Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving to you and your loved ones!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Part 2, the fine line between actual limitations (physical, emotional, etc.) and victimhood, or is it a cry of “wolf” or a cry of “help”?

This is where it gets tricky. It can be difficult to determine whether the issue is the person’s actual limitations or are they faking it? Strange to say, I think it can be difficult for the T.O.W. (Tyranny of the Weak) person to figure it out sometimes too. It seems to become such a habit for them to call upon, and call attention to their weakness to get out of things they don’t want to do, and to have others coddle or cushion them from experiencing normal life. It has become normal life for them and they often feel a sense of entitlement, and then outrage if the coddling and cushioning are not forthcoming.

Once again, I can use my dad is a good example. We were urged not to upset him, and there was a huge list of things that were not allowed—for no other reason than they might upset him. These ranged from the usual parental restrictions to things that seemed downright silly or unduly harsh. My mom spent her 50 years of marriage tip-toeing around all of these restrictions and doing everything needed for the family. When my dad was suffering, and it turns out, dying from cancer, he was unable to get up from his chair. My mother did not believe him and exhorted him to try harder. Later after he was gone and she was ten years older, at the same age he had been, she ruefully mentioned that she should have believed him when he said he couldn’t get up. So why didn’t she believe him? He was ill and if he said he was unable to get up, that should have been that. But she had spent all those years helping him, doing his work, coddling him because he was ill, or so he said. She either had just gotten tired of hearing it, and/or she just didn’t believe him anymore when he said it.

To use a more minor example, my son often had friends over at the house when he was in high school. One of these was a horribly picky eater. Among the many things he would not touch was cheese, he told me he was allergic to it. Well, imagine my surprise when I found him happily (and healthily) eating pizza with lots of cheese on it! The so-called allergy had been a ploy because he didn’t like how my Mac ‘n cheese had looked. Needless to say, I didn’t believe him anymore when he claimed to be allergic to various foods he didn’t want to eat. Now if he had really been allergic to something, it could have been disastrous to offer it to him. Although he was only a teen, that was sort of a dangerous game to play if he had any real allergies.

I ran into a situation like that at work where I normally am unfailingly honest, even when it does not turn to my advantage. Anyway, I was the low-person there and everyone could and did give me tasks to do which I took seriously and completed the best I could. My supervisor encouraged me to speak up in meetings because I hadn’t been doing that. It was very difficult for me to do. I tried to speak up, once, twice, maybe three times and each time whatever I had said was either ignored completely or someone said the exact same thing immediately after and received kudos for it. My supervisor urged me more than once, over a period of time. I was discouraged and didn’t really try much harder to do as she had asked me. Without realizing it, I was expecting her (and the others) to compensate for my own lack of participation—because I was so shy, it was too hard for me, blah blah blah, victimhood excuses. I was coasting on my weakness and expecting different treatment than the others. I completed all the other assignments when asked to do so, but this task I ignored because I felt that I “couldn’t” do it. This crying wolf and asking for special treatment came back to bite me, just like his behavior came back to bite my Dad when he actually could not get up from his chair.

When I was injured at work, this same boss, along with co-workers, did not believe me and thought I was faking it! I was outraged and felt they had no compassion over my very real injury and pain. But I had forgotten that they had been carrying “poor me” along, allowing me to be silent in the meetings and not participating or adding value to the team. They rightfully thought that I had already taken myself off their team by not speaking up. They felt little loyalty or compassion but instead figured I was faking it yet again to get out of something. Even though it was a job I had loved, I ended up getting fired. It has taken me quite a while to figure out exactly why that had happened.

My son had a girlfriend who constantly got out of things by pleading illness. He is a compassionate sort, he works with people with disabilities and loves his job. Yet he got tired of picking up the slack in the relationship all of the time. When there was work to be done, girlfriend could not do it. When fun or friends beckoned, she was fine and raring to go. He felt guilty about it, but became suspicious of her, they fought over every task to be done and ended breaking up. Was she actually unable to do the tasks? Hard to say, perhaps she was, for at least some of them. But she took out her victimhood too much and expected someone (him) to do it all. She didn’t put forth an effort but expected to be coddled and totally taken care of and he got tired of it. She was outraged that he dared to doubt her and dared to leave. Now she is, through necessity, doing most of those tasks by herself.

