Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Millennials ….are WE to blame?


 
I read an article recently on The Atlantic website that has to do with questions I have been asking myself lately in reference to my own issues as a parent, and in listening to other parents talk about what is going on with their adult kids.

Here is the link to that article:
https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2011/07/how-to-land-your-kid-in-therapy/308555/

We often hear stories of “millennials” and how unmotivated they are, how they are struggling in life, how they are depressed and unhappy, and we wonder WHY?  We blame video games, drugs, laziness, social media, teachers, and society, trying to find something to pin this on, and to possibly correct!

 But, is that really it?

If you go back and think about when our grandparents were children, they were going through the Great Depression and had to do everything they could help their family and to survive. They were expected to work, even if it meant they couldn’t finish school. After a while, schools changed their schedules to accommodate kids working on their family farms.  When they became parents, they wanted for their children what THEY didn’t have, an education! Their priority was their kids going to college, and becoming something other than general labor. They sacrificed and saved so they could get their kids a good education. Not all kids did that, though, some served in the military, which was also regarded as a very honorable path in life.
Their children, our parents, were mostly college educated. It was easy to go to college for an education in a chosen field, and then graduate and go right to work in that field.  People got married young, started their families in their 20’s, owned a home, took vacations, established communities, and raised their families.  It was expected that their children, us, would go to college and have the same life.  A lot of us did, but some just finished high school and went right to work.  Employment was different then, you could get a good job at 18, stay in that company for your entire career, build a great retirement, have medical insurance for your family and earn enough money to afford the American dream of home ownership and having a family.

In the 60’s and 70’s, life was changing.  The youth were rejecting the American Dream, rejecting war, rejecting rules in society, and proclaiming that we should all drop out, get high, and love who ever we want with no strings attached. Of course we didn’t all do that, but we saw it on the news, we listened to it in our music, and we experimented with it to see if it fit us. Most of us still wanted the American Dream, and we finished school, started our careers, bought our houses, and had our families. Some did not, or at least not as early as our parents did. But getting a divorce was more accepted and the divorce rate rose which created broken families and a whole new set of dynamics. Also, now BOTH parents had to work so kids were often in day care. And when the parents were home, they were so exhausted they plopped the kids in front of the TV or video games to keep them busy. Family life became more chaotic. Kids were acting out. Smoking, drinking and drugs started earlier in our kid’s lives. They developed a disregard for any authority.
We all wanted to know how to handle our kids, what was going on?  We turned to the experts!

In the 70’s and 80’s, there were so many books written on parenting, and we read them and tried to figure out how to be good parents. We were told to protect our children’s self-esteem!  We were told to praise them for everything they did. We were cautioned against spanking, that it would teach them to be violent. We worried about the food we fed them, their sleep habits, making sure they were busy all the time, and just making sure they had everything they needed.  If they were having trouble in school, we confronted teachers instead of our kids. If their sports teams lost, they still got trophies. If they got bullied, we took care of it. We pampered them, and we thought if we made them feel loved and protected, they would grow up to be strong responsible adults. Some of us really worked hard to be excellent parents. We developed close relationships, supported every endeavor they showed an interest in, built our world around our beloved child.
Then, the child starts making decisions we don’t like, and we are deeply disappointed, even to the point of anger. It’s because of our parental investment.  The higher the investment, the deeper the disappointment.

As a result, our millennials are not handling life well. They don’t seem to know how to cope with adversity, or even just reality of being on their own. So, they are unhappy, depressed and anxious. They seek careers that make them happy and fulfilled, they don’t want jobs where they just work for a paycheck. They refuse to do that!!

 Is it our fault? I kinda think so!

We didn’t let them learn how to cope with life, suffer losses, figure out how to deal with bullies, find out there is consequences for bad behavior at school and at home. WE protected them from everything!  They ruled the home and then they get to the real world and it’s not like that!
We don’t understand why they can’t just go out and get a job so they can pay their bills, and be an adult! But, getting employment really is different today than when we entered the workplace. There are very few jobs available, especially if you are just a high school graduate. And going to college rarely prepares you for gainful employment, even if you find a job in your field, there are lots of applicants.

We did too much for them. We basically handicapped them. We are still doing it, because we now feel like we are the reason they struggle.  We feel guilty because they are having a rough time, and we can’t stand that, so we help. We don’t realize it, but we are still protecting them from life! It makes us feel better, but it solves nothing.
Life is different now than when our grandparents were alive. Every generation parents differently.  We all do the best we can with what we know. But, maybe it’s time to sit with our millennials and talk to them about the mistakes we made, and are still making, and tell them we will treat them like adults from now on. We won’t try to protect them anymore. We will love them, and be happy for them, but they are in charge of their lives from this point on.

