Posted: November 19, 2011 at 11:39 pm | Tags: emotions, growing up, me, thoughts
Kindly supplied by “e” who had this post in their feed-reader. I don’t know who e is, but I owe them a drink.
As promised, a post on anger. This is completely out of my head without any supporting psychology theory exactly, though I suppose I could go and find some somewhere. Anyway… anger and my experience of it.
I can confidently say that my role models for dealing with anger as a child were not very good. I don’t know any people who had good conflict, frustration, or anger role models as children. My parents, like many people had troubled childhoods (which is a nice way of saying that for the most part both their childhoods were incredibly traumatic), and a lack of good role models in their life to deal with conflict, frustration, or anger.
I think that this lack of experience in seeing anger as another emotion, much like being sad, happy, concerned, worried, silly, etc, meant that my ability to be angry did not mature as my other emotions did. I no longer am sad as I was as a child, or a teenager, I am not longer happy as I was as a child… but my anger is… well… immature. My first response is to just go quiet and cold. To be angry, but not even to be able to express it. Anger was avoided in my family, both my parents would be angry behind closed doors, failing to hear each other (I thought), and eventually one of them, usually my father, storming out of the house and going for a walk.
When I moved out of home I unconsciously resolved to communicate differently with my partner than my parents did with each other. It certainly helped that I ended up in relationships with people who generally communicated with a similar language set and meanings (my parents do not seem to have the same dictionary when talking to each other – or perhaps it is an implicit/explicit communication conflict). Anyway… although I feel I communicate with my partners better than my parents communicate with each other, and I manage to avoid conflict through miscommunication along the way, my initial way of dealing with conflict and anger was to avoid them as much as possible.
So when angry, I’d walk away. I mirrored my father’s behaviour and his reaction to being angry. I didn’t lash out physically or verbally, I’d retreat and go away. Eventually (sometimes quickly, sometimes not) I’d come back and be in tears because I didn’t have a better response. I felt guilty about being angry about some things, and justified but unable to explain exactly what I was feeling in others. Part of that guilt I know is that women are supposed to be nice, good, quiet, biddable, etc creatures (not really human after all), who don’t get angry, because if we’re angry we’re bitches, shrews, shrill, uppity, etc. Part of the guilt had to do with being angry with people I loved and over things that were difficult for us to deal with at the time (my husband being clinically depressed for the first 9 years of our marriage for example).
When I was unable to communicate that I was angry, I would get upset. Much like feeling stupid is something that upsets me, being unable to articulate (and therefore feeling that I can’t communicate, therefore am stupid), upsets me. Feeling, as I did at the time, that I had to explain my anger/disappointment/whatever gently and carefully in order to not distress my husband added to the burden of dealing with anger and conflict, and made me even more likely to avoid it.
My husband was treated for his depression, we found the big wide world of polyamory, and having to deal with conflict and anger became something I could no longer avoid. Polyamory challenges assumptions about relationships, forces you to look at the relationships you are currently in and assess the health of habits and behaviours that you and your partner have been wandering around in (well it did for us). The relationships that we became involved in challenged both of us, and the way we acted towards each other, the things that we just put up with, the idiosyncrasies, and our avoidance of conflict.
It would be true to state that my first polyamorous relationship (outside my marriage) was with a high drama and high maintenance man and resulted in conflict with him and some of his other partners during the life of that relationship. I didn’t handle the conflict, anger, or frustration well (I still don’t think I do), but I learnt a lot. My counsellor was instrumental in helping me accept that anger is a valid emotion, one that is completely ok to have, and it is not the end of the world (or relationships) to be angry. I learnt that if I can’t immediately articulate what I’m angry about, that it is ok (though this I still struggle with because I take a while to process strong emotions and often the whole thing is done before I have a handle on why I’m angry/upset). I have learnt that I can talk about it, I can experience it, and it is another emotional response to stimuli as the others are.
As I have accepted that anger is ok, and a valid response, it has changed and grown into a different emotion than it was 6 years ago. I am no longer guilty for being angry, though still struggle with whether anger is necessarily the best emotional response (not quite the same as guilt). I also have a hard time processing some comments (particularly those I hear versus those I read) quickly, so am meaning deaf to comments that might otherwise make me angry until I process them at a later stage.
