How Do You Feel?
Yesterday was my three-month check-up with the doctor in charge of the medicinal portion of my mental health plan. As someone with Chronic Severe Depression and a Severe Anxiety Disorder, the psychology group I go to has doctors who specialize in medical therapy and others who specialize in talk therapy. Together with the patient a plan is developed and intended to help them as much as possible.
Yesterday’s appointment was; “Meh, okay.” The therapist asked standard questions; “Are you taking your meds? How do you feel? Have you noticed any changes in mood or behavior? Any major life changes?” I answered all of them and told her I was following my plan except for one suggestion she’s made many times. We don’t agree and I don’t think it’s a big deal. She, the professional, thinks otherwise. I told her; “Yes, I am still…” she simply replied; “You know how I feel about that!” and we kept going with the conversation. I found it humorous that’s all she has to say and it’s enough. I either have to trust her and do it or not. She’s told me the benefits and even though I don’t see them I choose to fully follow the mental health plan or not. Sigh.
We’ve all been there with people we love and care for. We give them advice about life and after a point, we decide not to tell them again and again. We let them choose and deal with the results. I’ve done this with many of the people I work with but it’s interesting, and a little uncomfortable, to be on the other side.
I have a friend who is dealing with a broken relationship in his life. He has tried reaching out, apologizing, offering to make good on the accused slight he did to the offending party but nothing has worked. The wounded one doesn’t want anything to do with the other, has expressed his hatred for my friend numerous times, and it is bothering my friend something fierce.
He asked the question; “What else can I do?” after he listed all the things he’s tried to do to make up for something he’s not even sure he did. “You’re going to have to let them hate you.” I know this isn’t the answer he wanted but it was the only answer to give. When someone has been hurt by us whether we meant to or not it is not within our power to make them forgive us, to restore a broken relationship. As soon as we become aware of the pain, betrayal, we’ve caused we should immediately go to them, express a contrite and sincere spirit of sorrow apologizing for the behavior and offer to make penance to satisfy the other who has been wronged. If they accept, that’s great but if they don’t accept we have to live with that and though it’s not easy it is our only option.
What we hope for, pray for, look for every opportunity to make it right again in the future. However, for now, we must bear the burden of hate, knowing we have done all things within our power to right the wrong. We live with their hate and the separation hoping a time will come when both can reconnect and restore what’s been torn apart and destroyed.
Yesterday I wrote about hearing the sound of a kitten but not being able to find it (“Listen” (https://thewannabesaint.com/2017/09/08/listen/). Today, I saw it for the first time. However, it wasn’t the way I wanted to be introduced. I was weeding near outdoor shelves and the weed whacker was on full throttle. Grass and dirt flying everywhere and when I was right next to the outdoor shelf all of a sudden the gray kitten (I now know what color it is) shot out from under the shelf running for dear life. I immediately turned off and put down the weed eater and went looking for it. Using my best “meow” and “here kitty kitty” I tried locating it to introduce myself and assure it wasn’t in any danger but no luck. It was in too much distress to come out of whatever hiding place it discovered. After I finished with the weeding I put out a little food and some water in hopes it will show up again. We’ll just have to wait and see.
A friend, who is a teacher, posted on Facebook that it can be difficult to reach students because of the trauma and distress they face in other parts of their lives. He lamented the impact a teacher can have because of the other challenges and difficulties his students are facing on a daily basis. I find this true in my work with men as well. Whether they are incarcerated, in a rehabilitation clinic, non-residential, divorced or living with mom and the children, most of these men have a painful story. They are impacted by their past experiences of neglect, abuse, heartbreaking home lives, and lack of positive male and female role models. These not only affect their current behavior but also wire their brains and condition their bodies to react in mostly negative ways.
What I’ve learned is that I can’t fix these men. It’s not in my power. What I can do is show them respect and kindness. I try to connect with each one personally. If I can establish a relationship built on kindness and respect amazing things can happen. I’m unable to help them all but I try and trust this is enough.
How we see ourselves is one of the most important roles of self-awareness.
I am amazed at two things; one is how un-self-aware some people are at times and how un-self-aware I am most of the time.
Last week an event happened which caused me to look at myself and see how petty I had been about a situation. I wish this awareness had happened during meditation, scripture reading, prayer or a time of reflection but it didn’t. I am thankful for not making a fool out of myself in front of anyone.
I wish it wasn’t so, that many times in life we didn’t have to gain a measure of self-awareness, wisdom, in such jarring and shameful ways but at least we learn and hopefully never repeat the mistakes, stubbornness, perhaps sinful behavior again.
Truly seeing ourselves for who we are can be painful and regretful. It can also be a relief and bring freedom to our spirits, chained by obliviousness, to who and what we are after seeing ourselves in the mirror of self-awareness.
This morning, during worship, Beth and I sat behind a couple who had an older son with Down’s Syndrome. (http://www.ndss.org/Down-Syndrome/What-Is-Down-Syndrome/) He sang the songs, clapped, laughed uproariously, and became so excited a few times his mom would whisper in his ear to settle him down.
Beth and I have worked with people with Down’s Syndrome before so he wasn’t bothering us. In fact, just the opposite, he enhanced my worship with his full commitment to what was happening around him. No worries about what others thought about what he was doing or about him.
Native Americans are said to have thought children with Down’s Syndrome had an insight to God because of their innocence. I always think about that when I am near or interacting with someone with Down’s Syndrome. From my work with them, I know they are not always so “innocent.” They can be mischievous, angry, playful, stubborn and emote with the best drama kings and queens. However, what they don’t do as often is hide what they’re feeling. Their good and not so good behavior, joys and frustrations, happy-go-lucky attitudes and refusal to do something they aren’t in the mood to do can be fulfilling or draining for their caretakers.
Their innocence is not ever doing anything wrong but rather their refusal to hide, be ashamed, be less than what they are no matter who’s watching. They aren’t governed by their need to impress or be thought well of by anyone
In that sense, they are not only innocent but also role models for the rest of us.