What I’ve Been Reading

I thought this post I would take a different take on things and include some of the books that I have been reading over the last couple of years. I have not included all of them but wanted to highlight some of the ones that really meant something to me. I have included the links to either the author website or their Amazon page. Please feel free to check them out. I will be reading them again soon.

The first book that I want to mention is “Will I Ever Be Good Enough? Healing of Daughters of Narcissistic Mothers”. This is a book that was recommended to me about two years into therapy. By this time my therapist and I had built a very good rapport and we began to dive into a lot of the issues.

Before I explain what this book is about, I want to make one thing clear. Neither my therapist NOR myself, have diagnosed any of my family members. The resources that were given to be were based upon the conversations, situations or comments that were brought up during therapy with regard to situations that I had throughout middle school and beyond.

My first initial reaction hit me straight in the chest. The main question asking us if we will ever be good enough was a hard pill to swallow. From middle school into my early adulthood, this is how I felt. I thought that no matter what I did or how I acted, I would never been good enough. I ordered the book off of Amazon and started to dive into it the first night I got it. I have to admit, there was a disclaimer from my therapist that I may not relate to everything mentioned in the book, because the topic of abuse is brought up and that is not something that I have experienced.

I was however able to identify with a lot of other emotions presented in the book. While reading through, I completed the exercises that were suggested and did my best to follow their instructions and tips. I felt better, as if someone truly understood what was going on through my head. It was such a comfort in the validation that came from hearing other people’s stories.

If you are interested in learning more, I will include the link at the bottom of this post.

The next book is one that I jumped into when I started attending my church small group. It was the only one that worked with my schedule. Each Tuesday at 6:30AM we would meet and start out our morning in prayer and discussing our current study. I joined this group in April of 2015 and it was one of the best decisions I have made. I have met some of the most amazing Godly women whom I call sister.

When I started this group, they were reading “Biblical Femininity” by Grace Church. The entire book focuses around how women are image bearers of God and the feminine qualities of God that we reflect. Women are called to be “helpers”. Mentally and spiritually, I was not in a good place when I joined the group. I was separated from my boyfriend at the time whom I had selfishly hurt in the worst way possible.

I desperately wanted answers to my brokenness, to understand what had happened. It was there in those early morning studies that I came to find the broken pieces. This book not only explains how women were created to be helpers, but also explains how we can be tempted and what happens when we succumb to those temptations. As we started to learn and read about our core temptation things started to fall into place. I started to understand my role as a woman and even more, understand why things had happened the way they did.

Since the first time I have read this book, I have read it two times since then. It seems that the more I read it the more I get out of it. It was one of those books that turned on a light bulb for me.

There are other books as well, however I am going to include those in the next blog post, because those are written by the same author and have an overall theme together. I have included the links to the two books I have mentioned today. They are worth the read. I will be posting more as I’ve got a nightstand full of books that I need to start reading.

 

 

 

Will I Ever Be Good Enough? Healing of Daughters of Narcissistic Mothers by Karly McBride, Ph.D.

Biblical Femininity by Grace Church

Advertisements

Respond not React

 

 

 

 

For years, starting in my adolescence, I have allowed the overstepping of boundaries from family members, mostly because it was always easier to ignore and allow myself to be my own worst critic. I have also learned from previous lessons that reacting instead of responding creates the exact type of response that I do not want. This is not emotional, this is strictly concerning behavior, not emotions or feelings. Feelings are not facts.

Here are the facts, on December 1, 2018, three women, all of whom I am related too, show up unannounced to my launch party promptly around 2pm. They were my stepmother, and both aunts, one of which flew from California. First thing out of my aunt from California’s mouth, “The weeds are here”. Without provocation, I am called a liar, that I have a restraining order against me, I don’t know what the word “family” means and I wrote nothing more than a journal that should have been kept under my pillow.

They were very quickly asked to leave from two bystanders, only to tell someone else coming into the venue that I am a liar but not before calling a friend of mine “trash” because he asked them to leave. Mind you, my children were in the other room, thankfully they did not hear or see these women.

Next, I am told these family members are in town on “business” for 5 days. They have zero business in SC other than myself and my children, they do not work for companies based in SC nor are there other family members or friends that reside in the state. Unless my flight attendant aunt was here on business, which had not previously occurred, their “trip” here was solely to “attend” my launch party.