Of course, there are times when they really may need our help and support, but they need to ask for exactly what they need, and we need to make sure they really can’t attain it on their own before we step in.

This is all just my opinion and my experience; I am not an expert in anything! Please don’t substitute my judgement for yours.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

50 Things That Make Me Happy


 
       1.       Cleaning the house to really loud rock n roll music, ACDC, Ted Nugent, Nirvana, etc.

2.       Cadbury Mini Eggs

3.       When my Grandsons run to me when they see me to give me a hug!

4.       Road trips in the Sportsmobile

5.       Hiking anywhere

6.       Starting a new painting

7.       Sitting outside in the sunshine listening to music and enjoying my cold drink

8.       Boat rides

9.       Hawaii

10.   Traveling to new places, Norway, Iceland, England, Ireland, Italy,

11.   All Beatle music

12.   The smell of rain on pavement and dirt after warm weather

13.   Fixing/repairing something myself

14.   Laughing so hard I cry (or pee!)

15.   Being moved to tears by a story or movie

16.   Summer evenings

17.   Vent sessions with my best girlfriends

18.   Living so close to my parents and sister

19.   A good hair day

20.   Sunshine

21.   Singing loud in my car

22.   Taking a nap

23.   Starbuck’s Black Tea Lemonade with one Splenda

24.   Dogs

25.   Peanut butter blossom cookies

26.   The first snow of the year

27.   Sunrises and sunsets on Lake Tapps

28.   Mt. Rainier

29.   Mexican food

30.   Clean fresh sheets on the bed

31.   Finding money in my pocket, or in my husband’s jeans when doing laundry

32.   Looking at old family photos

33.   Listening to someone playing guitar around a campfire

34.   Tulips

35.   Watching whales breach and eagles flying

36.   Walking through a field of wildflowers

37.   Grilled cheese sandwiches

38.   Peaches and scones with heavy cream

39.   Blackberry pie and ice cream

40.   Hearing the rain on the roof when I’m snuggled in my bed.

41.   Lightning and thunder

42.   Rude birthday cards

43.   Reading a good book

44.   Watching old movies on Sundays (when there’s no football)

45.   Seahawks games

46.   Getting a big hug from my son

47.   Watching America’s Funniest Videos

48.   Candlelight

49.   Coffee in the morning

50.   Hearing kids laughing
How about you?

Friday, March 17, 2017

When Counseling Doesn’t Help


Sometimes I wonder why counseling doesn't help. Is it because of the counselor or because of the patient?
I have had some experience with going to counseling. I started going to learn better ways to handle my child who was acting out. I knew I was the one who needed help. There were times I sent my child in, but it didn’t work well because he wouldn’t cooperate, he resisted going, so…. I went.

I found someone with great common sense, who seemed to ask the right questions, and who I felt comfortable sharing my fears and concerns with.  She helped me, but in the long run, my difficulties with my child ran their course, and we went through some really tough times. One time, I talked with her about someone in my life, (not my child) and she asked me to bring him in. After she met and talked with that person for one session, she told me that I needed to get away from him as soon as possible for my sake and for my child’s sake. My friends and family had told me that already, but I didn’t believe it until my counselor told me! I think it was because I thought they just didn't like him, so I didn't trust that their advice was correct. I truly thought I just needed to work things out better with him. When my counselor said it, I believed it, and I did it!

Counseling helped me because I felt comfortable talking to her, I felt she understood and gave me great advice and things to think about. Counseling didn’t help my child because he didn’t want any part of it.

When my son was older, he sometimes went to counseling, but he said it was too easy for him to direct the conversation by only telling the therapist what he wanted to tell them. He wasn’t getting anything out of it because he wasn’t putting anything in to it. He is the type of person that seems to want people to prove their authority before he gives it to them. He has always been that way with any authority; teachers, law enforcement, other parents, friends, etc., he tests people, and he judges them and decides whether they are worth it or not.

My husband’s child goes to therapy, but I don’t see it helping either. He tells his dad that he can steer the counseling session where ever he wants. He’s can manipulate it. He won’t get anything out of it that way. I don’t know why he continues to go, unless it’s just that he likes to talk about himself. It makes me wonder why a therapist can’t see through that, but ultimately they are working with what they know.
I know other families who have difficult situations going on, and have been trying counseling, but again, they only get the little information that the child chooses to share, so how can there  be any resolution or improvement. The parent in this family is intending to go in and put out all the cold hard truth as they see it, and they are hoping it will help this situation. We’ll see I guess.

