Reflections on Life Thus Far

My life. My story: Exploring mental health, spirituality, meditation & random thoughts I have


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Feeling Overwhelmed

So I had lunch today with my dad and aunt at a restaurant nearby; it went okay as far as the food went but the conversation was less pleasing. My dad decided to run by my aunt a few things he’s been fixated on over the past year and I have had to hear about from him regularly. Honestly, I don’t know if I believe all that he says because it sounds like paranoid thinking to my mind. That being said he believes it and I have no way to verify what he said as true short of confronting the people thought to be involved and asking them what they said, which would be horribly awkward and offensive considering the content. Legal advice might solve the issues but I don’t know how to approach the topic since I only heard what my dad said and not the other people involved. Much of the discussion is really awful and makes me feel disbelieving.

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I would like to consider the legal counsel route but I have trouble thinking on the situation since it involves some ‘touchy’ topics. The situation makes me feel quite ill really. I hate thinking about it all. If my dad is wrong and actually delusional than is a lawyer going to be able to help?

At first I was angry with my dad for being fixated on the subject but now I just feel overwhelmingly helpless and sad. Yes, I can maybe contact a lawyer or someone like that but I don’t feel like I have the right to interfere. My dad might be okay with me seeking legal advice for him but it makes little difference in how I feel cornered and pressured to be dad’s champion. My aunt asked me and I couldn’t think of a way to say no. It would be better if my dad was willing to address the issue himself but he tends to communicate poorly. He has a few learning disabilities and his ability to express himself is somewhat limited in more complex situations. Hence, the reason my aunt wanted me to talk for my dad. But I am not sure I can do it.

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The main reason I feel a desire to help is I figure it might give my dad some concrete facts instead of what he believes was said orally between him and the others involved. I’m skeptical of the events occurring as he said they did but I don’t have any proof for either side of the claim. Also, I am concerned that any inquiry made by the lawyer (if I go that route) may alert the other people involved since it’s an argument over a will. All I want is to have the lawyer say whether there’s a will or not and if my dad was included in it as a recipient. Then I can figure out if more needs to be done or not. As it stands, I don’t have confirmation of anything so any facts the lawyer could give would help. Beyond that I am not looking forward to because I hate confrontation and conflict.

I wish I could hibernate for the winter and avoid any conflict until Spring when it’s not so dreary outside. Maybe I would have a brighter outlook by then and my dad might actually have figured out the situation wasn’t as bad as he believed. If only.

Thanks for reading.

©Natalya L., Reflections On Life Thus Far, 2016.

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This & That

Well it’s been too long since I’ve updated my blog I fear but hopefully you’ll forgive me. I have not been especially busy apart from wondering what I’m doing at times. Mainly I read silly novels and distract myself from the onslaught of emotions I stirred up after my minimalism cleaning spree in June. It seems I must have dislodged some emotions or some such thing because I feel ever since my clean up I have retreated into the decidedly preferable world of characters in novels. Not only the cleaning though has caused this retreat from the everyday; no, my dad’s sister has Alzheimer’s and he went to visit her. Apparently she’s worse than predicted and my uncle wanted me to attend to my aunt’s care whilst she waits to go into a nursing home. Well I am not a caregiver sort so the idea didn’t appeal to me in the least especially as my aunt is aggressive like my mom was before she died from Alzheimer’s related complications.

Anyhow, I had to deal with my own very strict Superego and felt no end to my guilt for nearly a month. My therapist did manage to elevate me from my guilt ridden state but only after I’d already fled reality for the imaginary world of novel characters. Only now am I losing my taste for reading frivolous novels and returning to some state of reality again. I do not know how long it will last for. I suspect until my dad visits my aunt again and tells me how much my uncle would appreciate me giving my help (I expect there would be no money paid to me but I wouldn’t want to do it even if monetary reward was involved). Honestly, I’ve been burned out from my mother’s experience with Alzheimer’s and couldn’t abide by putting myself in the position of the martyr caring for someone I didn’t have a close relationship with again. Although I doubtless sound cold and unfeeling for not flocking to my aunt’s proverbial bedside I don’t feel particularly cold or unfeeling, at least not since my therapist convinced me otherwise. 

