24 April 2007

Blah blah blogs

I've been canceling accounts that I've not used in sometime.  I wanted to try a bunch of different types of forums.  Some are pretty cool, but I didn't want to spread myself out even thinner (not that I'm thin, ya know, but I need to focus on a few things rather than so many).  But there were a few good entries, and I wanted to include those here before I cancel out the useless blogs.

Consolidation is what I'm sayin'.

There was so much going on in my life, then slowly things slowed down in an absolute way. But to me, life still seemed too hectic and I was stressing over the smallest thing. Now, I have cut even more "obligation" from my life so that I can focus on developing some other areas. Like writing, like learning German, like swimming and working out on a more regular basis, like attending to my own needs and becoming and being healthier.

I know for some folks, that my life might be more than ideal. For me, I'm not exactly sure why it seems that I have less of an ability to handle things that don't weird others. Like my phone service, there is a problem and I just haven't the energy to deal with the hassle of it.

And even this, sounds like I am sniveling.

But, I am devoting this journal space to sorting out all those pieces and parts that are so overwhelming, confusing, little, hurt, vulnerable, proud, stubborn, loud, smart, hidden, scared, indignant, etc. So, at times this might be intense, at times it might make little sense, at times i might be sniveling. The cool thing is, it's mine.

IFS (parts is parts)
When I began to see this current therapist, I was curious about the model she uses. It's called "The Internal Family Systems Model" or IFS for short. It is a combination of several existing models and tends to emphasize certain elements of them, so that it is not an entirely new model (and really what is?) but a definite improvement of any single one of the models by themselves. It addresses some drawbacks while accentuating the positives.

What makes IFS, IFS is viewing all of your parts as making up a huge system, that helps you to function, by protecting you, managing certain aspects, crisis super heros that rush in to save the day. That's my take on it. Looking over the website, http://www.internalfamilysystems.org/model.htm, to get a better idea of the formalized model's vocab, I see that they call these Firefighters, Managers, and Exiles. These parts exist along with the Self.

The managers are usually those that are protectively guiding you through situations. These parts often deal with presentation of self, wanting to keep things smooth, and looking good. The managers often shield the self from anything that may bring to mind vulnerable emotions and feelings. Those emoting parts are called exiles, because the managers are quashing them down from contact with the self, banning them to hidden unacknowledged areas. Then there are the firefighters that come to the rescue when memories and emotions flare up. Overeating maybe a firefighting way to drown emotional pain for some.

Now I know that some of you may be thinking, "parts?!?" I think that we all have referred to multiplicity of self. When you are faced with a difficult decision, you may say that part of you wants to do this, and part of you thinks that this other choice might be best. This sort of thinking doesn't make you odd, it makes you human. For me, it's more of a matter of paying attention to my parts and my self than a matter of my not relating to parts.

The main thing about this model that appeals to me is that instead of scolding myself into eliminating a part, this model is about accepting those parts and valuing them and honoring that they helped you to function and survive. It makes it so much more likely that one part won't be so overwhelming, if you don't try to delete it. Sometimes that part just wants to be heard.

I think about my two dogs as an example. I have a 65 pound black lab who is 5, named Shaddow. And a soon to be 4 yr old rat-cha (rat terrier/chihuahua) who is about 5 to 10 pound, named Ziggee. Shaddow is very loving and gentle. Ziggee is a happy guy but more demanding because he loves attention. Shaddow will hang in the back, and let Ziggee rush up and grab all the attention. I can tell that Shaddow wants some love too, but Ziggee is right there, hogging it all.

Well, I discovered that if I pay a ton of attention to Ziggee, give him enough love that he knows without a doubt that I love him. Reassure him and saturate him with my love. Then, after he is not so wild with need, I turn to Shaddow. Now, Ziggee will try to squirm in. Ijust tell him that I do love him, but this is Shaddow's time and he needs to let her have her love too. He usually is so happy and satisfied that he lays down somewhere close, so he is near. But he gives Shaddow all the time she needs too. Shaddow knows that I will spend alot of time with her and scratch all the hairs loose and give her lots of attention and love too. So she is willing to wait til Ziggee has had his turn and then she gets her turn of lots of love too. That's kinda how I look at some parts that clamor for attention.

Understood? understand me!!
All my life, as far as I can remember at any rate, I have explained my thoughts ad nauseum. There are a few reasons for this. I'm aware of some of those reasons.

When I was a child, the principal at one of my many schools had commented with exasperation that I had a reason for everything. And I did. I didn't see how that could possibly be a bad thing.