It’s just too bad that there isn’t a way for a counselor to ask enough questions to start challenging a patient on their true thinking. I guess it could cause someone to stop therapy, but is it really helping them if you don’t?
I think when counseling isn’t working, we need to stop, and continue looking for someone with more experience in certain areas.  We need to find someone who deals better with what is really going on. I know there are two sides to every problem, and I may only see my side, but the other party may only be seeing their side too! There HAS to be a way to really work things out objectively!

The reason I went to counseling for myself during all my years of issues with my child was because I couldn’t MAKE him do anything, so I worked on how I handled the problems, my part in it, and how to move on. It was still hard, and it didn’t save me from going through any of it, but I needed that person to talk to during all of it. She was objective, uninvolved emotionally, and THAT is what I needed and why it helped me.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Open Letter to My Child's Friend's Parent


Dear Child’s Friend’s Parents,
I recently found out that when my child was underage, you let them drink and smoke weed with your kids and their friends at your house, and with your permission.  I was told that your reason for doing this was to keep your kids safe, since they were going to do it anyway. (Hahahahaha! Hilarious!!)

How dare you make decisions for MY child without discussing it with me? What right do you have to undermine my parenting choices? You may think you are being a realist, but I think you just like being the cool parent.

Maybe these are your rationalizations:
-You will be able to keep an eye on the kids. (How responsible of you!)
-You will not allow the teens to drive if you notice that they are drunk. (Oh thank you sooooo much!)
-You will get a chance to get to know the friends of your own teens and perhaps they might even think that you are cool and will like you and open up to you. (Ding, ding, ding, ding!!! You are the COOL parent!! Awesome! Good for you!!)
-You will have the power to insist that the teens who are tired or not in good shape sleep at your home. (You are simply an amazing display of concerned parenting!)
-You won't have to worry about your own teen's safety because s/he will be under your roof and your watchful gaze. (Hell, why not join them, come on, let’s party!!)

I hate to break it to you, but YOU ARE NOT COOL!  You are LAZY. It’s easier to let your kids do anything they want! It’s hard to require more from your kids, to give them morals and boundaries, and a respect for laws and other people. You are basically giving underage kids the ability to drink freely and are thereby giving them the message that you think that this behavior is fine. My mistake was not getting to know whose house my child was going to, and not talking to you to get a sense of what kind of person you are!  I own that mistake. I naively assumed that NO PARENT would ever condone drugs or alcohol in their home. (What an idiot I was!)
You were definitely okay with being deceitful, because I doubt that you are making the other parents aware that alcohol will be flowing at your home. I know you never informed me!  In fact, when my child ran away from home and went to your house, you condoned hiding him from me!

The fact is, you are allowing underage kids to do something that is not legal. That’s probably why you don’t inform their parents that this is your policy!  If I had known then, I would have turned you in to the police in a millisecond for contributing to the delinquency of a minor!

It is not a parent’s role to be seen as a friend or even as a "cool" parent.  It is your role as a parent to model being a law-abiding citizen and being a responsible parent for your teen and for their friends.
To all the other parents out there who might be reading this, be aware. There are parents out there who let their kids run their homes, or who don’t care what their kids do, or simply ignore what they do.  They don’t care about their kids, why would they care about your kids, or your rights as a parent. You HAVE to meet them, see their home, and have some sense of who they are. If you don’t, then DON”T let your kids go there.  

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Advanced Style



I remember going shopping with my mom when I was a teenager. She expressed a concern once that I find myself thinking about now; am I dressing too young for my age? I remember that she said other ladies were talking about how she tries to dress like her daughters. I’m not sure if she just thought that they thought that, or someone actually told her that, but I remember saying that she shouldn’t listen to them and that I liked how she dressed. In fact, if I’m telling the truth, when she was gone, both my sister and I (and sometimes my sister’s friends), would grab stuff out of her closet and wear to school! My sister got busted for letting her friends borrow clothes when my mom’s clothes showed up in their school photos!  Ha! The point is she had a nice young style of dressing. When I look at photos of her from the past, she looks amazing!
At age 59, I find myself asking the question, am I dressing too young for my age. I don’t feel 59, that’s the problem. But, when I look in the mirror, I see myself looking older. Recently, I was looking back at photos of myself in my late 40’s. Looking at my face and body, I think I still looked pretty young then. There were almost no wrinkles on my face, no turkey neck, very little gray hair and I still wore bikinis. (Side note: On my 50th birthday, someone asked me if I was going to stop wearing bikinis now? I laughed because I didn’t know if it was a compliment or a request!)

