Dark Pages – The Joys of Facing Your Hardest Self-Hate-On

I just watched “Dark Pages” – an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation and I have to say that it was the single most amazing episode of ST to date that I have ever seen … and there’s been some pretty damn amazing photos. It had an amazing cast doing amazing acting. Even the most campy character came to life and it was completely believable.

The episode is, essentially, about facing your deepest darkest secret. It’s about how we put so much energy into hiding that secret and hating ourselves for it. It’s about how spending all of that energy in hating ourselves for something we somehow believe we were the root cause of slowly but surly kills us. In the very least, we let our sense of reality and joys in life slip away unnoticed, because we are so busy protecting our secret and hating ourselves.

Since I’m studying a little bit about psychology it got me researching ‘secrets’ a bit at the most reliable source: Google. AMIRIGHT? Anyway, I found mostly what I already knew… secrets create an unstable mind. I’m just going to link you to this article, because it’s well-cited and I’m, well, lazy: http://nautil.us/blog/the-secret-costs-of-keeping-secrets.

The thing is, you really don’t need tests to prove that keeping a secret is bad for you. Just keep a deep dark secret for even a minute or two and you will begin to feel bad. Imagine keeping that deep dark secret for decades!?

I remember, when I was in college, one of the most fascinating and amazing websites to visit at the time was the “Post Secret” website. I actually discovered that it was too much for me and couldn’t really spend much time on the site. People were confessing things that were really … dark and deep. Some of the trauma that some of these people put themselves through out of fear of being found out simply amaze me. Some of the posts make me outright cry while others make me want to hide under the sheets.

Secrets are a thick wall between you and your humanity–an ever-thickening wall. If you want a life of freedom and joy, tell someone you trust, even a therapist.

I’ve been privileged to be at the telling-end of about 72 teens and adults who have come out of the closet as gay and to see their entire physiology and personality change to a brighter and more joyful version of them has been the greatest award I can imagine.

Trust me, if you want love and kindness back, tell someone.

Image from: http://postsecret.com/2014/09/13/classic-secrets-43/father/

2012-11-14 15-55-25

Pick Yer Switch

I don’t talk about the pains of my childhood very often and I most especially don’t talk about anything negative related to the way I grew up, publicly, but this rash of news regarding children getting ‘switched’ has actually triggered quite a few traumatizing memories for me and I have decided that I’m going to talk about it.

First off, my grandmother is my greatest hero… in spite of the stories I’m going to share. I love her to death and I think that she was an amazing woman. And it is not my wish to share this story so that anyone will think any less of her. Rather, I want to illustrate that times have changed and science has changed and we have learned so much more about children and discipline and we need to stop it with the corporal punishment.

Anyway, the switch. In the recent years, I remember having ‘fond’ conversations with a few of my cousins. “Hey! You remember when granny used to make us go and pick our switches?” “Yeah. HAHA. I always picked the bigger ones because the smaller ones would tear the shit out of your legs.” “Me too! I think you’re the one that taught me that actually!” We were so smart. Unfortunately, it took us learning the hard way many many times before we learned exactly how to pick our switches. You get a switch that’s too small and it hurts for a long time. You get a switch that’s too large, and it hurts for a long time. So you really have to know the size of switch to pick to minimize the pain to just the rest of the day and not full into the week.

Picking the switch is part of the whole psychology of this form of discipline– unless the parent is extra cray and just runs outside and grabs a branch from a tree. Usually, the child gets to pick his/her switch. And we almost always did. I would also sometimes take EXTRA LONG to pick my switch to put off the inevitable whoopin’ that would come afterward.

The minute I heard “Go Pick Your Switch NOW” I would immediately go into this terrified space. My stomach would get sick and I would get sweaty. Knowing I’m going to have lots and lots of pain coming very shortly is such an awful and belittling feeling. So the whole time I was out searching for the perfect switch, as a child, I was shaking and weak. I was weak in the knees. I was wondering if there’s any sort of lie that I can tell that would get me out of the whoopin’. Spoiler alert: there never was a good lie I could tell, and I would usually get switched more for attempting it. But a little child with no sense of logic and only an understanding of body, I really didn’t know any better… I just want the pain to stop.

I’d promise anything for the pain to stop. I’d promise to never misbehave again. I’d promise always to listen. I’d promise never to steal. I’d promise to always go to bed on time. I’d promise to always come inside from playing on time. I’d promise never to push my brother again. I’d promise never tell on anyone again because tattle tales are not cool. I’d promise to always do my chores.

