Secrets – When You Hold and When You Receive

There is a saying that we are as sick as our deepest secret. What happens when we keep what we see as our most shameful or hurtful secret to ourselves?

stock-photo-20604007-young-woman-looking-through-red-curtains-rear-viewSecrets have a tendency to fester and grow until they consume us. They can infect our mental, physical and spiritual health and  because we don’t reach out to someone else for comfort, guidance, healing, or even a listening ear, we feel alone. The secret most often takes on a life of its own. It can double, triple and often quadruple in our minds. Are  we really objective about our own transgressions or do we minimize or maximize?

12363983-upset-mom-with-frustrated-daughter-over-green-backgroundIf we stay in our own heads, we are not exposed to reason or forgiveness of others or ourselves. Most often, when we hold secrets concerning our emotions, circumstances, incidents or missteps, the knowledge becomes like a splinter. It may start out like a splinter of  minor thought, action or event but it festers into a pus filled volcano of emotion that can no longer be contained. That emotion can take the form of anger, confusion or sadness. Have you ever exploded at someone in unreasonable circumstances and wondered, “Where did that come from?” We have shamed, blamed and punished ourselves for so long that the pressure has built up to a point where it can no longer be contained.

19287090-dice-un-secretoAm I suggesting that you open up to everyone you know? No way! Choosing who you tell is as important as the telling. Choose someone with whom you feel totally comfortable. Sometimes a total stranger can be that person because they can be unbiased and have nothing to gain by betraying your confidence. Trust is an important ingredient in choosing someone to whom you are willing to expose your vulnerability. I ask myself if the secret is just too juicy for them to repeat?
Family conflictThere is often a worry that we are putting someone on the spot
by asking them to keep our secrets. When you are put into the position where you feel that the secret needs to be repeated, just remind yourself  that it is not your story to tell. If our confider wanted others to know, they would have told them. By repeating the secret, we are telling them that they were right not to confide in anyone and next time they won’t and are back to square one. Also, repeating the secret to someone who may be affected will inhibit the confider’s opportunity to work through the situation on their own. Confronting or admitting deep held secrets is an opportunity to grow and/or gain confidence.

Even the word “Secret” has taken on a bad word connotation as in: not being nice to keep secrets, secret life, secret meeting or secret bank account etc. I rarely have secrets that I have not confided in someone. Some think that I should not “tell on myself” but I choose to live happy, joyous and free and to me that means purging myself of my secrets and accepting forgiveness even if that forgiveness is only my own.

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Life Happens Too!

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With every move we gain and we lose. We lost the creek but gained a forest like back yard and more isolation. Not really isolated but the houses are further apart. The first time we came to this house, I stood on the back deck and felt totally at peace. Our back yard is nothing but Pondorosa Pines (very tall) and all is very quiet. However, it is winter and the snow birds are back in warmer climate. In the mornings when I fix my coffee, I stare out the window and the sun shines through the pines yet we lost the view of the stars every night through the ceiling skylight over our bed. I don’t feel the loss as much as I feel the sense of wholeness and I can feel myself evolving. I guess it has become a combination of our home in Texas and our house on the creek.

The house itself has radiant in-floor heating and two fireplaces. There is a main floor and a walk out fully finished basement containing two bedrooms (one being Danny’s office) and a media/family room. The master and a bedroom (my office) are on the main floor. The main floor is totally open. We have reserved the living area upstairs as a quiet area – no television. It has a fireplace and is set up to be more formal. We enjoy solitude or spending quiet together time there. Our bedroom is huge and has a sitting area. Ceilings are Alder wood as are floors except the bedrooms which are carpeted. The house also has nice architectural features. There is a downstairs patio and an upper deck. It is a nice place for Danny and me to be separate together. Though it is a rental, we have full permission to make it our own with paint etc.

I have started a Law Enforcement Transcription business and am in the assessment phase of a contract. I have done the first part and am awaiting the results. It was more difficult than I anticipated because law enforcement transcription has to be verbatim and though I have always been good at voice recognition, when the voices are similar – not so easy. I did enjoy the work and am looking forward to improvement. Having done clerical work within a police department and having a soft spot in my heart for it, I am truly excited. I do have to say that doing this work without the benefit of anti-depressants, anti-anxiety and blood pressure meds made it all the more difficult.😬 Note to self: Order your mail-order refills early. I love that I work from home and have the privacy of my own office.

Christmas is bought and shipped. We are having steak for our Christmas dinner which is a luxury on our new budget. I won a Big Green Egg cooker when we did the Parade of Homes to the tune of $1,000 so we are anxious to try it out. We were considering buying a George Foreman since our BBQ pit bit the dust in the original move but while we were working it into the budget, I won this state of the art dude. Woo Hoo!

