The Awesomeness of Shelters

In the past few months, of searching for jobs I have viewed many, many websites and job descriptions. Some of the most straight forward job descriptions have come from coalitions. Did you know that each state and sometimes several cities within a state have Coalitions for Domestic and Sexual Abuse? I didn’t, not until a few days ago.

So I started searching their websites and found more job openings I didn’t know existed and guess what…..I’m actually qualified for these jobs and I get a little excited when I see that they have openings. I even applied for one in Juneau, Alaska. Crazy but if I was doing the work I was born to do I’m not sure I would care so much about the weather, don’t get my wrong I would still complain but bring it on. I want to do this work!

 I’ve also noticed how awesome shelters are, especially their websites. When you visit a Domestic and Sexual Abuse shelter’s website you automatically get shown some EXIT signs (quick buttons that will get you off the page immediately, in case the one who is abusing you enters the room), as well as some information about how to delete your tracks while  you are online (just in case the person who is abusing you, is also controlling your computer use, which he/she probably is). 

It’s so awesome that I am getting more excited to get back to doing what I love: helping those that are being abuse and have gotten out. 

I hope this new kick keeps going until I get a job. I wouldn’t say that I’ve been depressed during this season, it’s more like I’ve lost motivation and drive. I mean I get up every day, search the local sites and then send resumes and cover letters. It’s hard when you don’t hear anything for months on end, but hopefully this new passion will keep me going a while longer.

Memory of a Grandmother

My grandmother Summers’, had she made it to her birthday today she would have been a year older. As such she died last May and didn’t make it to another birthday.

Today I’ve spent some time thinking about what’s the best way to remember or honor her? Is it best to remember her on a day like today that would be her birthday? Or would it be better to remember her on a day in May when she died?

I can still remember that heartbreaking moment, talking to my mom in a parking structure after seeing a movie with my then roommate and hearing my mom say that she had died. It was a hellish moment and when I think about it, I’m taken right back to that moment.

So I don’t think it would be good to remember that day, it would probably be better to remember her today.

So what memories come to me today?

  • Her cooking. Not just the wonderful cookies that she made. Which were simply fantastic. Imagine the best cookie you have ever eaten and it doesn’t come close to her Chocolate Covered Cherry Cookie. It was heaven. But the memory isn’t just about her cookies and good eats, its really about her in the kitchen. She’s wearing overalls and her favorite apron and she is working in the kitchen. Painstakingly making breakfast, lunch and dinner and feeding her family both food and love. She loved her family and one way she showed it was by feeding us 🙂
  • Hugs. Grandma Summers hugged a lot. We hugged every time we walked in the door and every time we left it. When it was time to leave and make the journey home she would stand out front and wave at us until we turned the corner that would take us out of view. I can remember making comments to my family about how much she loved to hug and complaining and questioning why we had to hug when we were just going to the grocery store. Today I miss that hug. I miss those skinny arms wrapping around me and filling me with love.
  • Sarcasm, laughter and jokes. I can still hear my grandmother cackling in my ear. She was so funny. She often told a joke dripping with sarcasm and I gave just as much as I got. I loved that. I loved her and still love her, even though she is not here.
  • Faith. Grandma’s faith was never ending. When the time came for her to leave she was ready to see Jesus. It saddens me that she didn’t fight but I understand that she was ready to go. When I decided to go to seminary she was a great supporter and when I told her about the abuse in my life she listened to me cry and told me how much she loved me and how much God loved me. 

Okay I’m crying.

  • Her written words of encouragement. Grandma was a great writer and great at encouraging. She sent me emails and sent me letters on every birthday. I’ll miss her letter this year.

Happy Birthday Grandma! I hope you are enjoying yourself in heaven! I miss and love you!Image

I miss academia

I was an academic for the last 5 years and I find that since I left it I miss it. I don’t miss the deadlines and the endless reading and writing. What I miss instead is the challenge.

I miss someone (or several someones) pushing me to greatness. Sure I had to read a lot of books that were pure crap but some of those books were great. Some of them (even the crap ones) led me to think. They kept me on my toes and pushed me to think even more.

I find myself hanging back on the sidelines these days and miss being immersed in theology and the Bible and the dripping disdain of people who thought differently than I. I miss being so focused on a particular Scripture, idea or concept that I could spell it out in many different ways and have people listening to what I had to say because it might be different than what they could comprehend.