And of course, these promises lasted for as long as the pain did, because I was a child and my long-term memory didn’t work the way adults like to think it work. Because the next day, I’d be playing outside and having so much fun that when the sun went down… well, I didn’t WANT to come inside. I wanted to keep playing. And the cycle continued.

The switch would mostly go on my butt. Usually I was clothed. But the worst part about switches is that it would wrap around my butt and lash my thighs, or my belly, or the front of my legs. That’s why we started getting switches that weren’t like little cattail whips in the front. We’d have welts bigger than quarters on our bodies that stung for hours and hours.

And we’re always not supposed to cry. We’d get whipped more for crying. Even as an adult who understands how people get into the cycle of abuse, I do not understand why a small child whose nerves are getting triggered beyond the pleasure threshold should not cry if it hurts. It DOES hurt – and crying is an important defense mechanism to allow the stress built up (emotional) to dissipate (http://scienceline.org/2006/10/ask-driscoll-tears/). This, in turn, allows us to relieve ourselves, somewhat, of the pain that’s occurring. I mean, I suppose, then, if the person who is administering the punishment didn’t want the child to relieve himself of the pain in any way then they would require the child continue to bottle it up, but, I suspect that’s not why parents tell the kids to stop crying. I suspect, in many cases, the tears trigger the natural loving instinct of the parent and it makes it hard to administer the spanking if they are being triggered in that way.

Regardless, as an adult, I’ve really thought long and hard about this. I still stay out too late. I still don’t go to bed on time. I don’t talk to my brother at all (the one that I was supposed to get along with when I was getting switched as a child) and I eat what I want when I want. I do chores when I want. My point is, the switches didn’t seem to have any effect on making me an  adult who would follow all of the rules and make sure that I am some sort of perfect human being. I am an effective and successful adult in spite of my switches. I have chosen to succeed, all on my own.

What DID happen, though, is that I became 100% intolerant to abuse in any form. And that’s why I am an advocate FOR children and always will be. It hurts me to hear parents verbally abuse their children or to hear or see spankings or to listen to parents manipulate their children with things like “If you don’t do what i say, then you can’t have your friend over tonight” or “you will not get dinner if you don’t do what I say.” It’s frightening that we, as parents, still resort to this type of manipulation and control for our children.

Listen, I know that we’re doing the best we can as humans. I know in most cases, we are reenacting what we’ve been taught – and we’re tired and lonely and life never seems to give us what we want when we want it. And you know what, you’re going to be okay. You’re going to be all right. If your child is making too much noise and it’s bothering your head, you’ll be okay. If your child is not listening and you feel like people will judge you and think your kid is out of control and you’re not being a parent, screw those people! Parents who discipline their children with force: You can do differently. You can do better. You’re allowed to and it’s completely okay. It doesn’t matter if people judge you for having unruly children, because you will feel better about yourself that they are no longer being hit or hurt. You’ll feel better about yourself because you are starting to learn to trust your children more and they, in turn, will return that trust and your relationship together will begin to thrive as they will start to see that you’re not going to hurt them anymore.

You can do it. I know you can. Just put the switch down, say you’re sorry, ask for a few minutes alone, and grab a cup of decaf tea and relax. Show your child you love them through gentle action and they will show you they love you through gentle action. Build the trust together now. It will save your relationship.

Good luck.



Image of the Giving Tree illustrated by Schel Silverstein, found here: http://katie-randomnest.blogspot.com/2012/11/stump.html

A man honked his horn at me today

I was on my way to work from the doctor’s office. Out of the corner of my eye I saw an older dark blue pickup truck pull up beside me. You know the kind that has the metal screws and bolts visible on the outside? Sturdy-type truck. Usually, I’m the kind of person that prefers to give drivers direct eye contact– especially if I like their vehicle. I often remind myself of the human behind the wheel. This keeps me from anxiety while I’m driving. This time, I didn’t look – I wasn’t really feeling particularly social or human, for that matter, as I’m dealing with a head full of fluids and everyone sounds like their in a twenty-foot deep tunnel.

But I heard the honk. The first thing that went through my mind, before I turned my head, was that this must be one of those humiliating cat-calls. I also always look at people who do cat-calls, directly in the eyes – so they can see the human that they are attempting to degrade and objectify. So, I turned my head.

