Reflections on Life Thus Far

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


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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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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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Survived The Phone Call

In my last post I mentioned my aunt would be phoning my dad and I Thursday night. Well

Aunt Rose

Aunt Rose (Photo credit: Wikipedia) My aunt doesn’t look like this but it’s what I think of her at the moment! LOL

she phoned and it seems she has taken to trying a different tack than she was before with me. In previous conversations she sometimes felt it her duty to tell me what I should be doing. I have become less passive in accepting these unsolicited offers of advice so she seems to have switched to giving me advice through allegory. She told me about this woman my grandmother had to share a room with in the nursing home before getting her own room. Apparently this ex roommate of my grandmother’s was in her 70s and a poor roommate due to bad behaviour. My aunt saw this older woman as being childish and demanding because she had a few irritating habits along with not going outside for the past 30 years. She must have gone outside to move into the nursing home but otherwise, I guess, she hasn’t gone out anywhere. My aunt mentioned how her family had coddled her when she was growing up because she had a few things happen to make her life hard (don’t know the details).

Anyhow, I could hear my aunt telling me she thinks I am being coddled and not stepping out to try new things (like she said about the elderly woman); also I am feeling entitled to act poorly because of my hard life. Perhaps I am totally having delusions of reference and my aunt wasn’t saying any of this through her story about the grandmother’s ex-roommate but my aunt is more than capable of such things. She wants to tell people how they should do things and will overstep your boundaries because she thinks she’s helping you. Basically, my aunt doesn’t mind treating you as a child if she thinks you’re acting like one in her eyes. She doesn’t have a sense of compassion for people either so your history is not her concern. Her desire to be helpful trumps any possibility of allowing others to live as they wish and do things with their own mind. Thank goodness she doesn’t live closer or she’d be putting her nose in my business all the time!

Her “helpfulness” isn’t limited to me only; she also said she thought my dad should just stay at home all the time to avoid any falls before his hip surgery. Seriously? Does she think being a shut-in for a couple of months is healthy? He won’t fall outside but he still can fall at home too. She thinks she is being caring and helpful but she’s just ignoring one’s right to live as they please. If you are an adult of sound mind then you have the right to do things the way you wish (so long as you aren’t hurting others). It’s called having free will or acting independently. When you’re an adult you can act foolishly or poorly and the consequences are your’s-my aunt is being paternalistic in her approach. She wants to control people so they live in accord with her vision of a just world. But we can’t control other people. We can only control ourselves.

I was somewhat annoyed as I considered what she was saying to me through her story and felt self pity for a good portion of Friday. Then I realized my aunt was merely operating from her understanding of the world and the people in it. We don’t share the same understanding of things so we aren’t reading from the same book, never mind the same page! She isn’t inside my head and I’m not inside her’s. All I can do is appreciate the fact we both grew up under different conditions and times and have our own view on things. It isn’t her job to understand me anymore than it’s my job to understand her. Yet I understand her reasons for being paternalistic. I understand she doesn’t view spirituality as something you focus your life on because one “should” focus on getting an education and earning a decent living. Well, obviously these aren’t awful things to strive for but they come a distant second and third to my value I place on spiritual development. I don’t really care about material wealth.

The issue I have with my aunt’s interference in my life is her lack of respect for my own choices. But I don’t live my life to please her and she isn’t the one living inside my body so her opinion on what I ought to do with my life is moot.

Do you have family in your life that treat you in a paternalistic manner? That is, they try to tell you what to do as though you’re still children needing guidance from an adult?

Thanks for reading.

©Natalya, 2013.


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A Bit Disappointed

My counselling appointment got cancelled for tomorrow as my counsellor is ill. At first I was okay about it but then my dad had to go phone my aunt to check on his mother in-law who’s in a nursing home near my aunt. Well, she couldn’t talk tonight so is calling back tomorrow and I am stressed because I hate talking to family. It’s always the same awkward conversations interspersed with small talk. I hate it and would have benefitted from a pep talk from my counsellor tomorrow but she’s unwell. My appointment got rescheduled but not ’til Tuesday which won’t help me with tomorrow’s phone call. The thing is I just don’t enjoy talking on the phone period. Doesn’t matter who it is I just don’t like it unless I am in the right mood which is not very often. I tend to worry about what to say and how to answer uncomfortable questions-of which there tends to be a few with my family.