It was only within the last week or so I made the connection between the guilt and stress I felt from being asked to be a caregiver to my aunt that I realised why I’d stopped doing much else besides reading novels. Suffice it to say I found the novels holding less appeal once my reasons were made conscious to me. Perhaps I can finally persuade myself to go out again and be amongst people. Not that I favour crowds but I do miss taking in the sights during tourist season and wish for a change of scenery beyond the grocery store aisles and the office of my shrink. Besides I told my therapist I’d make an effort to take part in something that gets me outside my home. Guess I’ll ‘sign off’ for now.

 

©Natalya, Reflections On Life Thus Far, 2014.

 


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Changes

Discouraged. That pretty much sums up how I have been feeling lately. I think I am overwhelmed because I have been going through my possessions trying to become more minimalist; but in the process I have felt a mixture of emotions. Most recently, I parted with a garbage bag full of treasured books destined for charity and in doing so I wanted to pull some out and ‘save’ them…but I resisted. It feels like a loss to me because I love books and they’ve been my ‘significant other’ since I have never let real people close to me. So in parting with so many books I felt attachment to I went through a series of grief related feelings. Maybe not all of the grief related feelings/stages but definitely some anyway.

When you use books to satisfy your need for relationships giving away a large quantity of them feels horrendous. It’s not like I hoard books but I definitely value my books more than a person ought to. They aren’t historic relics suited to an archives department either so I don’t have any objective reason to view them so fondly. Perhaps it’s the fact I parted with books that had served as valuable references and comfort when I needed them; now I’m forced to either let go of anything I can’t remember or trust I will be able to call upon my brain to give me the knowledge when I need it. That’s scary given I dissociated for so much of my life to avoid pain. What if I can’t remember everything I read in the books I gave away?! Now I must trust myself to survive and have greater acceptance of my innate fallibility which also makes me face the fact I am imperfect. You see all these things connect to my sense of lovability and self-worth and that is terrifying territory. There’s little comfort in what I’m experiencing.

I want to crawl under my bed covers and not have to face the world. Maybe I am depressed but more than likely I am afraid of the fact I have nothing solid to stand on. All of my worldly identifiers are gone and I’m struggling to not concoct a new identity for myself knowing such a thing would be a production of my ego anyway. Part of the reason I fear social interaction is I’m afraid someone will ask me about myself and I don’t have any tidy, pat answers on tap to reduce my discomfort and the other person’s. The other reason for my social anxiety is I simply have trouble easily relating to everyone. Maybe most people don’t easily relate to others either and just hide it better than I do. Or maybe it’s a problem of ‘how’ I relate. I can relate at a human level but not at the social/surface level. After all, I don’t have a paid job, sports don’t interest me and I don’t have a husband or kids. So right there I am starting off from a disadvantaged position. Then again maybe I just overthink these things and should try to ‘relax’ more! Ha, if it were that easy I’d have done it by now. In some ways I have learned to relax about it a little bit but other times I get triggered by things like giving away some of my precious books. Who knew parting with a garbage bag full of my books would trigger me? Certainly, if I’d known it, I might have chosen to part with fewer books to ease the discomfort. The way I have done it feels like I just had a Band-Aid ripped from a tender sore spot. I suppose I shall have to go easy on myself. Trying to bulldoze my way through the pain won’t help me any if past experiences are anything to go on.

On a more positive note I did manage to dust my computer desk and tidy up my messy cords from my electronic devices. Well that’s it for now. Tomorrow I see my counsellor.

©Natalya, 2014. Reflections On Life Thus Far®


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Speaking Out Heals Shame

Rev. Jordyn Morrison Clason, Ph.D. ~ http://www.RealClairvoyantPsychic.com

Experiencing trauma can lead to shame depending on the nature of the trauma endured. When we’re filled with shame we retreat inside ourselves and fear having others know what we’ve been through; as though we were somehow to blame even though we intellectually know that’s not the case. It’s ironic really because if you experienced trauma from a person or group of people, they, not you should be feeling the shame. Yet they lack the moral conscience for this so the survivor of the trauma ends up with it instead. This seems terribly unfair in my opinion. But we see it all the time with abuse survivors; they think they were at fault somehow no matter what their head tells them. It’s difficult to reason with your emotions because they aren’t reasonable! So you have to muddle through the emotional baggage ’til your head and heart are on the same page. Not an easy task no matter who you are.