It was a man around 75, if I can eye-ball my ages correctly. He had a kind face. An oxygen tube was encircling his face, ending at his nostrils. He waved for me to put my window down, and I did. We were at a light, so it was fine to take a moment. I worried that maybe he wasn’t feeling well. After my window was down, he leaned out of his window and said, “Did you know your right brake-light is out?”

No, I didn’t know that. And I realized in that moment that these are the moments that I miss in our society. I felt so grateful for him to take the moment to get my attention and let me know about my brake light because I want to drive in safe conditions with all of my indicators working. I thanked him and said I’d get it fixed. But the moment has stuck with me all day.

It reminded me of a few weeks back when I was waiting in a long line to exit from a parking lot to a busy road. The woman in front of me decided to find a different exit and as she turned, I noticed that her gas lid was open. So, I got out of my car and approached her. At first, she ignored me. Finally, I must have acted like a monkey enough for her to stop and roll her window down. The look she gave me could have killed, if looks could kill. When I let her know that her gas lid was open, her response was “Oh, that’s all? Okay, thanks.” And she got out of the car and shut it.

But it was a good experience for me to get out of my comfort zone and get someone’s attention and help them in ways that they would have been otherwise oblivious to the fact that they could use the help.

I wouldn’t have thought to check my brake lights until my next oil change, which isn’t for another few months (praise be to synthetic oil). But this guy helped. And I am grateful.

The take-away: Check your car lights regularly and express gratitude for those moments when strangers extend themselves beyond social norm comfort zones and enhance your life in ways that you don’t expect.


More Changes!

Autumn is here! It is one of the only seasons that is marked by a sudden and drastic change in the weather in all of the states and countries that I have lived in. It’s such an evident experience of ‘change’ that it reminded me to come and update everyone on my personal change log. It’s been a while!

I’ve been drinking way less caffeine. Like, 8oz a day. This is a completely different thing for me. I love to be known for my caffeine intake. I really do. But, it’s doing cray things to my body and it’s not good. So I’m drinking lots more tea and a TON of water. Like, I go through six gallons of water every week. And that’s just the water I drink at home.

I’m eating out way less. I still have weekend issues but during the week I’m pretty much at home. This is very big for me as well! I prefer to have others cook for me. But, here I am, doin’ it for mah-self!

I’m horticulturing. I think this is probably  more of my feminine side coming out but I’ve got actual real live flowers and stuff.

I’m keeping my house clean. This has been a skill long in the making. I used to be a defiant chick and had control issues opposite of what you would typically think of… my environment had to be messy and out of control all of the time. Over the last six years, this has slowly changed and now I’m actually doing housework and such. So weird.

I’m taking vitamins. I used to never take those. Now I am.

photo by https://www.flickr.com/photos/ben_on_the_move

My pledge to Humanity

Lately, I’ve been moved. And by “moved” I mean I’ve been faced with a chasm of a split personality; the selfish “me-me-me” side on one side and the human-loving, mistake-making almost-hippie-chick on the other side.  I realize that this is truly my whole life’s issue is to walk a balanced walk on either side of this canyon of my wants, needs, desires and the rest of humanity.

As most people I know and experience on social media, I am critical and judgmental. And naturally, I am my own biggest critic. So, there’s times when I see “memes” go around that I find myself annoyed and want to squelch the messages because, too much eh?

I’m seeing this pattern so much with the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, because here’s the thing… I am critical against what I call “sheep who just do it because everyone else is doing it” but I cannot, I repeat, I CAN NOT bring myself to be critical of this particular sheep-like activity because it’s actually GOOD to do. It’s creating awareness for something that previously had little awareness. And that brings me spelunking to the other side of the ever-widening cavernous pit. I want to do good things that build humanity and I want to see others doing good things that build humanity.  And the potential I’m seeing with the ALSIceBucket challenge is huge. This has created ALS awareness faster and bigger than the Susan Komen Cure seems to have… we all know when Breast Cancer Awareness month is around because everything in every store turns pink, but people are either compelled to purchase the Pink or they are compelled to stay away from every grocery store until Pink Month is over. Not that there’s anything wrong with Pink Purchasing People. I am a proud pink purchaser. That is because Pink is my favorite color, though, and not because I am actively donating to Breast Cancer Cures.

