A journal of healing

Posts tagged ‘vulnerability’

Hatred: a Learned Behavior

Currently I am reading “Shrill”, a book by Lindy West. It is not for the easily offended reader. She is a comedian and is very funny. But she is also FAT. Lindy is a true Fat activist and writes for about the struggles she has. She deals with hate every day. But she wants to change the world and I think she has many valid points. She says, “Being fat is like walking around with a sandwich board that says, “HERE’S WHERE TO HURT ME!” That’s why reclaiming fatness— living visibly, declaring, “I’m fat and I am not ashamed”— is a social tool so revolutionary, so liberating, it saves lives.”

When I was growing up, bullying existed but it was not exonerated. Bullies were known. They were outcasts and shunned, unless you were one. As a child, you learned to fight back or suffer. Parents did not fight your fight for you. You could rat out a bully if you dared and they would be “in trouble,” which meant something in those days.

Today’s culture is very different. I blame the media who created movies like “Mean Girls.” Then we have TV shows like the “Biggest Loser” where they abused Fat people for entertainment. There was nothing real or entertaining about that show. There is one out there now called “My 600 Pound Life” about very large people who are suffering and struggling to just survive. There is nothing entertaining about witnessing suffering. But it creates absolution for the hatred of people of size and fosters bigotry.

Lindy talks about flying and the stigma attached to Fat people when they board an airplane. I have sat in seats that do not fit me. It is humiliating at best as well as painful. And my butt is not as big as a Kardashian. I love Lindy’s retort: “We don’t insist on a solution because it’s still culturally acceptable to be cruel to fat people. When even pointing out the problem— saying, “my body does not fit in these seats that I pay for”— returns nothing but abuse and scorn, how can we ever expect that problem to be addressed? The real issue here isn’t money, it’s bigotry. We don’t care about fat people because it is okay not to care about them, and we don’t take care of them because we think they don’t deserve care…..We don’t insist on a solution because it’s still culturally acceptable to be cruel to fat people.

We are not born hating people different from us. Babies do not see Fat people as a threat. They learn that from their parents. My parents hated Fat people and had no issues making hurtful comments my whole life. Their mothers hated Fat people too and passed that down. They had no reason to hate fat people. They also hated people of different religions and especially hated people of color. They had no tolerance for anyone different from them, actually. They were upper class snobs full of themselves. My siblings to some degree reflect the same thinking. I never did learn the behavior and was an outcast in my own family sphere. But I held true to my principals.

We live in a country where hatred, bigotry, misogynic behaviors are being tolerated and actually glorified by some. But we are starting to have people who are standing up and saying no more. We have to do this. The energy of hatred is toxic. We have to change what we teach our children. I am aghast at the comments I hear from young people that are vile and filled with prejudice of things and people they have no direct experience with. How is that possible? Because hatred is a learned behavior and we have to stop teaching and accepting it.

West, Lindy. Shrill: Notes from a Loud Woman (p. 148). Hachette Books. Kindle Edition.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Pulling the trigger

I pulled the trigger. I started the timer. I made a difficult decision with no going back. I put in my papers to retire. It still has not hit me that in three weeks, I will not be working. It was not as easy a decision as one would think because it is so final. But it is done!

I have worked my entire adult life. I actually started working as a nanny and babysitter when I was only 11. I worked summers until I was 15 and then went to work in retail. I never stopped working. In 1986, I was downsized and worked on my house for four months. I got up every day and painted, scraped and papered. Again in 2002, I spent three months doing the same thing on this house while I looked for a new job. Looking for a new job is a fulltime job in itself.

But this time, it was on my terms to leave and I am not going to another job, nor am I going to go crazy looking for another job. I am being careful not to say I won’t ever work again, because I am not sure of that. I plan on spending the next few months in an effort to clean out this house and that is going to be a lot of work all in itself. I also will not have to drive in the snow and I can take naps.

The stress of working in healthcare is not for the week of heart. There are so many regulatory changes coming down that it makes it almost impossible for an agency to be successful. The agency I work(ed) for has not prepared for the new requirements that need to be trained and enforced in less than a month. The agency lost over 4.7 million dollars so far this year. They are bragging because it was less than the 5.2 million they lost last year, but they have not done the year end and I am sure it will be just as bad. They fired one executive in an attempt to lower their costs two weeks ago. “She was paid way more than she was worth.”