I miss not the attention but the ability to freely and frequently share my ideas and listen to others to hopefully come to an agreeable new idea or a fresh way to look at something.

I miss arguing with people. I miss being immersed in something and pushing myself to greatness. 

I miss academia, especially now when I have hours to myself and I wonder how to fill it. I miss it all and I find myself waiting with baited breath for someone to ask me a question where I might be able to share some of the wisdom I have gained.

Just last week someone came up to me and asked me how to help their friend get out of an abusive relationship and I have to say that those few minutes where I got to share my knowledge were some of my happiest in the last few months.

I cannot wait to do this work and I am getting antsy waiting for something to happen.

I awake every day and think, “Is it worth getting up today?” I look at the clock and usually see that it is some time after 8am and I usually tell myself, “If you get up now what are you going to do the rest of the day?” My day is filled with TV and reading and searching online for jobs. I usually apply for as many as I can and then spend the rest of my day watching TV and reading. I feel such a waste. Not that I am wasting time or wasting whatever but that my presence is a waste.

My therapist, in Pasadena, before I left told me that it was okay for me to take up space and everyday I try to remind myself of this fact. It’s okay for me to take up space and I try to tell myself that I am not a waste but there are moments where it feels that way.

When I was immersed in classes and classwork my focus was on learning and getting as much knowledge as possible to do the best job I could when I left and now that I am out I cannot wait to use that knowledge.

How much longer do you think I will have to wait? Image 

Haunting Images of Recently Departed

I’ve been working at the hospital as an intern for 6 weeks now and there are some faces that I cannot seem to get out of my head.

There are patients I visit that stay with me for weeks on end. I remember the face of the woman that was run over by a car, I remember her family and the conversation and the prayers we shared. I remember the face of the man who died in hospice and the love family that filled the room and the words and prayers we shared. I remember the face of the woman who had last rights.

I remember the face of man who died this week and the family that was with him. Their faces, their stories stay with me.

There are times where I wish I could get their faces out of my head. Times when the residents at the hospital say that the families they are there for remember their faces but they forget them. I’m not sure how they do that.

Even if my conversation was brief and the person lived I still remember them. It has to be the mind that God gave me. It must be the compassion that lives inside of me.

Almost everyone in my group is certain that is is the kind of work that they want to continue to do. It’s not mine. I can be there for these people, in their moments of deep pain and anguish or in times of crisis but I cannot stay with them for long.

The entire time I sit with families or talk with patients I am trying to escape, trying to leave,  trying to finish the job so that I can go back where I feel safe.

It’s hard to tell people how I am doing because most of the time I am separate from it unless it comes along and slaps me in the face.

I feel broken and bruised and I’m not. My schedule is brutal. Today was my first day off in a while. A day where I didn’t have to go anywhere. A day when the world wasn’t pressing down on me and no one was demanding anything from me. I felt free today. I felt like I got my feet under me and now that I have had this day I can go on, I can gather the strength and courage to go on.

This schedule is brutal but sometimes I am thankful for it. I don’t have time to sit and ponder the things I have done. I don’t have time to ponder the things I haven’t done.

But today I noticed that I’m not taking very good care of myself. I’m not paying attention to how I’m feeling. I’m not paying attention to my emotional health. I’m just going, going, going.

I’m letting the visuals of the people I meet in their most trying times, take over my life away from the hospital. I’m letting them into my life, into my down times and if I’m going to survive this internship with 2 months left to go I better get it together.

I’m just wondering how I can care for myself better. I know I’m not taking care of myself because I’m neglecting everything. I haven’t knitted in weeks. I love to knit, I used to do it weekly with my gals and now I don’t even manage it once a month.

If I’m going to make it I’ve got to find a way to take care of myself and in these times of going, going, going; how I take care of myself may not look like it has in the past.


Same but different

Has anyone else noticed that no matter where you go you seem to surround yourself with the same kind of people?

I’ve been in Kansas for 4 months (it seems so much longer than that) and I’ve been noticing that the characters in my life change names a lot but the relationships seem to be the same. Does that make sense?

The people are fundamentally different but I relate to certain characters in the same way.

There are moments where I feel completely lost. Lost in a sea of different people, of different jobs, and moments where I feel lost in what I am doing. Doing something new and out of my comfort zone can be exciting and completely terrifying at the same time. There are moments where I feel lost and there are other moments where I feel like I fit, like things are fitting together and into place.

