MLK Day 2017


At age 26, Martin Luther King, Jr. led the Montgomery bus boycott. At age 27, he served as the president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (which he helped found at age 26). At age 34, MLK organized the nonviolent protests in Birmingham and helped organize the 1963 March on Washington where he delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech. At age 35, he received the Nobel Peace Prize. In 1968 at age 39, King was planning an occupation of Washington DC called the “Poor People’s Campaign” but he was assassinated on April 4th before the occupation began on May 12th.

What can I say I accomplished by age 26? Age 27? Even age 35 that made even an infinitesimal impact on this world?

Today, I reflect on what I have done….what I can continue to do. MLK’s dream shouldn’t have been a DREAM. His dream of freedom and equality was his “God given” right.

What touches me most about his speech is this quote:

“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”

I’m sad today because I feel we have failed in achieving his goal. But I have HOPE (although my pessimistic ass lacks faith in many) that WE shall overcome. Together. United. Indivisible.

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Lessons in Communication


I’m jotting all this down for a friend.

Over my 15 years of marriage, I’ve had to educate myself about communication. We all know that men and women struggle with communication, especially in marriage. These are a few of the things I have learned about communication over the years. Not only are they applicable in marriage but also in any other relationship in life whether it is at work, friendships, family, etc.

One of the first counselors I saw taught me about volume. Whenever Luke and I would try to discuss a hot topic, he would immediately get LOUD and talk over me. In turn, I would get louder than he was and try to make my point. Before you know it, we’re in a yelling match. Coming from my history, yelling does nothing but send me into a shell or send me running. Things would immediately worsen and I would bow out without making my point. By the time I’d cooled down and was ready to talk, I’d forgotten all my good points I wanted to make. So, this counselor said that I should not let things escalate. Start the discussion in my normal tone and HOLD my normal tone throughout. This was a HARD thing for me to gain control of but he explained that if I kept an even tone and Luke began yelling, then I retort with an even tone explaining I just wanted to discuss this topic, Luke would eventually come back down to my level. And if not, explain that we needed to table the discussion until Luke felt he could discuss things civilly. This does work! And we’ve been able to discuss many volatile topics without yelling.

The same counselor talked to me about phrasing and how things you say are perceived by the other party. To begin, he suggest I not begin sentences with “you” and try to avoid using that word if at all possible. Starting a sentence with “you” is immediately perceived by the other party as an accusation, an attack or finger-pointing. For example, “You never put your dishes in the dishwasher.” How would it make you feel being told that? Instead of phrasing things in the “you” form, try to say things as they relate to you personally. How did this problem make you feel? How did this problem upset you? So, in the dishes example, you might say this instead, “Having to put the dishes in the dishwasher makes me feel like I’m a maid.” Or even this, ” When I come home from work and find all the dirty dishes, it upsets me. I work hard too and I need help with things around the house.” Try to steer away from “you” UNLESS it is followed by a positive. “You look beautiful today” or “You are such a great organizer and I appreciate it so much.”

The second part of that initial phrase is use of the word “never”. The words “never” and “always” are exaggerations. If you think about the phrase, “You never put your dishes in the dishwasher.” Is that 100% true? Probably not. Try to take those words out of your expressions. And again, word it in a way that expresses your feelings. Always and Never statements are BEGGING for defensiveness.  They are felt as an attack and will in turn produce a defensive response. Try to phrase things in a way that will be more productive. What are you missing? What do you need?

I am as guilty as the next person of not expressing my needs. I tend to sigh or complain instead of asking for help. A huge part of building a relationship is expressing your needs. On days when I feel overwhelmed, I’m guilty of running around trying to get  everything done while being a grumpy martyr. This is also a very tough one for me. I feel like certain tasks are MY duties and that asking for help is burdening my spouse. But when you get down to it, we married and became one; these are OUR tasks. And there is nothing wrong with asking for help when you need it. When you ask nicely, generally your spouse will gladly help. For example, I have 4 cats…much to the dismay of my spouse. The cats are MY responsibility. But I have asked him at times to please help me and feed the cats or clean the litter box. Guess what? He’s done it. Delivery is key. Or when I feel overwhelmed with tasks that need to be done immediately, I have asked for help and told him the things I need to get done and he’s picked what he can help with. But he can’t help if he doesn’t know what needs to be done. You cannot assume your spouse knows all the items on your to-do list.

