10 June 2016

Unpopular Opinion

I just received a phone call from my local police force asking to support them in an anti-bullying campaign. Thing is....I don't think getting rid of bullying is the answer.

There will always be bullies in the world. They will exist. There are currently seven billion people on the planet, there is no possible way we can get rid of all the bullies. It's just not feasible. Instead I believe we need to teach people how to deal with the bully if confronted and/or how to build a good construct of self-esteem so that when a bully tries to inflict harm it won't stick. 

Still reading? Take this into consideration: bullies don't attack those who are not bothered by the bullying. The bully instead lashes out once or twice and moves on to a different target. Seriously. So building self-esteem is extremely important.

But what about the bully? Here is a person that feels they need to bring others down to elevate themselves. Obviously they have self-esteem issues as well. Maybe their home life is far less than ideal and they need to feel superior to others, so they follow the example as set by their caregivers. These people need counseling. Start providing counselors in the schools again so that the bully can get some help.

Now here's the kicker. You cannot change another person (you cannot make someone stop bullying - they will simply find another target), but you can change you. You can simply decide not to be around a bully. This is obviously easier as an adult then it is as a child, which is why there should be intervention.

But that intervention cannot be: change for me. It can be: people don't want to be around you because you are bullying them, you can choose to change your behaviour and be around others or you can continue and be separated. (This opens a whole can of worms, I know, about how exactly the bully will be separated in a school environment. That's another post for another day).

In the adult world you, as a human being, can choose your surroundings. You get to choose whether you are going to be around a bully and allow the treatment...or you can leave. Your boss is a bully? You can actually look for another job. Your spouse is a bully? You don't have to remain married to the person. Really, the choice is one hundred percent yours.

Now, for those of you that made it this far, cyberbullying is a whole other issue. When the Internet was new this was a bigger problem than it is now. Playing a game and your teammates are roasting you? Start a new character, get a new guild, play without them. You are on YouTube and people are flaming you and rude? Block them. Classmates tormenting you on Facebook? Block them. The more you don't let the bully get to you, the more the bully will find another target. Please remember, all social media is voluntary. You don't have to have an account on any platform. And, if you are being bullied to the point where you feel you should end your life, seek help immediately.

The world is not here to make you feel better. The world is not here to cater to your needs. The world owes you nothing. You are the one that decides who will be included in your world. I know, I know, as a child you have little to no choice in the matter. And it's really unfortunate that some children do not have good home environments. Again, a whole other post for a different day.

Bullies are awful. I've been bullied. I've been the bully. You know what? It's a cry for help of some kind. It's the feeling of inferiority that fuels bullying. So fix that. Find the bullies, help them feel useful and good. Teach others that they don't have to stand for it. If that's the heart of the campaign then I support it. If the heart of it is to eradicate bullying....then consider how difficult it would be to eradicate the religion you don't agree with. Bullying exists. It will continue to exist. But we can change the way we react to it.

23 March 2016

Complete Strangers

You know what feels fantastic? Compliments from complete strangers about something you have produced.

In related news, I've been writing fiction. I found a website to post the stuff I've written (oh HELL no I'm not linking it, my brain is filthy and twisted) and every day there is a new email listing all of the comments I've received (all positive) as well as kudos (these are 'likes' for when people don't want to actually comment) for work. Every day. Every. Single. Day. Someone different surfs the site and reads my stuff and likes it every day. Different people too :) 

This anonymous collection of compliments has boosted my self esteem in a way that nothing else ever could have done. Nothing. People who know me and love me will tell me that my work is good, or even great, but it's just not the same. Why? Well, I'll tell you.

I was raised in an environment where everything good was tinged with something bad. If I was told I was pretty it was followed by 'with that makeup' or 'with your hair that length'. This would be the case with literally every compliment in my developing life. I think it was my mom's way of showing her jealousy for my sisters and I - if she insulted us then we would never be more than she could have been, or something like that.