I’m taking my lunch outside and philosophizing :-).

People have been wondering how I’m doing. I’m busy. I’m stressed, anxious, but also happy and excited. On any given day I could answer the question differently. It just depends on what I’m dealing with that day and how much alone time I’ve had that week :-).

Today I’m good. I’m a little worried about my first 24hrs at the hospital this Sunday but that’s mainly because I have no idea what will happen and I cannot prepare myself for every possibility.

I miss my California friends and all the babies they are having and all the moments I’m missing out on but I’m also enjoying my Kansas friends new and old. I’m enjoying myself and trying to live in the middle between freaked out and overfilled with joy.

My lunch hour is over so it’s back to work I go 🙂

Restless Night’s Sleep


Have you ever had a night’s sleep that should be called a long night of really short naps? I had such a night’s sleep last night. I fell asleep to one of my favorite shows and woke up 90 minutes later when the show had changed to something I hadn’t watched before with actors with really annoying high voices. (Maybe Sheldon from The Big Bang Theory was right and women’s brains are trained to wake up at higher pitches.)

About 30 minutes later I was awake again so I got up and turned on the fan, thinking the temperature of the room was too hot and that was why I couldn’t sleep.

90 minutes later I woke up after a really crazy dream, a dream I don’t even remember.

90 minutes later I’m awake again. This pattern repeated several times throughout the night.

Now, I’ve been going to therapy for about 8 years. I went right after a traumatic event and stopped when I moved back home a few months ago.

Therapy gave me a lot of tools to use in my life and one thing is to process what’s going on in my life. If something happens (like a restless night sleep with one character repeated over and over) I try to process what is going on. So if someone is repeated in my dreams and in each dream there is anxiety around this person and I actually know this person I will try to process our last few interactions.

Did I say something I regret?

Did I do something I regret?

Did they do something that made me upset?

And so on and so forth.

Turns out that I did something, a couple somethings, that I regret and if I don’t want another restless night sleep I have a few things to do.

The first is to go to the person and to admit what I regret. In my experience two things usually happen when I go to them: 1) they don’t remember the incident or 2) they had no problem with my behavior or actions. But in reality I’m not going to them for their benefit. The truth is I am going to them to absolve myself. I’m going to them because I feel like I have wronged them and feel like I need forgiveness and because I don’t want another restless night’s sleep.

The second is go to myself and figure out why I did it or why I regret the action. In my experience one of two things usually happen: 1) I find a pattern in my life that I would like to change or 2) I find a pattern in a particular relationship and try to fix it.

In this situation, I did a harmless act that the person had expressly asked me not to. In a small way I abused our relationship. It was nothing huge. I did one of the following things (I’m not telling you which): tickled them after they asked me not to, took photos of them after they asked me not to, or kept singing to the radio after they asked me not to.

The second act was equally trivial but equally upsetting to my system. We were on the highway and I was following said person. This person was going the speed limit which to my California ways seems just wrong. So I sped past them without even a wave. A small act indeed but apparently one I regret.

The trouble with regretting actions is that until you fix them you will continue to feel upset and that the other person could have no reason to help you fix the situation. They may have been hurt by your actions and feel like they need to hold on to it for a bit longer. Or they may not be ready to resolve the situation.

In my experience if you go to a person, seek their forgiveness and seek reconciliation then you can usually get some relief. In situations where the person is not offering reconciliation you can still get some peace because you have done everything you can. In situations where the goal is reconciliation you may not get relief until the situation is resolved but this will most likely take more than an apology.

You may need to show that you are trustworthy again. If you really seek reconciliation you will need to do whatever that person seeks or needs to know that you are trustworthy.

For instance, in my own past I have had people let me down constantly. And because of this I have abandonment issues. I know that I have these issues. I know that people are not as reliable as I would like them to be. I know that if someone is late that doesn’t mean that they have forgotten about me, even though it feels that way. I know that if someone says they will call at a specific time and that they don’t that I will immediately think that they have forgotten about me. If someone is late to pick me up I will think that they forgot to come get me. I know I have this issue. It is an issue that has stayed with me because it has happened so many times.

My own father forgot me at the dentist once. My mom had dropped me off and it was my dad’s job to pick me up. He forgot where I was and since this was in a time before cell phones I had no way to reach him and he had no way to reach me. I was at the dentist until it was closing time and they were closing. I went outside to wait for him. One of the nurses asked me if I wanted a ride home but I declined because I knew my dad would be mad if when he finally figured it out I wasn’t there. So I sat in the parking lot waiting for my dad to show up.

