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Archive for October, 2011

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Can we talk???

Friday, October 21st, 2011

Ok, I may be dating myself here but did anyone else hear Joan Rivers’ voice in their head when reading the title of this blog?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

seriously though – Can we? it seems that the art of discussion is becoming lost in the world of today – and I am not really sure why. Now I am not talking about phone and face to face conversations being lost to online chats, texts and forum debates, that is a whole separate focus and one that I would be adamant about, what I am talking about is what I see as a hypersensitivity and a demand for more and more political correctness, so much so that it is difficult to share opinions and perspectives in anyway that can be construed as actually constructive.

Everyone (ok, maybe not everyone – but if you know me at all or follow my¬† blogs), knows that I am an avid online-debater. I LOVE discussion forums, they are a passion of mine. And I am sure that many think this is a huge waste of time but for me they serve a huge purpose other than entertainment (which now that I am on house arrest is very important too), they provide me the opportunity to be exposed to a variety of cultural, religious, ethnic and demographic perspectives that I wouldn’t be able to in my everyday life. Think about how often you chat on the phone or have dinner and a great conversation about politics, current events, morality or religion with someone from a different culture, religion, background etc… not too often and even if we do, it is usually the same people over and over as they make up a part of our regular social group. To me, online discussion forums have become a great asset to our society in just this way – by exposing us to new ideas and people that we would not usually seek out. For someone like me who often has great difficulty thinking in the greys (meaning seeing things pretty black and/or white), this type of exposure is essential to personal growth and development.

Suddenly though I am seeing a change in even the online community of discussion forums. So many people are overly-sensitive, they demand political correctness and non-offensive commentary from contributors – which I usually have no problem with except that these demands have gone too far. By demanding and restricting comments, by trying so hard not to offend anyone, anywhere in anyway – can we really have open and honest communication? Can we really share our thoughts and feelings? Our experiences and beliefs? Or is this type of PC Censorship actually preventing us from becoming more sensitive to the issues by not allowing us to share and to learn from each other? I have often been heard to say (or read to type) that if you do not want honest opinions and comments then you should simply stay off the Internet and I truly mean that. I also mean that in my face-to-face discussions as well. If you don’t want to hear my opinion or feel that you need to censor me in what I say – don’t ask, because if we are discussing an issue, I will always be open and frank – how else can we learn? If I have to weigh every thought and word before I say it against the sensitivity of the person before me will they ever truly be able to understand how I feel or what I think? Will I ever really get to know them? I think not.

people are people, issues are issues. I have some amazing friends that I can discuss things with and completely disagree with. I have friends and acquaintances online and in person in which I regularly have quite in-depth discussions about politics, religion etc and we are so far apart on the spectrum that we can’t even see the middle and yet we get along famously. Issues are issues. I can debate heatedly with you on the legality of abortion, on the death penalty, on the need for transgendered washrooms without attributing your views on those topics to who you are as a person. I actually want to know what and why you think/feel the way you do and even though you may never convince me to agree, you will always get my respect for being able to explain your position. Unfortunately too many people can’t seem to do that. They can’t seem to separate the person from the issue. They get so emotionally attached to their perspective that any other view or opinion is taken as an insult or personal attack. I wish someone could explain it to me. I just don’t get it.

If you tell me, ‘I believe that A=B’ and I ask, ‘Why do you believe that? What is B=C instead?’ – how is that an insult? Are our opinions on topics so intergrained with who we are that they cannot stand up to scrutiny? Have we become so sensitive and insecure as individuals that we have reached a point where we can’t even question anything anymore, where we cannot stand to be questioned? I have raised my children to question everything. ‘Because I said so’ is never a good enough reason in my home. I want them to be free-thinking individuals capable of research and developing their own thoughts and opinions, whether they agree with me or not. How can they do that is they are not allowed to ask questions, if when they do people get defensive and shut down communication? What will our society become if we are so busy tiptoeing around each other that we never get close enough to actually know one another?

I know for myself, I will never be the best person that I can be if I am no longer allowed to learn from everyone else. I don’t want to be that sheltered, but I have to wonder – does everyone else?