In fact, I’m not generally a ‘donator’ – or I haven’t been in the past. I’ve decided as of two weeks ago to start, though. And here’s why:

Because Giving is Healthy:
I believe working hard and then parting with some of your earnings or even parting with some of your available resources to give to those who are in need is a healthy thing. According to a survey of 4,500 people (this links to a PDF file) who donate time and money, participants reported better health, improved sense of well-being, and less stress. Yes, giving is just as good for the giver as it is for the recipient of the goods.

Because It Keeps Us Grounded:
I believe that actively seeking and participating in opportunities where you can be of assistance keeps your head out of the clouds and in a firmer realm of reality. Sometimes it’s easy to forget that life is hard when we seem to have it made. We begin to fret the petty stuff which soon becomes grand stuff and it’s hard to reel ourselves back from our own set-up existence to see that… hey… it’s actually not that bad. According to author Karen Salmansohn, in The Bounce Back Book, giving allows for you to look into the world and see people experiencing true problems and it helps put our own life into perspective.

Because Giving Keeps Us Connected:
Most people have some sort of connection with the causes that they choose to give to. If they didn’t have a connection to it then you might argue that it’s possible they are not truly giving, but possibly relieving guilty feelings. That is just a hypothesis on my end as I don’t have studies to prove it at this point. That said, when you we see something that we connect to, we are more inclined to help. Let me give you an example. A few weeks ago, I was driving home from a doctors appointment. Traffic was bad. I mean, traffic is normally bad, but this time it was terrible. I figured there must have been an accident and continued inching along the highway. As I started to turtle my way past the scene of the accident, my heart jumped out of my chest and I began to cry. I was shocked by my response but more-so I was shocked by the crumpled up piece of aluminum foil that they were attempting to crane onto a Tow Truck. Whoever was in that car did not survive, I knew it. I couldn’t continue driving after I saw them reach into the car and pull out a car seat. I pulled off the freeway and let it out. How horrific. I just prayed that there wasn’t an actual baby in that car. Several days later, I saw a fundraiser for a family in my area go around Facebook and realized that this was the family of the driver of the cube of metal I saw and I could not go a single step further until I gave to this family. I could only spare $10.00 that day, but I knew not going to Starbucks for two days would be better for me than not giving to this family. I had a personal connection with them, even though they have no idea who I am and probably never will. It was personal enough.

I still struggle with giving. I tend to walk past homeless people and be critical of their ‘scams’ and I think its important to be informed of your causes. But most importantly, I think its important to reach deep inside myself and then reach far outside of myself in order to grow. So I make the pledge to give to humanity a piece of my hard work and time on a regular basis because it’s healthy, keeps me grounded, and keeps me connected to the rest of the world.



taken from this site

A list of changes I’ve made

Sometimes I just get to the point where I realize that things aren’t working the way I’m doing them and I must do something different to see results. So here’s a list of things I’ve changed significantly in the last year:

  • Self-Relationship
    • Positive Self-Talk (this seems silly but its very helpful)
    • Minimizing self-punishment
    • Acknowledge what I really want
    • Exercising Regularly
    • Floss Regularly
  • Food (For some of these, I will occasionally partake, depending on the situation and whether or not I am concerned it will trigger my additive behaviors to return)
    • No more cream in my coffee
    • No more soda, diet or regular
    • No more canned food
    • No more ‘white’ bread
    • Cooking dinner more often than going out to dinner
  • Relationships
    • No more hierarchies in my close-knit relationships
    • Distinguishing the difference between people in my life and how they relate to me and what kind of energy I’ll put into our relationships
    • Be very grateful
  • Free-lance Work
    • No more freebies (still working on this, actually)
    • Minimize ‘exchanges’ and bartering
    • Understand the value I bring to an hour
    • Be very grateful
  • Professional Career
    • Schedule Everything
    • Document Everything
    • Follow-up all of the time
    • Advocate for myself
    • Be very grateful

Things I’m still working on in the present time:

  • Personal Finances
  • High-protein; low carbs (this is the darndest thing)

I think its important to acknowledge how far I’ve come. Six years ago or so, when I was running low on money, I would flee to the store and purchase boxes of Mac N Cheese, pouches of Ramen Noodles and some canned veggies or soups. Just the other day I was low on funds and the conveyor belt held bananas, broccoli and eggs. I’ve come so far from my previous way of life and previous thought-process that it’s sometimes unbelievable. It was hard work, and I’m happy with the direction I’m going.

Any lists you’d like to share about what you’ve accomplished or are working on?

Image taken from here