This was one of the few times my dad forgot me but others have forgot me as well so I have serious abandonment issues. So if you are my friend or family or we are in a relationship of some sort please call when you say you will or please send me a text letting me know that you will be late. If you don’t I become a bundle of nerves and it really freaks me out. I actually have a panic like response. It’s close to a panic attack but not exactly. As I have aged I have learned certain tactics to help me get through the situation but its just better if you just let me know that you are running late.

Because I am aware of this issue I try to give people a little grace. I give about a 15 minute grace period and if you are late beyond that and do not let me know then I start to freak out. It’s not pretty and it can be really annoying to the people around me. If you are supposed to take me somewhere I try to figure out a way to get there without you. If you were supposed to call I try to busy myself with another task until you do call. Usually there is some pacing involved for the next 15 minutes and then I just give up and either go to the place myself or call you. So my average grace period is 30 minutes but know that if you get to that 30 minute mark I’m upset. I may not tell you that I’m upset but know that I am.

This abandonment issue was triggered for me before I even met up with the person that I feel I have wronged. I didn’t tell them that I was upset but I felt like I had let it go when they finally did contact me. It was past the 30 minute grace period but I knew that I wasn’t going to be alone in my pursuits so I thought I had let it go.

But maybe I didn’t. Do you ever do something to someone else and then wonder later why it was so important for you to do it? Maybe in a small way I was getting back at this person for how they made me feel earlier that night. And maybe it’s not the act itself that I regret but possibly what fueled my act.

Did I let the anger of being abandoned rule my actions? Did I let a small act become bigger by not talking about it? Did I keep this person at arms length by not telling them that they had upset me?

Probably. Well crap. This issue is much bigger than I originally thought and will require much more on my part. Now I will have to be honest with the person, even more honest than I was planning on being. I was planning on being regretful of my actions and seeking forgiveness but now I might need to explain a bit more. Dang it.

With growth always comes more work and more vulnerability. Why can’t it ever be less work and less vulnerability?

More work to be done…….

Say Hello to Grandma For Me

My mom is leaving in the morning for a trip to Denver, Co. For 26 years of my life I would travel with my parents to see my 2 grandmas and my various aunts and uncles and cousins for approximately 2 weeks. We would trade time between my dad’s mom and my mom’s mom, Grandma Waggoner/Summers and Grandma Shirley respectively. It was always a great time. Grandma Summers had a great tv and video collection and an amazing culinary skill. She made the best cookies and meals I have ever had, although most of what she made I cannot eat today.

Grandma Shirley had the amazing pool and all the little debbie’s you could eat. My grandfather, a man I never got the chance to meet, built the house and the indoor pool with his bare hands. It is a house full of memories and history and it means absolutely nothing without Grandma Shirley in it.

When we traveled to my Grandma Summers funeral in May we went to see Grandma Shirley at the home and to visit the house my grandfather built.  It was an empty experience. The first day we visited Grandma Shirley in the home she wasn’t herself. She didn’t make any sense and she kept playing with a doll. It was so hard to see. It is so hard to remember. It was really hard because even though she had no idea who we were there were still attributes that I recognized. When she was talking she used the same hand gestures and when she was trying to think of something, something none of us could comprehend she looked down and focused like she used to when telling a story.

The second day we visited her was a little better. When we got there she was lethargic which in my mind was better than the playing with the doll day we had experienced the day earlier. We were quite a bigger group so we went out into another area and after Grandma had a little nap she came to join us. She was so much better. She wasn’t completely there but she was more in the room than she had been previously. She and I had a conversation that I could follow and she asked my older sister why she was so sad. It was a great little moment and a truly saddening moment as well. Grandma’s here but she’s not and the moments that she’s here makes up for the moments when she’s not but it makes the moments that she’s not even harder to deal with.

After we saw Grandma at the home we went back to the house where I spent so many summers playing games, and talking with Grandma and walking around the lake across the street. The house was empty without her. Most of her things were still there but she wasn’t. It was the shell of what it used to be, just like she is.

My mother is leaving in the morning for a short trip to see her mom, a trip that will be gut wrenching, a trip that might not be any fun at all. As I hugged her good-bye (because she’s leaving before I get up) I wanted to say, “Say hello to Grandma for me” but then I rethought it. My Grandma may not even recognize her own daughter let alone remember who I am.