The result of that was if someone liked what I wrote I would hear 'except for this part' or 'for that genre' even if it was never said out loud. I just learned that compliments were accompanied by hurt*. 

I have always wanted to be an author. I want total strangers to really love my stuff...and pay for it so that I can earn money to write another book. Writing stuff for free and posting it has helped develop my writing style in a way I hadn't expected. I started it originally to get a scene out of my head, to see if I could write it coherently and in a way people would want to read more. And they did. So I wrote more. And got more good feedback. So I've been writing more and more and even started paying attention to how I'm writing. I'm surprised that when the scene is angry there are shorter sentences, when the scene is loving there are longer, more fluid sentences. I have learned how to leave a clue that will be wrapped up by the end. I have learned how to cause the reader pain, joy, sadness, and warm fluffies.

At some point I will write a book that I will not post for free. I will shamelessly link that ;)

Overall I think I finally get the concept of surrounding yourself with people who are supportive and positive. Family can definitely be that, so can friends, but so can anonymous random people on the Internet.

*An exception to this was when I got the job at the bakery. Nobody knew anything about me so they had to learn based on what I showed them. And their compliments about my job performance were genuine (to me) as there was no hurt with them. In that I envy my sisters for moving away from home when they did, they learned this much earlier than I did I think.

21 January 2016

WTF is this Happy thing?

I'm currently not working and for the first time in more than a quarter century, I'm relaxed about it.

Waaaaaay back in 1990 I got fired from a job that I was really bad at, and I was able to collect Employment Insurance for nine months. I honestly don't remember what I did with those months, but I remember it being stress-free.

Now that I'm unemployed again, for the third time in a year, and I did have the experience of panic over not working. Mostly because of the whole 'no money' issue. But also because I was feeling useless. My sisters pointed out that I could apply for EI even though I quit my job. So I did. I was told I'd hear back from them by the first week of January about whether or not I was approved...but I haven't heard anything yet. I keep filling out my time cards online and check every day about the status of my claim but still nothing. And you know what? I realized I don't care.

For some reason I am at peace with the idea of not working. I am happier, generally more positive, and relaxed. If I don't get EI, then I don't. If I do, then some financial pressure will be relieved. In the meantime, I still have room on my credit cards to pay random bills.

But the happiness confused me quite a bit at first. I am accustomed to Bipolar cycles. I am aware when I feel too great of a shift in moods. I am alert when my mood changes suddenly. I watch the reactions of those around me and see when they are guarded. The Empowerplus has leveled me out significantly. I still have mood swings but not nearly as dramatic. No more intense rage. No deep depressions. No mania. But I don't remember ever feeling generally happy and relaxed. Those two don't go together in my world. 

Happy is not a word that describes my universe at all. Manic, euphoric, joyous, excited, ecstatic, jubilant, elated. Those are words I experience. Those are feelings that I know. Empowerplus has taken away the extremes but there was still and edge present. Happy? WTF is that? And yet here I am. Happy.

Relaxed is also not a word in my universe. Always on edge, every minute of every day. Always waiting to see how I will feel, if I reacted correctly, if I behaved appropriately, if I offended someone, if that was correct parenting, was I a good girlfriend or sister. Always. Again the Empowerplus has taken away a huge amount of that edge, but it was still there. Was.

And now the two have come together. Relaxed and Happy. I am more inclined to smile, laugh easy, the world is a good and kind place. Not extreme, not sharp, not waiting for the inevitable fall....just generally...content? Is that the right word? Is that what relaxed and happy means?

I found it confusing and worrisome at first. Was the Empowerplus working? Do I need a higher dose? And wait, why am I even questioning a happy state? What kind of tortuous world do I live in where I need to question contentment? Then S pointed out that maybe working was causing more stress than I knew. Having to be around people and behave correctly might have been causing the Bipolar to want to break through the pills (extreme stress does cause that, so I up my dose when it gets out of hand). But I never thought that the everyday stress of working could cause a constant struggle between Bipolar and Empowerplus.

