I have learned and grown so much in the last few days, thanks to the help of my therapist and friends, both those who know me in person and my internet friends! I am grateful especially to Leigh, my friend and contractor, who called this morning from Canada where she is celebrating Canada Day and a dog's birthday with her partner. And I am also very grateful to @fumanchucat, @wordblender, and @LydiaSchoch, who have all helped me to a much healthier perspective. If you have twitter accounts, you should follow these great people.
Anyway, as I believe I've mentioned before, I have a very wounded little girl inside me who is easily triggered. I am getting better at seeing the triggers, at least, but I can still get side-swiped. I think the reality is that we all can be triggered by various factors and usually the trigger does not even know they are the trigger, and my reaction certainly has nothing to do with the person doing the triggering, but rather with my past, etc.
In any case, the reality is that I am a very warm-hearted, kind, empathic, giving person who has an enormous energy (something my therapist is working on me to recognize since I don't see me that way, but rather as the scared little girl residing in me) and a not inconsiderable intelligence (had to admit that after years of being called the stupid one when I gave birth to two genius children, and also succeeded academically to the point where I have 2 bachelors, 2 masters, and 1 PhD, and no, I am not going for another PhD for balance, thank you!). The energy and the intellect make me threatening to some people, especially those who don't know me. Ok, that's fine, but that doesn't mean there is anything wrong with me (or them for that matter). And if people find me intimidating, then maybe we aren't a good match or fit, but that doesn't mean I should change or run like a scared rabbit.
And in the particular case I wrote about in my last blog post, the fact is the there is a major language barrier between me and the guys doing my yard work--I speak no Spanish and they speak no English. They also are living in constant fear to begin with so all of our society is potentially threatening to them, but this is not my problem to deal with and changing me, even if that were appropriate, wouldn't really help.
Leigh also helped me to remember that this is an isolated incident. Most people who are working on my remodel and have been for 2 1/2 years (the remodel that will never end because I keep adding to it!), love to work for me. They find me eccentric, off the wall, kind, usually patient, etc., and they get to do things, like building cat walks, etc., that they normally don't get asked for. If they have to paint, well it is purple or pink or orange, etc., not the same old beige/white. And most of them now know me well enough not to be intimidated by me. I've explained to especially Leigh, contractor extraordinaire, Daryl, plumber magnifique, and Gary, electrician fantastique, that I do have some health issues around my Hashimoto's Thyroid Disorder, chronic pain, chronic sinusitis, and my depression that take their toll. They, of course, also have days where they aren't feeling up to par, and we all feel comfortable enough now to say that from the get-go on any given day so that particular crabby or grumpy days aren't taken personally by anyone. One of my carpenters doesn't start days well, so we've learned that I should just let him get into his routine and not even greet him until he's had several coffees, smokes, etc. That is just how he is and that's ok also!
But it is a luxury to be able to get to know these wonderful people well enough that we all feel able to express and work around own our own issues, etc. That can't happen with my friend's business primarily because of the language barrier. So I've had to put the ball back in her court. I will not have fear driving anyone who works here. I am very sensitive to people and their emotions and I need positive energies coming into my space (which is different from someone having a bad day, obviously). Heaven knows I am governed by enough fears of my own that I don't need more being added. So if these people can relax and know that I'm very pleased with their work and I'm not going to get them fired, etc., and they can just enjoy working here, well and good. But if they are so intimidated by me that they live in mortal terror of what I might say or do, then they aren't the right people for the job here.
Yes, I've expressed frustration and on my bad days I probably haven't been as tactful as I might otherwise be. Just like everyone else, I'm human with my own set of weaknesses and foibles. I know this, and I work to combat it, but the reality is that I'm only sure on bad days that I can "hold it together" for a few hours at a time. That is why my schedule is set up where I'm not gone from my home for more than a couple hours at a time and that is why I've set things up so that I have complete solitude on the weekends to regroup. It is the only way I could survive, as an introvert, having my home torn apart and rebuilt. I've also set things up so people don't show up until after 9AM (10AM is even better) and they are gone by 5PM. That is the limit of my abilities also.