In my experience, speaking about my traumatic experiences sort of relieves the pressure inside me; it’s like the steam from a kettle being released. For all the years I carried around the shame of my past I believed keeping it to myself would be easier but it wasn’t. Instead I had unrelenting depression and anxiety never feeling at peace for very long. When I started psychotherapy I didn’t talk much about the abuse I’d suffered because I couldn’t allow it to surface. I thought if I did then I might fall apart (which I did later). So I wasted years talking about my symptoms never discussing the causes of my chronic depression and anxiety/panic disorder. All this because I carried so much shame inside me that I figured no one could accept me due to abuse. How sad that I had so little self worth and love for myself that I couldn’t imagine telling anyone what I’d been through. I’d also minimised what I’d experienced a great deal too so felt unjustified in feeling the way I did; like we need to have reasons for our emotions! Sometimes they are irrational but we aren’t robots so that’s just how it has to be.

When we don’t confront our past it tends to show itself in maladaptive patterns until we recognise where they’re coming from. For some this means abusing one’s self or others so it can be serious. Once the trauma can be remembered and processed it allows us to stop looking for distractions. Our minds don’t have to spend so much energy on repressing what happened to us. If you’re like me sharing what happened to us can be scary or even threatening; yet that’s what’s needed for one to end the behaviours destroying us or other people if we perpetuate the hurt inside us onto others. You can’t be free ’til the secrets are outside of you because that’s what loosens our abuser(s) hold on us. They wanted us to keep quiet and hope we took responsibility for what was never our fault to begin with. If we had had the coping tools to know better we would have done better but most abused children aren’t lucky enough to have the resources or simply are too young to process what happened in a meaningful way.

Ideally, our abuser(s) would recognise what they did to us as wrong and make restitution but too often this never happens. Usually it doesn’t happen because the abuser was also abused and can’t face their own painful past, it takes courage to confront painful memories and process our hurt emotions. So sometimes our abuser(s) just aren’t courageous enough to deal with their own pain and continue to make others suffer. Or maybe the abuser(s) aren’t alive so restitution isn’t an option. But you can still face your pain and know you are making a difference because you won’t be perpetuating abuse/pain onto more people. In fact you can also come to appreciate you are stronger than your abuser(s) because you’re choosing to confront your pain. This might also be an opportunity for you to see that your abuser(s) felt so awful they couldn’t bear to face what happened to them so took the ‘easy route’ by hurting other people. It really isn’t easier to hurt other people than face your own pain but I think it takes less effort because it doesn’t require that you challenge yourself. For that reason I consider it the ‘easier route’.

Anyhow back to my main argument of talking about your trauma or ‘spilling the beans’; personally, I prefer ‘airing the family’s dirty laundry’ as my preferred term because it just sounds ‘spicier’ and a bit titillating! But I digress… Once I finally told my therapist about the sexual, emotional, psychological, physical abuse and neglect I felt free. The shame had begun to dissipate like morning fog when you live by the coast. I still felt some shame when I had to hide my past in front of other family but it was beginning to be more manageable. Once you open the proverbial can of worms there’s no putting the lid back on. The secrets you protected from your conscious mind won’t be forced back into hiding. You can try to deny it happened for awhile but usually the truth wins because you can’t really ‘unknow’ what you know once you’ve confronted it. This is a good thing even though it doesn’t feel in the least bit good to begin with! I felt so awful I reverted to my eating disorder I’d been in remission from for a couple of years because starving temporarily numbed me and took my focus off the new awareness I had concerning my past. I think it’s fair to say any addictions you had in remission may flare up temporarily until you can ‘digest’ what you’ve learned. Mine gave me a respite from having to face things I didn’t feel capable handling. In essence it was easier for me to deal with my eating disorder and try to manage that then it was the horrible reality of my mother sexually abusing me.

Busyness is a way to escape ourselves. My family suffers a lot from this in order to avoid their childhood abuse coming to the foreground of consciousness. Idleness is not a ‘sin’ but an opportunity to go within and understand yourself better.