Now when I look at photos, my face and body are showing my age. That’s really okay, but it just surprised me how fast it happened!  Now, I have things that I know don’t look good on me anymore, things I used to wear all the time! Things like flared jeans (bell bottoms), short skirts, cropped tops, big earrings, bikinis, band t-shirts, leggings, tight camis, short dresses, full makeup every day, big hair and low waisted jeans. Now, they look ridiculous on me. (I still wear my band t-shirts, dammit! Those were the best bands ever! Rock on! I also wear my bikini but only at home or on vacation when I am tan and no one knows me!)
I don’t want to look ridiculous. I have seen people who obviously dress too young and I have cringed at that!  I don’t want to look like I am desperately trying to cling to my youth!  I also don’t want to dress too old because I have seen those people too and I just want to tell them that they would look so much better if they didn’t wear the their old lady church dresses, or baggy clothes to hide their bodies.

To me, there are different categories of dressing as we age:

·         Bad “dressing too young”

·         Dressing for comfort only

·         People who dress however they want to dress and don’t give a damn!

·         Advanced Style

 Bad “dressing too young”-  I already went over this but, most women my age can’t shop at Forever 21, even if they are thin enough to fit into their styles. I heard a terrible radio show once that said horrible things about aging women. I was in my 30’s when I heard it, but I remember one phrase “Butter Face”!  What they were joking about (very wrongly, by the way) was seeing a woman with a great body and then she turns around and her face is old, hence their saying, “Ya, she’s got a great body, but- her-face!!!” So, Butter Face was their descriptive of that phenomenon. Obviously, it stuck with me.  I think if you are trying to dress like you’re 20, when people see you, and they know you’re not 20 and you get a bad reaction. Trying too hard to look young only calls attention to yourself – it’s overcompensating. You don’t need to dress like a teenager to look young. It’s like the theory of lying about your age, if you say you’re younger, then people could think, “Wow, hard life!”  But if you lie and say you’re older, people could think, “Wow, you look amazing!”  Dress that way if you want, but realize that you aren’t fooling anyone. However,  I am still gonna wear my band t-shirts because they make me happy!
Dressing for comfort only- I have long savored the prospect of letting myself go. Just giving in to aging, wearing comfortable clothes, eating what I want, exercising if I felt like it, but I have a theory on this too! (I have lots of theories!) If you give in to aging, it will take over and you will age faster! I dress comfortable at home, I even go to the store that way.  I don’t care about doing that.  I don’t wear makeup every day anymore and I don’t wash my hair everyday anymore. It’s not necessary, and I feel like it’s just too much now. But, I DO want to live healthy for as long as possible. I have two healthy parents as examples! They are in their 80’s, they are independent, and they do things they love to do. I want to fight for that blessing, so I won’t give in to aging ….yet!

People who dress however they want to dress and don’t give a damn!- I adore those funky Instagram  grandmothers who dance around in their baubles, wear bright colors and turbans, because they refuse to fade, hide or be old! I’d like to be like that when I’m 80, but I’m not like that NOW, so why would I be like that then? What I take from them is that it’s okay to be YOURSELF as you age. I might not be comfortable doing that, but I admire them, and I think they look amazing because they aren’t trying to look younger; they are having fun and expressing themselves!

Advanced style- As we age and gain wisdom and maturity, we are expected to be “classic,” or “sophisticated,” and to be more “demure” — and dull, and fade into the background. Our time is done, and we need to accept our place in society. But, I refuse!  Style should be based more on our lifestyle, which includes image as well as practical concerns, than on our age. Advanced style is a great term for it. At this stage in our life, we have different priorities, responsibilities and activities. Our style needs to fit all of those. It doesn’t matter what you wear as long as it fits well, makes you happy and you can do your life in it! Be a funky Instagram grandma, be a classic woman, be an active casual woman, but just be yourself at your age. That’s all you can be, if you try to be someone else, or try to be younger that you are, you just look cringe-worthy!





Monday, March 6, 2017

On This Date in 1998


 
In 1997, I was going through a rough divorce. I had sold my house, and moved with my 9 year old son to an apartment in Auburn near his school. When I say it was rough, I mean that the man I was divorcing (X) could get very mean.  My close friends had been worried about me during the time I was with X, and they also said I was not allowed to choose my next boyfriend, because I didn’t pick so well!!  By 1998 I was feeling strong and independent, and my son was doing well in school. I wasn’t really thinking about dating, I was just happy to be free of all my problems with X.