I've worked hard at finding out what works for me and what doesn't, and of course, that is an on-going process. But what I can't do, no matter how tempted I was during the last two days, is deny who I am. And why should I? I am a good person, as are most of us, and I know I'm not the right fit for everyone, but those who do fit well in my universe are unquestionably loyal to me as I am to them. I understand their issues and they understand mine. I do have to work at some communication issues, because, as you may have noticed from the way I write, I speak in long convoluted sentences, eventually coming back to the point. And actually, since I know this can be a problem, I used this as one of my gauges when I met my current therapist. Could she keep up with my convoluted thought process? The answer is, of course, yes, as she is also very bright. So can my doctor, and so most thankfully of all, can Leigh! Because where I get in trouble, and that has been the case with my sprinkler system and my friend's business in general, is when I think I've been very clear about what I've asked for, and the other person has nodded and/or said a few appropriate words back, but then down the road I discover that they only grasped a phrase here and there, but not the entire picture. So I'm trying to learn when I need to back up and use less convoluted sentences, etc., but what I love about Leigh is that she can keep up with me and then she can "translate" it into proper form for whomever is doing the job. I tend to give way too much information, way too detailed explanations, etc. And Daryl and Gary can also keep up with me and that trio has done so much for me as well as my home that we have wonderful relationships. I can't expect that everywhere, but when I find it, it is a pearl beyond belief!
And another pearl of wisdom from this time @fumanchucat, is that I need to stop worrying about what others think or how others perceive me. Yet another pearl came from @wordblender who also has similar intimidation issues and she said that others have said she is angry or whatever when in fact she isn't, she's just painfully shy but because of her size she can come across as angry and scary. I think this is really important because the way others perceive me usually is not what I'm feeling or being at the time, as those who know me realize. Frequently the perceptions have much more to do with the person doing the perceiving than the do with me, as is true for triggers as well. So living my life based on other's perceptions of me is a slippery slope to invisibility, a place I've been most of my life. I am not going there again!
As I discussed quite awhile ago, I am a 4 on the Enneagram personality type, and that is the artist, the individual, the melancholy. It means that I am either up or down, with rarely any middle ground. That melancholy is a plus as it fuels my art, whether that be poetry or quilting or weaving, etc. It also makes me the drama queen. And the trap is that it can easily slide into depression, the slide being made easier by the thyroid disorder and the chronic pain, but of which have depression in their own right as side-effects. And I'm understanding this a lot better which is why I'm much more open about it and share with those around me so that they don't take things personally which were never so intended. And add that to my big energy (whatever that means--I'm still trying to figure that out) and my intellect, I can see that I could be considered intimidating to some. Of course I still find that bewildering since I'm so scared myself, but I accept that it is a fact. In certain situations I try to scale back the energy when it is appropriate, but that simply is a part of who I am and I need to be ok with that also.
Anyway, that's where all this has led me at the moment. I'm going to work on not being so scared of the world, and staying true to myself, and finding like souls who truly "grok" me, as my new dog Oliver does--talk about a scared rabbit--he is terrified of his own shadow, poor guy, but he has bonded to me unbelievably and he knows my heart already. He knows when I yell at Chauncey to stop barking that I am not a threat to him (or Chauncey). He knows I will protect him even when I'm rearranging furniture and making loud noises, etc., because he sees into my heart--he doesn't just see the surface of big energy and intellect, and believe me I am grateful for everyone who in in Oliver's camp.
Meanwhile, today is a beautiful day here in the Pacific Northwest! I have my laundry well in hand; I've given Chauncey his weekly bath; I've picked a bunch of strawberries for my breakfast (which I'll get now!), and I have two days of solitude to enjoy. I will see Ron, my Saturday UPS guy, who will be bringing me a cat litter scoop as mine broke yesterday, but that will be the extent of having anyone here. I will putter around, do some watering, write some poetry, relax, and regroup and that will be lovely. I am at peace now having processed this all for the moment and again, many, many thanks to those of you who have helped me see what the real truth is! Have a super day wherever you are!