I try not to hate anything in this world but I HATE ALZHEIMER’S! I hate it with everything that is inside of me. Alzheimer’s has stolen my grandmother, a woman I love with my whole heart.

So I’m weeping again, what a joy (sarcasm). There are times when I live in denial about my grandma being for all intents and purposes gone. I live in that place and then reality slams into me like a bus and I have no choice but to stare into it and deal with it. I have no choice but to sit in the pain and let it wash over me. If I ignore it now, it will only get harder to deal with.

I learned that lesson the hard way. If you stuff your feelings, your realities, your emotions and never deal with it, it will explode all over you. So you have to deal with it when it comes up. I wasn’t going to write this post because I feel like I have written it so many times over the last few months but I decided that my need to process was more important than my need to write something interesting for my readers to partake.

Deal with your stuff when it happens because stuffing it doesn’t make it go away, it just makes it harder to deal with in the end.

So I’m sitting in my room, listening to a Third Day CD and weeping. I’ll live through this pain which is the triumph I give to you today. 8 years ago I never would have allowed myself cry. I would have had an anxiety attack, lying on the ground not being able to breathe, not feeling safe and all because I believed that if I started crying or if I sat in the pain I would never get out of it. The truth is that is not true. If you deal with pain it cannot overcome you. If you allow yourself to deal with the sadness or disappointment when it comes or anger when it hits or whatever emotion you shy away from, if you allow yourself to deal with it when it happens it cannot overcome you.

8 years ago I was on the highest level of depression meds you can be on and I decided to stop taking them. I decided that not feeling anything was not okay and I started a journey of feeling things when they happen and not being afraid of emotions.

Right now my heart hurts but I am dealing with it and not allowing it to overcome me. That is the good news. The situation sucks but it is not overpowering me. I am sad but I know that I will not stay sad forever.

Grieving the Unrealized Future

My grandmother died 3 weeks ago. It’s so hard to believe that three weeks ago I was standing in a parking lot hearing my mom say that grandma had died. It was so unreal. Hours before my father was telling me that grandma might have days. He said hours but I really just dismissed that. I figured he would have enough time to get to her but he didn’t. I think he really regrets that but really he didn’t have enough time. Travel just doesn’t work like that. She was gone in hours.

I still miss her. I find myself on facebook where her page is still active and all the sudden I am crying. Until I moved to Pasadena 5 years ago I would visit my grandmother every summer. If we do a bit of subtraction that means for 26 years I visited my grandmother for a weeks time or so. I saw her in person about 3 years ago. I wish I had been able to continue to visit her every summer but it wasn’t possible. Money got tight and school got in the way. They seem like ridiculous excuses now that she isn’t here. I wish that I had seen her every year like before.

Regrets really aren’t worth any thing. They help me confront the reality but beyond that they just suck. So I try to be done with them. So if I move from regrets I move to sadness over activities that will never happen. I get sad over the future.

My kids (I don’t have any but I am holding on to the dream that someday I will) will never know a great grandma. I didn’t know my parents grandparents as a kid either but I really wish that my kids would have gotten to meet Arleen Summers and Shirley Boyce and even Vi Waggoner. I have no grandmothers left. My grandma Shirley has Alzheimer’s and after visiting with her I know she’s not really there. We visited her twice. One day she was completely gone and the other she was kinda sorta there. I don’t know which was harder: seeing a glimmer of who she was or the shell of the person I love. My kids won’t know her and they definitely won’t know my Grandma Summers or Vi. I wish that was still an option. I wish my future kids would have gotten to know the strongest women I have every known.

I’m pretty strong. I have survived horrible acts and I live on to help others survive their horrible acts. But I don’t think I’m a fraction of how strong these women were. Arleen raised two sons after her husband left her for another woman. She had no education and yet she provided for them. She was a strong arm with little time for compassion, she did become compassionate in her later years (after all I only saw glimpses of the strong arm and saw more often the funny loving woman that was my grandmother). Arleen looked at her circumstances and got moving. She didn’t let her circumstances ruin her.

