Category Archives: long thoughts

1, 2, skip-a-few, 99, 100.

Published / by violet / Leave a Comment

(I can’t be the only one who heard that ‘joke’ as a kid, right?)

I missed a couple of days already – in my defence, it’s been a ridiculous few weeks and this week, in particular, was jammed full of stuff every single day.  Also, I forgot about NaBloPoMo.  Next week is going to be a whole thing, too, so I clearly picked the wrong year to commit to this whole ‘write every day’ thing.

I’ve done a lot of talking this week and that, sometimes, makes it hard to think of something to write. I guess I get it out of my system a bit? I’ve had some really good thoughtful conversations (and a lot of hilarious discussions) and since talking is how I process things best, it’s been really helpful. There’s been a lot of feelings happening, so having the ability to talk about it to a lot of really empathetic, understanding people has been so good.

The past few days have been full of presentations and meetings and conference calls and more meetings and more presentations and van night and.. it’s been completely exhausting. On top of that, there’s.. some bigger stuff related to work.

The problem is that I can’t write about the situation that’s happening at work – in part because it has to do with someone (staff, I mean) who isn’t me, and in part because it’s so complex that I’d need a flow-chart, indexes, a page with a ‘cast’ listing, and it still wouldn’t be a good enough picture. There’s, like, the BIG problem, then a secondary big problem and a tertiary, too. Then a bunch of smaller (but still significant) problems.

And while I can’t excuse myself from the problems, and I am definitely involved here, I am also not overly responsible for the outcome. Other people – several of them – will need to figure out what they’re going to do and how they’re going to end this situation (on different levels).

See what I mean about complicated?

But I’ve been trying to figure out some ‘rules’ to get through the next few weeks and to keep myself focused in the face of others’ unpredictability.

  1. Take care of myself – and ask others to take care of me, too, as appropriate.
  2. Remember my role and be clear about it. There are things I need to do and there are things I will do and then.. there’s other stuff. Which leads into,
  3. Protect my boundaries. I genuinely like the people involved in some parts of the issues and I need to remember that I can genuinely like them without getting myself into stuff that I don’t need to be into.
  4. Do not encourage ‘side drama’. Everyone fucking loves to add shit to the pile, right?
  5. Let people take responsibility (or not) for their own stuff and the consequences associated with that choice.
  6. Remember to love.

I dunno, it’s all easier said than done.  I have felt so much guilt about two of the BIG issues and, through talking to several people, have (mostly) managed to put that aside. I have questioned myself on multiple levels about how responsible I was for some of this (and, I know other have questioned it too, even when they didn’t say it).

And the only thing to do is learn the lessons, as best I can, identify the good parts and hold them tight, and then let the cards fall where they will. I’ll do my best to respond to whatever happens next in a balanced, steady way.

I am so grateful that it’s the weekend – that I can not read email, not check voice mail, not have to focus on anything other than doing my best to relax and live my own peaceful life.

Kids and People Who Take Drugs and Humans In General, Really.

Published / by violet / 1 Comment on Kids and People Who Take Drugs and Humans In General, Really.

When I used to work for a major corporation, I spent a lot of time complaining (sometimes crying) about how much it sucked.

The thing I love most about my current job is that the urgency, the issues, the work is all directly applicable to human beings (and not appliances, as was the case with the major corp).  If I’m going to get invested in any way in something, it’s much easier to do so with humans than washing machines or fridges. (And yet, I was probably still overly-invested in those fucking appliances.)

An acquaintance/friend of mine recently became a middle school teacher in the US. She has been struggling with it for a bunch of reasons (one part being that it’s all new) and has been writing quite openly about some of her feelings, the challenges, etc.  As much as her discomfort sucks, I have also been laughing a little bit behind my screen.. because hooboy, I recognize myself there.

What I’ve learned from working directly with human beings is that.. human beings are messy as all get-out. You can’t (generally) control someone else’s emotions or thoughts or behaviours. You can’t anticipate their needs. You can’t shove them into doing the right thing(s). You can’t control what they do when they’re not around. You can’t fix their childhood issues (whether they’re children or adults) and you can’t undo biology.

The only thing you can control is yourself.  Set boundaries. Re-evaluate and reset boundaries.

We all know that’s easier said than done.