What is the moral of this story (apart from not write blog posts late at night because then you tend to ramble)? It’s ok to be angry, and it’s ok for your anger to be the anger of a younger you. The more I accepted my anger, the more it matured.
Posted: November 6, 2011 at 8:49 pm | Tags: feelings, identity, image, me, thoughts
There is this thing that I… hate… detest… suffer from… something… the feeling of being stupid. I’m not sure why exactly I have a thing about this, because I know I don’t know everything, nor do I understand everything, and I’m also quite smart… but feeling stupid is something that sometimes really upsets me.
A case in point happened last week, while I was in a work training course. We were doing a role-play of a real life scenario, and consequently didn’t have ALL the data. We were provided with a three page summary of what was happening, and my team were the guinea pigs for this case. This meant that our team was under the greatest pressure in the case study, we had the least preparation time for the two scenarios (they were back to back), and we’d only just been trained in the theory that we were practising.
Halfway through the first case study, I realised I had no idea of what was going on. The team I was a part of seemed to have read a completely different case study to the one I had read, well that’s how it felt, and I suddenly felt cast adrift. In feeling like I’d missed a major point or issue in the case study, I suddenly felt like I was stupid, which really upset me. Upset me to the point of tears, in a training room with many of my colleagues, and members of my senior leadership team. So yes, I was feeling stupid, upset and humiliated all at once.
It’s not necessarily about being wrong, because as I said, I don’t know everything, and I will be wrong sometimes. I think it’s a lot to do with how I feel (I was exhausted at the time of that role play), the amount of stress I’m under, and how important my competence/image is at that moment. Given how I’m still not feeling 100% sure in my current role, feeling stupid is a really big deal. The added stress of nearly bursting into tears during the role play was extra stressful and extra humiliating.
I suppose that this really ties into some of the important (and mostly fucked up) messages I got as a child. Image is important, very important. Being smart was as important as looking smart (I’m not sure how that works really). I suppose that me becoming an adult at 3 years of age has kinda warped some of my ideas about what it is to be an adult, and what is and is not important.
Next post – being angry.
Posted: October 2, 2011 at 6:01 pm | Tags: Feminism, me, sexism, story, thoughts
The impostor syndrome, sometimes called impostor phenomenon or fraud syndrome, is a psychological phenomenon in which people are unable to internalize their accomplishments. It is not an officially recognized psychological disorder, but has been the subject of numerous books and articles by psychologists and educators. The term was coined by clinical psychologists Pauline Clance and Suzanne Imes in 1978.
Despite external evidence of their competence, those with the syndrome remain convinced that they are frauds and do not deserve the success they have achieved. Proof of success is dismissed as luck, timing, or as a result of deceiving others into thinking they are more intelligent and competent than they believe themselves to be. (Wikipedia)
A long time ago, when I was at primary school, I was selected to be part of an extension project run by the Northern Territory Government (I was living in Alice Springs at the time). The program was developed for gifted students and was to help accelerate their education, or something. I never really understood the program, especially as it only ran during primary school and didn’t continue into high school. I certainly enjoyed it though, because we learnt problem solving, puzzle solving, team work, an early introduction to algebra (still one of my favourite maths subjects), and had options to undertake external school activities like languages (I learnt some French), screen printing, photography and others.
Posted: September 26, 2011 at 10:16 pm | Tags: me, stuff, thoughts
It’s not a new problem for me, the problem of running out of coping, running out of caring, running out of energy beyond what is strictly necessary, but it is a problem that I have successfully managed to avoid for some years now, and so it snuck up on me with warning signs I’d forgotten how to read, and now I’m at the bottom of the barrel.
I could have seen it coming if I remembered the signs, but it’s been a long time since I ran out of everything that the signs were quite unfamiliar to me, until I hit that brick wall and stumbled backwards, landing on my arse and looking quite surprised with the world.