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Wanted to let you know that I am still alive and kicking!

Marriage Myths Six

MYTH: YOU MAY REPEAT YOUR PARENTS’ RELATIONSHIP PROBLEMS.

How you carry your childhood baggage is more important than the fact that you have any. “Nobody escapes childhood without some crazy buttons and triggers, but it doesn’t mean you can’t have a great relationship,”John Gottman says.

Tom Bradbury, PhD, a psychologist at the University of California, Los Angeles, coined the phrase enduring vulnerabilities for these historical triggers. Certain words and actions might dig up old feelings and provoke a reaction. Make sure you and your partner understand what sets the other off, and avoid those weaknesses.

Circumstances from your past could also prompt what psychologists call projective identification- an example is taking something from your childhood and applying it to your partner. If you had a distant cold parent, for instance, you might assume  your partner is being distant and cold too. Instead of blaming your partner’s character, explain how the actions make you feel and what he or she can do to help you feel better.

I knew a man who was so eat up with his emotional baggage that he ran the gamut from tears to violence. He used braggadocio and alcohol to cover his feelings and built a very high wall believing he it would protect him from emotional pain. One never knew what would trigger his anger and/or violence. While I understood how his background played into his emotions and actions, there was nothing I could do to change it. While I was somewhat of a balm for his pain, he often saw me not as myself but as his mother.

When I met Danny, I was shocked to find that he was very much in touch with his emotions. He would let me know when I hurt his feelings rather than do the “macho” thing of acting like nothing bothered him. I fell so in love with this man! I felt safe with him because I didn’t have to guess about how he was feeling and there was no fear that I would unknowingly touch off a spark that would cause him to physically harm me.

Eventually, Danny grew tired of all the analyzing we did through counseling and discussions. That was when I began learning to lighten up in the realization that both of our lives had been so full of drama that it was stifling our relationship. We both still have things that can trigger a negative response but the truth is that we cannot judge each other with our individual pasts.

Enjoy life with your spouse! Don’t judge him/her based on your past, instead see them for the person you know them to be. Look for the good and give him/her a pass when they exhibit human behaviors. No one has a perfect marriage but we can come darn close.

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Marriage Myths Five

MYTH:  GENDER DIFFERENCES ARE BEHIND YOUR MEGA FIGHTS.

Men aren’t from Mars and women aren’t from Venus; we’re all from Earth. As it turns out, “men are just as in touch with their emotions as women,” Julie Gottman says. “On the other hand, some women are very reluctant to express their negative emotions. So it balances out. There are more similarities than the culture generally believes.

A study in Cognition and Emotion found that when women thought long term about their lives, they reported themselves as more emotional than men. But when participants rated their emotions on a moment-to-moment basis, the gender differences disappeared. Your cultural upbringing and family environment have a much bigger influence on your willingness to express your emotions than your X or Y chromosome, the Gottmans say.

When I was single, I fell in with the old double standard that women were sluts if they slept around but men were expected to. However, I had male friends who informed me that men don’t like to wake up alone either.

While my divorce was in progress, I had a situation with a fellow student. I was so angry but when I talked with the instructor about it, I couldn’t stop crying. What I learned that day is that women who have been taught that to show anger will get you labeled as a bitch will cry rather that exhibit anger. I also had a mother who could not deal with emotion so she always said, “Stop crying or don’t cry.”Then when I looked back at my then marriage, I realized that men are taught that it isn’t “manly” to cry so they exorcise their tears with anger.

Thank God both women and men are slowly “coming out” so to speak. Men are claiming the right to be in touch with their emotions and women are claiming the right to show  anger. I have found that I have been saddled with gender beliefs passed down from generation to generation. Its difficult to blame your parents when they were subjected to the same beliefs.  Sometimes I see the roles exhibited by our parents but more I see Danny and I working together for a common goal.

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Marriage Myths Four

MYTH: TALK THINGS OUT UNTIL YOU AGREE WITH EACH OTHER.

Sixty-nine percent of marriage problems are managed rather than solved, according to John Gottman’s research. “The common lore is that conflict avoidance is a bad thing, but it really works for a lot of people to just ‘agree to disagree,'” he says.

The key is to avoid a “gridlocked conflict,” in which you can’t make headway in a recurring fight. At the bottom of these issues, the Gottmans have found, are core value differences that take couples by surprise. For instance, a fight about finances isn’t just about the cash but about the meaning of power, freedom, and security. You might not be able to find the perfect compromise, but by creating an open dialogue, you can discuss the issue without hurt feelings.