You could not pay me enough money to attempt to teach a classroom full of middle school kids. I’d be lucky to last an hour and, at the end of that hour, I’d be irreparably damaged (and I’m only slightly exaggerating). Honestly, chances are really good that I’d end up being one of the teachers in the news – a wonky, half-drunk mugshot posted next to a couple paragraphs describing how the students found me completely passed out in the parking lot before school in the morning.

(Large groups of children make me nervous.  Give me a bunch of people high on meth and I’m much, much more comfortable.)

The hardest, and best, parts of my job are.. humans. The clients, the client community, my coworkers, the partners, the families, the community in general. I am not always confident that I am working well with humans – some days it all feels like a perfect flow and other days it feels awful.

I’m constantly trying to figure out my boundaries. I’m trying to figure out why I’ve set them where they are, whether they need to shift (tighter or looser), trying to adjust them to different circumstances and different people.

The people that I work with, generally speaking, have completely different boundaries from my own – out of necessity, out of learning to survive, out of circumstances.  It can make me feel like I am too rigid, too cold, too uncaring. It can make me feel like I am not helpful, like I am not doing my job well.  There have been many days where I have spent a lot of time wondering whether my reaction to something was appropriate – too much? too little?

Many of the people I work with have intense needs – both in terms of their physical needs (housing, food, health care) and emotional (nurturing, caring, support). I am constantly reminding myself of what my job is – which can be hard since my job is not black and white. It is not a perfectly-boxed set of behaviours that I plunk on the table with each person.

My job isn’t to fulfil everyone’s needs. Sometimes I need to help people find other resources to support them. Sometimes it’s to nudge them.

Often, and it’s hard, my job is to step back and see the gap – the big, pressing, ugly need – and simply accept it. 

It is always hard to see emotional pain – and every single person I work with contains a lot of it. it is hard to step back and acknowledge to myself that I can’t fix it, or even patch it up, within the context of my job.

I have to refocus. I can help people by helping them feel they belong, that they have worth. I can help with certain practical things. I can help by listening (within certain contexts). I can help simply by accepting them as-is, where they are, regardless of what’s happening. For some people, I can provide structure and reliability and predictability. For some people I can offer encouragement.

I can’t wade into any part of someone’s darkness if I don’t tie a rope around myself so I can climb back out – and the rope is being very clear with them, and myself, about my limitations.

Sometimes people are very angry about that. Sometimes they try to manipulate me into changing my behaviours to fit what they need. And this is also really hard for me – because I know I could make them feel better (and, by extension, relieve myself of feeling bad for making them feel bad) if I just relaxed my boundaries a little bit.

But what they need is consistency. They need to see that boundaries can be filled with love and respect – even when those boundaries are different from what they’d like. In some cases, people will back off and leave. They need something else, or something more, than what I can give them – and that’s okay (as much as it suuuuucks). Sometimes people will fight the boundaries, push against the limits, demand that I justify/explain everything (repeatedly) so they can argue their side.  That’s okay. It’s hard, and it sucks, but it’s okay.

This is not unlike my friend teaching middle school kids. Kids are learning about the world around them and how far they can push things and they’re learning to be independent creatures (apart from their parents) and.. just typing those things makes me feel anxious.

I don’t say these out loud much, but this is the gist of what I would say to my clients if I could give them a schpiel about things:

Let me tell you what’s going to happen between us. Here’s what you can expect from me. Some of you will not like me. Some of you will think I am great. Some of you will try to fight me every step of the way. We will have conflict but that’s okay. You may move away from me or you may move closer. You will see that no matter what you’re doing, or how you’re doing it, I value you. There are things I cannot help you with no matter how much I wish I could. I have a role in your life and I need to stick to that role.  I will try very hard not to make you wonder where I stand on things. I will work hard to never make our relationship about my needs (and I will spend a lot of time thinking about my own needs). Here are the things I can do and here are the things I cannot. I will try to be direct when I answer your questions. I will hold on to confidentiality.

When I think about what I appreciate most in my times of.. difficulty.. it usually boils down to someone who feels steady (read: my beloved husband). Someone who can accept whatever’s going on with me and still be consistent. Someone who shows empathy but doesn’t make it about their own discomfort around whatever’s happening for me. Someone who doesn’t run in the face of my crap and who doesn’t take it on. Someone who agrees that things suck, yes, but doesn’t immediately try to fix it.

And so, this is what I try to do for others.  It is hard work.

I am a big fan of the instagram account @notesfromyourtherapist for reasons like this:

 

Truth.

Out!