The online, recent example was of a talented, beautiful woman who demanded that she be treated with special consideration because she was so emotional. We could not disagree, however mildly with her proclamations without her becoming very upset. She would warn us that it was that time of the month, or some other such reason (the last one being quite serious, but by that time, I at least, was tired of her crying wolf all the time). We were supposed to coddle, agree with and generally not rock the boat with her. It hampered free conversation and created much chaos and havoc until she finally left. We all felt a bit guilty, as we had genuinely liked her, but also relief that now we could speak freely without constantly having to “mind” what we said so as to not upset her.

So what’s the moral of this long story? Well, don’t cry wolf, I guess could be one good lesson. And not to expect other people to keep picking up your slack—or if you continue to do so, there could be repercussions! But basically, I think, pulling out the victimhood card weakens relationships, weakens mutual respect. We all have limitations, and some of us are blessed with fewer than others. But it’s important not to use those limitations as a guilt trip to force someone to do what you, yourself are able to do, and not to continually ask for special treatment because of X or Y. Doing so creates a sense of entitlement from the T.O.W. person and feelings of resentment and guilt over that resentment in the person stuck with doing all the work in the relationship. It's unhealthy game-playing, dishonest and not conducive to strong, happy relationships. Take Off Your “Fragile” Sign!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Tyranny of the Weak, or the Badge of Victimhood

Off and on throughout my life I have thought of writing a book about the tyranny of the weak. Of course using the term “weak” could be construed as being quite judgmental so the alternate title might better be: the badge of victimhood. A recent occurrence online reminded me of it and got me to thinking about it once again.

I had an excellent teacher and demonstration of the tyranny of the weak in my own father, as I was growing up. Although I loved him dearly, and indeed, am like him in some ways, he was a consummate teacher of how to rule the roost by being weak. He had health issues, which conveniently came up whenever there was something he didn’t want to do. My mother, a strong personality, ended up doing most of everything, earning a living for our family, all of the housework (except limited amounts done by us kids) all the shopping, taking the car to be repaired, pretty much anything that was needed to be done in or for the family was done by her. The entire family all tip-toed as if on eggshells around him and his health/emotional issues. Not too surprisingly, his health issues did not keep him from doing the things he wanted to do, like going out to drink, hunting, or other activities.

So I grew up and married a strong personality, beloved by all who met him, he was tremendously popular and I’m sure many people wondered how I “snagged” him. Well, as you have probably guessed, it was through the magic of the tyranny of the weak! I was shy and he got great pleasure from helping me be more social, coaching and coaxing me along. I didn’t do it on purpose, but it was the perfect set-up, I ruled that roost as sort of the power behind the throne. I have done that a few times in my life, usually not on purpose, it’s sort of an instinctual position I fell back on in my younger years when intimidated by a stronger personality or by conflict between personalities. The problem is that, especially among kind, compassionate people, it usually works and the behavior gets rewarded. I’ve spent the past twenty-plus years learning to be my own strong personality and not to emotionally parasite off of other people, however kind and generous they may be (and thus tempting as easy targets, sadly).

But the gist of my wanting to write about this topic is for two main reasons:

-For the targets to learn to protect themselves from people who on purpose or just instinctually will use their weaknesses to get their own way;

-And for those who use that strategy to realize what they are doing to harm the people and relationships around them and to find more appropriate ways to relate to people.

Perhaps I should clarify exactly what behaviors I’m talking about. Any behavior that tries to make/force people to treat oneself differently because of health, emotional, situational and other issues. This would include things like “I can’t do that because ____ “(fill in the blank for physical, emotional, etc. issues), “You shouldn’t disagree with me because I’m _______ (fill in the blank with physical, emotional, situational etc. issue). “You need to make allowances for me because ___” Funny how they always have a reason why we should make allowances for them and treat them differently! They wear a “Fragile” sign and demand that other people cushion, protect and coddle them instead of being honest and expecting mutual participation and give-and-take in their relationships.

The spoken or unspoken “reason” for the person needing to get their own way is because whatever issue they have might become even worse. Examples: It will set off my _____ headaches, backaches, emotional issues, make me feel bad because ____ (I’m already suffering from ______ name the issue or situation).

A normal, compassionate person will not want to inflict (more) pain upon someone they care for, and thus will often step back and refrain from speaking their mind, do things for the other person that they could do for themselves, or other enabling behavior. The really sad thing is that these people are trying to force other people to treat them specially, different from the way “normal” or “average” people get treated. It’s looking for love from other people, but in the wrong way; looking for people to take care of them rather than being responsible for oneself, emotionally, physically and in every adult way.