So far, all discussion has been about verbal communication. But speaking is not the only communication method. All people are different and something that is seen as positive affirmation to one person may be meaningless to the next. I read a book by Gary Chapman called The 5 Love Languages. Each person has their own love language. The languages discussed are: words of affirmation, acts of service, receiving gifts, quality time and physical touch. You might be a person that thrives on words of affirmation. “Thank you so  much for doing my laundry today. I appreciate it so much.”  But your spouse may prefer physical touch. My husband and I are great examples. I am all about those affirmation words. I need to know that I’ve done a lot and done it well. He, on the other hand, prefers physical touch…a kiss or a hug when he comes home or even me holding his hand while watching TV. I’m not a touchy, feely person so this is a tough one for me. I need to consciously think about doing something to make him feel loved. It could very well be the same for him. Perhaps he’s not used to praising good works or deeds. We BOTH have to work at this. Constantly. These are things that don’t come naturally to us.

One more fantastic book I’ve read regarding relationships is by Harriet Lerner called The Dance of Intimacy. Wow! What a revelation about relationships of ALL kinds. The things you learn in this book apply to family, work, friends, spouses, etc. I can’t possibly cover all of it here but a great example in my relationship with my spouse is the one of over-functioning vs under-functioning. I’m a classic under-functioner. In other words, when things get stressful, I shut down; I can’t accomplish what needs to be done. Luke. on the other hand, is a classic over-functioner. He will try everything within his means to compensate for my needs…to the point of smothering. You have to understand each other’s needs and not over-step your boundaries. I highly recommend this book to everyone, regardless the type of relationship you’re struggling with. It even makes sense in the mother/daughter or sister/sister relationship. Each person has his/her way of dealing with issues. Neither is right or wrong; you do what works best for you. But it helps to know and understand why people act and react the way they do.

As I think of more, I may add to this. For now, that should be enough. 🙂

 

Apology Letter to a Friend


For many years now, I’ve gone back and forth on whether I should reach out and make contact with you over how our friendship ended years ago.

Sometimes I thing that anyone under the age of 30 shouldn’t be held accountable for their behavior. And 30 is being generous. But truthfully, we are all accountable for our actions at any age and should use serious consideration before making any rash decisions or actions. This is going to branch out into several different directions here but hopefully I will get my message across.

At the time things fell apart in our friendship, you know my parents’ marriage was falling apart. My mother caught my father cheating on her and given the dynamics of my upbringing, I saw my father in as a terrible person. I hope you can relate this to the issues at hand in our friendship at the time. I do not in any way use that as an excuse; that is merely an explanation of where my mindset was at the time things were crumbling for us.

Now, let me jump forward to current day. I think we both know that wisdom comes from living. And living through tough times, well…that makes a person understand a lot more than one who has never dealt with such. Hardships cannot be ranked; it is more about how these hardships affect us than it is the event itself. But I’ve weathered several. Not only have I dealt with hardships, but I’ve been through 15 years of marriage. NOTHING will open your eyes like marriage. I was always told it would be “hard” but that came with no details of how or why. But hard doesn’t even begin to cover it. Every marriage has it’s own set of complications.

I can’t say my parents’ marriage problems were all my dad’s fault. But probably mostly his fault. Luke and I have our own problems. Less than most but we still have them. Sometimes HUGE. Big enough that I’ve almost left. So who am I to judge other’s decisions on how or what they do with their marriage? How am I to know what is or isn’t allowed in that marriage? I can’t and I don’t. And it was wrong of me to judge you. And I humbly apologize.

Things happen; people change. But mostly, your business is your business and not mine. Years pass. And it took me MANY to realize I was wrong. But I was. And I’m sorry.

Now, I realized after I started working at CPASoftware and met Luke that he was the same one that you once spoke of. I didn’t know that when I initially met him. WOW. That’s breaking a girlfriend rule. I don’t steal another friend’s man. But I saved you from it. 🙂 Trust me.

