A Failed Negotiation: Talking to Myself

I have come from a family that habitually talks to themselves throughout the day. Not in the ‘Stay away from the crazy lady, Billy’ kind of way but more in the way that you constantly had to ask if they were talking to you. As a kid, I didn’t really understand why we did it nor did I truly care. It just seemed like that was what everyone did. As I got a little older and I would speak to myself in front of classmates or teachers while working, I would get sideways glances or the constant, ‘Who are you talking to?’ question that bewildered me for years. In boot camp, the habit was forcibly removed by a drill instructor who made me talk to a fire extinguisher until it would talk back, which luckily it never did. Today, as I mumbled to myself while completing some tasks at work, I was struck with the question that I never really considered: Why the heck do I do this?

The first reason, and likely the most obvious, is because I was taught to do this by mimicking my parents. I’m not really sure if my dad did this, but I am sure that both my mother and grandmother did, and still do, of which whom I take after the most. Thinking back, I can remember my grandmother fiddling about in the kitchen rattling off random things to herself as she prepared apple pies or large family meals. I can remember my mother walking back and forth in the living room preparing for a Stampin’ Up party passionately arguing with herself about how to set up the projects she had in store for the attendees. I can remember both of them while driving speaking to the other drivers, who obviously could not hear them, as they felt slighted by some slight irregardless of the looks they received from their passengers. Watch and repeat is the most common way to learn a habit. This does not answer the question of ‘why’ though.

I suppose it could be a useless thing that I kept after watching for years, like how both my mother and I twist our hair compulsively when nervous or bored or how my father and I scratch at the outside of our thumbs when our hands are passive or idle, but I think that this has more of a utility that I am disregarding. Watching myself talk to myself (note the redundancy) I considered that I tend to do it when trying to recall some information or when my mind is not focusing in the way I want it to. So maybe this strange habit has some utility after all. Maybe I use it as a style of scope to focus myself in the right direction and maybe I can turn a strange and sometimes awkward habit into a tool to help me start moving myself in the right direction.

So this leads me to my purpose on why I wanted to ponder this perplexing point: Why can’t I tell myself to do the things I want to do? Thus I come to the negotiating part of this discussion. It seems as though I am completely unable to negotiate with myself. The common tactic to motivate myself in the past was, do this and you’ll get rewarded. Like, do the dishes then you can have a cigarette. That worked well when I had the addictive motivation pushing me to complete my tasks, but has fallen out of favor now that I (luckily) quit. Also, it is slightly difficult when what I really want is outside of even my own knowledge. I guess that circles me back to the talking to myself point. I need to have a true conversation with the part of me, the chaotic part, that wants me to want. I need to look at my motivations and figure out how to direct them into something that I really want to have. So I am going to ask myself a question that is difficult to answer.

What do I want?

Not what will make me happy, not what do I need, not what am I responsible for or to, but what do I want? All the rest of those questions need to fall into line with the previous, but I suppose the want needs to be shaped around the need and responsibility. Being neurotic as I am, this should be a fun internal conversation.

Joke of the day:

I just flew in and man are my arms tired!

 

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Seizing Life, not Seizing on the floor

Update on my life

To start this off, I have officially gone one whole month without having a single seizure. I think this is probably the longest I’ve gone without a seizure for over a year and it is amazing. I’m finding that it is a lot easier to focus on my future again now that I realize that I might be able to stop having seizures completely at some point in my life. They stopped when I decided to make them stop. Now I’m not saying that people with psychogenic seizures can just stop having seizures by saying no more seizures. I am saying though that I think I can get my seizures under control with the help of my family, the medications I’m taking now, and recognizing that I I’m okay.

To all of you out there that read this blog on a semi-regular basis, I really appreciate your support and I am sorry that I haven’t been on for about a month. I have been working on some other things and I am trying to get those off the ground. So I guess I’m going to give a quick update on what has been going on with me and my family.