I’m feeling stronger these days internally but it’s been four years since I ‘discovered’ the type of abuse I’d been through and I haven’t been employed the entire time either. In fact I quit paid employment because I felt I’d been delivered such a huge psychological blow I couldn’t possibly continue my job. For quite awhile I worried about what I would end up doing with myself since I was no longer employed or a university student. My identity came crashing down. The pieces were flimsy to begin with so it’s likely for the best I had to reconstruct my idea of who I was again. What I’ve discovered along the way is you’re a lot stronger than you ever imagined. I didn’t think I could survive the distress I was in yet I did and I am healthier now than I have ever been. Yes, I am still unemployed but people should not base their value on their employment status. You are not your job, car, house, or any other material/external thing. It took me until recently to realise I could be worthy as a person without a paid job. I was always brought up to believe you had to be educated and wealthy to be worthy but that’s not true at all. What’s in your bank account doesn’t make you wealthy because wealth ought to be measured by happiness and love, not dollars and cents (or Euros, Yen, Pounds etc.). One can give back to society and/or their community through volunteer work or helping family. I won’t elaborate on this though because it’s too much for a post meant to discuss trauma and shame. Perhaps I’ll do a post on economics another day!

What do you think about the ‘truth setting you free’? Does sharing what happened to us with someone we trust heal us from our shame? Have you experienced abuse/trauma you kept hidden from others (perhaps yourself as well) then discovered/shared it and experienced relief?

©Natalya, 2014. Reflections On Life Thus Far®

 


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Transgenerational Trauma & Transmission

http://www.humiliationstudies.org/documents/ValentTransgenerationalTraumaHolocaust_15.pdf

You can see I posted a link directly above my writing that is about transgenerational or intergenerational trauma. Although it is about Holocaust trauma it is easily generalised to other groups having experienced long periods of trauma. For my situation I am using the term to refer to childhood abuse passed down through the generations. In the linked article it talks about the unconscious and unwitting process of the traumatic transmission to the next generation. This means parents are unaware they are passing their traumatic experiences onto their children because they have not consciously dealt with their grief over having experienced horrible things. I really feel the article opened my eyes to how I ‘picked up’ on my mother’s trauma even though she avoided speaking about it when I was very young.

Growing up I was abused and traumatised by my mother. Much of it happened unconsciously in so far as mom didn’t recognise her behaviour as abusive due to her own experiences. Usually children think their parents are perfect but I was only too aware mine were anything but that. They did their best but you can’t give what you don’t have. I was long aware mom was treating me badly which caused me to have a lot of anxiety as a child. I’m not sure how I ended up without that protective buffer most kids have that allows them to think its their fault not the parent’s. In any case I didn’t have that and felt very depressed and anxious growing up. It wasn’t easy because I reacted with anger to my situation but was basically told this was inappropriate; I beg to differ! From my perspective the anger was more than appropriate considering what I was being subjected to on a regular basis. It was not my fault I happened to be the poor kid that shouts “the Emperor has no clothes!” and my family didn’t appreciate my honesty.

Most kids learn to cope with their situation through denial or some other defense mechanism like repression or the like. I didn’t seem to have the capacity for this so went emotionally numb instead. It was the only way for me to cope that didn’t involve me lying to myself about my family situation. By 18 I’d already attempted suicide seriously three times and was on antidepressants. I also had an eating disorder that helped me feel like I had a bit of control along with the side effect of leaving me emotionally numb. Following my suicide attempts I entered psychotherapy for the first time and never looked back.

Unfortunately my first few years in therapy were spent on trying to get me stabilised from my depression, anxiety and suicidal impulses. Had I known about transgenerational trauma, boundaries and female to female sexual abuse I might have fared slightly better. If I’d known of these things I wouldn’t have felt so ashamed for being something of an emotional train wreck. To my mind I felt I must have been overreacting since I hadn’t been sexually abused by a man, physically beaten or anything I could pinpoint anyhow. As I stated I knew nothing of transgenerational trauma transmission, nor boundaries. Thus, I continued to feel ashamed for being “weak” thinking I’d “only” been spanked, slapped on the hands and endured messy living conditions. It wasn’t until years later I realised mom had been a compulsive hoarder. I did know she had a Narcissistic Personality Disorder though as I’d come across the disorder in a book when I was 17. The impact of her NPD on me however was unknown until I came across another book in my early 20s on the disorder’s effect on children of NPD parents. That opened my eyes and made me feel much less crazy for feeling the way I did. I won’t bore you further since this is meant to be a post not a book! LOL

Transgenerational trauma transmission was first identified in survivours of the Holocaust but has since been applied to those in other groups as well, notably Aboriginals in North America and genocide survivours. The phenomenon also applies to families where abuse has been passed down to subsequent generations. The German psychoanalyst Alice Miller described the phenomenon in her term ‘repetition compulsion’; this applies to abused children having their own children and repeating the abuse unconsciously on them. In this way the abuse is literally passed down from generation to generation until someone has enough insight to get help to stop transmission. Incidentally, Alice Miller is an excellent author with lots of books available on child abuse. The only complaint I have is she doesn’t address compassion for one’s self or parents. Otherwise she is excellent in her championing of abused children through her books emphasising truth above all else.