Much love,
DeAnna

My dream


I dreamed I saw you…out on the street somewhere. You were happy. You were healthy. You looked wonderful. You weren’t dead after all. I couldn’t believe it. You saw me too…and smiled. You came to me and spoke but wouldn’t let me touch you or get too close. I remember all I wanted to do was hug you but I couldn’t. And you went along on your way.

I saw you again and again. Each time, same thing. You wouldn’t let me get too close. But you were jovial and healthy. And I was so thankful for that.

Finally, after seeing each other several more times, you said I could hug you. I reached out for you and pulled you close. I couldn’t believe I was actually holding you again. It felt exactly as it had before; we fit together perfectly and a calm, peaceful feeling came over me. You felt it too. I know you did because you wouldn’t let go.

Great information for dealing with a narcissist


Great information for dealing with a narcissist

I’m slowly making my way through the book Co-Dependent No More. CBT comes in quite handy in learning how to break the cycle of co-dependency. One of the things I’ve recently made great strides in is accepting my relationship with my husband for who he is and not reacting to his actions or behaviors. It wasn’t easy and it’s not mastered completely, but I’m progressing.

“He does not say anything when I explain inner bonding, intent or control – just stares.”

You need to explore what feelings you are avoiding by trying to change him. You need to come to terms with the fact that while you are explaining Inner Bonding and explaining the intent to learn and the intent to control to him, your own intent is to control!

He is likely in complete resistance to being controlled by you. You need to either completely accept him exactly the way he is, or leave the relationship, but ‘reaching him,’ changing him, controlling him is not an option. Leaving the relationship before healing your end of this system – which is very much about trying to control him – will only delay you in healing your end of the system. So I suggest that, for the time being, you accept him as he is and put your attention on learning to love your little girl in the face of his disconnected behavior. Every time you focus on him instead of you, you are disconnecting from yourself and making him responsible for you.

Christmas 2012


Christmas when I was growing up was just the greatest time ever! My mother made sure everyone came to our house. We always had LOADS of family come stay and I was so excited. I can remember one exceptional year that we had so many people coming, we didn’t have room for everyone so my parents rented a Winnebago and put it in our backyard. All the older “kids” got to sleep in it and I was so jealous. Kelly and Tracy were allowed but I wasn’t. I had to sleep inside on a pallet on the floor. But during the day, I could go out in the Winnebago with them and hang out. They spent most of their time putting in different 8 track tapes supplied by Kelly’s boyfriend Tommy. What a blast.

My mom was always such a great hostess but not at all putting on heirs. She loved to cook for everyone and made sure everyone had a cozy place to sleep. The thought of me having to do all her preparations sends me into a panic attack. She never was panicked though. I can remember the kids playing all day and then the adults settling us all down to one area of the house at night while they stayed up LATE drinking coffee or wine in the living room and talking until all hours of the morning with the stereo playing records by Neil Diamond.

When I was about 6 or 7, I remember being cozy in my pallet on the den floor when my sisters and my cousins came in and told me all about Santa not being real. They asked, “Don’t you realize they are in there playing with all your toys?!?!” I never gave in and told my parents. I wanted Santa to continue.

Christmas was always about being with all this family that we loved so much. I couldn’t wait for everyone to come. The Christmas of 2008 was the last one I spent with family other than Luke and our children. That was our last Christmas with my Mama. Tracy and her family along with Kelly were here to be with Mama. You can read about that one in The Scooter Story. That was one fantastically memorable Christmas. But since then, it’s been just us. I needed that the first few years after my parents were gone but now I long to have a gaggle of people around. That’s how I remember it; that’s when it was good. I wish I could just have all my close friends and family all around but everyone goes their own direction to be with their own family. Can I make a list of those I want to spend my holiday with? I think they know who they are.