Running through the kids I’m going to start with Goose. He seems to have been having a rough go of it lately. I’m not sure if it’s because he’s getting close to being a teenager and he’s just trying to challenge everything in his or if he has something more going on, but this last few months have been rough on him. He has been sneaking video games at night, having some anger issues, and fighting back against Wife and I on almost everything. I’m really hoping he’s just figuring himself out a little bit and that things will calm down with him soon. He is still showing that he’s a great kid and that he cares about people he’s just having a really hard time with the day-to-day stuff.

Bubba on the other hand seems to be falling into himself pretty well right now, despite the oncoming move of his best friend. He is still giving us all sorts of trouble but in his own special sort of way so it kind of just works out. I think the baseball season is really good for him because he’s able to be really physically active, spend time with his friends, and stand out in a special way which is hard to do in our large family. Watching him on the baseball diamond is something special for me and Wife because it’s one of the places that he shows the better side of himself.

Banana boy is also doing really well right now. Although his baseball season just ended, he seems to be looking forward to Summer. He’s doing really well with his sister which is new and fun to see. He is showing how sweet of a kid he can be while also starting to grow into a pretty strong little man. He is actually really impressing me with the way that he’s been able to handle the extremely busy baseball season. He also lost his first two teeth and now has a cute lisp. So if there was ever any doubt that he was the cutest 7 year old, that has now been shaken away.

Princess, last but not least, has reached a whole new level of crazy. She is testing my wife and I’s patience on such a regular basis that I’m not sure how much more we can take. Although her Tantrums are starting to subside a little, she is finding new ways to get under our skin. She is also started to realize that she can get me to do things for her by showing me a little extra love. I think that is something she picked up on from her mom.

That brings me to Wife. She is still just the amazing person she always is even with all the crazy stuff looming around the corner. One of her best friends is moving away and taking kids that she has fallen in love with with her. Even with plans to go out and visit them, it is still something that she’s going to have a very difficult time with. On top of that, there has been an uncertainty hovering above us in regards to my work, and with that our livelihood. She has been so remarkably supportive, caring, and strong giving me the opportunity to really decide what the best direction to go is. Without her I don’t think I would have been able to deal with anything that’s been going on, and I love her more for that then she will ever know.

I suppose that leaves me only to talk about, something that most of you don’t really tune in to hear about, you know I needed to throw in a little self depreciative humor. I am still a little bit Lost In transition, not quite sure what I’m doing or why I’m doing it. It brings me to a meeting I had to attend St Joseph health. In that meeting they said that we were all in healthcare for a reason and that we should think about that when we’re having our caregiver burnout. I think that was the moment when I realized that I was in it for the money only, that I didn’t really care as much as I should, and that I felt like some of the reasons that I directed my life towards Healthcare no longer mattered. On the counter end of that, I don’t know how to work just for money, no matter how simple that may seem. I’m torn again between making a decision that is selfish, or self-serving in some, or going back to a position but I’m not sure I can keep. I have prayed on this relentlessly, though I’m not sure I’m praying the right prayer. I wouldn’t even call what I’m going through a crisis anymore because my mental health is back on track. Now I’m just finding that all the targets that I had originally aimed at or really just goals and ambitions based on receiving the praise I thought I needed. Either way, I know that God will give me what I need and that I don’t need to worry in the long run. At this point it’s really just about making some move and dealing with the consequences, whatever they are.

Good bad or indifferent, I know but I will be able to support my family doing something. The worst part is that I have options laid out in front of me but a lot of people would want. I suppose right now I’m sounding more like a bratty child than my children do when I tell them they can’t have a cookie. I just need to, pardon the phrase, man up and do what I know I have to do. I will have some update probably by Monday on what I have decided and at that time I will really be focusing back on a few different things. No matter where I make my living I will still do my best to continue to write because I think it is helping my mind stay clear, and keeping me from twitching on the floor while drooling and fighting the Invisible Man. Wish me luck.

Joke of the day:

What’s a vampire’s favorite drink?

A Bloody Mary!