While the pills have dramatically altered my life for the better, less stress seems to be the key to a door I didn't know existed. Also, good to know the Overthinking part of my brain has not changed.

31 December 2015

Frequencies

For a long time I wondered about fate or luck. Do people create their own worlds, or are the worlds created for people?

I watched a movie called Frequencies a while ago and it demonstrated luck in a way I hadn't really considered. In the movie, people with high frequencies have generally good luck: finding cash, never having to run for a train, good grades. People with low frequencies have generally bad luck: wrong place/wrong time, poor grades, not many friends. This was visually determined by HF people having dull, colourless worlds with flatline emotion and LF people have rich and colourful worlds with depth in emotion. (There is a lot more to the movie, but I don't want to spoil it for people who would like to see it).

If this is true, if people have frequencies, this would explain a lot to me. I would never say I have super bad luck, but at the same time I look at my son J and wonder...

J needs to go to the doctor every three months for prescription refills for his anxiety. When the time is getting close I would take him to the doctor' office every day (it's a drop-in kind of thing) and check the waiting room. If it's too full we leave and try again the next day. One day he said out loud, "I wish the waiting room would be empty, it would be easier." Within a day, the waiting room was empty. Seriously. This has happened twice in the last year.

J and I are driving around doing errands and he is hungry. He reminded me about how one mall had a food court that sold really good pizza by the slice. The mall has since renovated dramatically and has become more of a big box store collection. The part of the mall with the food court is gone. "I wish you could still buy pizza by the slice," he said. I agreed. On a whim I pulled my car into 7-11 (which I very rarely ever go to) to buy a lotto ticket. J notices a sign outside the store that advertises a $1 menu...including pizza by the slice.

I know it's perception or coincidence. Really. But a part of me wonders where does this luck come from?

29 December 2015

Banish the word!

Should. Now there's a word I'm finally removing from my vocabulary. There is really nothing good about this word or its implications.

I have spent a lifetime doing what I should do. Not what I want to do or what I'd like to do, but what I should do. And I am sick of it.

'Should' only implies that someone else knows better than me. Someone else is deciding what is best for me. None of this is a problem way back when I was a child, but it is a huge problem now that I am a somewhat seasoned adult.

There is nothing I hated more than when my mom would say something like "you should really have a meal at Christmas, not just appetizers" or "you should go back to school" or "you should wear different clothes, those make you look fat". Every time 'should' was in a sentence it was like all of my wishes, hopes, dreams, ideas, wants, or needs were suddenly irrelevant. What was relevant was what I 'should' do.

It wasn't until my mom's death that I finally saw this for what it was: control. It was my mom's way of getting what she wanted out of me without regard to how I felt. Once she was dead I saw how manipulative it was and quietly decided that this would no longer be the case. She was the biggest manipulator in my life but there were others as well and each time I heard 'should' in a sentence I would start to question the motives of the person speaking. 

This has lead to a great revolution in the way I think. Before, I would simply do as I was told or feel forever guilty about not taking the 'should have' path. Now, I check to see if the suggestion is right for me as soon as 'should' enters my ears. I even try to remember that some people have good intentions when they tell me what I should do, but ultimately it's just control. 

One result of this thinking is that I no longer have any friendships...but were they really friends or just people I allowed to mold me the way they wanted me to be?

15 December 2015

All Aboard the Bipolar Coaster

I quit my job. Twice, actually.

One of the biggest reasons was because I was starting to feel like a breakdown was imminent. I could see myself rocking in a corner in filthy clothes alternately crying and laughing. This was not an appealing image. I also noticed I was not tending to my budget (something I really like to do) and actually forgot that it was the beginning of the month so the two pennies of interest needed to be added to my spreadsheet. And that my computer desk at home was becoming messy and overwhelming to even consider neatening up. The tiniest tasks were too huge to deal with and the voices of the three men I live with were grating on my nerves. Rough, gruff, loud, too many words...just stop talking...please...