Coming from different cultures but growing up in the same environment, Danny and I are different yet the same. Early in our relationship Danny and I unconsciously developed a method for conflict resolution. We will discuss a subject until we realize that we have hit a wall and neither of us is capable of climbing over it at the time so we drop the subject. Because the issue is unresolved, it will come up at another time and we discuss until we at least understand the others’ feelings or opinions. Sometimes it can take a long period of time and several discussions for us to find common ground. As I see it, we respect our relationship enough that we are willing to table the discussion knowing that eventually we will at least understand where the other is coming from. I think that during the time that the subject is being given time to breathe, each of us has stopped to consider the others’ side so we seem to get a little closer to a resolution each discussion.

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Marriage Myths Two

MYTH:  YOUR PARTNER ISN’T A MIND READER, SO YOU SHOULD TELL HIM OR HER EXACTLY WHAT YOU WANT.

Make no mistake: Open communication is an essential tool for a happy relationship. But the Gottmans have found that successful couples also understand each others’ feelings and needs without having to be told all the time. One of John Gottman’s studies found a link between satisfied marriages and a husband’s ability to interpret nonverbal clues.

I am finding this to be true. My husband isn’t my best friend, he is my husband and as such he doesn’t want to hear all the touchy feely stuff I talk to my girlfriends about. He is a cut and dried kind of guy, solutions not problems. I am finding that though he doesn’t verbalize it, he senses what I need or want and acts accordingly. I know that he gets his feelings hurt easily and I am like a wrecking ball moving through life. I have to remind myself that there are two of us in this relationship and what I want or need isn’t always a priority.

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Paranoia

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If you read my post “Running Away”, you know that I was sure that I had deeply hurt a blogger friend. I took nonverbal cues and ran with them only to find that my friend was just busy and having device difficulty. They were very kind when they realized what was going on with me. The very first comment they ever made to me was that I was welcome to make any comment on their site and this was reiterated. They assured me that if they had a concern, they would ask for clarification. I am sharing this with you as a follow up to my post “Running Away”.

So why did I jump to such a conclusion? Because I have a strong tendency to be paranoid and it has caused negativity in my life. I believe that this paranoia could also be a tendency to want control over others’ feelings and opinions of me. I can remember the first time I realized as a twenty-something that not everyone was going to like me. A friend and co-worker said to me, “Well, she doesn’t like you either.” I was so totally shocked but I think it was meant as a wake-up call.

The problem has been in acceptance as I still try to control what others think of me. In Ala-non, we have a saying that goes, “What other people think of me is none of my business.” Yes, it is a hard one to understand and it has taken me a long time. To me, it is about control and keeping the focus on myself. Additionally, if I am focusing on what others think of me, I am not giving myself permission to be who and what I am.

I most often feel as if I have to make explanations for what I do or say. Does it work? No, most often it just makes me appear defensive (which I am) and annoys and/or embarrasses the other person. While it may make me feel justified, it is just another example of making excuses.

I have been taught by Ala-non to make amends when I do someone a disservice. My amends would mean more if I just simply apologized without explanation or excuses. When I make explanations or excuses, it pretty much negates the amends.

My paranoia goes along with my need to know and control everything that goes on around me in order to feel safe. I also grew up with a “what will people think” mother who was the “poor relation” growing up. Just another example of how traits get passed down. Having lived this way all my life, it is difficult but not impossible to change. It takes not allowing myself to obsess on remarks and actions of others but instead to talk things out or ask questions, learn from my mistakes and move on.

Running Away

When I hurt someone, I have difficulty coming to terms with it. How do I handle it? I run away. I think that I need to protect that person from me. I have been doing this over and over again for the past 20 years.

My intention to stop blogging was due to my feeling sure that I had hurt a friend blogger deeply with a comment. I reached out to them and haven’t heard back. Why am I telling you this? Because having done a lot of deep introspection, I have come to believe that the child in me runs away but the adult needs to face up to her transgressions. This isn’t the first time that I believe I have hurt a fellow blogger. Fortunately, I have been able to make immediate amends yet this goes very deep for both of us because we make ourselves vulnerable in our blogging.

So what is the answer? I can hope that my friend will eventually be able to confront me. Regardless, I think I need to do as I have had to do in the past and hold my head up and keep putting one foot in front of the other until the child in me can forgive herself.

To my other fellow bloggers, please know that though it has never been my intention to hurt or offend, I may have. Please understand that it is never my intention to hurt anyone. I am a compassionate person with a quick Irish temper who is very opinionated because I am a deep thinker. My take on situations is often very hard to understand but know that I have taken apart every situation and analyzed it to death. I have to look at all sides because that is my nature. I try to be fair in my assessments and have a tendency to be overly honest.

