Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Random ~ Trying to Capture the Days ~ Catharsis

I’ve never been one for holiday music, not in a humbug way. But one year I did download an Elvis Christmas and another compilation of festive music. I thought I would dig it up, put it in the CD player and see how I felt about it today. Well, I must say, I wasn’t in the mood for it and when it finished, I felt as though I had enough holiday music. I was at my computer paying bills and on the phone with the cable provider to see if I could get a better deal since the current one expired, bringing the cost of the bill higher than I wanted it to be. So when the holiday music stopped, I opened iTunes and switched to some Jazz.

Yesterday I finished the last of my Christmas shopping and watched the traffic jam in the intersection as I waited for the sign to say WALK. I was glad I had found a parking space on the street and walked to my destination instead of trying to find parking where it seemed there were no empty spaces. I could hear the frustration through the honking horns and screeching tires as people tried to get home, while others most likely were in a mad scramble to get the last of their gifts.

Some time during last week I was walking to the store to drop off a UPS shipment for work. I seem to wear sweaters and sweatshirts wrapped around my waist often. And this particular morning I had a red cozy zipper fleece on and wrapped around my waist was a bright green zipper jacket. It felt festive, but it was also convenient. While I was walking, I saw a lady in her overall jeans and I started looking harder at what I realized were paint splatters on her jeans then I stole a glance at her and recognized her immediately. She said to me, I like your colors. I said thanks and then I said, “Your Blair, right?”

She said, “Yes.”

I said, “I used to work for a flower shop a long time ago and you used to paint our windows. I see your name around and I’m always happy to see you are still painting.”

She was tickled that I remembered and thanked me.  She had a mature exuberant glow about her and she truly seemed happy with life.

It was within that week, last week, that I also had a small “meltdown” at work. You know how when you try to “go with the flow”? Well, after some time, it catches up. One of my largest obstacles remains taking things personally. As my boss said, “You tend to personalize things, Rebbecca.” I listened as best I could. I conceded that yes that was true and I said it didn’t help that I was so sensitive. I told him how I felt, through sobs at our team meeting of three—in the restaurant no less. At first, my defensive reaction was, “I’m done. I can’t talk anymore.” It made it uncomfortable, so I tried to recover. That’s when the tears came and then frustration because he didn’t understand. For me, the most frustrating thing is when you have feelings that you feel and you try to explain them to someone because their behaviors add to your feelings. Everything ended fine, but as any woman knows, when your tears take over in the company of men at work, well, it’s an uncomfortable thing. The good thing is that I kept trying to explain as best I could without being accusatory and also owning my personality components and I felt like he finally “heard” me when he said, “I didn’t know you felt like that, Rebbecca. I’m truly sorry.” That was all I really needed—to be heard—that and an awareness of his behavior and its effects on the whole. Little things add up. I told him I know that I can’t expect him to change and at the same time I can try to “roll with it,”—but sometimes—

The other thing that has helped post small “melt down” is reading the book, Sybil. I had never fully known the details of the story, only the surface. It came up in conversation after a quick reference was made to it in a movie. My significant other asked about the reference and I told him what I knew, which was only that there was this real person who had many personalities and they made a movie about it. That was all I knew. I became more curious and checked the Amazon Kindle store for copies. They did not have one but they did have another book called SYBIL in her own words: The Untold Story of Shirley Mason, Her Multiple Personalities and Paintings. At that moment I became intrigued and decided I would get the book Sybil from the library because I wanted to read that first. It came and I could not put it down. I’ve always been fascinated with anything having to do with the psyche. It was hard to fathom a person who dissociated into separate personalities to cope—separate personalities that each had their own memories, their own experiences, their own outward physical appearances and speech patterns. And all the while, the main person, whom we know as Sybil, not being aware of any of the separate personalities due to her “losing time,” as she would dissociate to such a degree due to the abuse she endured in her childhood, that the other personalities would take over.

How did this help me? First, I don’t want to undermine the severity of this complex. By reading this story, however, it helped me realize something about my relationships with certain personalities—or rather reinforced what I knew. Reading Sybil gave me more to work with. I do not do well with strong personalities that I feel try to overpower me or have a cruel tone and once I reach a point, I start becoming more defensive, sometimes louder, defending myself, being prompted just by a look from them. Something in me detaches and matches the behavior coming at me or develops behavior that makes me feel in control. It made me revisit my reactions in general and take a harder look at some things that I hadn’t quite considered with my own past. I felt as thought there were pieces that made more sense in a way that I think I’ve always had a sense of, but didn’t quite have certain pieces. It made me also feel more compassion toward my mother for the pain that she must have felt and not knowing how to deal with it.

I noticed there is another book on Amazon that questions the truthfulness of the book Sybil and whether the doctor’s behavior was ethical. All I can say is that the story touched me immensely and it was good of Shirley Mason to share her story and to bring awareness when the book came out 1973. I have not seen any of the movies, but plan to sometime soon.

And so this morning as I was paying bills on the computer I started getting a little down at the credit card debt. I took a deep breath, tried to bring myself into focus, looked up at my inspirational corkboard and my heart and soul received what it needed from Mother Theresa. I read it to myself quietly and then read it aloud so I could hear the words.

Lastly, this is a photo of our little Victorian Village. My significant other was at the thrift store and found this set. I was surprised when he brought it home and showed me. He was so excited that he found it and that it was such a good deal. It was only $12. What a bargain indeed. He helps me to be more festive and grounded. He also bought our first Christmas tree. It’s cute and a little slanted.

Wishing you all peace and happiness; and strength and resilience for handling the kaleidoscope of emotions that make us human.


“Life is an opportunity, benefit from it.
Life is beauty, admire it.
Life is a dream, realize it.
Life is a challenge, meet it.
Life is a duty, complete it.
Life is a game, play it.
Life is a promise, fulfill it.
Life is sorrow, overcome it.
Life is a song, sing it.
Life is a struggle, accept it.
Life is a tragedy, confront it.
Life is an adventure, dare it.
Life is luck, make it.
Life is too precious, do not destroy it.
Life is life, fight for it.”

—Mother Teresa

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