All my friends were turning 40 that year, one by one, including me! One Saturday, one of my best friends invited me to a 40th birthday celebration of a mutual friend being held at the Firwood Tavern in Fife. That meant that I needed a babysitter. My other best friend (yes I have 2!!) offered to babysit so I said yes!  I met her there, because I knew I would probably leave before her to go get my son.
At the Firwood, the party I was with had a big long table to sit at, it took up a lot of room right near the dance floor! The band was loud, there were drinks and food, and as usual, we were loud with our laughing and talking! There were a few guys with us so others were dancing, but I wasn’t in to it.

One guy had the guts to walk up to this big loud table, look right at me, and ask me to dance. He was nice looking, had a smile on his face, and seemed like a good guy, so I said yes.  The band was playing “Brown Eyed Girl” and he was twirling me, and we were laughing, and then the song was over. I said thank you and went back to my table.
My friends at the table gathered around me and were all talking about what a nice guy he seemed to be. I said “yeah” but what I was thinking is “don’t be trying to fix me up or anything!!”

Later on, he asked me to dance again. I thought if I dance with him again, he might get the idea that I wanted to know him better. I did like him, but I was still dealing with X, and I didn’t want to get involved with anyone. I also didn’t want to be embarrassed by saying no to what seemed like a really good guy for no good reason. So, I danced with him again and it's funny but I don’t remember what song the band was playing this time! After the song was done, I said thank you again, and went back to my table.
I decided it was time for me to leave and go pick up my son. As I was getting up to walk out, he walked over and asked for my number. I said no, I am going through a divorce and I am not ready for that. He said okay, and I left.

I really didn’t think about it a whole lot. I went home smiling because someone showed an interest in me, but it really wasn’t a good time for me to meet anyone.

You might be wondering what ever happened to that guy?
I married him!
We met again several months later, by chance at the restaurant I used to go to for lunch when I was working. I kinda thought it was the guy from the Firwood, but he said no. Then one day, we were at a park for an outdoor concert, and the band (the same on from the Firwood Tavern) played “Brown Eyed Girl”! I was sitting next to him, and he was looking down, and then he looked up at me, and said, “It was YOU!” We both laughed and danced, and less than a year later, we were married.

Best decision I ever made.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Regrets, I’ve had a few…..


 
When I can’t sleep at night, it is usually because I have thoughts in my head that I dwell on. Usually, those thoughts are my deep regrets. I dwell on them because I play them out in my head, I judge myself, I cringe, I lay there in my shame, and I wish I could change it. There have been times in my younger life that I have been selfish or dishonest, and that is probably normal immaturity. But, the times I regret are when those selfish times or dishonest times affected people I love.

I believe that everything that happens in our lives contributes to make us who we are today, even our mistakes. I am happy with who I am now, how I’ve matured, what my priorities are and how I treat people. So, even though I’ve made many mistakes in my life, some of them HUGE, if everything contributes to who you are today, then I am okay with my mistakes. I still regret them, but I learned and grew from them.

But, what still keeps me up at night are the mistakes that affected my loved ones, mainly my son, because he had no control in the situation.  When I see him going through hard times in his life now, I feel responsible for the circumstances that I caused.  I loved my son with all my heart and I know I did the best I could with what I knew then.  Parenting is very difficult, and we all make many mistakes, and even the best of parents have them. But, I also know there were times in his life that I made choices based on what I wanted, not what was best for him.  Those times were during his very formative years, and I regret them very much.  I can justify them to myself, I know exactly why I did it, but in the end the motives were selfish and they affected my son’s life.

By the time I got my shit together, my son was ready for middle school. That was a very rough time for him and I, because he was becoming an adolescent, going through lots of physical and psychological changes, plus he was getting used to a new family and a new school.  He started rebelling against me, and shutting me out. From the time he was about 14, we did not have a very good relationship. It wasn’t until he was about 23 that he started trying to have a relationship with me again, and I am very thankful.  But, when he talks about his challenges, some of my mistakes come up, and that is why I have such major regret. I know I can’t change anything; I can only apologize, and feel truly sorry for it.

The thing is, I am not sure he really blames me for how things are going for him now. He has in the past.  I remember a letter he wrote me called, “Get Out Of My Life”! (I still have it.)  It actually was very well written, and expressive, so even though it hurt a lot, I was still proud. I also think that he has regrets that he wishes he could do something about as well. It won’t be until he is further along in his life, and has matured and grown from it, that he will be able to say that even though he has regrets, it shaped who he is, and he is happy with that. 
That is honestly all I want for him!