On December 4, 2018, after at least 2 other previous conversations with the Greenville County Sheriff’s Office, I stay on hold as a deputy contacts my aunt, Mary Pat to stop contacting me. The deputy stated that she did not answer the phone and left her a voicemail. Picture number one shows an unsolicited text message from her and my response. I have not responded to her text messages for over a year. You are able to see her response in picture number two.

After the deputy left a message on her cell phone on December 4, 2018, I was made aware that on Monday, December 3, all three women “verified” where I was living, went by my apartment as well as walked around the home where my kids’ dad lives knowing we weren’t at home.

Since my aunt Mary Pat has not contacted me via text message, phone call or email, she has continued to visit my website and “comment” on my blog posts. After her first two comments were made, I promptly blocked her, see pictures three and four.

Since I have blocked Mary Pat from commenting on my blog posts, “Frank” has begun to comment on my posts. Oddly enough his email address is fake and he sure takes the tone of Mary Pat, see pictures five, six and seven. His IP address is also out in California…I have since blocked “Frank” but for whatever reason, it doesn’t seem to stop “his” comments.

After speaking with a local magistrate, a restraining order does not protect out of state contact, it would only prevent contact if she were to be in the state in which I reside, this does not help the situation because due to the nature of her job, she flies around the country and so there is never one set location or schedule. In speaking with the local magistrate, he suggested I speak with an attorney regarding a civil lawsuit. After a brief conversation with an attorney, it was noted that such comments appear not harassing in nature but more to produce an emotional response and at this time is not worth legally pursuing.

I have chosen to put her and her comments on public blast in hopes that it will be a deterrent. I have spoken with a magistrate, attorney, and several sheriff’s deputies. It is my sincere hope that with such a public display that it will deter any further behavior. In addition, any further harassment, name-calling, accusations or otherwise comments will be continued to be documented, treated as harassment. I am not under any circumstances, however, waiving any legal rights I have presently, or future legal remedies against you by posting this blog.

I have not reached out to contact you and will continue not to contact you. I am publicly requesting now, no further communication from you or known associates with me or either of my children. I have not in any way coerced or forced you to read my memoir or my blog. If it upsets you emotionally, that is not the intention and you are welcome to completely ignore the content.

 

Functional Dysfunction

Sometimes while in the middle of a storm you don’t realize how chaotic or dysfunctional a situation is. It is like the saying of hindsight is 20/20, when we reflect back on certain situations or interactions we may be able to see that something wasn’t right or “normal”. The further you are away from something the more clearly you are able to see it.

In December, I went to see my therapist. There were a couple of situations from the beginning of the month that had sent my anxiety over the edge and I went to check in with her. Since it had been four months since I had last seen or spoken to her there was a lot of catching up to do.

During our conversation we discussed a few things that had gone on recently and a few other things that were upcoming. I casually mentioned to her that I was just in shock that a bourbon society a couple of states away that my uncle (my mom’s cousin) belongs too started a team for their local ALS walk and they will be walking and raising money in memory of my dad. She asked me why I was in so much shock. I told her that my only connection to this society was my uncle and that although they had sponsored my team in the Upstate, I didn’t expect them to create a local team and do the same.

Her response was something I don’t think I will ever forget, her response was simply that I was not used to people acting “normal”, that I had become accustomed to the dysfunction around me and was not able to recognize “normal”. That’s when it hit me. I had become conditioned to believe what had previously surrounded me was “normal”. The reality is that I didn’t really know anything different, certain behaviors, phrases and attitudes I had just assumed were “normal”.  Yet here I am in my early 30’s starting to learn that I was mistaken, that life and families are functional, dysfunctional, functionally dysfunctional and everything in between.

Functional dysfunction stops here.

People In Glass Houses…Sink Ships

This is a little bit of a mixed proverb, I was reminiscing about the move Boondock Saints, if you haven’t seen it, watch it, your welcome. However after some thinking about this mixed proverb, it actually started to make sense.