So I am not feeling relaxed now in spite of the knowledge worry never does anyone any good. It was only an hour ago I found all this out about my aunt phoning tomorrow so I haven’t had much time to settle myself. You’d think by now I’d be better at handling family conversations but I always end up anxious to some degree. Even if I am reasonably relaxed there is always a tiny amount of anxiety lurking when family is involved. This means I’m not staying present and am thinking too much about the future that hasn’t happened yet. Mindfulness is helpful because then I know whether or not I am staying in the moment or mentally checked out thinking about the future. It helps if I can take a few deep breaths to re-oxygenate my brain after I have gone into anxiety/future mode so I can return to my surroundings.

The other thing about my anxiety is it means I am attaching value to someone else’s opinion of me. If I was totally okay with myself I would not be somewhat worried what my aunt might think when she finds out I am still unemployed and am not doing anything productive. Yes, I am usually helping my dad as well as doing the housekeeping; I even have several online shops I make designs for that I could potentially earn some money from (not much though). But these are things I have not yet accepted myself as being 100% valid so I fret about what my family will think of me. I so hate worrying about what my family thinks.

This is a challenging time of year too because students have returned to classes and I am not in any academic programmes currently. So I struggle with feeling like I am okay the way I am. If I am busy all the time doing housework I sometimes feel like that makes up for my unemployed status and not being enrolled in anything. But I don’t have the same motivation to houseclean all the time like I did in the Spring because there isn’t as much junk to clean like there was then.

Ultimately, I know the answer to my anxiety is staying in the moment and trying to become more accepting of myself regardless of what I’m doing. But it isn’t easy so I need to write what’s on my mind at times like this. It sort of helps me get a bit of perspective like I get in my counselling sessions. I’ll be alright.

©Natalya, 2013.


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Brunch With My Aunt and Grandmother Done

Zen wisdomWell I had brunch with my aunt and grandmother today. It went well, or better than expected anyway. My grandmother was quite forgetful and asked me more than several times the same questions again. She also repeated her sage advice to me numerous times! I didn’t mind though. She had lost some of her social filter from what I could tell and didn’t have the same ability to tell stories like she did last time I saw her (a year ago). The dementia has certainly had an effect on her. She couldn’t remember my name but knew who I was and you know hearing her advice repeated over and over again was sort of therapeutic. She couldn’t remember having said certain things already so just said them again which was kind of like hearing affirmations!

Having an 86 year old woman tell me what I should do didn’t bother me. Somehow

Be compassionate to all-especially YOURSELF!

Be compassionate to all-especially YOURSELF!

it seemed okay because she was speaking from experience and her words did have wisdom in them.My aunt didn’t really bother with questioning me much so I was grateful. I didn’t have to set my boundaries firmly in place. It was my grandmother who bluntly asked if I was working. Since she has dementia this was forgivable. Her diminution of social graces lent her an honesty I could respect.

It’s interesting that I’m able to pick up on symptoms of dementia in those afflicted with it. Some people seem quite willing to make excuses and be in denial about their loved ones with the illness. I, on the other hand, am different. No surprises there! Even when my mom had her various issues I could see them and didn’t pass them off as normal or an eccentricity. My dad isn’t very observant when it comes to human behaviour so he thought my grandmother was just fine today! I pointed out all the things I’d noticed and he seemed to have been somewhere else entirely from his assessment, which consisted of “well your grandmother looked good today”. Oy! 😛

Acceptance of What Is

Acceptance of What Is

Anyway, I thought the difference was marked even if she looked relatively normal/like her old self. She’s on medication for her dementia and can’t look after herself properly so is living with one of her adult children. It’s possible she may need to go into long term care soon if family can’t keep up with her increasing needs. I feel sad about this.

Hopefully my intuition of her only lasting several months is

Artist: Raoul Vitale

Artist: Raoul Vitale

catastrophic thinking on my part. I’m sure she’ll likely last a while yet. Then again, she can’t be on her own and has hallucinations and delusions despite being on medication. She’s not the sort who would want to live many years in such a condition. This is not fun stuff to think about 😦 Guess I am overdue for a death now. Last time I dealt with one was my grandfather after he’d fallen and hit his head in 2009. The year 2008 was my mom and a former client of a group home I’d worked in who had cancer. 2010 was the year I learned of my abuse being mother daughter sex abuse, which at the time felt like a death of sorts. I made it through 2011 without any deaths or painful revelations(apart from not qualifying for a student loan and being unable to return to university for the Masters degree I was admitted for), and 2012 has been reasonable, aside from financial concerns and being unable to go back to university still.