I oversaw three big divisions of the agency. When I started, I only had two. One was a brand new division. Then I got another one and now, I have to laugh, they are going to divide my work load back amongst three people. That makes me smile. But what is even better is that these three treated me like crap. They are young and on the rise in the agency. Now that they are seeing the workload and responsibilities, they are my best friends and so super sweet. Gack! One of them has a millennial ego and was so cock sure she would be able to do a better job. Now that she is seeing it for what it is, she has set up four training sessions with me to “learn my job.” Ha…. If she thinks she is going to get my years of being in organizational development in a few meetings, she is sorely mistaken.

I am also leaving after 36 years of being an educator. They all think being an educator is just standing up in front of people and delivering lessons. The VP of Clinical thinks that creating courses in the on line training system I implemented is just data input. OH, you have no idea how that statement tweaked me. “Yes, that is why I have a Masters in instruction technology because it is just data entry.” Jerk. I am not teaching anyone how to do that. “Go to school and get in debt like I did to learn that.” I am not teaching any little shit in an afternoon what took me a Masters and eleven years of working in the technology to become proficient.

Do I sound bitter? Yes, in a way I am. The weight and value they put on people, and not just me, is hard to take. The VP also made a bold statement that “the only way to change a culture of an organization is to get rid of anyone with twenty or more years of experience.” I wonder if John Kotter would agree. Systematically all the senior people are leaving or have left. They made it so uncomfortable for several senior nurses they went to the competition. My Clinical Educator left in October after twenty-seven years with the agency. They have fired two executives and three directors in the last two of years. I was the oldest in age director left. They have replaced the positions with people from the Med Center. It is a matter of time before the Med Center replaces all the support departments to save money.

My only regret is for my team who has been divvied up. My Education Coordinator is the one I worry about the most. She is going to the new manager with the ego and no experience. My EC needs a lot of hand holding and this young chicky is not going to be able to deal with her. I worry because she is even older than I am, but enjoys her job and is not ready to retire. I give her six months before she changes her mind and leaves.

My original plan was to wait until I was 65 to go. I am leaving a year earlier. But things financially came into place and so why wait. I am not sure I could have gone through another year of the crap and BS. I know I could not. It was making me very sick. I was not sleeping. I worried constantly. I worked constantly. (Wait until these three replacements see the hours it takes to make things run smoothly… HA!) My health was getting very bad. My doctors recommended me to retire and destress. No amount of mindfulness or meditation could resolve the crap I was facing.

Maybe I am too old!  I just know that I want something I have never had in my life ever.

Peace.

 

Positivity Chain on FaceBook

Sometimes everything seems to go along swimmingly. There are people who go through life unscathed and never rattled. I cannot imagine what that type of world would feel like. I was told years ago there are always people worse off and a whole lot of folks better off. Accepting where you are is the best way to survive and live a full life. One of the ways to accept your life is to look gratefully at what you have. ‘Tis the season for giving thanks after all.

Our minds are programmed from our birth to be more receptive to negative input than positive input. Negativity makes a bigger imprint on our brain. This again was part of the reptilian brain that kept our ancient ancestors safe. Not smart to pet a sabre toothed tiger, even if it is a big kitty. It is the reaction that sells newspapers and keeps us watching the news. We love drama and crisis.

There actually is a ratio of amounts of positive and negative information we need to be happy. Seems we need five times the positive input as to the negative. I am not sure many of us are living that ratio. Big positive moments also do not have the lasting effect as much as a series of constant small positive moments. That explains why after a momentous event, like a wedding, there can be such a letdown shortly afterwards.

So where do we get these positive inputs from? We have to make them ourselves. It can be as simple as noticing a pretty sky or flower. I try to look at things around my house and feel how much I love being there. I pay attention to the sense of security and peace I feel so I can draw on it when I am not.

Being nice is a two-fold way to bring positivity into the world. We have a severe lack of being kind. It is as easy as saying to someone that they look wonderful. It triggers happy neurons for the receiver as well as the giver of the compliment. Just like negativity is spread from one to another, so can being nice. But we have lost the practice.