 

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Petty Please

Thursday, October 13th, 2011

Throughout the last week I have realized that deep down I am a very petty person. It isn’t that I intend to be or even want to be, I don’t think but it is an unconscious byproduct of a very very good memory. My memory has always been both a blessing and a curse. In school it allowed me to read a chapter in a text book and then quote passages word for word on an exam weeks later – so much so that I was often quoted as cheating until I could prove my innocence by reciting the same passage to my teachers verbatim. I never had to study, never had to try very hard at anything academic and that is the blessing. The curse part is something that I am su my husband and children could commiserate with – I rarely forget anything – any comment or slight, especially if it elicited any type of emotional response. Can you imagine living with someone like that?

Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t have an Eidetic memory like Sheldon or Spencer but when something matters to me in a good way or a bad, when I am emotionally charged by something that was said or done, by an event, an image or a smell, I never seem to forget it. I tend to forget about it (pun intended) because it is just one of thoe things that I have always lived with but in writing a few chapters of my new book this past week, even I am stunned at how vivid my recall is. When I was younger I used to talk about things I remembered and was constantly told by my parents and older sister that I was ‘dreaming’ and that those things never happened so I grew up doubting my own memories but now I know better. Now I realize¬† that these events or comments just didn’t register with them as significant and they didn’t or chose not to remember so they didn’t believe it when I did, but I do. I still do. For many, many memories – I wish I didn’t, at least not in such vivid detail.

These memories lead me to the pettiness that plagues my relationships to this day. I remember things that others don’t. When people have let go of events, arguments or comments, I am still effected by their memory. I try very hard not to bring up past arguments or disagreements when discussing new issues with friends and my husband, but it doesn’t mean the new situation doesn’t bring up the past one and effect my emotion or opinion. If a friend called me a name or said something hurtful in the heat of the moment a year ago and we haven’t had words since, I guarantee you that the next time we do, the feelings from that comment will arise and fuel my feelings in the present. It is like a husband’s worst nightmare and thank God I am married to the most patient loving man ever.

I have learned to compensate for these strong emotional responses as best I can – and can usually put them into quick perspective but often it leads me to evaluate friendships at a more intricate level. If there is a person in my life who hurts me with comments or actions too often, when these negative memories become overwhelming and outweigh the ones that elicit positive emotion and good memories, then I usually don’t keep that person in my life very long, I simply can’t, it is too difficult for me to filter through the emotions of those memories with each interaction. Often people don’t understand, they say that I just can’t let go of anything, that I cannot forgive and maybe they are right. It is so hard to let go when you can’t ever forget. It is easy to overlook small things, infrequent or inadvertent slights or hurts, but when those things accumulate or are so painful that they override all else, I simply have to walk away from having that person in my life. It isn’t about forgiveness, it is about self preservation – when someone is causing you pain, they have no place in your life and having to relive painful events or comments due to some miswired connection in my brain is really no different to me, those emotions elicit the same emotional responses as if the event were relived over and over because to me they are.

When I recall a hurtfull comment, I can remember it in such detail it seems beyond petty. Depending on the emotions involved I can describe the day and time, what I was wearing, smells, sounds, events leading up to it, events afterward – it is almost creepy. I am not sure whereor why thisability began haunting me – it seems ironic to me considering that the memories of my childhood were lost to me for so many years but perhaps it is due to the fact that when those recollections returned, they came in snapshots and flashbacks – all of which were emotionally charged and usually very emotional events. Those flashbacks came back in vivid details and perhaps whatever mechanism my brain used to protect me from those events as best they could back then, never actually shut off and is still working in some warped way, never letting me forget. Who knows. All I know is that this is a part of me, a part of who I am and who I probably always will be. I am used to it, my husband is used to it and knew about it long before we started dating (I wanted him to know wht he was getting into). Unfortunately not many others realize it and think I am petty and refuse to let anything go, by choice.

The truth is, if I could I would. I would love to take a good deed and just accept it for what it is, as an individual event instead of weighing it against the hurts of the past. I would love to be able to let go, to forgive and to forget and I have not been able to learn to do that yet. My definition of forgiveness is to stop wishing the past was ever going to be any different -that I have learned to do to some extent, but the forget part – that is a work in progress.