Live from your heart

Live from your heart

I’m not sure what’s next for me or what the new year will hold. All I know is now, this moment and nothing else. Thus, I shall exist in the moment and attempt foregoing fortune telling (aka worrying about the future). What else is there but the ‘now’? Eckhart Tolle may finally be percolating into my consciousness (I’m alluding to Tolle’s book The Power of Now). Be one with the Universe and all that good stuff now my lovely readers.

©Reflectionsonlifethusfar, 2012.

 


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A Visit From My Aunt and Grandmother

This Sunday an aunt of mine and my grandmother are visiting my dad and I. Apparently my grandmother now hasfile4091340255130 Dementia with Lewy Bodies. Fortunately, it’s not genetic so I am not fearful of having it when-if I make it to old age! My grandmother is my mom’s mother who abused her as a child. Now she has hallucinations where she sees children around her. It’s sort of odd. Ever since my mom died my grandmother’s been on a decline health wise. She seems to have been hit particularly hard, perhaps recognizing how awful she treated my mom and feeling guilty for outliving her. It’s not a pleasant thing to experience so much remorse and grief in your senior years I’m sure. No doubt this has brought on some of her symptoms, as I think it can be ‘activated’ by one’s environment/situation etc. Something like bipolar or schizophrenia being developed in some individuals due to the environment or conditions they’re in.

Unconventional

Unconventional

Anyway I am not looking forward to the meeting. We’re having brunch. Every time we meet I endure judgement from my aunt about what I should be doing with my life. It’s not her place to tell me when I’m 30 how I should do things. In fact, I experience it as an interference. I’ve had to deal with a lot of judgement from other people about how I live my life; I think that’s partially why I withdrew and stopped going out as often, among other reasons. If I want to live a life that is based on my heart rather than societal conventions that’s my business. It might not seem rational and sensible to everyone but it’s my life da*nit! As you can tell I’m a little bit defensive and annoyed by it. I know it’s ‘normal’ to have people putting their ‘two cents worth’ in where it’s not wanted but I haven’t mastered the art of not giving a sh*t quite yet.  So when family, heck even strangers, start passing their judgement onto me I am hurt. I want people to accept my choices like I accept other people’s choices. I might not always like their choices but I keep my mouth shut and have the decency to respect their decisions. I’ve never been able to conform-EVER. It’s been one of those things I guess. Some people fit in well and others don’t. Yes, I know I needn’t care but I do.

Picture from artist a day.

Picture from artist a day.

I guess I’ll do my best not to worry about Sunday before it gets here. But a large part of me is scrambling mentally to come up with ‘legitimate’ stuff to tell them I’ve been doing. In my mind blogging about abuse and spirituality aren’t likely good things to mention, especially where I’m talking about them or relatives on here. So what the heck do I tell them besides I have been doing employment workshops to help with career decisions? My default has been to fall back on embellishing my mental health issues to garner sympathy. But I don’t want to have to pretend I’ve been languishing in a pit of depressive despair either for effect. It’s kind of ridiculous really the way I give others power over how I feel. What nonsense! I need to stop this and just focus on being me. Why should I have to feign craziness so people will not press me on my less than conventional way of living and seeing the world?

You know what bugs me about all this is I’m still trying to rehearse how to answer

Making my list of things to tell my aunt and grandmother I've been doing!

Making my list of things to tell my aunt and grandmother I’ve been doing!

their inevitable questions they’ll ask, such as why don’t I have a job yet? or why am I not volunteering in the meantime? Even I wonder why I’m not volunteering sometimes. I think it’s because I worry obsessively about starting volunteering then missing a job opportunity. To me it’s Murphy’s Law, I’ll start volunteering beginning to enjoy it then have to stop if I get employment. But if I’m honest it’s because I feel like I need to get a job first so I know when I’ll be available for volunteering. Totally a** backward to most people I’m sure but that’s how I think! Maybe I have more respect for volunteering than paid employment. I don’t want to disappoint the place I’d be volunteering at by having to leave or drastically alter my schedule. In the past I volunteered then got a job but it was different because I’d been volunteering with the place for a few years and had grown to dislike it. So I was happy for a chance to make my exit! Otherwise, I’ve never had a job and volunteered at the same time; only volunteering on its own or employment on its own.

Think I’ll go make a list of ‘acceptable’ things to tell my aunt and grandmother I’ve been doing for our brunch on Sunday….

©Reflectionsonlifethusfar, 2012.


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Cleaning Up After Grieving

Auguste Deter. Alois Alzheimer's patient in No...