I am going to start a positivity chain on Facebook. Let’s see if challenging each other to send one compliment to friends on Facebook will have a positive reaction that will spread. It would be a nice break from all the slander and mud lately. Post on at least three people’s FB page a compliment and ask them to tag someone else and do the same thing. It worked for the black and white photo challenge that has gone around several times.  Why not positivity?

Remember, compliments have to be sincere, otherwise they are lies and we do not need to spread more of that.

Also make sure you compliment yourself once in a while. The biggest speaker of negativity is that voice in our head. Turn the negative one off and listen to the one who says, “Wow, you are awesome sometimes.” We are all awesome sometimes. Pay attention to that.

It is ok to be different. Embrace your individuality and be grateful that in our country we, especially women, can achieve all that we do. We can dress the way we want, we can look like we want, and we can go after what we want for the most part; at least much more so than other countries. This is coming from a 60 plus year old woman who put pink streaks in her hair. HA! (I have wanted to do this for years, so I have two bright pink steaks in my waist length hair)

I wish everyone a Blessed Thanksgiving filled with warmth and happiness. Don’t forget to try the FB positivity chain. And be the best you that you can be.

 

Living the Ace Study

This past week was terrible. I did not get through it unscathed. I am wounded and in a bad way. Let me explain something about triggers and how simple things can dig so deep that it can immobilize someone. I again point to the ACE Study http://www.acestudy.org/index.html  about Childhood Trauma and the lasting effects of living in and witnessing trauma.

The effects of trauma are pervasive and unique. What triggers me may not trigger you. And how I react and for how long will also be different. The first thing that I learned when I became a Certified Trauma Professional is to allow the feelings. Never tell anyone what they feel is wrong, or over-reactive. What a person feels is their right. Trying to modify behavior by saying they are wrong to feel that way or try to change them can make things a whole lot worse. It is the same principal as working with grief. Time and reaction is unique.

Reaction to trauma is also a chemical and physically wired behavior. Neuropathways are developed as trauma is experienced or witnessed. When triggered, the body reacts out of protection secreting chemicals to produce energy for flight or arousal. Long time exposure will create a programed system reaction which often includes the shutdown of the body, anger and explosive behavior, and often a desire to stop participating in life. These are the three basic reactions of trauma: fight flight or freeze. A triggered person will resort to one or all of those reactions without a sense of doing it.

This prolonged constant flooding of chemicals like cortisol and other potent hormones designed for safety will affect the body and cause illness. It is proven. See Ace Study. And this reaction does not fade, but for many, it exponentially gets worse. And so in time, less creates more of reaction. For some it becomes over whelming and they cannot function. There is no actual cure for PTSD. The only hope is to learn to live with it and tame the Tiger so to speak. By exposure to more positive situations and learning to self-sooth and calm, many people learn to cope.

I learned that revisiting the trauma is not a good thing. The old method of recreating events and mollifying them does not work and is not healthy. You actually recreate a new trauma by doing that. I found that out too late for me as I spent a lot of time recreating my events in an attempt to grow past them. It did not work. It is enough to say that I spent over forty-five years in an abusive state caused by my alcoholic parents and an abusive husband. Forty-five years is a long time to be treated like shit; emotionally, physically and sexually mistreated. One does not get over that.

So back to this week: things at work are to the point that I am reacting by shutting down. It has progressively getting harder for me to be there. On Monday,  I was “in trouble” because I was being negative in a meeting. Supposedly I was grimacing and my body language was offensive. I swear this is what was reported. In the past I was written up for rolling my eyes. My boss is a terrible boss and the person who reported this is her mini-me. I understand the dynamics and I could spend a whole other post on how horrible it is at work. But let it suffice that my boss’s words to me were cruel and hurtful. She told me no one wants to work with me. In a previous accusation of misdoing, she told me no one likes me. She then said stop reacting like you’re the victim. If she only knew.

My Clinical Educator resigned after 27 years there.. I threw a reception for Margaret on Tuesday right on site. We had a fabulous relationship. She had my back, and I had hers. I would never have survived without her when I first started. Her leaving trigger all sorts of abandonment issues for me. She saw the mistreatment and the poor leadership. She left because she had enough.