Shirley raised 7 kids after her husband died in a plane crash. 7 kids can you believe it? She did it all on her own. She was a history teacher and the love story of how she met the grandfather I never met is truly something for the story books. She was an incredible woman who loved word puzzles and fun facts. As a granddaughter I never really appreciated her thirst for knowledge until it was gone. She used to bore us with facts every where we went. We would call them Grandma Shirley minutes and groan because they always lasted more than a few mere minutes. Although as we drove through Colorado a few weeks ago I was remembering how she would go on and on about the different rock that was there and the different settlements that had come through. I still remember some of what she said. She also had this love of birds that she unfortunately passed to my mother. My mom will sit outside and ask what kind of bird that is and I just give her a look that clearly says, “I have no idea.” But grandma and mom used to sit on the back porch and when one would ask the bird question the other would have an answer or together they would look it up.

My fondest memories of grandma Shirley and I are the memories of sleeping at her house and having coffee with her in the morning. She would have it black and I would add about 2 cups of sugar and lots of milk and we would talk. She would ask me questions and I would ask her questions and she would offer me breakfast and wouldn’t stop until I ate something. She also passed this annoying habit to all of her children. I can’t step through the door of any of their houses before I’ve been offered everything in the cupboards and the refrigerator. It’s fine if you’re hungry but if you’re not it’s just annoying.

I even have fond memories of Grandma Vi. The short story of Grandma Vi is that she is the other woman that my grandfather left my grandmother for. I didn’t know the full story until after I had formed an attachment to my grandma Vi. I don’t like what they did to Grandma Summers but I had an attachment to Grandma Vi and I miss her too. She and grandpa rarely visited but when they did I always had fun with her. She always dotted on me, I’m not sure why but I loved her for it. My mother has always been a saver, probably because we have never had lots of money. So when we went shopping she used to put everything on lay-away (buy it now but don’t take it home until you have fully paid for it). I find it funny that not everyone knows what lay-away is but anyway. I would try on a dress or want a toy and mom would buy it/put it on lay-away and months later it was like a surprise present. So when grandma Vi would visit we would go to a department store and she would say that she wanted to buy me one dress. I would say okay and then I would start looking at price tags and ask for the limit. This one time she bought me a $100 dress. I couldn’t believe it. It was white with polka dots and I think it had a pink sash. It was more than any dress I had in my closet and I loved it. I tried on the dress and when I showed her she could see the joy on my face even though I was trying to hide it. I knew that we couldn’t afford something like that but she said to let her worry about the money and that I was getting the dress. I loved that shopping trip and it is one of my fondest memories of Grandma Vi.

Grandma Vi died my first year at Fuller and Grandma Summers died my last year at Fuller. They bookended my schooling. I wish they hadn’t. Grandma Vi died of Breast Cancer and Grandma Summers died of kidney cancer. And Grandma Shirley has Alzheimer’s.

They’ll never see me get married. Since I was a kid I have dreamed of my wedding day (it’s a girl thing). I knew that I would get married in my dad’s church, by my dad if he could do it (and now I have lot’s of ordained friends that could step in if he couldn’t) and that my grandparents would be there to see it happen and we would all celebrate it together. I have one grandparent left and we’re not that close. My dream is dashed. Now there will be flowers in their place. It’s really sad and I’m not even engaged. I can’t imagine how it will be on that day.

It’s probably really silly to grieve an unrealized future but I am. I’m also grieving that I can’t call my grandma and talk to her. I’m grieving that if I were to call Grandma Shirley, if she could talk in coherent sentences today, she wouldn’t know who I am and soon it would come out because she would guess that I have kids or pets or something like that.

Grieving can be a really pain in the rear. Just when I thought I was good to go I got sucker punched by grief.

Grieving the unrealized future is kind of like grieving regrets: it’s not worth much and it just makes me more upset.

Today I’m knitting and watching movies because one grandma was always crafty and the other had a killer movie collection.

I miss my grandmas.

The top photo is Grandma Shirley and the bottom is Grandma Summers. ImageImage

Cornering A Cat

*the Science or psychology behind what I am saying came from Terry and Sharon Hargrave. I just adapted it to my situation.

Last night I had an argument, an argument over nothing and my reaction caught me by surprise. I haven’t felt this angry over nothing in a long time. It reminded me that heated arguments are rarely about the actual thing you are arguing over. Most of the time they are over the way the person felt, or how the other person’s actions made the person feel.

For instance, in this particular argument I felt like a cornered cat. There was no option for me other than to agree with the person. There was no where to go but to agreement and I was not ready for that yet. The other person even pointed out that I was overreacting to the situation.

