Friday, January 14, 2011

Running to stand still

The garden is sprouting away like mad, so we’re getting a good feed of veg fresh out of the ground on a daily basis.  Tareka has moved the old shed into place ready to be converted into a chicken coop and we have made space for a greenhouse/plastic house that we are due to collect sometime before the weather turns cold and wet.

The land is cracked and dry and the poor farmers are worrying about their cows.  Our FLF (friendly local farmer) had a gorse fire just next to his paddocks down the road from us just recently, and it burned through a couple of his water lines.  The poor coo-beasties were a mite thirsty for a couple of days, til he and Tareka got up the hill to fix it.

As for me, I have had my first session of the new year with my psychologist and it was most productive.  First of all she blew all my pros for avoidance out of the water by pointing out that they simply weren’t true.  I was convinced that avoiding issues that caused me stress would prevent pain, guilt, blame and distress for all parties, and she said very simply that this was just not true, as the people involved still had those feelings purely because the issues had been avoided and not resolved!  She’s right too.

I also discovered that I avoid confrontation, or even talking frankly with people because I am afraid that they will think I am a horrible person for being open and honest.  I am sure that underneath my attempts to be normal, I am a nasty, selfish, ungrateful, spiteful, evil being and I need to squash that being with all my strength to prevent it getting out and upsetting someone.  The times it has got out and I’ve said something in the heat of the moment, I have upset people, and this has served to strengthen the idea that I need to avoid confrontation to prevent it.  The trouble is, it takes a lot of mental strength to hold that little monster in, and it makes me very sick when I do, both mentally and physically.

Moving to New Zealand and being part of Tareka’s family has introduced me to people who let the little monster out now and then.  Tareka’s family argue and fight and say mean things, but then once the initial shouting is done, everyone seems to feel better and then make jokes about the thing that annoyed them.  It’s almost like allowing a small, controlled explosion to prevent a massive nuke being detonated.  They also do not hold grudges, or go over and over the problem, other than to turn it into a joke and all laugh at each other (and themselves).

I discovered, when living with the in-laws while we built our house, that it was OK to be grumpy and snippy sometimes.  My mother-in-law would either sympathise, or ask me if I was looking for a fight and laugh; my father-in-law would deliberately annoy me until I lost my temper and then he’d giggle like a schoolboy and break the tension, then he’d buy me chocolate; my brother- and sister-in-law would tactfully leave me alone til I was feeling better.

I was saying to the psychologist that this is fine with people who don’t take offense or take everything to heart, but how do I deal with it when I snap at someone and then they feel bad forever about it.  She pointed out that pain is a subjective feeling; unless you stab someone with a knife you cannot cause them pain unless they choose to feel it.  She also said that I can be honest and frank without it sounding like I am attacking someone.  I said that I didn’t have time to think when I snap at people and she said you have time to go and splash water on your face, or hide in the toilet til you are calm.  She has a point and I will try that tactic in future.

Finally she has given me some practical steps to take to improve my own mental well-being, increase my inner strength and help me break down some of my negative thought processes.  First of all I have to start running regularly, and I need to make sure that I have no excuses for not running.  I have to fit my life around the run, not fit the run into my life. 
  Second, I have to start some form of meditative exercise like yoga, tai chi or meditation again.  This I can do as I studied both yoga and tai chi, and with a little help from YouTube I am sure I can remember the sun salutation and the form. 
  Finally, I have to list the advantages of open and honest communication.  My next session is at the end of January, so I will get writing.

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