The Selfishness of being Selfless

We are in a culture now that is seeming to pride itself on how selfless someone can be. The people who exemplify this the best are those that accept any idea, thought, or group as completely equal. A good example of how this is affecting our society right now is the whole Boy Scout’s now accepting girls into their midst. Now I’m not a huge fan of destroying all social norms, but I get that sometimes you need to bend some rules. It made me think a little though: When does it start to become selfish to be selfless?

So, as always, I need to break this apart a little for myself to figure out exactly what I am asking. When I say selfless, I mean always putting others before yourself. I know that this is a good way to live your life to some extent. It is important to think about others and to be willing to sacrifice a little bit of yourself to the greater community to the extent that it helps both you and your community. If you look at the Christian idea of this, Jesus asks us to love our neighbor as we love Jesus and to do for others. The whole Golden Rule thing also goes into that. There are other secular versions of that idea as well though I’m not as well versed on those. I suppose what I am saying is for someone to be selfless, in my opinion, is to believe in something greater than themselves and sacrificing parts of themselves to that idea.

So when does it start to lose efficacy to be so selfless and when does it really just become self serving. I think that happens when you start seeing things that are more of an agenda or an ideology driven action. What I am seeing a lot right now is people who are identifying more as their group identity than as themselves an individual. So, in that concept, people who say, “I am a —ist” or identify only as their religion start to fall into that trap. So if you are so blinded by whatever your -ist, or -ism is that you cannot see how it is negatively affecting your community, you have become selfish. One thing in that is also, if you give away who you are as an individual to the community and don’t put your thoughts out into the ether of the world, then you are failing to use your talents to help the world. James 1:17 is a great verse that speaks to me about that from the Bible. The Bible also tells us to have a reasoned justification for our faith and I think that means that we should always be questioning what the Bible is telling us and what the people interpreting the Bible are telling us. We should use our brains to figure out how Jesus wants us to  live, not just blindly listen to a pastor or take every verse from the Bible at it’s exactitude. (Sorry young age creationists, I can’t buy a 6,000 year old Earth)

So back to the idea of selfless selfishness. I think it equates out like this: You need to be willing to have some self reflection on your thoughts and actions and how they impact the community you live in. An example of this for me is something like when I am trying to improve my family life. I can’t just destroy who I am as an individual inside my family to give my kids and wife every part of me. I’m not saying that I should hold parts of me back but what I am saying is that I need to be who I am to really make my family the best it can be. I tend to see this most with Wife and I’s arguments. When we argue, I try to placate her down and back instead of giving her time to reflect and adjust. I try to stifle her back into the norm because the conflict makes me uncomfortable by either shooting her ideas down or giving in on my own ideas. This is bad, VERY bad. I need to allow her to be upset for a moment and to disagree with me, even if it’s uncomfortable. Beyond that, I need to stop trying to “win” the arguments because arguments shouldn’t be a win/lose situation.

In a more Macro-view of this I would say it should break down like this. I should be trying to find out where to input my talents in the world to make a better world I live in. I think we all should be, whatever those talents are. Beyond that, I think it is important to know that there will be some sacrifice involved in that to become the person you are meant to be, and that is okay. That sacrifice is hard, but avoiding it is one of the most selfish things you can do. It hurts to let part of you die to move forward, but it hurts the community more not to. Fun times.

I am going to do a 12 step breakdown of a few of my issues over the next few weeks that will follow a almost addict-like guideline. Thank you all for continuing to read and support!

Joke of the day:

What’s black and white and red all over?

A Zebra with a Sunburn!

Seizures and Impossible Prayers

I have a seizure disorder. It’s not something that I like to identify about myself to people not because the seizures themselves are embarrassing, but because I am embarrassed by what seizure disorder I have. I have what is called Psychogenic Non-Epileptic Seizures which is basically a somotaform disorder or conversion disorder that expresses psychological pain in a physical way. In my case, I have seizures. The vast majority of people who have this type of seizure suffer from some form of PTSD. I have very little clue on what is causing my seizures, but I am going to say that I am determined to make them stop. Our pastor today said that we should be praying impossible prayers for people in our lives and when I think of one for the most important person in my life, it is for these to stop (I love you Wife). So the question of the day is this: How do I stop having these seizures?