Even as a child, especially as a child, I was very mindful and considered things in from as many perspectives as possible because my parents raised me to be critical and expected me to be able to answer any debatable point. So when I was held accountable for my actions, by omission or commission, I had a reason ready for what I had chosen to do (or not to do). I didn't understand the concept of rhetorical questioning and so I would speak up when asked something like, "what were you thinking?!?"

It became important to me to be understood from a very early age. This means that sometimes I can be pedantic and tend to supply way more of a thorough explanation than was really wanted in the first place. Sometimes I can be mindful of that, but I am never sure at what level of detail my own answers should be. If I ask for clarification, the conversation becomes awkward and often dwindles off into confused avoidance.

However, I need to work on this area and see if there isn't an effective way for me to rein in my own need to be understood by providing exhaustive explanations. Ya know, like the lengthy explanations provided thus far!

My guy is coming with me to my counseling session on Wed. It is not meant to be couples counseling, or even for me to say things to him that I feel I can't in any other environment (that's not an issue). There are times when I try to describe, to explain, a session, and I fail to do so adequately. So this week, he has some time that he will be available on Wednesday (a very rare oddity) and so I asked him and my counselor if he could come. Both said yes, and my counselor moved our time from our normally scheduled Tuesday to Wed.

The main reason I wanted him to come was so that he could see what a session is like for me and also see what some of the issues are that I'm working through. This counseling is very different from the run of the mill talk therapy and I feel we do get some tremendous work done. I feel better about this therapy than I have about others.

My counselor said that she will approach this as an observation session, and ask that he observe, but not interrupt. That he can feel free to give feedback and ask questions after the session, she will set time aside for that. From my perspective, since it is not an active session which is demanding his participation, I think he is more comfortable with the idea of coming to it. He said that he actually wants to do it, that's why I changed the session from Tuesday to Wed. I don't want him to feel like he NEEDS to do this or any sort of pressure.

Spring has sprung!
My guy did observe my counseling session this past week. He does have a better idea of what the sessions are like, the IFS model and how it can work, and the sorts of issues that I am dealing with at this time. I really appreciate that he made this effort with me, it was a huge step for our relationship, itself.

Now on the lighter side of life, here on this Mississippi Farm...

I have mentioned my furrbees before in this journal. Stella is my 6 month kitten and she just had spaying surgery a few days ago. She is much much better now then for the first day afterwards. In a week or so, I will take her back to have her staples removed.

Ziggee is my lil cat in a dog suit. He is a rat-cha and a bit bigger than Stella, much smaller than Shaddow. Shaddow is my 65 pound black lab, sweet and gentle.

Ziggee is terribly excited about spring. He is just terribly excited about something all the time. Exuberant joyous excitability!! The other day, he was pouncing on clumps of weeds and sending up pollen puffs, and then he would pounce on the next clump. I was getting such a kick out of just watching the lil guy.

Shaddow is practicing her zenlike deep breathing and yoga like postures. She is now engaged in the dead dog pose. She can hold that pose for tremendously long periods of time.

My friends from New York sent me a package which included treats for us all! Tea for me!! Stella's favorite toy, the Really BAD Dog catnip head; Peanut Butter treats which resemble fig-newtons, but are solely for doggy consumption (altho I may wanna try one, I am resisting the urge, so far); bone shaped rawhide chews; and a tug-toy that is quite humorous, although I may be the only one to find it such thus far. I'm sure that when Ziggee can see Shaddow using it, he may decide to give it a try.

Thanks so very much, my dear friends!!

Wow, where to start?
Happy Spring! Tomorrow, my mom is coming for a visit. She lives about 8 hrs away, so we don't get to visit with each other often. She's staying for a few days and I am just beside myself with excitement. I don't care how old I am, I feel like an eager child whenever my mom and I can get together for a visit. yea!!

I've spoken with my counselor about my need to explain things, the last couple visits. There is a part of me that wants to rush ahead and explain everything, because I don't want to take the chance that I might be misunderstood because I didn't voice something that I should have. There is a part of me that is holding back on that rushing ahead part and being more of a 'well now, let's be reasonable' thinking part that is saying CURB your enthusiasm, Debra!!

And I discovered that partly why I feel the need to explain stuff is because so many times when I don't voice my opinion or my thoughts, I'd get run over. Or when I'd say something, but not a BIG long explanation, then folks would say stuff like, well ya know, you weren't very clear. So instead of addressing that, in some other healthy way, I would try to avoid being misunderstood, by voicing every thought, explanation, opinion, etc.