So what about the argument was different or what made it more heated for me. I felt cornered. I felt like a kid getting a spanking for a dumb reason. When I feel cornered I protect myself and lash out, which is exactly what I did.

Each of us have our own reactions to be cornered. Some people will just agree so they can get out of the corner and other’s like me will lash out.

Like I said the argument was a silly one. One that over the time of about a half hour I was able to get over. My reaction was what surprised me. So I thought over the conversation. The person I was arguing with never said that I was dumb, yet I felt it. The person never said that was being a child, but I felt like one. The person never gave me a choice. The person did say I could run an experiment but it was said in a way that makes the other person (me) feel like a child. Had the person, or myself, stopped the conversation for a moment, googled the information and then shown me the webpage that proved that they were right things might have gone differently.

I may not have gotten so heated. But I was tired and when I am tired I kind of forget all the things I have learned and go straight to angry.

Terry and Sharon Hargrave taught that instead of going straight to the reaction we should try to first go for the feeling. When so and so did this I felt….

When so and so stated the information in what felt like a condescending way I felt small.

When so and so continued to argue their point without back up I felt angry.

When so and so would not give up I felt cornered.

Once you do three feelings then you are supposed to talk about your reaction.

When so and so would not give up I felt cornered and lashed out with words of anger.

I even had some cooling down and came back for round two. (I now know that I needed a longer cool down time.)

I came back with a reasoned argument but ended with the lashing out again in a semi-sarcastic manner.
What I should have done is come back with an explanation of what I heard (because sometimes what we hear is not what was said) and then explained how each statement made me feel.

The Hargraves also reasoned that you could use this system to find out how your argument partner (or spouse) fights or reacts to fights and how to best approach them to finish the argument in a way that has neither partner reaching for their flight or fight response. They cautioned that you were not to use the system as a way to manipulate your partner but instead to better understand them and yourself.

So my argument last night was not about the argument itself but instead about how the argument made me feel. I have a feeling that being away from my California therapist and California friends will teach me how to use all the different skills I have learned in a new way. I will get chances to put everything I have learned into use because no one here has taken the classes I have taken and no one here has been to all the seminars I have been to.

This might be a hard year because I might have to stop myself and figure out what is going on before lashing out and protecting myself.

Ahh new lessons, why do they have to be so hard?

Roller Coaster of Emotions

I can’t believe that I’ve only been in Denver since Wednesday. I feel like I have been here for years.

One of the most impactful moments was seeing my grandmother’s body in the casket last night. We walked into the room and there was just the shell of the person who was there and all the denial and things I was holding on to went away.

“She really is gone” I said before weeping (loudly) on my dad’s shoulder. She really isn’t here anymore. I’m sleeping in the room that was her office and typing this blog on her computer (where she bookmarked the page) and she’s not here anymore.

She won’t be laughing, drinking scotch, making dinners and cookies, and saying “Sam Hell” any more. I know she’s in a better place and that she isn’t suffering anymore but that leaves me with little comfort. I’m sad.

I want to see her face but seeing her in that coffin really made it real. I’m glad that she provided that for us and that she made it part of the deal (she had 8 pages of instructions for her funeral and viewing because that’s just the kind of person she was).

I’m glad because it made it real. I’m glad because I could see that she wasn’t in that room. I could leave her body behind because she isn’t there anymore. All that was left was the shell.

My dad and uncle kept saying that’s not her. They kept saying that the funeral home botched the job. But really when I think about Grandma and her face I see the life she brought. I see the smile on her face and the jokes and sarcasm that dripped off her tongue. I see the hugs and the love that she freely gave. She’s not her body and when her soul left all that was left was the shell.

She’s really not here anymore. I’m sad and selfish and wish that she was and there’s tons of things I wish I had said and tons of things I wish I had done but regrets are worthless. So I choose instead to focus on the fond memories I have of summers of being with her and in the last year or so the connection that we made through email and texts. She often had encouraging words and she would say that she was proud of me. Which let’s face it is all of our goals in life: to make someone proud of us. I know other people are proud of me to but the love that we shared was special and now she’s gone and it sucks.

It’s so hard for me to get close to people and trust them and it is in times like these with great pain and suffering that I wonder if it is worth it. I mean deep down I know it is but right now I’m in pain, laying down on the floor in the fetal postion, slamming my fists on the floor, crying out to God “why,” kind of pain. And all I know is the pain.

Maybe tomorrow I will remember that getting closer to people has benefits but right now all I see and feel is the pain.

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