Can you identify transgenerational trauma in your family?

©Natalya Lyubov, 2014. Reflections On Life Thus Far®

 

 


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Reactive Attachment Disorder & Me

http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/reactive-attachment-disorder/basics/definition/con-20032126

No, I’ve never been formally diagnosed as having RAD but I definitely fit the criteria and identify with it. Most know of it as something only in children but reactive attachment disorder doesn’t cure itself with ageing. I come from an emotionally neglectful home and can’t find any photos of me smiling as a baby when being held by someone (including my mother). If I smiled it was when I was alone, playing on my own. Thinking about RAD makes me sad because I know how many of the problems I had in life are related to never forming a healthy attachment (secure attachment) with my mother. How do you form an attachment with someone who has serious issues of their own and no insight to get treatment? Small wonder I failed to develop a secure attachment with mom and never wanted to be held by her. I didn’t even like being touched so hardly got used to liking it.

Today I saw my counsellor and brought up my feelings of sadness and grief connected with RAD. Most of the session I simply cried and let out my pain from not feeling like I was secure with my mother. Mom was abused as a child herself and never went through therapy so passed her trauma onto me. Often I felt completely alone and helpless-not to mention uncared for. Naturally I never knew what I was feeling because I had no mirror or person to helpfully teach me what I was experiencing. This lead to a lot of anxiety because I didn’t know what was going on in me. Mom sometimes offered comfort but other times she neglected me and I felt ignored, like my emotions didn’t mean anything. This taught me to not express emotion overtime which lead to much pent up anger.

"Love is unconditional and 'knows' that our psychological pain comes but from our ego. Attachment 'thinks' that our pain comes from other people. Attachment dissolves when its object does not conform to what our ego wants. The pain we feel then is created by our frustrated ego, which calls these people toxic, whereas it's our own ego who acts toxically. This is called projection and precludes our development.~JY Besle"

“Love is unconditional and ‘knows’ that our psychological pain comes but from our ego. Attachment ‘thinks’ that our pain comes from other people. Attachment dissolves when its object does not conform to what our ego wants. The pain we feel then is created by our frustrated ego, which calls these people toxic, whereas it’s our own ego who acts toxically. This is called projection and precludes our development.~JY Besle”

The erratic expression of concern contrasted with indifference or anger from my mother when I was upset gave me no security upon which to build my emotional immune system. For a long time I felt numb or like I might emotionally bleed to death. Mercifully, numbness was more salient than any other feeling but it didn’t help me to mature properly either. As a result I isolated myself or spent time in unsatisfying, dysfunctional friendships that met none of my needs. Romantic relationships were a non starter so I am horribly stunted in this area. All that I know is what I have read from psychology and self help books. Having RAD meant I didn’t want to be touched because my earliest experiences were negative with few positive experiences to even out my perspective.

I wish I could reach out to people and tell them what I need but it’s really scary for me. I’m so used to trying to function as though I need no one but it’s painful because I am left dealing with everything on my own. The exception being when I see my counsellor. Just imagining trying to tell a friend what I am feeling or need has never been something I’ve managed to do. My thought is that they would not respond kindly or would reject me as my mother did. Since many of the friendships I have had have been with emotionally unavailable people my fears were not without warrant. Now I am wishing I could wave a magic wand and have friends in real life who accept me as I am-not as they wish for me to be.

This is a real grieving process. Knowing that I have spent so much time feeling alone with no close relationships hurts. Maybe if I’d realised my issues were attributable to RAD I could have avoided unnecessary treatments or at least not wasted my time exploring stuff that had little to do with my actual problem, attachment.

Perhaps the silver lining in my experiences is that I am wiser than I’d have been if I grew up in comfortable surroundings without any conflict. Although I didn’t enjoy going through what I have gone through I know it has given me insights and perspectives that I wouldn’t have had otherwise. Pain can be a teacher and hopefully I will continue to see the messages in whatever it is that happens, not just what has already occurred. As the saying goes “pain is inevitable, suffering is optional”.