Published / by violet / 1 Comment on Out!

You may have heard of an “Irish Goodbye” – which is where a person quietly exits, without fuss or fanfare.  I believe this should be renamed to a “[My Last Name] Goodbye” which is where one leaves by essentially sneaking out the door.

This is how the middle kid exited today. He spent many hours filling up his truck with stuff, with the enlisted help of several friends and his brother, and then.. he left. No farewell, no goodbye, just got in his truck.

If I may be honest, this is totally fine with me. He now lives, I believe, about 15 minutes away. We’ve already chatted on facebook.  Making a huge deal out of this would be, to me at least, terrible.

[My Last Name] Goobyes are good.  Let’s save the big ordeals for times when we need them.

NaBloPoMo Can Blow Me.

Published / by violet / 4 Comments on NaBloPoMo Can Blow Me.

Oh good, it’s day 2 and I’ve got.. nothing. Unless I’m literally just going to recount my day, like a true diary from whenever it was that people kept actual diaries? No, no I am not.

Some random things:

Today Coffee and I went together to deliver something to a client. On arriving, the client came out to meet us and started talking, sort of upset, about being threatened by someone with a non-traditional weapon. There were verbal threats made. In the past, this would likely have upset me – like, should I take this person with me? Call police? Call someone else? – but my response in this instance was, “Oh, man, that’s shitty..” followed by doing exactly what I was doing before that. My clients’ lives have a lot of shitty things in them and I have learned that things change fast – so, honestly, unless I saw the person show up with the non-traditional weapon in hand, I was fine. I am sure that now, a few hours later, everything is fine there, too.

I am constantly being reminded that the people I really like are generally viewed as being scary, terrible people. And in some cases, they are legitimately kind of.. terrible people. But most of them are truly lovely and kind people going through shitty things (see above) and even the terrible people have positive qualities that I can find quite easily. People do whatever they need to do to survive – I can’t judge if I’ve never been in their shoes.

(Obviously, I believe in, and practice, unconditional positive regard when I am working.)

Every time I drive Louise somewhere, it seems, I end up in conversation with a random stranger. Usually it’s some guy yelling about how beautiful she is – which seems, lately, to end with that stranger lying on the ground trying to look at her underbelly. I don’t know why, but it’s what dudes do apparently. I am charmed by this. She is just the best fucking thing since sliced bread.

I am dreading winter.

Baking season is nice, though. Pretty glad that’s happening now.

I am desperately behind on my Goodreads goal of 100 books – I gotta’ buckle down and stop falling asleep while reading.

I’m done here.

Why Not?

Published / by violet / 2 Comments on Why Not?

Mayhaps I shall attempt NaBloPoMo this year. (This is a good start, right? The fact that I wrote something?)  Let’s all stay optimistic about it getting a little more profound as the month goes on. Weed is legal in Canada now, which has always been a nice way for me to get inspired to write, so there’s at least some possibility I can sustain this for a month solid.

What’s new.. what’s new.. The Middle Kid is moving out to an apartment (shared with a coworker) in exactly 3 days. We kindly paid his first-and-last for him, he’s taking some old furniture with him, and we’ll see how all of this goes.  I imagine he’ll have the same adjustment everyone does when they move out – as much as he’s been independent in a lot of ways, there’s still a learning curve when every detail is suddenly your full responsibility.

Related, Coffee and I have been arguing over what will happen with the (soon to be) vacant room in our house – he says something about an ‘exercise room’ and I think it would be more fun to either move all of my friends in (bunk beds!) or just hand it over to clients (also bunk beds!).  I suspect he’s going to win this since, y’know, boundaries or whatever. I have a few clients who I’m sure wouldn’t mind sleeping next to an exercise bike and/or rowing machine or whatever the hell is going into that room, though, so I may have to force a compromise…

On that note, work has been interesting – in the curse sense – for the past bit. There are some delightful glimmers of good stuff amidst the full-on shit-show.. but none of it (good or bad) is suitable for writing about here.  I suppose, if nothing else, it’s a good opportunity to reevaluate a lot of things.

Louise has her snow shoes on and goes in, tomorrow, for her oil spray. That’s pretty much as prepared as I can get for winter’s arrival – although my snow brush is missing somewhere, I think, so I should at least dig that out (or buy a new one) in the next day or two.

That’s it. That’s all I’ve got here.  If you have some inspirational topics for me, let me know… 30 days is a lot.