One of Margaret’s favorite things is cake…. Well actually frosting. I had a special cake created for her. It was beautiful and fresh. I was sitting enjoying a small piece, minding my own business. The VP of Clinical was standing in front of me eating a large piece of cake as well. Then, totally unsolicited, he turns and says over his shoulder just as I was putting a piece of cake in my mouth, “should YOU be having that?” I was flabbergasted.

What happens to me when something triggers me is I shut down. I go into this place of protection. Unfortunately, I am unable to speak. I remained in the room until the end of the reception. I never touched the piece of cake again. When I left the building, I burst into tears and cried all the way home. (I actually cried again when I wrote this) I had my fill of painful criticism and hurtful remarks. This is continuing to affect me as I have not been able to sleep through the night. I wake up and perseverate on all the nasty comments.  This is physically causing some nasty flares and a lot of pain.

I am hyper aroused and anything sets me off like a loud noise or small issues. On Wednesday, Joe’s car had a huge malfunction with alarms and flashing lights going off when we were going somewhere and I completely flipped out. I was so upset I was hyperventilating and curled up. We got the car home as we were not too far way but I cannot explain how terrifying it was for those four minutes. I was so bad; I took the next day off. I had to lie because they would never have understood.

I know what I have to do and I am working on getting out. But it is not so easy. I am lucky there will be escape. But how many other people are out there who deal with this daily? No one knows the effect rude and nasty comments can make. We all agree a positive remark can make someone’s day. Why is so hard to see what a offensive, uncalled-for comment can do?  We need to learn to be more sensitive to people. Kids are killing themselves or becoming addicted to escape the effects of bullying which is extremely traumatic. Bullying continues in adulthood and some people are true experts at being bullies. I have met many. How many people suffer in silence only to get sicker and sicker because the effect of childhood experiences haunt them as adults?

 

Outrage

I was reading one of my favorite blogs the other day and I became outraged. It talks about how Google was putting information down about walking distance and calories when asked for directions. She felt this was fat shaming.  https://danceswithfat.wordpress.com/2017/10/28/google-cupcakes-and-terrible-ideas/

I do not necessarily agree that this was the best example of fat shaming. I actually think it is kind of nice information if you CAN walk.  The calorie indication is just part of the diet culture we live in. But there are other messages out there that are not only fat shaming, but blatant discrimination.

She mentions that in some places they have turned off the escalators so that people will use stairs. Swell. That is discrimination of people with disabilities whether they are small or large. I know plenty of people who cannot climb stairs or even worse, like in my situation, go down them. I can go up with a hand rail for support but coming down is not happening. My one ankle now goes completely out at any situation and makes me fall if I do not have something to grab. Imagine my luck on stairs.

What about wheelchair access? She was saying that they are putting up signs next to elevators to remind people to use the stairs because you burn more calories. Talk about rubbing it in the face of people who cannot make a choice. That is not fat shaming; it is just harassment of everyone who is disabled.

In other blogs she talks about the discrimination or fat shaming that occurs with large people getting medical treatment. She states one person she knew was denied health insurance because she was morbidly obese. (I hate that phrase with a passion) How is that not discrimination? How is telling employees that if you are over a certain body weight, you will have to pay more for your health coverage not discrimination and for that fact, legal? But places are doing it all over the country. My company almost went there.

We lump every large person into one category. FAT, LAZY, and UNRELIABLE. We are treated like liars all the time. (Yes, secretly I go home after work and stuff my face with ice cream and cake… and even if I did, what business is that of yours?) Doctors accuse of lying all the time. In my own experience, I was accused of gorging myself by my two doctors when I put on 17 pounds in 6 weeks. They were sure it was what I was eating. On my own, I stopped a medication I was put on and almost overnight, the weight disappeared. But neither would listen to me and I sat sobbing in their offices telling them how awful I felt since going on the medication. The medication also caused dyspnea, but they didn’t seem concerned and again said it was because I was fat. I did not have shortness of breath before or after. It was humiliating and hurtful and neither of them said anything afterwards when I proved it was the medication.

In this culture, large people are the remaining targets of the worse discrimination out there. We are outrage if someone is discriminated for color or race. They just sanctioned a baseball player for making slant eyes at an Asian pitcher. Bet if he called someone fat nothing would happen.