So I quit...and felt fantastic! I felt light and airy, full of creativity and a sense of wonder :) In between applying for jobs I was searching for recipes that were cheap and easy so I could still feed my family and feel useful. My sisters told me about how I could apply for Employment Insurance benefits even though I quit so an hour went to the gut-wrenching task of filling in the questionnaire. This left me feeling oddly depleted and courageous at the same time. I was looking for a coin dealer to get rid of some old coins I have that no longer hold much meaning. What an interesting task and so much to learn about coin collecting! Very slowly I was getting into yoga again. My stiff, arthritic, chubby body felt creaky but energized after five little minutes of poses. I was looking forward to driving J around to deal with his anxiety, where to go, what to do, somewhere close but far and different but familiar - oh the challenge! Nice, relaxing, tiny adventures were waiting for me every day. 

Then my phone rang, it was the owner of the job I just quit. I heard a crash as I read the call display and looked around to realize...it was in my head. All my everything was crashing down around me with the insistent ringing of my cell phone. Glancing at the time I decided not to answer as S and T were expected home right away. They suggested it was probably an exit interview or something like that. S had a similar boss at one point and told me to be careful: don't get talked into going back. Of course not! Nothing could convince me to be the Packaging Coordinator again.

But I was offered a different position. I called her back and spoke briefly about the job and why I quit. It was hard to talk about, but I made a point of telling her how one of the people I was supervising was making fun of me because I'm fat. I've never been teased for that. Not ever. I didn't know how to react or what to do so I did nothing. It went away, but the sensation of hurt is what carried me through each day of work after that. The owner had an appointment and asked me to call her back later in the afternoon about a new opportunity.

An afternoon of dread. I drove J around with my face pinched and wore my shoulders for earrings. When we got home I found I was looking at the floor a lot, and realized I wasn't straightening my back. I picked up my phone and stared at the black, blank face for an hour trying to figure out what to say or if I should even call back. I did. Eventually.

I accepted the job offer of reorganizing the warehouse. Physically moving stuff to make it more efficient - my dream job! Seriously, I excel at this kind of thing. I had one more day off and then would begin.

When I got to work I pulled into my parking spot...and found it hard to get out of the car. I didn't want to be in the building. Every nerve felt like it was right up against the top layer of my skin. The air around me felt like pudding - pushing on my skin and making it difficult to move. Ignoring all of this, I went in and began to live my nightmare.

I like a clear job description with enough duties to keep me busy all day. This job was ephemeral in nature with no guidance. The owner checked with me once or twice, saying how excited she was that we could get things organized...after we 'collect and capture' all the information possible about the warehouse. She wanted maps of ideas of what to do and seemed to want to exhaust every possible alternative before moving one single thing. I tried. I really did. I spent an entire day staring at a map. I spent the next day typing up my ideas. On the third day I told her I really needed to actually move things and selected an area with the least amount of disruption to begin. "Yes, absolutely, we will consider what we can do and how to do it" was her answer. I pushed for information about discontinued items so I could at least remove them. After being given the info, I was told to consult with the shipper and my old trainer, then come back to the owner so she can review it and then I could possibly see if maybe it could be boxed up and stored or maybe recycled. I died inside a little. This project could have taken one full day (and I'm being generous here) and what I heard the owner say to another employee is how we could absolutely have that project done before Christmas. I saw then that no matter what plan I had, the owner would roadblock me. She wanted change, but without knowing the future and knowing for sure if it would work.