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Dream a little Dream

Tuesday, October 4th, 2011

I am sitting here on bed-rest for at least the next two months and wondering what to do with my time and then it hits me. It is time to practice what I preach and put my action plan into well, action. I work with so many people on goal setting, helping them turn their dreams into goals and then working towards those goals to live their dreams and I am thinking that maybe it is time for me to do the same. It is one of those things that I have always known I was working towards but have always put off for so many reasons but I guess I am no different than others and my biggest excuse is the fear of failure. Like I said, it is time to practice what I preach and I always preach that there is no failure there is only quitting – so I guess here I go.

It has been almost 11 years now since I woke up on death’s door, barely escaping with my life. Looking back there is no physical reason why I am still alive – I shouldn’t be but I am. So the question has always plagued me – why? Why did I survive a set of circumstances that I really shouldn’t have? Why was I spared – what was the purpose? the only answer I have ever been able to come up with and the one that I have worked with ever since is that I am an example. I am supposed to take my experiences, my pain, my story and share it openly and honestly always in order to spare even one person a second of what I have endured. If I can learn from my experiences maybe others can too and maybe in some way, it will help them, maybe they will avoid some of my mistakes, avoid some of the pitfalls and traps I fell into along my road of recovery. That is the only reason I have found for still being here today – that my job is now to be the best person I can be, to live my authentic life and to use my past to benefit other’s presents and futures. If you have a better reason, I would sure like to know.

Now I know many people will read that and scoff because I am far from the gentle, compassionate person that the above paragraph may seem like I am trying to be. Don’t get me wrong – I am not. I am not sympathetic to people’s problems in the least. Empathetic maybe but certainly not full of sympathy. I never will be the one to turn to if you want someone to pat your hand and console you without action, to let you vent without responsibility. Never. Now don’t assume that that means I am cold or not living up to what I just wrote above – I mean the exact opposite. I am doing for others what I wish someone had done for me. I am being the friend I wish I had, the voice of reason, the kick in the ass that no one ever gave me. You see, in order to survive and overcome tragedy, we don’t need sympathy. We don’t need someone to crawl down into the gutter with s, listening to us lament our circumstances, what we need – what I needed and never got was someone to reach out a hand and tell us that if we wanted out, we were going to have to stand up and work for it. man I wish there was someone like me in my life back then – the shit that could have been avoided!

So back to my dream – you know what it is? My dream is to do what I am doing now, only on a larger scale. My dream is to reach people who need to hear my stories, who need to hear the lessons I learned, who need a kick in the ass from someone who has been there and who understands. I want to be able to share my pain, my history, my survival skills with as many others as possible so that maybe someday, someone will avoid some of the pain I have felt. That is it – that is my dream. So in order to make my dream a reality, I need to set some attainable goals – you know what the difference between a goal and a dream is? A timeline – that’s it. And that is the one thing that has always been missing from my dream, a timeline to make it happen because I have always been afraid. Well the time for fear is over and the time for action is here!

So why would people listen to me? What would make them invite me to speak to their group meeting or to hold a life-skill workshop? Well, they first and foremost have to know why they may want to listen – what do I have to offer? What experience do I have that they can relate to that might help them overcome something similar? What lessons have I learned? This has always been my roadblock, my fear factor – getting my story out there, letting it all hang out. It is a scary scary thought – paralying actually. there has only been one person in this entire world other than my shrink that I have ever been 100% honest and forthcoming with – my husband and I am so grateful to him for still loving me, knowing what he knows. See, that’s the problem – what if you tell everything, what if you open yourself up and make yourself vulnerable to the point of nakedness – what will people do? What will they think or say? Well, there is no time like the present to find out I guess. The great news is that I am in a place where I am OK no matter what the result. I have the support of the one person who truly matters and who I know will always be brutally honest with me. How will others in my life take it – will they be embarrassed? Ashamed? Angry? I don’t know but honestly, I can’t control their reactions so I can’t let it stop me from doing what I need to do and all I can pray for is that they will understand and never stop seeing me for who I am instead of who I used to be.

You see, the reason I am saying this stuff is because the first step to reaching my goal and living my dream is to get my story out there and that is what I am in the process of doing – through an open and honest life-history in book form entitled, “Walking the Borderline – a journey of survival” – I will have this non-fiction account of my personal history available in early January – that is my time line. Where we go from there, we will have to see. Now that I have made the commitment I know I will follow it through no matter how painful it is to relive – I have to, it is time. This is my purpose and I hope and pray that it may bring peace and comfort to someone, somewhere…

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