My Newest Angel


On Tuesday November 13th, my best friend Debbie came to our house to exercise with me. She had lost 30 lbs in about the last 6 months all on her own by eating right and wanted to keep going so I decided to help her and we’d been doing light weights and cardio for about a month or two. Soon after we started that morning, she got dizzy and I made her sit. She got sick and I asked her if I needed to call 911. Something inside me just told me it was serious. She nodded so I grabbed my phone and called. She fell back and was unresponsive. The EMS arrived within 5 to 7 minutes. I calmly called her husband. I didn’t want to scare him although I knew it was bad. I told him she had gotten sick and asked me to call an ambulance. He told me to take her to Brookwood Hospital and he asked if she was conscious. I had to tell him no. He asked me to please ride in the ambulance with her which I had planned to do anyway.

The ambulance driver told me I would have to ride in the front. Two of the EMS (fire department) went in the ambulance as well. Even before we left the house, they had her on the bag to breathe so I knew she wasn’t breathing on her own. It just wasn’t good. No need for all the details. When we got to the hospital, I asked to go in with her. The ambulance driver told me I needed to go in the main entrance and register. I waited until they brought her out of the ambulance and I kissed her forehead as I ran along side. I basically threw her insurance card and drivers license at the registration clerk and took off into the room where they had her. There was a doctor there already. They told me I would have to leave so they could get her stabilized and they put me alone in a small waiting/consultation room. I just felt like I was going to throw up.

Scott, her husband finally arrived at the hospital and wanted to know what happened. I told him everything. The doctor came in shortly and told us that she coded as they brought her in but they had revived her. They were sending her for a ct scan. He asked about what happened and I explained. He said we would be able to go in after they got her back from CT but that she was currently on a ventilator and not breathing on her own. By the time we went in, Debbie’s mother was there as well. The doctor told us that she had several vessels burst in her brain and the damage was extensive; the outlook for her was bleak and we should prepare for the worst. I then left so the family could be with her.

She spent two days in the SICU, never regained consciousness and two subsequent scans showed no brain function. Scott removed her from the ventilator on Nov 15th and she was gone. I know she was gone when it happened. Poor Scott just prayed and prayed for a miracle.

Please know, I have a great therapist (thank goodness) and I am doing ok. I have good days and bad days. But I am comfortable knowing I did all I could and all that could have been done. I’m thankful she was here with me and not alone, driving or with her husband or kids. All my pain and sorrow are of the selfish sort; me missing my best friend. We never had an argument and every memory I have of our times together involve laughter and hilarity. We ended every visit and phone call with an “I love you”.

Debbie leaves behind two boys ages 12 and 7 as well as a helpless husband. Scott’s (retired) parents have moved in with him for the next 3 months. He asked them to and they are wonderful people. Poor Scott keeps texting me and is worried about ME. My friend Betsy and I took him out last week on our scheduled girls night out that we had with Debbie. I think he felt awkward at first but truthfully, we didn’t talk about anything we wouldn’t have otherwise and it was good for all of us.

Like I said, I just wanted you to know and I wasn’t sure I could tell the story again. A friend of mine offered me this advice that I’m finding to be helpul: “Regardless of all the crap that happens today – tomorrow is a new day and the sun is going to keep coming up – so put on your ‘Fuck It’ shoes and take it one step at a time.” So that’s what I’m doing.

Debbie and Me

Notes I sent to friends after:

Nov 14, 2012:  She was with me when it happened. I did everything I knew to do and called 911 and rode in the ambulance, but I knew it was bad. Really bad. This couldn’t have happened to a more undeserving person. Bless her. She was my running buddy here. She was the ONE person I KNEW would be here if I needed anything. She helped me with so much when my mom was sick…kept my kids, brought food, walked my fucking dog. I always felt I could not possibly do enough to repay her for that. And she rarely asked me for a damn thing. I got no buddy. I got no go to girl. Her two boys have no mommy. My 11yr old son asked my husband last night, “What will Jake and Hudson do without a Mommy?” How can life be so cruel to such undeserving people?

Nov 18, 2012:  My friend Debbie was with me when this happened. And I fucking kicked it like a NINJA to get the EMS and ambulance here. It couldn’t have been done any better or faster. My house is right by the fire department. I was calm, and I loved on her like I would my own child. But I knew she was gone when it happened. Her husband just could not help but pray for a miracle, God bless him.