So there is that part that has no voice. That is NOT bad, because voicing things, as you can see, can be taken to the extreme and be disastrous. Voices need not be necessary. There are times when having no voice means that you can still communicate strongly and clearly and effectively.

I am becoming more aware of the need not to explain and more aware of not needing to speak at all. I know that I will not always so the right things, at the right time, to the right amount, but I think I feel a bit more relaxed about the possibility that I can choose to remain silent.

Mom's visit
My mom came to visit this past week. She got in on Thursday late afternoon and we spent the evening basically catching up with any big stuff that has been going on in each other's lives. Friday I did some errands and she got to see some of the town and in general what sort of things I do. We both haven't played Monopoly in forever and so it was fun to have played each other Friday night. Saturday, we went to the Bollinger Family Theatre in Bruce, Mississippi. A few friends of mine came to visit Sunday and Monday. Mom and I watched a few movies and listened to some books on tape over the stay and she left this morning.

So those were the things we did, but here are the things that were most important. Mom and I were very companionable. We were relaxed and easy with each other. There were a few topics of conversation that we agreed to disagree without being a big deal. We were able to discover things about each other that were new and surprising and pleasant.

We talked and talked and talked. That's one of the things I love about visits with mom is that we can actually have conversations and talk about a multitude of things and subjects and discuss things without there being lots of commotion. Yes, we are different but we are ok with those differences without feeling a huge need to combat and persuade. In lots of ways we are alike too. And it is funny when we realize how similar we are.

It was a good visit with lots of good points and very relaxing. Yea!!

I ruminate, lots. I will toss and turn things about and tear them apart and replay them mentally until I am way way way too stressed out and reading intentionality into things that were innocuously stated. Knowing that it is something I do does not make it lots easier not to do. But I can't not do it unless I would be aware of doing it, if that makes sense.

I do know I do it and I have gotten better about not doing it overly much. There are still times when something hits my triggers all just right and off I go, for a saunter down the ruminating row. I am working on reducing the disproportionate reactions I can sometimes have and to not let those hair-trigger reactions overwhelm me.

Mom and I were speaking about ruminating the other day. She pointed out that I do come from a long line of ruminators. My father and my grandfather and his mother and and and and and ... all seem to have been verbal ruminatiors and rehashers.

Although I come by it honestly, I am aware that it can be extremely unhealthy. And often times ruminating and explaining go hand in hand. Like they have here.

Another area that I am working on in therapy and out is anticipation. I don't mean that in a positive way. I think that we can go to the extremes with just about any thing and for me, anticipation has been something that has been troublesome rather than moderate and helpful.

By anticipation I am referring to those things where I think I know how the other person is going to react and what it is that will be said and how s/he will feel and think and based on that I then think my next thought in reaction and such and so forth. This can result in some very unsavory unfair moments. It can be extremely damaging to a relationship.

So it is something I have become aware of doing and am in the process of trying to get that under control somewhat. It isn't fair to others when I think I know how they are going to react and base my own reactions on that. Second-guessing folks isn't healthy either. I don't do that too much, I don't think, but I do anticipate and that is not fair to the other person. It doesn't give them a chance to react to stuff and make their own decisions and choices and it strips them of their autonomy to a point.

I wouldn't want someone to do something because they think they know how I would react given the choice. I would at least want the option of choosing my own thoughts, reactions, and such. So it is something I focused on today in therapy and am still thinking about at times. We will continue to discuss it next week.

1 comment:

  1. I enjoyed your description of the dogs and kitten you have.   I have a problem with ferel cats using my storage building for having kittens and a male that may have killed the kittens last year.    He has now been tearing up styrofoam insulation; using it for bedding which I cleaned up and I got my new styrofoam hopefully up out of his ability to reach.    Now he started tearing into new floor covering I had stored and had to glue the edges back together.    I caught it before real destruction was done thankfully.     People dump their animals in the area I live and we get stuck with them, especially a cat population that will continue to grow.    They breed unwanted ferel cats that are diseased and can spread it to healthy owner's cats.    I have a 44.5 four old Lab named Salty that is out in his big shaded pen right now.    He loves to run in it and dig holes to lay in.    He sleeps inside and stays in during the cold or rain.     That is great that you BF is going to your conseling to listen and understand your interaction and reason for going.    There is no need to anticipate what someone else will think or say.     You can actively change their interaction with you.    Thanks again for sending Walt's address.     mark


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