I can only speak for how this makes me feel. I see people’s expressions. I hear their words of disapproval, and I feel the ostracization all the time. I hear all the girls at work constantly talking about their suffering when it comes to dieting and they wear it like a badge of honor. “OH, I can’t eat that” or “I would love a cookie, but no…”

But this pisses me off more than anything: I eat my lunch at my desk while I am working. And I do this because I do not want to stop working, but more because I do not want to be judged. I eat the same thing every day. I have a bag of chopped veggies, an English muffin with mayo and 2 slices of “just turkey” (has no chemicals in it). I leave the veggies out to munch on. Just last week, someone came to my desk and had the gall to say, “OH my, what a healthy lunch.”  I said, “Yes, surprise! Fat people eat better than most. Why are you shocked?”  Oh did she do a back pedal. This is not the first time either. I actually have had people just come into my old office cubby when I was eating a salad and start lecturing me on diets.

The image I used for this post is what as me all riled up. “Fat ballerina.” This is inexcusable. Dress up like a fat person and make fun of them all night. Yes indeedy. Be the star of your party by humiliating people who often have no choice of their situation or health. Next we should make a costume to mock developmentally disabled folks and call it “Retard.” Or how about a costume that makes you look like you have a prosthesis and we can call that one “Gimp”?  Think I am going over board? Try walking around in a real fat suit and see how it feels.

 

Insurance Assurance

When you get to a certain age, you have to think insurance in a whole new light. Insurance can mean your health insurance, it can mean life insurance but mostly it means being assured that the next part of your life being what it should. My biggest fear is to die before I can reap the bounty of my years of work.

I started when I was 11 years old working summers, every weekend and even some school nights taking care of other people’s children. I was in high demand and was told by my parents that I will work. By the time I was 15, I worked in a department store on a work permit. I was still in school but weekends and summers were not mine. Then like people of my generation, you worked, went to college or went into the military. I went to college and worked. I continued that pattern for most of my adult life.

Now I am reaching a time that I will not have to work. I planned, scrimped and saved, and bought insurance in the form of an annuity and pensions. It feels like climbing a mountain and getting to the top and saying “Now what?”

If you do not know, the slope is very slippery. When you turn 65, you have to apply for Medicare. You don’t have to take it if you have some other form of insurance, but you paid for it all your working years. Why not take it?  My biggest advice is to find an insurance broker and work with them. It is the most confusing mess I have ever seen. One part D covers this but not that. You need a supplemental if you have these kinds of problems. And eye care and dental coverage varies greatly. Working with an independent broker is great because they will take all your information and calculate what is best for you for free. Then once you decide based on their information, they will sign you up. Our broker will call us  to come in and redo this so annually we will have the best coverage for the price. For my husband, she eliminated a premium and lowered co pays but found better drug coverage.

My next step is to find an honest financial planner. This has been a quest for me for four years. It is not like we have a ton of money, but what I have I want safe. I had originally invested some money in the stock market. We found this person who at first seemed great. He charged a flat fee and was going to help us plan our retirement. He took the money, invested it and it lost a ton. I was devastated. He offered no help, did not come true to our planning process and we basically were screwed. I waited it out until the money we lost came back and we were at our original amount and pulled it out. Of course now, the market is through the roof. But I could not take the fear of losing everything.

Financial planning is important because too much money and you are screwed, not enough and it’s even worse. Our biggest issues is we both have high drug costs. Currently we cannot subscribe to any of the help out there because we make too much. If we were only $1.00 over, we would still be out of luck. Epic is a drug plan for people with high drugs costs but only for New York State. So we have to wait until I have a lower income to be able to get that help. We have to plan what pensions and other income we take in so we can get this support. Seems counter intuitive but that’s the game.

Here is another guessing game: when to retire. It is all a gamble. Say you wait until you are 66 to retire to get your full benefit. But you die when you are 76. So you only collect your Social Security for ten years and all of those dollars go back to the state. But if you look at the fact that if you take the lesser monthly benefit at an early age, you will get it for a longer period of time and it evens out. Losing $200.00 a month may seem drastic right now, and that is what they want you to think. But if you wait and die sooner, you lose that money.