Being personally insightful, self aware and philosophical has without question helped me along the way. I know I am

Adult attachment styles & romantic relationships

Adult attachment styles & romantic relationships

lucky to be 32 and unpacking trauma now instead of a decade or two later. I feel grateful for the opportunities I have been given and want to be mindful of all that I have, not the things I’ve lost. Yesterday, when I went to counselling, I was feeling sad with grief but being open about my feelings with my counsellor gave me healing. Today the sadness that had been hanging over my head is gone and I feel uplifted.

So often all that I require is the space to be open with my thoughts and feelings without fear of being shamed. Not all of my therapists have helped me but those that did I am immensely grateful to. It’s been a long road I’ve been on (this healing road) not always knowing if I was making progress or not in therapy. At 17 I embarked on a journey, a head shrinking journey, that has been successful in the last half or so more than the first when I fought merely to stay alive. Those early therapy years I struggled against suicidal thoughts and anger that I had “failed” in my attempts to kill myself. I wasn’t able to get very far then because I felt depressed and anxious constantly. Psychiatrists unwilling to take the time to get to know me threw me out with the proverbial bathwater labeling me as Borderline Personality Disordered. Now, I have concluded they were not the a**holes I used to think of them as, but rather lazy and too comfortable in their practice to take on any hint of a challenge. In other words, they had their patients already and were established enough that they didn’t want “bothersome/trouble” patients with BPD. They had lost any compassion they might have started with in favour of seeing only those with “easy” diagnoses-aka drug treatable conditions.

My attachment disorder is not cured but I see half the battle as having identified the root issue behind my troubles. Overcoming the rest of my attachment related issues won’t be easy but I feel confident I have what it takes to get through it.

Do you have attachment difficulties and if so, how have you dealt with them? Please share.

©Natalya, 2014. Reflections On Life Thus Far®

 


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How Do You Show Love?

My aunt has been on my mind a lot lately since she phoned last week to announce she was planning a visit. As usual she passed her judgement on me and gave her unsolicited advice on what she thought I ought to be doing. This is pretty much standard procedure with my aunt. She was my mom’s favourite sister so her opinion of me maybe mattered more to me than I thought. Upon reflection I realised she is not a cold b*tch trying to hurt me but rather a woman attempting to show she cares about me. This realisation made me feel a bit less defensive because I know she was not shown healthy love growing up and was exposed to a lot of ideas that devalue authenticity and emotion. How then could she express her concern for me and show she cares in any other way than she has been doing all along? I expected too much and didn’t consider the place she is coming from. None of this makes her behaviour acceptable though and I will be absent when she visits unless my counsellor has a good reason for me being in her company to share with me. There is no reason I should have to be subjected to her judgemental attitude and be made to feel unaccepted for the person I am.

It isn’t easy to have compassion for her when I am hurt due to her behaviour but understanding goes a long way. Once I realised she cares about me but doesn’t know how to show that in a healthier manner I felt less hurt. In fact, I am feeling a great deal better than I was an hour or so ago before my realisation. Just as it is easy for my aunt to judge people it is easy for me to feel victimised and not bother to feel compassion. It’s hard to feel compassion for people when they’ve hurt you but very often they are the ones needing it most.

Do you have people in your life similar to my aunt? They care about you but don’t know how to express it in a healthy manner? What is the approach/tact you take with them?

©Natalya, 2014. Reflections On Life Thus Far®


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Misery Loves Company

There’s a debate going on where I live regarding politicians salaries and pensions/benefits. The public reaction seems to be largely one of scorn perceiving politicians to be getting too much (money, benefits etc.) for too little ‘blood, sweat, and tears’. None of the outraged people giving their scornful opinions have stopped to examine where their fury comes from. What I have discerned is “Joe Public” is being treated unfairly and wants “Joe Politician” to be treated equally unfairly; instead, why doesn’t the average guy/gal get angry about their own situation and be happy someone else is being treated decently? The only conclusion I can reach is “Joe Public” can’t/won’t change his own unfair situation so looks to tear down the easiest target-a public figure often responsible for policies and laws few people appreciate.