So the past few weeks have been really hard emotional work for me. I’m an introvert (in the MBTI sense – I recharge by being near alone/alone), and so when I fill my calendar up with social engagements, and not sufficient time to spend recharging, I’m far more likely to hit that wall and sit up, blinking at it. It takes a lot longer to recover once I’ve hit that wall than if I’d taken the time to myself to recharge before moving onto the next big (or small) thing.
It hasn’t helped of course that in the past 2 months my husband and one of his partner’s have ended ended their relationship (no hope at all of rekindling that, and she left him so he’s been really upset about that), a friend died and we’ve provided support to his partner and other friends who have needed it (and my husband went straight there when he found out and helped with the police report and other emotional supporting needs), spent a weekend in country Victoria with some lovely women, some of whom were working through issues – to which I gave hugs, a shoulder to cry on, and listening (as well as cooking and cleaning). The following weekend (this wasn’t a wise move), I visited my parents and… well did parenting work. This was the week after the funeral. I then returned to Melbourne, had dinner with a friend, saw Bangarra perform Belong (highly highly recommend that if you ever have the opportunity to see them perform – will write more later), went to a gig (saw Mareike Hardy and Gotye occupy the same room), celebrated International Celebrate Bisexuality Day with a meal at the pub with my bisexual community, and then went out on Saturday night to dinner and then a burlesque themed show with friends… that’s when I knew.
That’s when I knew that I had nothing left, almost nothing left for me, and certainly nothing left for the group I was with. I was numb, distant and somewhat irritated (though that last bit had probably far more to do with the venue than anything else). I left early, went home and sat around a bit before I went to bed. I decided to spend Sunday doing things for me (playing computer games, looking at my garden, etc), and not going out to the birthday yum cha that we’d been invited to. My husband started off on his way there, found out that the one person he was going to see wasn’t going to be there, and then came home and fell into a deep depression.
I had very little left, and so tried to do what I could, unsuccessfully, and then found a great, albeit temporary, solution – Doctor Who. We’d not seen any of the second half of this season yet, and now we’ve caught up.
Being close to running out of everything, and the running out of everything, has seriously messed up my blogging. I have all these ideas that I want to write about, but haven’t had the concentration, time, or energy to do so. But soon, because for the next several days I’m the most important person to me and I’m going to do what I need to do, so I can continue to, when I have my energy back, do what I do for others.
Posted: May 21, 2011 at 5:53 pm | Tags: body, fat, health, me, story
Before reading this post you may want to consider that it details some personal medical information about myself and my recent hospital experience. If you are someone who doesn’t deal well with TMI, you might want to stop reading here and go and play somewhere else – you can come back when the next post is written.
On Tuesday I noticed a painful discomfort in my vagina. I had previously had what I thought were called Barton Cysts – which had all been painful, but I knew that they could get infected and possibly need surgery to be repaired. So I looked it up, it was indeed a Bartholin’s Cyst and I would probably need to have it looked at. I poked at it, and it was tender and large, and so I went to bed thinking about what I was going to do about the whole thing. On Wednesday night it was sufficiently painful and uncomfortable to stop me going to the gym, and I decided to take Thursday off to go and see my GP and see what could be done. This was also on the recommendation of my sister who has previously had infected Bartholin’s cysts and had had surgery to resolve them.
Posted: April 22, 2011 at 5:10 pm | Tags: growing up, identity, me, thoughts
I have this thing about pain, it’s not me. Which is odd given I have a very very high pain threshold (which almost saw me not go to hospital with an ectopic pregnancy – so my high pain threshold =/= smart). I tolerate pain well, but I’m still really cautious. Doing something that might result in injury (running, jumping, paying sports) are things I tend to avoid. I’m really scared of falling and breaking something of the sudden pain and the resulting scene that would occur.
Though when I do trip and fall (and I’m still yet to break something) the world doesn’t end, and if I burst into tears with the pain, the world doesn’t end, and on those rare events such things happen someone stops to help me or I am with people who stop and help me.
All the same, I still am really cautious and tend to avoid activities that carry the risk of severe pain (except cooking which I partake in quite a lot). I’m not sure why I’m quite so timid about such things. I think some of it has to do with ballet and the excessive care that I took not to injure myself so I could still dance (with the exception of skinning my knees when falling off my bike).
