing, and writing, and writing... I realized I have a lot of anger trapped inside. A lot. I have known I was angry. I can say the words easily. I have even dropped the "hate" word regarding this person. But getting out all the specific reasons and instances... big and small, obvious and subtle, personality flaws and actions... it makes me see just how angry I am.

I started writing on Tuesday. Within 5 minutes I had a whole page full of reasons I was angry. Then I had to stop for a while because I was getting upset with myself and with the fact that this person has hurt me so much. I expected a list but I really didn't expect to be able to sit down and write down 20+ reasons for anger in mere moments. Then came the guilt. And when I talked to my husband and about his understanding of the situation and my anger... more guilt. Not that it is his fault by any means because he did nothing wrong but he just doesn't understand how I have interpreted some things. He doesn't understand how I can have so much anger towards this person but have a totally different outlook and even sympathy toward past abusers. And, logically, it makes no sense to me either. I know it is normal as far as abuse goes (well, there is a wide range of normal) as I have been reassured that this is fairly common. But then I feel guilty like I should be less angry with this person and more angry with other people. Like maybe there is some cosmic balance of anger and acceptance among all of these people that will settle things into a peaceful state in my mind.

But the point ends up being... I can't continue to be this angry. I am not sure what that looks like though. It may be ending some relationships or enforcing extremely strict boundaries. I know that it isn't going to be staying how things are. It won't be allowing these relationships to continue to be destructive and hurtful in my life. I have to take responsibility for my part in allowing myself to continue to get hurt. I have the ability and know how to change the nature of the relationships. I lack some of the skills right now to do it all successfully but I am trying to learn those skills. At the same time, I think there may always be anger. I have very rigid ideals and being angry goes against kind of the way I view a "good" person. Which then makes me feel like a very bad person because of all of the anger I feel. But I think I have to mold the situation I am in and my ideals to become something healthier. I am not a bad person because I am angry. I am not a bad person because I feel guilt. I am not a bad person because I have sympathy for people who maybe I shouldn't have sympathy for. And even if I remain angry about some things, if I set healthy boundaries and get to a point where I can move past the anger in a productive way... well maybe there really is an acceptable level of anger.

I am not sure really but I need to figure out the balance that works for me and, by extension, my family.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Figuring it all out and preschool

Figuring out who you are or who you want to be is tough. Acting perfect doesn't work and neither does acting how you feel. Both of them alienate me to the point of feeling like no one really wants to get to know me. It is like you have to balance a good persona with the true, harsh realities of life. You gotta let the good show and hints of the tough but not too much of either. No one wants to be around someone who brags or talks too much about themselves and no one wants to be around a downer either. But I live in a world between euphoria and depression and anger. When things are good for me... I can think of a lot of good and it is so easy to talk about. When things are bad, I don't talk much because no one really seems too interested in my deep dark secrets and issues... and who wants to be dragged into my hole with me? There is rarely middle ground lately. Where my head is clear enough to exist in this funk while acknowledging the good at the same time.

Not to say I can't name off all the good things in my life or how blessed I am. I can. But my mind has issues existing in two places at once. I am intently focused on a goal. It has incredible moral implications for me and really huge consequences and I have been completely occupied much of the time by it. My counselor says I need to schedule it in. Ha. That makes me giggle because I am very schedule oriented so in theory it seems like a great idea. I hate being late. I like knowing exactly how my day will go. Feeling rushed makes me anxious. Being late makes me miserable. But the idea of giving these thoughts a beginning and an end seems too hard. They just consume me sometimes... for hours and hours. Or even days. It is the whole anxiety thing. Preoccupied with massive and overwhelming thoughts and fears. I still take care of my kids and kiss on them and play with them.They deserve that. I realize they deserve it. But... I am not giving them all of me. I am so split with them. Trying to act okay when I am not okay. And trying to figure out if some balance actually exists where I can be me in the good and bad and still form solid relationships that have meaning and depth.

I guess the ultimate goal would be... balance. I think that is one over arching theme in life. Balance in all things. Balancing my past with my present and future. Letting it teach me and learning to release things that I can't carry healthily into the future with me. Sometimes it seems as if those things define me in many ways but I don't want them to. But I also want to feel comfortable being myself even if it isn't always pretty. I am not talking about being a bad person... sheesh I am not very articulate this evening. At any rate, life is confusing me a bit right now and I just don't really know how to go about handling it.

My Super Muscles starts preschool next week. I am very anxious about it. His teachers are very sweet and kind. He has 3 teachers in his room and I think they said 14 kids will start on Tuesday. They can enroll up to 20 in the room so the ratio is pretty good. I think he will love it. I, however, will be letting Daddy take the boy to his first day of school while attending a counseling session. If I leave this up to me to do, it could turn out badly. So I am not doing that. I have to step back and not sabotage things for my big boy. I am having a lot of anxiety about this and I could very easily see myself not taking him. Or not wanting to leave my house. Or taking him and having a panic attack when I get outside. I am thankful that MW is willing to help me with this. My counselor also thinks this is a good plan for his first day. Hopefully when I pick him up he will be so excited! And ultimately this will be a good thing. I know if I can just get through it, it will be great. It is just the whole trusting people I don't know well to take care of my son for a big part of the day... thing. He will love it. It will be good for both of us. I just have to keep convincing myself those things are true.