Three days in and I was already dark inside. My bowels had liquefied and three Imodiums left an achy emptiness in my belly. The cycle of coffee to stimulate and beer to sedate was wearing on me. I sat at my desk in disgust with myself at my damp armpits and bra band that felt too tight. When I walked all I could hear was the revolting swish/swish of my upper thighs rubbing together through the denim. My eyes slid over to the bottom right corner of the laptop I was using to check the time...six minutes from the last time I looked. I noticed some noise inside my head and turned my attention to it: if I skip lunch I can reasonably leave a half hour early...or maybe 3 pm, that would be ok, not too early...how about 1:30? that's only eight minutes from now. I made it to 2 pm, made an excuse of a broken kitchen tap (true, it is broken, too much trouble to call a plumber at the moment so I was ignoring it) and flew out of the building.

I knew as I drove that I would not return. So I quit again. I sent an email close to 5 pm that day in the midst of a job application flurry. This time leaving no room for argument, lying like a rug saying I accepted a position closer to my home. This time I won't answer if the owner calls, but I don't really think she will call. 

I expected to feel happier but instead I'm just relieved. In the shower I noticed my back was stiff but not where the arthritis is located, my belly was faintly achy in the bowel region, that the idea of sleeping for the day is more appealing than any other thought. Drying off there was a tiny spark in my brain. Maybe I could write something, maybe one of the jobs I applied for will call, maybe a really interesting job will be posted today. But first, maybe a nap.

27 November 2015

Mom and Daddy

I enjoy a nice poached egg chopped up on top of buttered toast with a gentle sprinkling of salt and pepper. Poaching an egg has been a treat up until about a year or so ago because my poachers would never quite work right. You know, where you crack the egg into a little bowl that sits on top of a pot of water - but the water can't touch the bottom of the egg bowl. I would routinely screw this up somehow.

Deciding that going to a restaurant and paying $6 for toast and eggs was getting ridiculous, I went to YouTube and watched some famous guy explain it to me (Gordon Ramsay? Jamie Oliver? can't remember). Following the instructions carefully I made perfect poached eggs! The problem before was water was too hot so the egg wasn't wrapping around itself.

As I made my first successful poached egg and ate it with relish, I went to grab my phone to call my mom and tell her how I did it. She was never able to poach eggs in a pot of water either(because her water was too hot also) and here I found a solution! I remembered before getting to the phone that my mom has died and she doesn't really need the information any more. 

Every time I make a poached egg I think about how YouTube has changed my life in terms of short, easy instructions on everyday things and how it could have maybe helped my mom. 

When I was around 17 I had a job interview at the SPCA dealing with the animals. I was a bit afraid of dogs, but loved cats, and thought it might be a good way of seeing if I wanted to be a veterinarian. The job was clear across the city in an area I'd never seen before. My mom told my dad that he should take me to the interview and he refused. Why? His reasoning was that if I couldn't find the building then I didn't really want to work there. My mom was upset with him but didn't volunteer to drive me either.

So I checked out the bus maps (long before Google maps) and the city map and saw that I'd have to take a bus and then the train and then another bus. Or after the train I could cross the tracks on foot and possibly walk to the building. I got on the bus, then the train, got off at the right stop...and couldn't figure it out. I had forgotten which direction I'd need to turn and couldn't figure out how to cross the tracks on foot. I couldn't remember which bus to take to get across the tracks either. I ended up not showing up for the interview :(

I never forgot this and since then I have always taken myself to whatever location the day before. This way I could get the timing right and know what the building looked like.

I went to a job interview today and goddammit if I didn't get in my own way first. I checked Google maps and saw where the building was. My interviewer gave me explicit instructions on how to get there. Google Street View wasn't available as it is a new development in a light industrial area.

What did I end up doing? Turning right instead of left, figuring out my mistake, driving in circles, using Google maps for directions (one minute away? HOW? Where the FUCK am I?), noticing the new development, tearing around the area (leaving a lot of tire rubber all over the place and worked my transmission hard), finding out the signage is tiny, and pulling in four minutes late. Luckily, my interviewer was wrapped up in something else so my tardiness went unnoticed. And the front area staff laughed a bit and said I passed the first test of finding the place.

Google maps and street view has made me lazy in checking out the area before an important meeting. Probably better to remember my dad and take myself to the location the day before.