No, I don’t think that’s it. I climbed trees, climbed hills and cliffs and did child-ly things as a child. I wasn’t hugely daring, but probably more daring than I am now. So why have I slowed down more than others I know, though technically less than others… clearly it’s a growing up thing. I’m far more aware of my mortality than I used to be. I’ve almost died at least once now, so it’s not like I believe I never will.
I’m not upset or worried about my caution, it’s just something I’ve noticed recently and have been thinking about it.
Posted: April 3, 2011 at 6:38 pm | Tags: angry, me, stuff, thoughts
There are some people I know, who I think are fantastic in many ways, who have a trait that tends to bug me a lot. It’s this, an ability to tolerate/indulge certain (mostly negative) behaviours from individuals because they need to be that right now, or that they need to feel that it is ok to be that right now. The thing that gets to me most, is not that my friends tolerate/indulge these behaviours from these individuals, it’s generally that I am expected to tolerate/indulge this behaviour as well.
If I complain about one of these people and say, “Ow, my eyes have been sporked“, then far too often I feel that the other individual (often masculine oddly enough) will be defended, and I am expected to attempt to compromise around their behaviour and it’s negative impacts on me. I feel that I am expected to be the grown-up while the other person is often indulged in whatever tantrum, bad behaviour, etc, that they are undertaking that I am objecting to. “Oh but you don’t know where they are right now” and “But they’re not really like that” aren’t good enough. Compromise is not a one way street.
If someone is being an arsehat, then I’m going to call that out. I understand that the support I’m going to get from some of my friends is going to be seriously lacking, but that’s going to be ok. Because right now, I clearly need to be angry and intolerant of all arsehatted behaviour. I will be spending a lot more time being intolerant of arsehats and the negative impact that has on me. Because it’s time we all grew up.
Posted: January 24, 2011 at 2:37 pm | Tags: growing up, identity, me, privilege, thoughts
- How to be rude to those that deserve it
- How to be angry
- How to complain effectively
- How to negotiate
- How to bargain/barter
- How not to be racist, sexist, homophobic, transphobic, biphobic, ablest (I learnt these far later)
- That sex wasn’t something to be ashamed of
- That I should love my body and that I can be healthy at every size
- How to think critically
- How to manage personal politics
- How to budget effectively
- How to spot abusive behaviour in relationships and how to get out of them
- How to say no
- How to be loud
- How to stand up for myself
Posted: October 25, 2010 at 11:09 am | Tags: body, identity, image, me
I do, it must be said, take my body for granted. I live far more in my head than in my skin, perhaps part of being such a verbal thinker, that I don’t always notice my body until something goes wrong. I’m incredibly grateful that it gets me from A to B, is getting stronger and fitter as I go to the gym, looks good in clothes (so I’ve been told) and carries my brain around. Mostly though, it’s an afterthought. I don’t personally consider myself attractive, though apparently I am, just because that really doesn’t matter to my image of me too much most of the time. I am fat, and that sometimes bothers me, but mostly because my body is telling me about it through mild sleep apnoea, foot cramping (now fixed with orthotics), a small range of other mild annoyances. I’d like to lose the 10 kgs I’ve put on this year through illness and starting a new job, and I will in time, and then my body will be happier with me.
I cut my finger badly on Saturday night while cooking dinner and every time I injure myself I’m brought back into my body and what it does, how it works and how I use it. I discover that I use bits of my body that I don’t think about in ways that I never considered before. I didn’t realise until Saturday night how much I use the side of my fingers, or how they are used as I move through the world.
I do love my hands, I suppose I spend more time admiring them than other parts of my body, but then again I do have a thing for hands. And eyes… and I certainly love my eyes. I will stare quite happily at them in a mirror for minutes at a time, provided I’m not caught doing so. I like to touch things and feel them against my skin (well some things), and I’m currently intrigued with my body being as hairy as it is right now for the first time since puberty, as I’ve stopped waxing while dealing with a case of recurring hives (and wanting less triggers for itches than I already have), and feeling the wind interacting with my leg hair is certainly a sensation I’d completely forgotten.