Here is something else people do not realize. This is real life experience. My mother-in-law was placed in a nursing home. She was private pay. You would think she would have had the best of everything. That was not at all true. She was side by side with all the people who were on Medicaid. They got exactly the same care or lack of care that she got. Difference was that the State was paying their way and we were paying for my MIL. All that money they saved went to the nursing home. This really pisses me off because my step daughter also plays this game. She works just enough and no more so she can stay on Medicaid. She has better health coverage than we do. What a scam. But that is a whole other topic.

When we saw an Estate planner, he told us that nursing homes were the biggest rip off. He told us that all funds at a certain point in your life should be protected by trusts and other forms of protection. He said that money can be put aside and protected if you wanted to pass it on and not give it to a nursing home. An Estate planner is essential to protect any assets you may have from being taken by the government. It is also necessary so that what you want in your death is carried on. It gives great peace of mind to have that all in place.

I know that in a year and a half I will stop working full time. There is no doubt about it. I will probably find a part time at home job just to keep busy. It will be a test of time to see if we planned well enough to enjoy what years we have without all the bull and still have a comfortable life. I know too many people who thought they could make it on what they had and had a rude awakening. Trying to find a job at 65 is not easy at all. I hope this information is helpful.

Harassment

This idea for this post came from my Doc friend’s blog. She was talking about harassment and where does the line get drawn. She had a patient who was making passes at her staff in jest, but it was still annoying. Of course it was annoying. It was harassment. And as I wrote back to her, harassment is determined by the person who is receiving it, not the person who is inflicting it. It has nothing to do with the intent. It is all about how something is received.

I also went on to say that for someone who has a traumatic childhood, or was a victim of sexual abuse or other violent acts, the response to someone’s intent to be funny has just the opposite effect. It can cause a major trigger that can put someone into a tailspin for days and weeks. They may not even know what they are reacting to. It could be a word or even the tone of the harasser.

Harassment can come in many forms. Often people think they are doing a good thing. But someone who constantly harasses someone from the concept of improving the person is totally misguided. What makes that person think they have that right? What makes them so superior to be able to comment?

As I thought about this all week, it hit me that parents come from a point of improving their child but when does it become harassment? Isn’t improving a child the role of a parent? Is there a point when the parent should stop trying to improve their child?

What about a spouse or your partner? Is it ok to harass them into doing something, especially when it affects your family or home? It probably is not ok, but it is hard not to do. I speak from experience.

My husband’s 28 year old daughter will not learn to drive. This makes me crazy. She is terrified, she says. She finally got her permit and then took one lesson. This took three years to accomplish. She said the lesson went ok. But she has made no attempt to continue.  Instead, she relies on her father to tote her around like Miss Daisy. I think he enjoys her dependency on him. Did I say this drives me nuts?

I am skilled in motivation interviewing. I teach it matter of fact. I know in my heart that I am not going to move either one of them on this topic, so I resort to harassment- truth be told. My intent to get his daughter to drive is based on the best interests for her. I want her to be independent and not have to rely on US for the rest of her life. We won’t be there. She has no other family and she has no friends. Her mother passed away at the age of 52. She instilled this irrational fear to drive in her daughter as the mother never drove.

The real reason the daughter won’t drive is because then she will be expected to do something with her life. That ain’t happening either. I know this probably irks me more than anything. What a waste.

Does harassing them help? Absolutely not. It only escalates my anger and frustration more. Can I walk away from it? NO. It slaps me in the face every time she calls her father for a favor. There was over twelve years when his daughter was out in California with her mother that she never called or spoke to her father. It hurt him to the core. But when the mother died, it was; “Oh, Daddy.” He can’t see it or chooses not to.

The bottom line is it still harassment, even with the good intent. I know in my heart I want her to have a life and not rot away like her mother did. I am sad that she is wasting her life. She has all the capabilities to do whatever she wants, but she chooses the easy way out. I have no right to her life. But boy, it is hard to keep my mouth shut. I am so helpless on this because she is not even my kid.

The bottom line is harassment is a person attempt to control. It is coming at someone from the viewpoint of superiority, or desiring some effect of change. I lived with harassment my whole life. Although it was sometimes masked in humor, it was my family’s way to control and inflict. Years of harassment left me sensitive to being criticized in any manner.

We cannot change people. We can influence them, we can teach, we can support. But it is impossible to change someone who does not want to. But damn, its hard not to do.