The obvious treatment option is to go into therapy and start working this stuff out, which I have made an appointment for this upcoming week. So that at least is a legit step in the right direction for me. I have concerns about this though, as I have not had the best experience with “talk therapy” in the past. I have not put my full effort into getting better though which likely has made building a relationship with a therapist almost impossible. This time, I am going in with guns holstered ready to learn and figure out how to stop this stuff. I don’t think that therapy alone is going to fix this though. I also think I need to start working on prayer.

Now before I get any “What?! That is not a treatment option!” I want to say that there is real utility in prayer on a couple of fronts, especially when considering a psychological disorder. For me, God is a huge and impact part of life. God IS love and therefore he has to be a part of me working through any issue. In this, I consider myself like a child asking my Father what to do and that approach I hope will help me move in a wise and correct direction. Prayer alone though is meaningless if I do not start taking intellectual steps to correct these issues though as well.

So, as I said earlier, PNES are caused by a traumatic event in most cases. If that’s the case, how do I process events correctly? I think it is best described like how you would approach handling any issue from your past. Let’s break it down like when someone steals your parking spot. There is the initial moment of anger, rage, whatever you want to call it. Next there is the reaction, like yelling at your steering wheel and punching the roof of the car while your passengers cringe and pretend like they don’t know you. Then there is the processing of the event, like deciding to let it go because there is another parking spot up the street a little (and walking is healthy!). Then you assimilate the data, learn from it or not, and the experience moves off into the ether of your memory. So I believe that I likely have had an event, or multiple events, that I missed some of those steps on. It could be that I never assimilated the data or that I never processed the event. My issue now is that the memory, whatever memory it is, has been shoved into the ether of my memory and I can’t quite recall what is causing the distress. FRUSTRATION!!!

I suppose I will likely start to figure this out as I work through therapy, but I am also going to try to process through my memories and find the ones that still elicit some emotional response. There is a theory out there that if you can think of something that happened more than six months ago and still feel actively emotionally disrupted, then you aren’t “over it” yet. My next few weeks are going to be focused on processing items in my past that I can recall being emotionally difficult and processing through them the best that I can. It sounds like a lot of fun in a lot of ways. Lucky me! All I have to say about this is, wish me luck and if you are willing to, pray this impossible prayer for me.

God, Please help me to find the ability to find the event in my past that has caused these PNES. Please help me to remember that I can move on, that I have been blessed and that my past is in the past. Please, Lord, give me the strength to stop seizing and to learn to process my past for my future. Thank you. AMEN.

Joke of the day:

Why was six afraid of seven?

It wasn’t, numbers are not sentient entities and thus have no concept or capacity for fear.

I’m on a Boat (Got my Flippy Floppy’s)

Image result for hidden images sailboat

I am a lucky man. I don’t think I allow myself to feel the weight of that enough. I am lucky for a lot of reasons. Reasons like having son’s and a daughter, having my wife, being able to experience some amazing things like riding in a boat with my family, and for so many more things. Knowing that I have been blessed the way I have puts a bit of a rose colored blinder on my life, making it a little harder for me to boil things down when I need to. This six week sabbatical has skewed my vision even more, making the upcoming decision I have to make about my employment future all the harder. I have this framework for my writing that has been to generate a question and work my way through it. So today’s question is this: What do I not want to look at about myself?