Auguste Deter. Alois Alzheimer’s patient in November 1901, first described patient with Alzheimer’s Disease. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

October 23rd will be the fourth anniversary of my mom’s death. She died in the hospital’s palliative care ward after only one month in hospital. Her diagnosis was early on-set Alzheimer’s disease but she died from dehydration/starvation-refusal to eat & drink. Reflecting back, I think she refused to eat and drink on purpose when she knew she couldn’t leave. There was a point where she went from not eating much to not eating/drinking at all. Eventually she just died from dehydration from not having enough fluids and food. My dad, sister and I knew she didn’t want to be kept on any sort of life support so we let her die without force feeding her. One of my aunts and grandmother were not pleased at first but accepted it was the right decision once they talked a bit more with the doctors and nurses.

I thought it best to give you that bit of information because when I mention cleaning up after grieving it’s a

English: Photo of the living room of a compuls...

English: Photo of the living room of a compulsive hoarder (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

present issue. Four years ago we did not throw away most of my mom’s things. We donated some of her things and gave away some items to other family but by and large her stuff is still around today. Yesterday was important because I helped my dad clean/tidy up his room that he couldn’t handle himself. Grief had made him inert where tidying up was concerned because he’d have had to go through my mom’s things in his room. He had all kinds of blocks/obstacles in front of her things that I think he was unaware of. The obstacles kept him physically unable to deal with moving her clothes and donating them to charity. Every ‘block’ was another excuse for him to put off dealing with her clothes. I gave up a year or so ago on trying to convince him to part with the things. I realized he’d do it when he was ready-not because I pestered him into it. Today he sounded like he was ‘ready’ when he mentioned giving my mom’s clothes away finally. My tidying up his room gave him the momentum and clarity he needed to see a way through his resistance to parting with mom’s stuff.

Clothes

Clothes (Photo credit: codey)

I feel very pleased my dad is finally moving forward in his grief work. Some people can toss their spouse’s clothes and belongings in the first year. Dad needed longer but at least he’s getting there. Maybe I have been able to help him by living with him. He says he appreciates my company. But sometimes I feel guilty for not doing more. Yet now I see perhaps I have given him something less tangible and concrete-a way to heal.

There’s still a lot of things to be dealt with in terms of giving things away but we’re a lot further ahead than we were just a few days ago, and even more so than four years ago! My mom was a compulsive hoarder so she had more things than is normal and healthy. Thus, despite giving away a large amount of her stuff there remains a fair amount to be sorted still.

Related post: http://findinghealthafterillness.wordpress.com/2012/09/27/picking-up-the-pieces/

© Zen Lady Meditating and Reflections On Life Thus Far, 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Zen Lady Meditating and Reflections On Life Thus Far with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.


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Awkward Moment

Today my dad’s aunt is having her birthday (she is up there in years) and my uncle took a plane trip to come down and see her with my dad. I didn’t want to go because those sort of family functions where you have a bunch of people 60 years and much older make me anxious. The thought runs through my mind they’ll ask me what I’ve been doing and most of them being somewhat traditional in their values, apart from a few, won’t understand if I say I’ve been transforming myself from a state of illness to health. They most likely would stare at me like I had two heads then give me a lecture on how I ought to be out there getting a job or telling me I’m unrealistic or some such thing. So I didn’t go. Now I feel rather guilty because my uncle isn’t here (where I live) often and it’s a big deal for him to make the trip and I go and sit at home not attending the function for my great aunt.

guilt flyers

guilt flyers (Photo credit: bpp198)

I don’t think I’m an awful person for not attending my great aunt’s birthday; I mean I don’t remember the last time I saw her. Maybe three years ago at my grandfather’s funeral, otherwise I don’t go to see her. So it’s not like we know each other and I’m going to be missed. But I still feel guilty somehow for not going. I can’t seem to just tell myself none of the people there will miss me, well maybe my other uncle and aunt who will be there but otherwise….Mentioning my aunt just intensified the guilt. She has early on-set Alzheimer’s like my mom had and is getting worse. By not going I am likely being selfish. What if she doesn’t recognize me the next time I do get to see her? Da*nit! Having a conscience sucks.

Out of guilt I cleaned the bathroom and kitchen today seeing as how I usually don’t do much in the way of cleaning. I typically do so once there’s visible dirt and I can’t ignore it anymore. So now the bathroom and kitchen are clean anyway. Sometimes I can alleviate a bit of the guilt through atonement by cleaning. Today, not so much.

Thanks for reading.

© Zen Lady Meditating and Reflections On Life Thus Far, 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Zen Lady Meditating and Reflections On Life Thus Far with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.