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R-E-S-P-E-C-T

Have you ever had the experience of minding your business, scrolling through your social media, and then witnessing something so absolutely shocking that it consumes you for like two to three hours? That happened to me recently. Friday night, after a very long day at work (7:20am-8:15pm), I needed to get home to some mind numbing activity. When I got home, I immediately undressed and paraded around my bedroom naked for a few minutes because nakedness is soothing to me. I didn’t bother to eat dinner although I was hungry. I eventually took a shower, got in the bed, with my phone in hand, and proceeded to scroll through my facebook feed hoping to temporarily erase my mind of the day’s events. My logic was flawed at the start because in the hopes of forgetting my day, I was scrolling through the feeds of other people’s baggage. Light lesson #1: Dont replace your baggage with someone else’s baggage. It’s still baggage.

I came across a post that had only been posted for a few minutes, but in it, the poster accused a fiance of not responding to her in a month….really… like A MONTH? My “drama” senses suggested I read the comments and explore further. What soon unfolded was a barrage of posts with inflammatory accusations and insults from each party, with other people chiming in. This went on for a while. It was vile, but I felt compelled to continue to read. It was certainly more interesting than my day. Hours later, the posts subsided, but only after both parties totally demeaned each other on a public, social media platform…for all to see.

I’m sensitive to the fact that this is the life of two people despite myself and other people tuning in as if we were watching a television drama. Someone even posted a meme of Michael Jackson eating popcorn from the music video “Thriller” to illustrate the sentiment. The social worker in me kept asking what breakdown caused this type of communication. I don’t want to be on a high horse, but I have thought about unfriending this “friend” on my feed before because I don’t agree with her tactics of telling all her relationship business on social media and sharing negative information. She’s done this to another boyfriend. I don’t want that energy on my feed. Whatever the case, she was still on my feed, I never deleted her, and here was another case.

I felt empathy for her because it sounds like she was being mistreated, but she seems to have contributed a great deal to her own situation. Sharing on social media only compounds the problem. She probably thought she was seeking help and sympathy on this very public platform, but in my opinion, she got slaughtered. Light lesson #2: don’t share intimate details of your relationship on social media. One day, I may devote a post to the phenomenon of social media and its affect on people and relationships.

The debacle made me think about my “soon to be” twenty one year marriage to my husband, Bryan, and why is it that in our many arguements and disagreements over the years, we’ve never resorted to name calling and sharing our business with everyone else. Last week, I made note of some ingedients that have been essential to my marriage (read it here). I also wrote a post last year on marriage intimacy, which you can read about here.

The bottom line is RESPECT. Light lesson #3: Have some self-respect and Light lesson #4: Respect your partner. No one asked me, but my assessment is both parties have self-esteem issues and could benefit from doing the work to unpack their own baggage, getting clear on what they expect in a relationship, and setting some foundational ground rules for their relationship and sticking to them.

The “friend” seems to have removed herself from facebook, which I think is a promising step.

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Can you learn to love the pain?

I love the many things going on in my life right now. Obvious ones are I love my family, friends, pets, career, and how far I’ve come in my relationships with my siblings, husband, extended family, and friends. I love the city I live in…Austin, and I also love the city I was born in… Chicago. I love my age because I feel like I’m finally at a place where I can be myself without the burden of worrying about what other people think. I genuinely love myself…my mind and my body. I love that I’m not a people pleaser. I love that I make myself a priority. I love that I set boundaries. I love that I can see through the bullshit…people’s bullshit, and step back and decide how to handle the bullshit. With my children, I’ll call them out. With other situations and people, it depends. I love that I’m discerning and am usually able to assess the source of the bullshit: fear, anger, lack of experience/knowledge, miscommunication, systemic problems, etc. I tend to file the information away in my mental library as additional tidbits until it’s time to address and take action.