In the past, I would have said that I don’t want to look at my purpose, but that is obviously not true. I consistently look at my purpose and conflate that with what I do for money. That, though, is unfortunately a little self centered. My purpose is obviously to continue to help my children thrive and to keep enough money flowing into my household to make sure we are comfortable. I have other things that I like to do, but nothing drives me more than that. I think staring at what my purpose is for so long has done nothing but drive Wife a little crazy. It’s like when you are staring at those ‘Can you see the Hidden Picture’ things. When you try to focus on finding the picture, all you see are patterns, but when you relax your eyes and stop trying so hard, the picture magically appears. I was spending so much time trying to find my work purpose, I missed that my purpose was to just be there for my kids and Wife.

So that leaves the question, what don’t I want to look at? I might have said before that it is my flaws. The problem there is that I look for my flaws all the time. I may not be able to see them all, and I do ignore some of the ones that are pointed out to me when I don’t want to hear them, but I am adamant about improving myself. I am always looking for ways to grow and develop into a better person. I have an aim of who I want to be and I strive to make myself into that man a little more everyday. Some of what I consider my biggest flaws are easily pointed out: I’m lazy at times, I avoid meaningful conflicts and engage in silly ones, I am braggadocios, I exaggerate, and I’m not as honest as I could be. Those are things I have actively been working on over the last few months and I think I have been making good strides in correcting some of those flaws (though I suppose they will follow me around for life)

If you are thinking, “Oh, then you must not have an issue looking at anything about yourself” you would be very wrong. I have found out what I don’t want to look at, and when I realized what it was I immediately turned away from poking into it. What I don’t want to know is, why do I do things that I KNOW to be wrong. This is something that I don’t think anyone wants to know about themselves. This, beyond the obvious selfish reasons that people do wrong, is deeply disturbing. I, unfortunately, have not been brave enough to grab an example I am willing to share yet. The underlying motivations for doing something outside my own moral scope are a bit unnerving though. I am going to give a very bland example to help describe what I am thinking. Imagine you are walking and you have a piece of trash in your hand. You know it is bad to litter, yet you throw the trash on the ground anyway because no one is looking and you aren’t near a trash can. The problem is that you have just done something that your own moral compass doesn’t like so there is some internal strife. Then you do this again, and again, and again. Eventually, you make a habit of doing something directly contradictory to your morals and start to despise yourself. It’s not a good thing. So what are the motivations? On the surface, it is convenient to ignore the morals, but deeper than that you are doing something evil. You are betraying yourself, your own thoughts. You are giving a negative voice inside yourself a little more power of you. You are giving yourself a method to ignore other moral structures and shifting yourself into someone you don’t want to be more and more. Okay, that got a little to dark…

Joke of the day:

What’s the quickest way to mail a little horse?

Use the Pony express!

Imagine, if you can

I have been thinking a lot lately about purpose, as you have probably seen from my previous EVERY blog. I know that at this point I have likely beaten the horse to death, buried it, and then built a mall on top of it, but I still haven’t quite worked the problem of purpose out in my head yet. I spoke with a doc at the VA today that asked me a question that I hate to be asked. Do you like your job? I know the obvious answer to this is no at the moment, especially considering that I am on a leave of absence and that is the answer I gave her. The problem that I found in answering this way is that I don’t have the answer to the question that follows: Then what do you want to do? Ouch, that one hurts.

This put me back into the conundrum of purpose. Let’s break that down for myself for a moment. I know that purpose does not have to be work and I know that a lot of people find purpose in developing their family, their relationships, their hobbies, or a multitude of other things. When I break down purpose in my life, I look at it through a selfish lens and at the moment that seems necessary. I am going to throw out my excuses for doing this right now for public dissection. First, Wife and I’s relationship is super stable. She is awesome and I appreciate her more than I can ever express. If she ever needs anything from me, I will give it to her without question. She knows this and we are constantly growing closer everyday. I don’t want to change anything about our relationship. Second, are my kids. They are my life and almost every goal I set is to make their lives better. I want them to be able to follow any dream they can set, but only if it leads them to a satisfying life. Last (but not last in order) is my relationship with God. I am working on that as much as I can and trying to find God in all the things I do.