One can’t force others to love them and those types of behaviors damage relationships. It’s hard not to be resentful once one learns they have been “played” by a loved one’s victimhood. And holding back from speaking one’s mind can create dishonesty and miscommunication—not conducive to healthy relationships. Maybe that’s why I can spot those behaviors so easily, I’ve done them in my earlier years and learned they create nothing but problems between people. Clean, clear and honest communication can be so difficult, but it works the best. Maybe a good title for my potential book would be: Take Off Your “Fragile” Sign!

Next time: Part 2, the fine line between actual limitations (physical, emotional, etc.) and victimhood, or is it a cry of “wolf” or a cry of “help”?

Friday, October 21, 2011

Eating the living room decorations

Another morning, more baked squash for breakfast. It's become a habit for me lately. Although a visit to the neighboring state's farmer's market is in order for tomorrow because I had to look around to find a squash of the day this morning. The chosen one was a beautiful Buttercup squash that had been a decoration in the living room. How I hated to cut into it, so gorgeous. The little striped squashes were so pretty too, but I already ate them. Sometimes it's hard to eat such gorgeous decorations, wish they would last forever but they would not. Not around here with a daily squash-eater!

Had a momentary panic when the shaker of black pepper ran out and I could not immediately find more. Nooooooooo! Black pepper is a necessary item on baked vegetables along with olive oil and sea salt, love it, crave it.

In fact a couple of days ago a group I belong to on Facebook had information on dosha, or ayurveda mind & body type. I took the quiz and ended up a Vata type which was surprising to me as that type has a light frame and are agile. When I was done laughing, I tried another dosha quiz--same result. Hmmmm, the mystery cleared up when I read the lists of foods recommended for Vata types, black pepper being a prominent one (and you were wondering how black pepper related to this...) also squash and sweet vegetables. Olive oil is recommended, as are cumin, and cinnamon, spices I crave too.

A few years ago I found that having cinnamon daily has taken away the soreness and stiffness from my joints. The Dosha list says that beans, uncooked vegetables and sprouts are not so good for Vatas--very true even though I kept trying them. The raw food diet I was on made my inner core so chilled that I could not get warm no matter how many blankets, sweaters or jackets I wore. And that's why ultimately cooked food returned to my diet. The Vata designation explains that, as raw foods don't work well for Vatas, they need warm and warming foods. Wish I'd known all this before, but at least I know it now!

There's a book titled "What's Your Dosha, Baby?" and there is a quiz at if you're curious. (have tried several times and cannot get the link to show up on the blog, it shows up fine in editing, guess you will have to Google it, sigh)

So, I just gotta ask; what's your Dosha, baby?

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Restless Feet Syndrome

Ah yes, life is very comfortable here in my new apartment. And it's not really so new anymore, I've been living here for going on six months already--nearly half a year!

Tomatoes, garlic, chives, lettuce and herbs all grew on the wide windowsills. The herbs had a drastic decline but are re-rallying back again. The Farmer's Market is across the street and all summer I went there for fresh produce. In fact squash, thinly sliced with sea salt, black pepper and olive oil is baking in the oven right now.

Life is good, almost too good in that it has become too predictable, too easy. I like a challenge. Nothing horrendous, you understand. There are many challenges, like health problems, family difficulties, work horrors, that I would not like to have or to revisit. I'd like a worthy and interesting challenge.

In that vein, I drove out to the country to look at a cabin. It was a cabin in the woods, very scenic, quite lovely. It also has no running water or indoor plumbing and has wood heat. Now that would be quite the challenge and maybe would be a little too much roughing it for me, like the experiment of trying to sleep on a yoga mat!

So the question(s) for today are:

--Are YOU the type of person who enjoys a challenge?

--What sort(s) of challenges do you enjoy accepting and handling?

Thursday, June 30, 2011

New place, same face

Well, I'm living in and loving my new apartment! It's small but beautiful, in a building that's on the National Historic Register and right in the heart of downtown in this small city. And the amenities, with the great definition of something that conduces to comfort, convenience, or enjoyment, are such that I haven't enjoyed since being married, long long ago. I have ceiling fans in each main room, an ice maker, garbage disposal and a dishwasher. Oh, I can hear you all laughing from here, but really, these are unheard of luxuries to a poor, single parent! There's also an intercom, an elevator, a parking space right in the back of the building, an exercise room and more. I think I've died and gone to heaven, all for a pittance. My house was ever so much more hassle and more expensive and it had none of those things. Yes, I loved the house but it was a love gone sour with huge monthly expenses, constant repair, cold in the winter, and basement flooded and redone twice. Someone else has my blessing (and prayers) to love the house now, instead of me.