I could go on about the things I love, but, what about the “not so lovely” things that inevitably happen to all of us. Why can’t we have the good stuff all the time? It feels so good! I don’t think our lives were meant to experience euphoria in isolation. The human experience is perplexing and all encompassing. There are books that can explain it better than I. I’m simply here sharing my perspective. In the last two years alone, I’ve experienced extreme challenges and pain: my husband’s brain surgery and the ongoing subsequent health issues, my breast cancer diagnosis and treatment, my mom’s death, and me being the sole financial support in my household. Those are the big pains, but then there are the other ones that add up too: the disapointments (my trip to Haiti was just canceled last week), miscommunications, misunderstandings, financial shortcomings, feelings of inadequacy, helplessness and/or hopelessness, parenting, children that struggle in school and relationships, failed dreams and aspirations, miscarriages and inability to have children, broken relationships, work sacrifices and demands, etc.

I don’t have the answer to all of life’s problems, but what I do know is I experience great joy despite the pains of life. Better yet, I experience great joy because of the pains. I’m content. Firstly, it comes from a place of deep gratitude for being alive and gratitude from knowing I’ve encountered and survived many obstacles. I have supportive people in my life and people that pray for me. I accept that I can’t control most things. I’m also flexible in my thinking and have learned to go with the flow, not to force outcomes, and trust God.

Can you learn to “love” the pain? In short, I don’t know. I think it may go against human nature. I don’t know if I’ll ever fully get to the place where I love pain, but I’ll strive to love it. I do appreciate it. I can see that pain makes me appreciate all the great things in my life even better.

What are your thoughts?

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Pick me up

I don’t recall a year where I’ve had so many challenges at the onset, but it is what it is and it is making me stronger. I’ve missed blogging, so despite my tiredness and swollen gums, I’ll type a few lines. Plus, you know I’m going to find the “light” spots even in the most difficult situations.

My Monday pick me up was this: picking up my son from school, pulling up to the house, texting my husband to help me with my work bag, watching him come out of the house to get my lunch bag from my son, while my son carried my work bag. That made my day. Team work makes the dream work! And tomorrow, my son turns seventeen. Amazing! I am living a blessed life indeed!

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What difference does it make?

“I can’t accept that this happened to you. Why did this happen?  You eat healthy all the time…organic foods even. You exercise all the time”. When faced with life’s challenges, some people can’t help but question why things happen to them or question what someone else did to cause misfortune in that person’s life. I ask,”What difference does it make?”

Those comments/questions were actually posed by someone very close to me regarding my breast cancer diagnosis.  I can’t make this stuff up.  There are several different directions that I could take this post because I’ve been mulling over those comments for weeks now. My initial reaction was the title of this post and it continues to be my response.  It’s what I hear in those words that gets under my skin. What my sensitive ears hear are judgment and blame.

I’ve already written a post on managing judgmental people.  You can read it here I’ve indicated in previous posts that I am a recovering perfectionist, so as part of my self-care, I work hard to banish the self-ridiculing, over-critical voices in my head. Yet, I can’t help what people say to me. Comments such as those ultimately say more about what the other person is thinking more than anything about me.  And they may get under my skin, but that’s when I work that much harder to manage my reactions.  

When faced with life’s challenges, I do think in some cases, it’s important to examine where things night have gone wrong. However, I would take caution in spending too much time there, especially if it causes you to place blame on yourself and/or others. Someone may even be at fault, but you don’t want to risk not moving on and learning from it by staying in that mental space too long. In other cases, it may not be necessary to spend time figuring out what went wrong. It may not even be possible. For instance, I can’t control my body on a biological/cellular level. Certainly life style factors affect many conditions including cancer, but in other cases it does not. I have a family history of breast cancer in that my mom and my grandmother (my mom’s mother) both had it. Whatever the case, it’s best for me to move forward and take the necessary steps to treat this illness. 

Maintaining a thick skin is not always easy, especially when people attempt to test your boundaries, whether unintentionally or not. I’m assuming that you would even want to develop a thick skin, but it’s my way of establishing a boundary and it works for me. Sometimes you realize that things still seap through the thickness and that’s ok. Take a few deep breaths, think before you respond, and channel your higher self. You’ll get through it.