Help for Healing

Bitter & Sweet, living daily with grief


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Failing, Failure

The last couple days have been tough. There is nothing monumentally wrong that most families and relationships don’t typically go through. But when I feel like everything around me (or 80%) is failing, I end up feeling like a failure.

My sister was her supportive self today when we talked. She gave me her opinion that I am one of the most capable people she knows and far from a failure. Thanks sissy! Deep down, I guess I know I’m not responsible for everyone else’s choices, but it’s hard when stress can feel unrelenting.

I got talking to a client today and it reminded me of research I read years ago. It said that females in particular tend to be prone to an “internal locus of control” which, like anything else, has its good and bad points.

When a woman is faced with a problem or hurt, she usually asks herself what she did wrong and looks for how she can fix it. An external locus of control would assume someone else screwed up. The good part of the internal focus is that it can lead to empowerment and change. The bad part is that it can lead to over-responsibility and unnecessary self-blame.

Generalizations almost always get you in trouble so please understand these thoughts don’t apply to every single person in every single situation. As an observer of human behavior and relationships, I have to say that it does seem to often be the case though. Women are often the “emotional thermometers” in relationships. It’s almost comical when a couple sits down for session and the man briefly declares things are ok. The woman wants to know who he has been living with because it apparently isn’t their home. As she recounts the week’s activity, the man will eventually nod in agreement. “Oh yea, I forgot about that,” or something similar.

Anyhow, when you intensely love and care for people around you, it can be heartbreaking when you are disappointed, worried, concerned when you see those around you making choices that hurt you, or worse hurt themselves. Probably the most intense pain is around the love and concern a parent has for their child. A child of any age, no matter how old he/she gets.

I’m doing ok tonight. I’m exhausted and feel like a wet dish rag. But talking to people who care and an unscheduled call to Scott (my trusted therapist) reminds me that these things too shall pass. They hurt like hell, but I don’t need to fall into the abyss or anything. Tomorrow will come and I will just do the best I can again. I’m usually the only one that asks more of me than that.

Hope all is well in your world, wherever you are. Take some time for self-care, but stay engaged in life and people. It’s worth it, even when you’d rather punch them all…LOL.


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Girl Crush

I love karaoke. But almost every time you go to karaoke, someone sings the song, “Girl Crush.” Even though it might be well-performed, it is still like, “Again?” But that is not what this blog is about.

I love my girlfriends. My sisters, my adopted sisters, etc.. Girls rock and they are dependable. I recently had the opportunity to participate with the Buffalo Gateway Chorus, and man, what a powerhouse of women. (Isn’t it funny to say man in that sentence?)

There are normally 90 women in that sucker. At Christmas time the number is down to 75 because of all the snowbirds. If I didn’t have to make a weekly commitment, I would so join them in a heartbeat. It is all upbeat energy and positive stuff. (Now, women are women. I’m realistic. Is there some bitchiness here and there? Well, of course!) What they do at Christmastime is allow guests to come in. You only have to go to two rehearsals, and then you can join their holiday show. What a total blast.

One of the rehearsals, a guest came in to thank the group for their generosity. They had caught wind of a female teacher in a more poverty-stricken area. She had a terrible problem with attendance because the girls often didn’t have shampoo or deodorant. The embarrassment only triples when they have their period and don’t have feminine products. So in walks one of the members with several enormous bags of supplies. Girls helping girls. Love that stuff.

I saw them perform in September and my jaw remained on the floor the entire show. They are all a capella music, and compete internationally. I could see why they always place well. They are incredibly talented, with women of all ages in the group. The director totally stood out to me. (I told my friend who is a member that she needs to party poolside with us next summer so the invitation has already been extended!) I have since found out she is 64 years old, is quite attractive and charismatic. I didn’t take my eyes off of her very often. And every once in a while she turns around during the song and sings to the audience as well. She just blends in with the group. Just not an ego in sight.

After working with the group, I realized she is definitely a powerhouse. I wouldn’t want to piss her off because I’m sure she could take me out if necessary. Her directing talent was astounding. I’ve been a musician since I was knee-high to a grasshopper. She was teaching us things I had never heard before and I was amazed by it. And a super great sense of humor too.

As the 12 hour day went on for the performance day, I came to a realization that came out in my out-loud voice. Oh my God! I have a girl crush! It was the only way I could explain it. I find her to have a terribly attractive personality and I just wanted to be around her. There were a couple of times we exchanged conversation and I was so excited that she acknowledged me. Later, she popped up on Facebook and I got brave and friend requested her. To my delight, she accepted. As a musician, she also gave me a compliment that I was deeply grateful for. She said she could tell that I “get it”- meaning the concept of the importance of excellence and the pride that comes with it.