I have noticed when people feel they are in unfair positions they opt to bring others down with them when it’s perceived someone isn’t ‘suffering enough’. This goes for situations outside of politics too. For example, in my family there are people who see me as not pulling my weight because I haven’t got a paid job. Do they stop and wonder why I don’t have a paid job? No. Do they ask me directly about anything? No. Instead, they give me their uninvited opinions and try to shame me into doing what they think is ‘right’ by the standards of mainstream culture they’ve uncritically digested and internalised.

When people have grown up being treated poorly and don’t bother to critique what happened to them they end up rationalising the situation. They find reasons for what occurred to be acceptable in some way; thus anyone else who comes along daring to inquire further into the situation finds themselves the target of an attack. How dare someone actually seek to know why something happened?! How dare anyone question the accepted norm and make another uncomfortable for choosing to stay in the dark?! It sounds ridiculous when you actually say it but some people would prefer staying in the dark because it’s familiar and comfortable in that sense.

If you want to really question anything you need to be prepared for some people taking their misery out on you. If they are suffering and you aren’t yet they think you should then Heaven help you. I have not had an easy life by any means yet family members that don’t even live with me or talk to me more than once or twice a year think I’m spoiled! Why? Because I am unemployed and live with my dad. I don’t live in the lap of luxury or sit around playing video games but they likely think I do because they don’t ask me. They’re more comfortable passing judgement on me than they are trying to see if I have challenges they don’t know of. All they see in their mind is a woman with more education than they have who isn’t employed, thus I must be lazy. Well sh*t that is pretty lousy reasoning or logic if you ask me but none of my family ever does who pass their judgement.

Have you noticed this phenomenon in mainstream Western culture? That is, people who are miserable trying to make others as miserable as they are? I would like to know if anyone has noticed this and do you think it’s normal or not? My opinion is it’s NOT normal or healthy.

©Natalya, 2014. Reflections On Life Thus Far®


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What Do You Do?

My aunt needs to read this!

My opinionated aunt (mom’s youngest sister) thinks she knows what’s good for everyone. She phoned recently to say she was coming for a visit and I immediately felt my blood pressure going up! Her and I clash because we’re both very stubborn and have strong wills. When she offers her usual unsolicited advice on what she thinks I should be doing with my life I feel angry/defensive. What right does she have telling me how I ought to live my life when she only has a vague idea of who I am? Why do some people think they can just give you advice you never asked for and act like they have all the answers? When she comes to visit I think I will not bother meeting with her because I am too angry knowing she’ll tell me what I should do and then pass her disapproval and judgement on me like she’s superior to me. She will just tell my dad what she would have told me so she’ll still get to give her unsolicited advice even if I’m not present!

Do you have family/relatives that interfere in your life thinking they have all the answers and know what’s best for you? How do you deal with them? Do you ignore them or give them a piece of your mind or just listen and try to not register your frustration? My counselling is on Tuesday so I will ask what I should do and hopefully get a bit of SOLICITED advice!

©Natalya, 2014. Reflections On Life Thus Far®


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Totally Random….

Art by Richard Kolding

Recently I realized all my favourite animals are considered pests and annoyances to many people. For example, I love raccoons, squirrels, mice, rats, possums, opossums, pigeons, bats, crows… well you get the idea. Anyway it made me think perhaps I love these animals because they remind me of myself. The animals I prefer are seen as either odd, annoying or something you have to get rid of. In some ways I suppose they’re marginalised or underappreciated. Yes, I love more popular animals too but my heart is with the animals too few people embrace. So I think this symbolises how I see myself in relation to the larger culture I inhabit each day.

I don’t mean to suggest I see myself as a rodent or pest but undervalued perhaps would be apt. Of course part of this is from me not valuing myself as highly as I ought to in spite of having better self-esteem than I used to. It would be easy to place the blame on the larger culture I live in saying I’ve internalised their messages around what is worthy and what isn’t; but I think responsibility is shared and I have to learn to see myself as more valuable than I do. Don’t get me wrong though, I have the ability to see my worth it’s just a struggle at times when I lose focus and compare myself to others. Comparing one’s self to others is one of the quickest routes to low self-esteem I can think of. Do I manage to abstain from comparisons all the time? No. But I am doing a heck of a lot better than I ever used to and that is what’s important for me. If you’re going to compare yourself to anyone it has to be yourself. If you are in a better place than you used to be that is all that matters-not where you are in relation to someone else.

Do you struggle with comparing yourself to others or feeling less valuable than you really are?

©Natalya, 2014. Reflections On Life Thus Far®