I am doing ok. I just feel like I want to vomit. I wish I could vomit and just “feel all better” but that’s not how it works with this type thing. I have a good therapist, thank God. And I will get through. But she was my ONE person. I’m a ONE person girl. And she is gone.

I keep talking to people and telling stories like I remember doing with my Mama like she’s still alive. I can’t stop doing that yet. I can’t believe it. But I am SO GLAD I was the one there and not her husband, or her kids, or her alone or her driving. I wouldn’t have it any other way. Every story I tell about her ends in laughter and hilarity. That’s how we rolled. But even just tonight with my sister here, I can’t tell a story without her being there or involved. And it makes me sad to think she’s gone.

So be it. It has done some wonderful things no matter how horrible it is for me. When I had to tell my kids, they knew she was in the hospital and very ill, I was honest from the beginning. But I happened to have a moment alone with my son on Thursday night and told him. My daughter wandered near shortly after. I went to tell her and started closing doors but Cole wanted to be in there, I could tell. I asked him if he wanted to be there with us and he did. So I let him. He stood with his back turned while I told him, tinkering with her toys. And after I told her and she was crying, he came over. I explained to them that they are brother and sister and they will have each other for times like these. I said, “Cole, you love your sister, don’t you?” And he said, “Yes, ma’am.” I said, “Will you give her a hug?” and he embraced her. He did, no questions asked. A big ole genuine hug. Then he walked out. Two seconds later, he came back with a Dum Dum out of his Halloween candy and said, “Here, Ila. I want you to have this.” And the two of them have been playing together peacefully and joyfully since. THIS HAS NEVER HAPPENED!!!

It may not last but some good things may come from this. It just sucks for me, you know?

Oh SNAP!


I’m going to jot down a few things I’ve been learning in therapy. You might find this boring but I’m doing it mostly for my reference. I know I’m going to need to review these things from time to time. I tend to forget. Hopefully you will find something in here that can help you too. Doris asked me to share my knowledge with anyone I thought could use it. Just think of it as getting free therapy. You’re welcome. 🙂

Doris does Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. CBT revolves around how one thinks…how one thinks about himself/herself and the world around them. All our thoughts control our feelings and our feelings in turn, control our emotions, physical feelings (heart racing, calm, anxiousness, happiness, etc) and our actions. Pretty simple, right? So if we can control our thoughts and express our feelings in the right way, this should lead to feeling better physically. Many times all these things can lead to physical ailments like anxiety, high blood pressure, headaches, etc.

Often if one doesn’t express his/her feelings, he/she will harbor internal stress about it leading to things like acting out in anger. Have you ever bitten someone’s head off and realized later that it had nothing to do with the situation with that person but was more about something that happened to you earlier leaving you feeling angry? Yeah. I’ve done a lot of that in my lifetime. And I don’t feel good about it.

One KEY fact I’ve learned: I am NOT responsible for other people’s behavior. I can’t control how other people act. But what I CAN control are my own thoughts (and as I said before, my thoughts will eventually result in my actions).  For example, my husband will often stomp around mad, slamming doors, and cussing because he is frustrated or angry about something. I have no idea why but my first thoughts are that I’ve done something wrong or something to make him angry. RUBBER BAND THERAPY: Now I wear a rubber band on my arm and if I have a thought that I am responsible for his behavior, I snap the rubber band. Not my problem! If he is angry about something, it is HIS responsibility to explain his feelings. Along with that, it is MY responsibility to tell him how his behavior makes me feel. It makes me feel scared, paranoid, and uncomfortable in my own home. And if I tell him often enough, he should eventually modify his behavior and NOT stomp around anymore. He should express his frustration or feelings before it leads to the stomping and slamming.

Here is another example. I woke up one Monday morning in a fine state of mind. I sat down to begin my work at my desk. I worked for about 10 hours that day on my payroll hours that were due in to my boss. My boss will generally review what I have and let me know any changes he wants made. I sent him the file I was working on even though it was not complete. I was assuming he would review it and get back to me with changes. What actually happened is that he distributed it to all the upper management of the company thinking it was ready to go. I was very upset because it made me look like I was incompetent. I immediately began to feel incompetent and worthless. I started to get angry and cry. What should I have done? Well, first I know I’m not worthless or they wouldn’t pay me and keep me employed. I can’t control my boss’ action of sending the report. But I can look at the situation and decide next time, I should TELL my boss not to distribute the report until we’ve discussed it and it is finalized. I can’t change what has already happened; I can do better next time though.