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Entitled


Entitled.
It’s a hot button word these days. It means different things to people. It causes anger in people who feel threatened by it, because they don’t like being seen that way.
To me, entitled behavior means that;
1. Someone expects special treatment just because they feel they are special people, or

2. Someone feels like they are not responsible for their actions and the results of their actions, other people are.
But, life doesn’t just “happen” to people; life is a result of choices we make. When you feel like you don’t deserve what is happening to you, you need to take a look at why it is happening.  What choices are you making that are setting up your life circumstances? Other people may be able to cause you some problems, but it is your choices that ultimately drive your life. You can control your part in how others affect your life, but only if you realize that they don’t determine the trajectory of your life, YOU DO!

If you feel that other people owe you something, you are going to be disappointed and then angry, because other people owe you nothing. Maybe your parents owe you something when you’re a child, but once you are an adult, making your own choices, you alone are responsible.
(Side note: As a parent, sometimes we continue to help out of guilt, the guilt that we did not parent well or the guilt that maybe we screwed up our child’s life. But, helping out of guilt is almost always destructive, to us and to our adult child. It’s not that parents should never help their adult child, but the parents should really think about WHY they are helping, and if it is guilt or to make them feel better or to stop an uncomfortable situation, then they need to be cautious, and rethink HOW to help.)
When you feel like someone owes you a good life, play it out in your head. What would that look like? You are angry that you don’t have the job you want/deserve, the house you want/deserve, the car you want/deserve. Do you think someone OWES you a house, car, position in a company, money, status? If you got it all, how would you feel? Would you feel like you didn’t earn it, therefore why work at it. Would you feel like if you lost it all, they would give it to you again? Think about that. Is that good for anyone? NO!

Your life needs to be managed. There are people out there, who call themselves “life coaches”, if you hired one of them, what would you look for? I would look for someone to gather all the information, make a plan, and break it down into steps that make sense and are easy for me to follow.  Would you hire yourself as your life coach/manager? Are you doing a good job? Are you getting what you want in life? If not, why not? What is in your way?
Here are some questions you would need to ask yourself before talking to a life manager or coach, so ask yourself now;
1.       What do you want in life? What kind of job, what kind of house or car, what kind of vacations, what kind of relationships with family, friends and marriage? In other words, paint a picture of your ideal life, a life that would make you happy.
2.       What are the obstacles in your way?  What can you do about them, remembering that you are only able to control what YOU do?  The obstacles could be your finances, your relationships, your addictions or your emotional issues.
3.       What do you need to do to remove the obstacles? It depends on what the obstacles are, but the action you take needs to be YOUR action. It is YOUR life; it is YOUR responsibility to make it what you want.
4.       What are the steps you need to take to go after the life you want? Education? Financial advice? Psychological counselling?

Now, you take the actions you need to do and break them down into manageable steps. This is where making a personal list comes in, a list that only you see, and that is brutally honest. Sometimes, we don’t like the action that we KNOW we need to take, so we ignore it. But, that won’t help you to remove your obstacle, and the obstacle that remains will keep you from improving your life and getting what you want.
If you have a list with manageable steps, and you work on them every day, you will get there, it may take time, but you will have what is important to you. It’s possible that your ideas of what you really want and need in your life will change as you work on yourself, but that’s okay because it is your life.

Working on the obstacles, and removing them from your life will give you pride in yourself, confidence, and you will be happier, even before you achieve your goals.  

Of course, you might say, “No way, that is NOT what’s wrong in my life, it IS their fault, they DO owe me everything I say they do, and I will make their lives hell until I get my way”, in which case you are in for a very rough, sad and lonely life.  
PLEASE, grow up, get help for yourself, own your mistakes, respect your family, and finally move forward in your life. It’s all we want.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Why Am I So Angry?

I am realizing that I am angry.  I am realizing it because I feel annoyed and irritable, I think it is anger, and I am trying to figure out what to do about it. It is affecting me and it is affecting my relationships adversely.  I have to stop it, but knowing that and doing it are two very separate issues. I know I’m angry, now I need to know why. 

I’m really a thinker, I analyze everything. I even analyze other people, which isn’t a fair thing to do, but I feel like I am a very empathic person, I read faces and I make judgements based on that.  (That’s why it is not fair, to make judgements)  But, the analyzation trait is why I feel a great need to figure this out in myself.  Maybe analyzing myself is not healthy, I don’t know, but it is what ultimately drives me to make changes in my life.

I notice my irritability at stupid issues in my life like people being late, people asking me to do things, frustration with people’s comments or attitudes.  But, I have heard that anger is just a secondary emotion that is always caused by another emotion.  Anger is a chosen reaction to another emotion.
I found a good article by Catherine Pratt on Life-With-Confidence.com called, “Why Am I So Angry All The Time?” which is exactly what I typed in to the search bar on my computer!  It actually explained a lot of what I am feeling to me, which I am thankful for. 

