If We Were Having Coffee on Halloween….

Jack Mug Halloween coffee share

If we were having coffee, I would be using my Jack mug. No other other mug would be more appropriate today. I would ask about your week and your plans for Halloween. Are you dressing up? It’s so much fun. I haven’t done that in a while though.

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you Hubby and I are heading to his mother’s place for Halloween festivities. She usually has a Halloween themed buffet for everyone. This year, “everyone” is just her, Hubby and I. The rest of the clan has either moved away or is away on business. We’ll have a nice dinner and watch some vampire movies. My MIL is very picky about her Halloween/horror movies. Vampires have been approved, so we’ll bring our set of Underworld movies with us. She hasn’t seen any of them. I lent her “The Witches” last week, a movie based on Roald Dahl’s book of the same title. I’m looking forward to hearing what she thought. It was a favourite of mine as a kid…once I got over my fear of the Grand High Witch and figured out that real witches weren’t trying to kidnap me.

Have you seen it? Read the book?

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you I still get chills whenever I see Angelica Huston. She played the Grand High Witch so well. I have a clip below, but before you watch it, you have to know a little about real witches. They hate children, they can’t bear to be around them because they are disgusting and smell so bad. Children are taught to spot witches by a certain set of characteristics. Witches have no toes, they have stumpy square feet and must always wear square ended shoes. Witches have purple irises. Witches are also bald and always wear wigs.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you I have gotten over the frustration my MIL caused me last week. She wanted us to go out to visit her last weekend, she was lonely. We didn’t want to go because we were strapped for time and knew we would be spending a lot of time with her this weekend. Hubby felt guilty not going because his father was away and his sister had moved out recently. I came up with a compromise. She could come to dinner with us and my parents. This way she would get some company and Hubby and I would still have the rest of the day to run around get stuff done. Hubby thought this was great and called her to invite her. He gets off the phone and it turns out she was thrilled for the dinner invite, but she has also invited herself over to our place for the day. Not only can we not get anything done (which was the purpose of this plan to begin with), I have to get up extra early and make the place spotless before she comes over. *face palm* I was frustrated. Hubby lets his guilt get the better of him sometimes. In his defense though, she doesn’t listen. Her hearing isn’t good, but I think this is more of a selective hearing issue. She doesn’t hear “no” most of the time.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you how frustrating DBT (dialectical behaviour therapy) has been. In group I told them the MIL story and how I handled it. I thought I did a good job, but apparently not. They keep saying that I need to think more before I speak or act. I understand this and I think I evaluate the facts and my emotions before I do or say anything. If I spent anymore time doing so, I would never react to anything. I know they are trying to help, but they label me. It isn’t fair and it is not helping me with my issues. They assume I have borderline personality disorder (BPD) and assume that I react a certain way to the events I tell them about. Me telling them how I actually react seems to make no difference. It actually feels like those scenes in the movies where the character is sent to a psychiatric hospital and the more they insist they do not have a psychiatric disorder, the more they get treated as if they do. I suppose I could just smile and nod to whatever they say. It would help the others in the group that actually do have BPD, but it doesn’t help me. Isn’t that what I am there for though? Help?

If we were having coffee, I would tell you about the emerging theme I see here. Between my MIL, the DBT and my supervisor, it seems no one is listening to me. Considering there are three different situations, I would think the problem would be me. Maybe I am not being assertive enough? This is usually the problem. Since I am aware of this, I am consciously pushing myself to be more assertive than I usually am to get the message across. Maybe I am not being clear enough? What I say to them makes perfect sense to me. I have told my husband and a friend I work with about what I’ve said in these situations. They seem to understand the message I am trying to get across. So it is not that I am inarticulate. I suppose I could just stand firm and keep repeating myself, or say the same thing in a different way for them to understand. This is what I did with my supervisor. She is starting to listen now, but that took a year. A whole year! Ridiculous! Sometimes I feel like the only way to get people to listen is to be rude, aggressive or just yell at them. This is not the way I like to handle things. It creates resentment and in the DBT case, it would only reaffirm their labeling of me. I would like to give them all the benefit of the doubt and say it is not that they are choosing not to listen to me, but I don’t know what else to do. What do you do when being assertive is not enough?

If we were having coffee, I would say thank you for the chat. It helps to get my thoughts out of my head. I’m going to try to forget everything for the rest of the day and enjoy. I hope you will too.

Happy Halloween!

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Being Assertive

Being assertive is important for self-esteem. I met with my psychiatrist (Dr. Dreamy) last Friday. He suggested that I work on being more assertive in order to boost my self-esteem. He thinks in order to do this, I would benefit from regular talk therapy. Regular means once a week. I was doing this and it was covered by provincial health care, but you get a limited number of sessions, then you have to wait six months before you can go back. I’m on the six month waiting period now. I could go private and pay to see a psychologist once a week, but that’s not in the budget right now. The last time I did that, it was $130.00 per hour! That was a few years ago now, so I can only imagine what it must cost now. I explained all of this to Dr. Dreamy and we worked out a solution. I will see him every one to two months to talk things out, otherwise, I will read what he recommends and sort it out myself. It’s not ideal, but seeing as I’m an academic, reading and sorting it out myself is supposed to be my forte. So until I see Dr. Dreamy again in June, I am reading about self-esteem and how to be more assertive.

Being assertive is a way of acting that strikes a balance between being aggressive and submissive. I think aggressive is probably one of the last words someone would use to describe me, so I must be more on the submissive side. If you are submissive you end up doing a lot of things you don’t want to do which can create resentment, then tension and then open conflict. That sounds like me…except for the open conflict part. I guess I keep it bottled up, which only hurts me in the end. Here are some characteristics of submissive behaviour…

  • Discounting your own rights and/or needs
  • Not expressing your feelings
  • Feeling guilty or like you are imposing when asking for a favour
  • Overly invested in being nice and pleasing people

And the characteristics of assertive behaviour…

  • Simple and direct communication without attacking or manipulating
  • Standing up for yourself and your rights without feeling guilty
  • Communication of feelings honestly while maintaining respect for others

The list of submissive behaviours totally sounds like me in a lot of situations, especially at work and with authority figures. By not expressing my feelings, people (like my supervisor) are ignorant of my wants and needs. How can I expect my supervisor to recognize how overwhelmed I am if I don’t tell her?

So how can I be more assertive? I need to work on those three points I listed above. I think I’m alright at the first one. I stay calm when speaking to people, I maintain eye contact and an open posture. I know that it is important to use “I” statements rather than “you” statements. “You” statements come off as threatening or like you are setting blame. If I were to talk to my supervisor it would be better to say “I am feeling overwhelmed”, rather than “you are giving me an impossible amount of work to keep up with”.

I do have to work on communicating how I feel and not feeling guilty about it though. I often feel ambivalent about my wants and needs. I think that is part of the problem. I need to sit down and really think about what they are instead of just going with the flow. Maybe that’ll be another post.

zen lace circle colour

 

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