People in glass houses really do sink ships, not their own ships of course because there isn’t anything to sink, but other people are fair game and even entertainment to people who live in glass houses. We can see everything just by looking in. We can see their “perfect” life and their standards, but what we don’t see are the ships they sank to get to their state of perfection. We typically tend to tell any and all stories in our favor, we are all a little self serving from time to time and who doesn’t like being painted in a good light? If you think  I’m wrong, on some level you are lying to yourself. We tend to want ourselves to be pictured in “good light” in a position where we may have not hurt someone or at the very least did not have the intention to hurt someone.

Typically, humans overall do not want themselves in a negative light, there is a way in which all of us want to be “seen” or known. Maybe we want to be seen as “book smart”, “street smart”, “friendly”, “compassionate” or even “intimidating”. Whatever our desire is to be seen does not always happen. Sometimes it is easier to point out someone else’s mistakes or shortcomings instead of focusing inward. It is during these times that our pride takes over and we are unable to see that it is more important to build each other up instead of tearing someone else down to appear a certain way.

Who are these people hurting away? They are hurting themselves. We become consumed with our “image” instead of staying genuine and not putting others down in order to bolster ourselves. Instead of letting our pride get the best of us and further isolating and distancing ourselves from each other, why not put yourself aside and support the person next to you. Remind yourself that we are all in this life together and we are all that we got. Be careful throwing rocks at glass houses, sooner or later those rocks turn into something spectacular.

Toeing a Fine Line

Over the last few years and more recently the last couple of months, I have added a piece to my identity. There were times where I would put other’s needs first. It was my thought that doing so meant that I was selfless, that it made me a good person. As the years wore on I led myself to a place where I lacked self-respect, when I put other’s needs before mine, it didn’t make me selfless but rather passive. Slowly as time wore on, I found that it would become a lifestyle rather than a choice.

It has taken a long hard tear filled journey to get where I am today. There are times where I still continue to lack any sort of self respect and my first thought it to lay down and let other’s needs, goals and priorities become more important than my own. I have learned that it is self-respect not selfishness that allows your to put your goals and priorities above others.

I realize that by saying this, that I may appear to some as selfish. There is a difference between being selfish and having self respect. Being selfish is when you constantly think about yourself, meaning that in any situation including ones where we are hurting others, we only think about ourselves. How is this different then self respect? It appears as if these two concepts are the same. Self respect is when we choose to make our dreams, goals and aspirations a priority. I will admit these two sound very similar, however when people choose to make the conscious decision to go and hurt other people because they are hurting, that is selfish.

Hurt people hurt people. The concept is that simple. When we hurt our initial selfish nature is to stop our hurt by hurting those around us. There have been times where I have done this in my life, a pattern that I would not rather continue. It continues to be a long journey, to choose to look inward instead of lash outward when I am hurting. It is only when we love ourselves enough to look inward and reach into our depths to heal old woulds or even fresh wounds.

Have enough self respect to reach inward, to look into the depths that we hide from others and choose to love ourselves enough not to lash out when we are hurt. Respect yourself and be confident in who you are and not what others may say about you. I am not perfect, I have never claimed to be. I have only stepped into this new identity and become more confident in who I am. I will not be defined by what other people may say about me, that is not self love or self respect. You are not the opinions of others. Remember that.

Always,

J

Anxiety Never Stops

I know it’s been a while since I published a new blog. Honestly, I was just enjoying the feedback and the pre-orders starting to come in. I thought today would be a good day to write again. This afternoon I will get to see an uncle (first cousin once removed, I think) in the first time in a very long time. Frankly, I barely remember him and I guess the last time I saw him I was very young most likely younger than my kids are now. This morning after my kids and their dad left for the morning, I was alone in the house and frantically started getting dinner prepped and looking around to see what else needed to be clean before family showed up.

This used to be one of the biggest stressors, family visiting. If the laundry was neatly put away, my kids’ rooms weren’t clean, or the house hadn’t been dusted, vacuumed and the kitchen was a mess then my anxiety would have kicked into high gear and I would have started to panic. This morning the kitchen had been cleaned, the floors freshly swept, although not washed, the entryway swept, hallway swept and the “guest” bathroom cleaned. There are two baskets of laundry that still haven’t been put away and even thought there are dishes in the sink they are drying and waiting to be put away.