But, anticipating the move, I had a whole new life planned out for myself. I was going to eat only raw foods, a practice which shed (fairly easily, actually) 60 pounds of overweight a couple of years ago. The crushed foot, firing, and generally more sedentary lifestyle had returned them all, of course. I had prepped during April by weaning myself off from coffee. It was a difficult thing that took a full three weeks to accomplish. I've gone off coffee several times before and each time is a horror of migraine-level headaches and violent illness. Coffee, that is, the caffeine in it, really is a drug and gives awful withdrawal symptoms. When I moved, I was ready to begin the raw food diet and also grow greens on the windowsills and sprouts in the kitchen. I was going to walk or bike most everywhere and generally be the most healthy and "green" person possible.

Well, only the greens and sprouts remain, cooked food has returned to my meals, unfortunately. First the coffee returned, a cup or two per day gradually rising up to my normal pot or more. Coffee requires milk in it (in my world) so milk returned, and with it cheese on salads and other digressions from raw foods. Other cooked food slowly returned too, as the caffeine makes me more hungry and have "the munchies" in a way that eating only raw foods does not. (which is why I had to give up coffee-drinking for this diet/lifestyle)

So the same old me is living and enjoying this new place.

As for my son and grandson, after a huge hassle and flurry of activity, he found and moved to an apartment with a friend. His roomie is great, a guy who lived with us about six years when they both were teens, I call him my "pseudo son" and they are like brothers. He does a lot of child care and I do, too. Both he and my son have found good jobs and are working quite a lot, rare for this area of high unemployment. Son and grandson lived with me for nine months in which he did not work. He was resentful, at first about the changes but we all are much happier now. Life is good! Hope yours is, also.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Moving Along

It's been nearly a month since my last post and what a difference a few weeks can make! Many things have happened since then. Well, that sounds rather passive, doesn't it? These things didn't just happen but finally came together after much struggle and strife. Well maybe not as dramatic as all of that, I always wanted to use "struggle and strife" but dramatic enough for me. In getting the mortgage bank's permission to do a short sale on my house, I had to write them a Hardship Letter. The letter actually got to be two-and-a-half pages long because there wasn't a single, simple factor of causation, rather it was the laying on of multiple (negative) changes.

But the result is that, after four long years of trying to sell this house, I finally have a buyer--yippee! I would have preferred, and tried very hard, to sell it in the usual, normal way, at break-even point. I would have not recovered the money I put down in the house, which was a substantial amount of my savings. Even at a break-even point, there were no takers. The mortgage was still much higher than the house was now worth since the housing prices have fallen as much as 50% in this area.

I still won't recover any of my down money or receive any sort of profit or pay back whatsoever. It was difficult to find a Real Estate Agent willing to do the tremendous work involved with a short sale, but I found a winner. Both of us have spent countless hours on the phone with my mortgage bank setting this up. And of course she had to show the house many times and I had to prepare for it each time.

But after some offers and counter-offers there is a buyer, a signed contract and the sale is in the works. Please keep your fingers crossed for me!

A parallel situation and happening is that I went to a housing expo with a friend. There we saw all sorts of interesting information, including rent-controlled apartments. I had been half-heartedly looking for an apartment, thinking I'd never get out from under the house mortgage, unless they finally foreclosed on me. The apartments in my price range were dreadful, grubby, tiny, and usually in an iffy neighborhood. At the expo I picked up brochures and information and made an appointment to check out a newly revamped apartment building, which is on the National Register for Historic buildings.

I later toured two apartments and talked to the manager about my housing situation. She was encouraging and told me it wouldn't be a problem, which was a huge surprise to me. I did have to supply documentation and while I was getting it (several days) both apartments were taken plus another one I hadn't seen. She called a week later with another apartment becoming available and I quickly went to see it. The apartment was small, but well kept and lovely. After seeing how quickly these apartments were rented, I snapped it up and paid a minimal deposit to hold it.

So all of that leads to the biggest news: I'm moving on the 30th!