I was telling my friends Nina and Mike about the weekend at separate times and they both laughed at me. They said I sounded like a school girl and I was like, “I know, right?” Anyhow, my humble thanks to Diane and the Buffalo Gateway Chorus for a very special experience.

I am ending this was a photo of several of us. One of the requirements was to wear bright red lipstick. We called it the stripper lips. So we gave our best stripper pucker for this photo. Merry Christmas to everyone!
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Mindset

Carol Dweck is an author who was interviewed in my Psychotherapy Networker magazine. “It comes down to whether you focus on growing your abilities, as opposed to proving and validating them all the time. When you’re in what I call a fixed mindset, your goal in life is to prove you’re a smart, competent, worthwhile person and avoid doing things that could undermine that image of yourself. In the growth mindset, you believe these abilities and talents can always be developed, so you’re not on the spot every second to prove yourself, and you can focus on developing those abilities through taking on challenges and seeing them through.”

I found this to be a very interesting concept to me personally. Mostly, because I’m a big contradiction with this whole topic. On the one hand, I completely buy into the idea that I don’t have to be perfect. I take risks all the time and can give you a long list of ways that I am comfortable being less than amazing.

For one thing, I have a pretty good sense of humor about myself. I can admit when I have a brain freeze most of the time, and often laugh my fanny off along with anyone around me at some of the “duh” moves I make on a regular basis. The other day I was driving with a friend and repeated a comment and then almost peed my pants laughing at how ridiculous of a statement it was. I told him he was lucky because he could be in the position of having a friend who was dumb and not realize it. That’s the worst. At least he was able to say he had a friend who understood how dumb I could be at times, and there was a lot of strength in that. Without blinking, he said, “Yeah, I guess I have that going for me.” Then we laughed our butts off. He is a lucky guy!

When I go to Karaoke, I have my standard list of songs that I know I can nail pretty well. But on a regular basis, I pick stuff I’ve never done before. More than once I have had to stop in the middle and tell the DJ to never mind. One time I sang “The Loveboat” and the whole bar sang with me and loved it. Another time I sang “Gilligan’s Island” and it was a disaster. Do you realize that every single verse goes up a key? By the end of the song I was screeching horribly to even attempt to hit the notes. But I don’t care. I have fun and I get a good laugh out of it.

Going on stage a couple of weeks ago was a big risk. One of the nights I forgot the words, but covered it and no one even noticed. The other nights, I got the words and notes correct. But when I looked at the DVD later, I was aghast at how the dress I chose that night looked. I looked way heavier than I needed to. I was mortified, but I decided to let it motivate me even more for my new pre-diabetic life. (By the way, I start that tomorrow. I decided to give myself until after Thanksgiving. No way I’m giving up mashed potatoes and dressing and rolls and pie.)

I tell my kids, my clients, and whoever else I need to that I am sorry when I screw up. I even try to tell people on the road when I cut someone off accidentally. I’m not perfect and don’t expect anyone else to be. Life really is about developing and growing.

AND YET…

Another, very fragile part of me is always trying to prove my competence. I’ve had plenty of messages and voices throughout my life that have criticized me. And because of my nature, I take it so personally to heart. The voices come from everywhere, but proportionally speaking, I would have to admit that the majority of them are male. I am especially vulnerable to male criticism. I imagine that at least of some of it is because I have felt like I have to prove myself simply because I am female. Most women will tell you they can identify at least once in their life.

Sometimes I have to prove myself because I don’t have a doctorate.

Sometimes I have to prove myself because I’m not thin and beautiful.

Sometimes I have to prove myself because I am single.

And then I really get mad at myself, because deep down, I truly do know that I don’t ever have to prove myself. Not to anybody. Ever.

While the one part of me is confident and growing, that part that can get up in front of countless numbers of people to sing, to speak, to lecture, to share my most intimate life and inspire others… the other part of me still needs that pat on the back. I still would do anything to hear my dad or son actually say he is proud of me (for ANYthing!) without me having to guess it or read between the lines. Even my friend who jokes around with me and loves me to death, I’d still like him to actually say he thinks I’m smart once in a while. You know, all joking aside, here is a direct compliment. I think I would faint.

Yep, it’s part of admitting I’m a work in progress. I admit I want the kudos and the admiration and the praise. I still need it. Want it. But I’m also learning to give it to myself while I’m waiting.

Not your normal Thanksgiving theme, but I do appreciate all you readers and am thankful for all I have. May sound cliché, but it’s true. 🙂