As I was preparing dinner for this evening I started to go over different topics of conversation I had in running through my head and already had my defenses lined up. I had created a list of topics to avoid and readied excuses or explanations for why these topics were to be avoided or why certain things weren’t done that had been “expected” of me. That is when it hit me. The expectations I was holding myself too were all in my head. My family wasn’t coming to make sure that the house was clean or that the laundry was folded or that my kids always made sure their rooms were clean. Trust me when I saw that the house is generally clean, however, I am not a fan of dusting and only do so when necessary.

I’m sorry to disappoint some of you, but I don’t weekly dust my house, vacuum or make sure that laundry is always done, folded and put away. That’s not me. It’s never been me. Now don’t think that I have dishes with caked on food laying around or garbage that hasn’t been taken about because that’s the case either and that’s not the point.

The point is that for the first time I was able to recognize that after years of being held to ridiculous standards and causing myself unnecessary stress, I finally called myself out on it. It was the first time in a long time that I finally got to recognize it. My home may not be perfect or Pottery Barn worthy but I know that family isn’t coming to see if their expectations have been met and visit me. I get to spend time with my family because I’m me because they are coming to visit me and not have any preconceived expectations. It is one of the best feelings ever.

The anxiety isn’t going to stop, but now I know that I will be able to recognize and control it better than before. It’s taken a lot of work and money, honestly investing in my therapist was one of the best decisions I made. To be on the other side of anxiety and the mix of therapy and medication I am so much happier. Without either of those, I am not sure where I would be or who I would be. The anxiety no longer controls me and for that I’m thankful. **Reminder Pre-Orders for my debut book, Ode to Bermuda Grass: My Journey through Grief, Loss and Adoption** are still available** Click Here to order.

Always,

J

Too Damn Nice

There was a point in my life that I used to joke I was only 2% nice, 3% on a good day or if you were in my close group of friends. However as I’ve looked back, I notice that I was too damn nice to those surrounding me, to those who may have not deserved it. Growing up everyone was a critic, someone somewhere had an opinion. Hell sometimes I still second guess myself and some of the decisions I make. As I’ve walked through this journey it finally dawned on me that I was not put on this earth to please everyone. In my adolescence I would spend so much time and energy into becoming a chameleon and putting everyone’s needs ahead of mine. Maybe I wanted to be liked, or hear words of affirmation but everything changed once I stopped. Once I had my own opinions and started making decisions based on what was best for me, my family and my children the waves started to come. Everyone had an opinion, and the toxicity started to run rampant. The environment was hostile and sometimes down right nasty, even during family gatherings I would get ambushed. After putting some distance between myself and this toxic environment I could finally breath. The realization that I would never be able to please everyone finally sunk in I finally had figured out that no matter how good something was or how much people pleasing I could do, it would never be enough and that was never a reflection on me. Toxic people suck the life out of you and in the midst of it you don’t realize how much you lose yourself. Over time the toxicity takes over and you start to become the very thing you hate. No more toxic people. No more allowing people in your life to make you feel less than. My mental health and stress level is more important then living up to someone else’s expectations of me. We were created all for something different and thankfully we each get the opportunity to choose our own dreams and goals. Never in my wildest dreams would I ever thought that I would be self publishing a book, much less writing about my experiences for the masses to read. This was MY goal, something I thought up. I didn’t have someone telling me to finish this or write it, I was finally in control. Damn it feels good. Removing toxic people from your life sometimes isn’t as easy as just cutting all contact, naturally that would be the easiest. While I started looking through and weeding through everyone in my life I began to pay attention to the way people would interact with me, friends and family included. My mind would make a mental note how often I would have to reach out to people, who reached out to me and I began noticing patterns. There were some that started to respect the new found boundaries I had made while others would immediately knock down my fence and ask me why it was there in the first place. During my first few interactions my fence wasn’t very strong, I would succumb to the conflict or guilt and I would spiral back down. The less I would reach out to these toxic people the better I began to feel, I could breath again and I would notice that my stress level would decrease. My anxiety was easier to control and I found that I spent more nights getting restful sleep. If you have toxic people in your life one way to start it to put up boundaries, know your limits and start limiting how much contact you have. Wishing you all the best. No more toxic people.

Always,

J