That being said, I try to help when help hasn’t been asked for. Reaching out is not always a bad thing but as I have stated before, ask first if help is desired. When I started blogging, I had no idea what direction it would take, it just happens. It has been a good tool for me to come to terms with my past. I do want to spend more time educating myself and going in a different direction with my writing. Therefore, I will be cutting back on my blogging. I will also be refraining from comments in order to take away the gifts offered in your posts without making it about me. Yes, it will be difficult for me but I have to pull up my big girl panties and learn to be courteous in my blogging.

Yes, I do know that there are bloggers who have gained from my writing as I have gained from theirs which is why I am returning to my blog. I hope you will understand.

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From My Mother Part One

Before I left Texas, my mother gave me the gift of a calendar with these beautiful words to remind me of her love for me, I am now re-gifting them to you.

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A mother tries to provide her daughter with insight

Into the important things in life

In order to make her life

as happy and fulfilling as possible

A mother tries to teach her daughter

to be good, always helpful to other people

to be fair, always treating others equally

to have a positive attitude at all times

to always make things right when they are wrong

to know herself well

to know what her talents are

to set goals for herself

to not be afraid of working too hard

to reach her goals

A mother tries to teach her daughter

to have many interest to pursue

to laugh and have fun every day

to appreciate the beauty of nature

to enter into friendships with good people

to honor their friendships and always be a true friend

to appreciate the importance of the family

and to particularly respect and love our elder members

to use her intelligence at all times

to listen to her emotions to adhere to her values…

Susan Polis Schutz

Continued Part Two

 

Anti-Depressants and Psychotherapy

I have had people tell me that they do not want to take anti-depressant medication because it will cause them to be unable to cry. I would suggest that anyone who has this experience should check with their doctors or get honest with themselves. I have been on anti-depressants for many, many years and I have no problem crying when emotion calls for it yet I do not cry constantly with no clearly discernible reason as often happens with untreated depression.

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Many people do not understand that depression is not always situational. There are those of us who have a chemical imbalance that brings about depressive  symptoms. When depression is situational, most people are able to stop therapy or taking anti-depressants after the situation comes to a resolution or they come to terms with the outcome of the situation. However, please be aware that getting off anti-depressants is not something that should be done without the guidance of a medical doctor, psychotherapist or psychiatrist who will instruct the patient in the best way to taper off the medication.

I have a friend who refused to take anti-depressants because she didn’t like the way they made her feel. I spent time with her after our not seeing each other for a while and she was like a different person. She was happy, positive and upbeat images.duckduckgo.com because her doctor put her on an anti-depressant that worked for her. My sister has gone off her anti-depressants from time to time because she is very health conscious and didn’t want to take pills. She has gone back on them every time because if you need them, you need them. Unfortunately, there are times that a person has to try several different anti-depressants until the right one for them is found. It is understandable that one would get frustrated and want to give up but when the right medication is found, it is worth the necessary journey. There are anti-depressants that I cannot take because I metabolize medications slowly or because they aren’t a good fit for one reason or another. The medication my friend has found that works so well for her is one that I cannot take. I have had it prescribed and/or suggested by doctors because it would seem to be the perfect medication for me but it has the undesired of inhibiting my focus.

Another thing about anti-depressants not always understood is that it is sometimes beneficial to change to a different brand or strength after a period of time. I have changed several times over the years because there is a more current, more effective or more beneficial drug or strength for me.

I have tortured my mother all my life by trying to get answers or justifications.

There seems to be a stigma about psychotherapy just as there is about anti-depressants. That stigma can be quite dangerous because depression can14867860-broken-heart-carried-on-a-stretcher-by-box-men destroy not only one’s quality of life but can destroy one’s life itself. I have also heard that some will stop psychotherapy because there comes a point when they cannot stop crying. This is a valid point because emotions that have been stuffed inside or ignored are released by talking through experiences or opening up about thoughts and/or needs. This phenomena is referred to as “getting your feelings” and is an important point in therapy. Rather than being something to be avoided, it is a desired effect of therapy.

Anti-depressants are so widely prescribed these days that some researchers think that the symptoms could be caused by poor diet, lack of sleep or evolving changes in the environment. I believe those could be valid causes as I also  believe that the tendency to have depression can be passed down from generation to generation as mine seems to have been. In Ala-non, we learn that when you have a sudden and/or temporary change in mood or experience depression-like symptoms, you might ask yourself if you are hungry, lonely or tired. I have found that any one of these three conditions will cause me to experience a temporary anger or depression.

If you are hesitant to seek treatment for your depression, I encourage you to re-visit your decision by doing research and having a discussion with a physician or psychiatrist. You may be in serious trouble long before the realization hits you or even worse, it may not hit you until it is too late.

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