So, what did I discover?  So many things…..  Now I don’t wonder WHY I am so angry all the time, now I wonder why  WOULDN’T  I be so angry all the time!! But, the point isn’t to justify why I am angry, the point is to IDENTIFY why I am angry, and learn how to deal with it better.  It’s a secondary emotion, it’s not helpful, and getting stuck on the anger is bad for me and my relationships with people I love.
The article had 11 possible reasons behind anger, and I recognized 6 of them in myself. Just to be brief, here are the 11 reasons:

1.       Fear

2.       Powerlessness

3.       Frustration

4.       Pain from the past

5.       Bad habit

6.       Feeling overwhelmed or exhausted

7.       Jealousy

8.       Approval seeking

9.       Hurt

10.   Manipulation

11.   Health

The issues that resonated with me are:
Powerlessness- When we feel powerless in a situation, sometimes we use anger to regain the control we need in our life to feel better.  Because we feel powerless in the certain situation, we have anger, and then we hold it in because it is not appropriate to be angry. The problem is, the next time someone irritates us, we vent that bottled up anger at them, even though it is not them we are really angry with. That is me totally!  I hold the anger in because it is not a nice thing to be angry, it is not acceptable to be angry, so I control it, or I think I do.  So, what am I feeling powerless about? It’s probably different things at different times, but I know what it is for me right now. And, I AM powerless because I can do nothing about another person’s actions, only my own. And just when I have accepted that and worked hard to create some boundaries to protect myself, something happens to show me that this situation is affecting me again, and I can do nothing about it. I express anger or irritation, and get called on it! Then I feel bad that I have such an ugly trait that is making someone I love upset at me, so…. time to hold it in again.

So, what do I do about powerlessness? Two things I have done in the past that really seemed to help me is 1. creating my boundaries of what I can control, and 2.  I have found in the past that I can actually vent some of my anger over uncontrollable situations by going on a hike. I haven’t been able to do much of that in the last few months due to weather conditions and lack of time. It takes at least an hour to drive to a decent hike, then fairly short hikes are about 3 hours including stops for lunch and photo taking. So that it a minimum of 5 hours, and usually it’s more like 7 hours. Hard to fit that into the time my grandson is in school. I know these are just excuses, so I need to find a way to hike. I need to do closer in hikes, maybe in parks close by. They aren’t the type of hikes I love to do, but they may suffice until I can get back to the longer more beautiful hiking. As far as my boundaries go, I have been worrying that I will be asked to relax them for the sake of family. It has happened before, and I acquiesced, but I don’t plan to do that this time. But my worry is that my family will be angry at me, and blame me for causing discord in the family.  I have to try not to “borrow trouble’ by worrying about something in the future, and deal with it only if it happens.  It’s just my empathic self that sees it coming, that’s all.

Frustration- When you feel frustrated with something in your life, you might respond with anger. Frustrated with something you are learning to do, or are new at, frustrated because you don’t know what to do about something, or frustrated about situations you can’t control. 
Lately, I notice my frustration in my parenting.   We have our 8 year old grandson living with us, which means that I am a “parent” again! It is an adjustment, and it is a source of worry for me. I worry that I am too old for all that entails, or that I am too lazy to do everything that a parent should do. I also feel frustrated that I can’t be a grandma, and instead I have to be a parent who enforces rules and corrects behaviors. I feel frustration that my husband still gets to be the fun grandpa who let’s our grandson break the rules “just this once” and I watch as our grandson looks at me and then his grandpa, and then me again with his wide eyes and waiting to see if grandpa has veto power over grandma!

I notice frustration that I am doing 90% of the parenting, in a situation that is caused by someone who I resent. I resent my grandson’s parents for being so inept that neither of them is able or willing to be unselfish enough to be responsible for raising their own child. Believe me, I know these are harsh words, and I feel very uneasy about them, but they are the thoughts that are bouncing around in my head! 

I want to make it very clear that I adore my grandson, he is the most loving, sweet, and helpful kid I have ever known (besides my niece and my son!). He is thriving with us, and he deserves this opportunity to be in a stable loving home, so I want him here, I want to give that to him and I would be devastated to lose him. 