Everyone makes mistakes. Don’t beat yourself up over a mistake. Think about it and decide how you can do BETTER next time.

We also discussed another disagreement Luke and I had in July over buying a new jet ski. Long story short, when I told him I did not agree with him buying a brand new jet ski and financing it for 5 years, he said, “I never get anything I want” and walked inside slamming the door. I told my therapist he acted like a child. She started to ask more about his upbringing. I explained how his dad left when he was 10 because he no longer wanted to be married anymore. And his mother, a school teacher was left to take care of the three boys alone. Doris piped in and said, “So I’m sure they had to sacrifice at times. Have  you ever thought about how he might see this as yet another toy he can’t have?” I felt horrible. Don’t get me wrong…he’s still not getting it! But I did feel horrible.

Still…his behavior is out of my control and I shouldn’t take it personally. I am slowly retraining myself to STOP and consider the things I’m thinking. Is the thought unrealistic? Is it unhelpful? STOP! Snap the rubber band. Re-think it.

For example, my mistake at work. “Damn, DeAnna. That was stupid. Now you look like an idiot.” SNAP!! No. “Well, that didn’t work out very well. I can do better than that!” As for the argument with Luke, it’s not my fault he didn’t have the greatest childhood. Sure I feel for him but that doesn’t mean he is entitled to everything he wants in life now. He should consider what would make more sense for our family…like a small boat we can ALL fit in. Nonetheless, I can’t help his behavior.  Make sense?

Three Little Birds


Sometimes the one thing I need most is to hear my Mama or my Daddy (yes, even my Daddy) tell me that everything will be fine. I knew when they told me “it’s going to be okay” that it had to be true. They wouldn’t lie to me or mislead me. And armed with that knowledge, I could comfortably move forward. 

Now I’m grown and I no longer have them here to tell me that. I thought about that this morning in the shower. I’ve been longing for years to have someone tell me that everything would be fine and it is all going to be okay. When I feel at my most depressed, I think that is all I need to hear. But no one is saying it.

I am now going to tell MYSELF that. I can no longer be reliant on others to hold me up; I must take control of my thoughts and myself. So today, I told myself, “Everything is going to be okay.” And I believe it.

Sing with me, okay? http://youtu.be/zaGUr6wzyT8

Girl! You got shrimp in yo trunk!


I’m back in therapy. This time I’ve chosen a new therapist and she is absolutely brilliant! I’ve only been twice but I’ve gotten so much great information. For anyone interested, her name is Doris Wood. I highly recommend her if you are looking for some help.

This week, Doris asked if I knew the difference between “repressed” and “suppressed” memories. I told no. Here is how she explained it to me. Doris and another woman from her church have somewhat adopted a woman in a battered women’s shelter. They are helping her get back on her feet and make a new start. Last week, Doris went to help this woman move out of the shelter into a permanent dwelling. As she always does, she had the woman give her all her laundry to take to be cleaned. Also while leaving, the woman gathered all her food from the freezer of the shelter to take with her. They loaded her belongings into Doris’ trunk and headed out. Well, about two days later, Doris went to get in her car to head to work. She said when she opened her car door, the smell nearly knocked her down! It smelled like something dead. She immediately opened her trunk and saw only the bag of laundry. Much to her dismay, she discovered the woman had put all the frozen foods in the bottom of that bag of laundry and it contained a bag of shrimp. Whoa! So, suppressed memories are things you put aside, well aware they are there, and you plan to deal with them later. REPRESSED memories would be like this bag of shrimp…hidden way back there in your trunk in a bag of laundry. You had no idea it was there. Those memories, just like that rotting shrimp smell, can seep through the trunk barrier and back seats of your car and just stink things up. At some point, you have to clean that mess up. And she told me, “Girl! You got shrimp in yo trunk. You gotta deal with that mess so you can move on.”

So it’s time for me to get that shrimp outta my trunk.

 

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