I do have self image crises from time to time, worry that I’m not attractive enough (whatever that really means – I’m not even sure now – but its a crisis when it happens), or that I’m not able to fit into that corset I bought 4 years ago when I weighed less. Generally though I’ve reached a point where I know that this is the only body I’m going to have and that I should start appreciating it and stop hating it (I reached that about 5 years ago). I’m at that point where if someone else has a problem with the way I look or am shaped, then that’s their problem and certainly not mine. It’s made my life easier, but also means that since I’m not stressing about how I look or what others think, that I tend not stress or think about my body very much – which may or may not be a good thing. I dress professionally (though usually comfortably) for work, comfortably and whatever works for home, and when I go out, if I feel like dressing up I do, but if I don’t, then I don’t.
I’m incredibly grateful I’m surrounded by people who love me for who I am, enjoy spending time with me, love my brain and my body and that they are the ones who matter most to me. Random people who know nothing about me can say all they like about my physical appearance, and I won’t care – those that love me, know me and care about me – their opinion matters when I ask (which I don’t), “does my arse look big in this?) or when I actually ask, “How’m I lookin’?”
Posted: September 22, 2010 at 4:44 pm | Tags: cooking, growing up, identity, me, story
Although not a post about everything I’ve learnt (because that would take a very long time to catalogue, and you’d all be bored before I was done), this is a post about cooking mostly.
I was a very precocious child (I have finally looked up what that actually means and yes it does fit me). My mother had a stroke when I was 3, and that’s when I started acting like an adult – well as much as a 3 year old can. By the age of 5 I had 3 younger sisters and I looked out and after them – though I didn’t actually have to clean up after them or cook food for them. My early memories of my mother after her stroke were of a woman who slept a lot of the time, which is understandable really.
I cannot remember exactly how old I was, but it probably was about 8 or 9, I decided I was going to make some biscuits for everyone. Apart from helping mum chop up ingredients (with blunt knives) for Christmas puddings, I had never actually cooked anything all by myself. I thought that making biscuits would be nice for everyone when they came home from where ever they all were. I remember my parents were not in the house, and I’m not sure about my sisters.
So, the chocolate biscuits, you see the recipe said that the biscuits were chocolate, but I had no idea what cocoa was, so I used chocolate Quik instead (I can’t remember them tasting evil, so the Quik must have been ok). I knew I was not allowed to light the oven, or play with it, so I went next door and asked my neighbour if she could come and light the oven for me. She stayed to supervise the rest of the proceedings.
From thereon, I learnt how to cook, mostly teaching myself by following recipes and clearly not daunted by things that looked complicated as long as the recipe was complete and had clear instructions. I also learnt that there were some ingredients where measurements were guides and others that had to be exact. I learnt to cook in Imperial and Metric and translate such wonders as “quick”, “hot”, “moderate” and “slow” ovens into actual temperatures.
It is in relation to the exactness, or not, of ingredients that I found the creativity of cooking. I surprised my father one day when making some spiced biscuits as I measured the cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg and ginger directly over the mixing bowl, levelling off the teaspoons into the bowl. He asked if I realised I was putting in more than the recipe called for, to which I replied, “yes, trust me, they’ll be good”. And they were.
For a very long time, cooking was my main creative outlet. I’d experiment with tastes and textures (and sounds… have you ever thought about how important sounds are when eating?) and recipes from different parts of the world. I still do these things, but now cooking is not my only creative outlet.
For me, cooking was easy. I grew up in a house where cooking was normal and both my parents did (though mum was always a better cook than dad). I was not discouraged from experimentation and from the age of 15 was expected to cook dinner regularly for the family (as did my sisters once they reached that age also). My cooking was actively enjoyed by family and friends and I had relatively few disasters in the kitchen (and the ones I did have I learnt from and never ever did again – honest).
Another part of not being scared to try new things and new dishes (I’ve now fallen in love with Moroccan cuisine), is that as a child I was told I could do anything, be anything, achieve whatever I wanted and that nothing would hold me back. This translated, in part, to me being ambitious in the kitchen and trying out new (and potentially difficult) things. Growing up believing that shaped me as a person but also has its drawback. I’ll blog more about the ambitious child in another post – including the benefits and drawbacks of that.