Pain from the past- I am not sure this one really applies to me, I don’t have a traumatic event in my past to resolve.  However, it is possible that my failings as a parent to my son have me worried that those failings may affect my grandson in the future. My son and I had a very tumultuous time during his teens. He was very rebellious and I didn’t handle things well. He and I have since talked about all of it, and I feel that we are good in our relationship at this point. He’s an amazing man, doing life his way, and I am getting better at letting him and loving him for who he has become! There might be a slight worry that my grandson will rebel against me too, and I would be so sad if that happened.
The one thing that made me think this might apply to me is unresolved grief. I know that sounds weird, I didn’t think I had any grief either, but I read that grief isn’t always about losing someone you love, it can also be about losing what was or what could have been. Grief is mourning the loss of something that was important to you.

So, how might I be grieving? In the last couple of years, my husband and I have been talking about things we’d like to do together. We wanted to start travelling, which we started doing with our trip to Norway a year and a half ago!  We also bought a Sportsmobile so we could travel the USA and do some hiking and camping anywhere we wanted.  We had a 2 week trip planned for last August, but when our grandson came to live with us, we cancelled that. Thanks to our daughter, who took our grandson for 10 days, we did a shorter version of that trip! If we end up raising our grandson, we will be committed to that for 9 or 10 more years!  I can do that, it is important! But, I am grieving for our life that was supposed to be, and now may not be. I have to let go of it and change my priorities, but that is a loss.

Feeling Overwhelmed or Exhausted-  I am 30 years older than I was when I raised my son! No matter how active and healthy I try to be, I am not 29 anymore, and I get tired, A LOT! I am an introvert by nature, and what that means to me is that I recharge my “batteries” by being alone. When you are a parent, you don’t have that luxury as often. When I do, I am very thankful!  I also am notorious for not asking for help when I need it. I guess I feel like it is a sign of weakness to need help.  I don’t think of asking for help, because I want to be seen as a person who can handle everything. So, I get angry at my husband for not helping more, like he is supposed to read my mind and offer to take over. He does give me breaks, especially on weekends. He is also gone a lot, so he can’t give me breaks then. Even just writing this, I want to delete it all because I still want to be seen as the person who can handle everything, and I don’t want this weakness to be out there in the universe. So, I am moving on and forgetting I wrote this.

Approval seeking- When someone needs the validation or approval of others, they might get angry when others don’t give them that. They feel hurt and unappreciated so they get angry as a way to deal with those feelings.
I have always been a “people pleaser”; it has been who I am since I was very young. I didn’t learn it; I was born that way I think. I take care of people, I try to make things nice for people, I try to make people know how much I love them, and I like to make sure everyone is happy! None of that is bad, except for the fact that I may be doing it because I don’t feel good about myself inside, and I need to please other people or they won’t like me.

I’ve known this about myself for many years. I believe some of my relationships in the past were created out of this need to make someone else’s life better and make them happy. That doesn’t work out in the long run, I have learned. (Fortunately, by the time I met my husband, I had figured that out about my previous relationships, and he is a totally different kind of man, one that I can be equal partners with.)
There are sometimes situations where I am planning an event, and I pour myself into making it a great gathering, taking care of details, and planning far ahead to make it exactly like I want it. But then, something comes up, people don’t let me know they aren’t coming, someone takes over a detail that I already have worked out, or whatever, something isn’t the way I planned it. It makes me angry. Why? Because I have worked really hard to make it special, and when something isn’t right, I feel like no one appreciates how hard I worked. That’s so stupid! I know it is!  This is something I am currently trying to work on, because it is ridiculous to feel that way. But, it is the dark side to my people pleasing approval seeking personality!

Hurt- If you feel hurt by someone else’s actions, you might choose anger as a way to NOT deal with the hurt. I know about this, I have been personally attacked by someone who should be close to me. I was completely shocked by it, and had never been so blatantly demeaned by ANYONE in my entire life!  After months it evolved into attacks on everyone in the family, to a point where it had to be just ignored. There was an attempt to reconcile, and we seemed to really be making progress, until it resumed again. I am hurt by it, but to cope I have compartmentalized it, built a wall around it using anger.  I can go long periods of time without it bothering me, and then BAM!! the anger is back! Unfortunately the recipient of that anger is my husband who really doesn’t deserve it. I don’t blow up at him, I just get quiet about it, and probably a bit bitchy, and that’s the wife he gets. I suck!  I apologize, we go on, and so it goes.

At the end of this article, there is a thought that I am hoping to take to heart, and that is that when you gain an awareness of WHY you’re reacting the way you are, you no longer have to respond that way.  I need to look at my anger when it comes up, recognize it for what it really is, or for what the underlying emotion is, and learn what it’s telling you.   

So here I am.  I have laid out all my weaknesses, insecurities and flaws, and it is very uncomfortable! Trying to work on this is like trying to change my whole way of being in life! But, it’s not working for me now, so what do I have to lose and what do I have to gain?!  Everything!