So, I suppose the only “purpose” I have left to find is my career. I had hoped for years that healthcare would be my final place and that I would one day run a hospital. The more I work in healthcare, the less I find the industry exciting. I find that I don’t feel excited to go to work, but feel a sense of dread. I have interviewed at many places since coming to that realization and am finding that maybe it’s less of the healthcare industry and more of the “office” setting that I disdain. I want to be myself somewhere, but I still don’t know who that is. When I was in high school, I was my brother, then I joined the military and I was a spattering of mentors, I got out of the military and I was a vagabond reflection of my uncle, and now I am my dad. The questions I suppose I need to ask are: Who am I? What do I do? What SHOULD I do?
Am I meant to be a musician? A sailor? A corpsman? A student? A scanner? A medical biller? A supervisor?

I have a great answer to all of those ‘Am I’ questions: No. I am not other people, even if I am an outstanding mimic. I can fake it with the best of them, putting on a facade by mirroring the actions of people I know, but I just can’t keep it up. I just can’t quite pin down my interests in the right way and my fear of diving into being a real life writer and trying to make some money doing it is crippling.

Magic 8 ball, What should I do for a career?
Ask again later…

Joke of the day

Why did the man run around his bed?

Because he was trying to catch some sleep!

 

Smile for ALL the Pictures

I don’t like the sound of crying. Not in a “Oh, your so sad let me help you!” kind of way but more in a “Stop it, stop it now” kind of way. This is never more evident to me than with my own children. I hear them cry and it is like nails on the chalkboard, screeching across my ears and pushing me to the limits of my patience. Did I mention that I have four kids, all of whom are extremely quick to cry? Over the last 11 years (my oldest being 11 now) I have heard the multitude of cries that a baby can have from the tongue out flipping about to the full on blood curdling scream. I thought that by this time, the amount of crying in my house would have subsided, but that is not quite the case. It makes me think, why does it bother me so much?

It’s not the noise. I like noise, most of the time. I like it when the kids are running around and having fun, being crazy little monsters. I enjoy them jumping around and squealing with joy. Wife needs that noise in the house to keep her sane most of the time, or at least so I think. The noise of crying is different though. As Princess lay crying in her bed this morning, for reasons unknown to anyone but her, we realized that she sounded much like a cat whose tail was being pulled by a gorilla…Maybe the noise is a little bit of the problem.

I don’t think it is the fact that the children are sad when they are crying that gets to me so much. Most of the time, when our kids actually cry, there is nothing really wrong with them. This morning, Banana-Boy was crying because he forgot his backpack in the house. I had the backpack in my hand…directly in front of him…trying to hand it to him…I think that is some of the issue. I want them to save their tears for when there is something to cry about. I don’t want to go back to how it was with Goose when he was little when I would say, “Your no longer aloud to cry, for ANY REASON.” That was ineffective and cruel. I also don’t want to be the parent who says, “Oh baby, get the tears out! I know it’s rough that Dora the Explorer is over, but look another episode in 15 seconds!” I suppose finding the happy medium is my goal for now.

Maybe it’s the fact that they cry a lot more than I expected them to. Bubba likes to go from extreme laughter, bouncing around like a kangaroo drinking Red Bull, to full on tears like a nihilistic goth kid who just dropped his birthday cake. I can’t say much though, I was the exact same as a kid. Emotional control has never been my strong point. Maybe that’s why it bothers me so much. Maybe watching my kids have all the same problems as me is more difficult than I would have imagined. I only wish I knew how to help them instead of feeling like they should just figure it out.

Wife and I have discussed this a few times. One of the things that I have said is that if I knew how to snap out of my funks, I would help my kids do the same. It’s one of those moments that you look at your kids and hope that they do better than you. You know, you always want the next generation to do better. I just hope I give them enough tools to figure this out instead of crippling them with emotional baggage that they’ll never be able to unpack.

Joke of the Day:

What’s the difference between a piano, glue, and a tuna?

You can tuna piano but you can’t piano a tuna.

What about the glue?

I knew you’d get stuck on that