This month is Domestic Violence Awareness month and it is definitely needed and deserves attention. More recently I’ve had the opportunity to work with some women who have experienced it. While DV impacts both men and women, so far professionally I’ve primarily worked with women. People seem to be always quick to judge this population and I have to admit that women quite often catch the short end of the stick in the court of public opinion. There’s an opinion that women who stay with cheating spouses are just doing what is expected of them and in many situations men aren’t questioned when they leave a relationship if the tables are turned. The truth is that it’s not always easy to get out. Abusers often control finances and seek to isolate their victims from close family and friends. It’s even more complicated when children are involved and there are questions about next steps and potential custody battles. It’s also important to realize that abuse doesn’t always have to be physical. It can be emotional and verbal as well. In order to make a plan to leave the relationship, one has to come to the understanding that it’s an unhealthy/abusive situation. I’ve had women tell me that every marriage has ups and down and that they don’t want to be quitters by leaving when it gets tough. Many have been encouraged by pastors and faith leaders that they should just submit to their spouse and just bear their cross. It’s important to understand that most victims don’t leave their abusers on the first attempt AND that they are more at risk for increased violence when they try to leave. This is why it’s important to be a supportive friend because you don’t know what someone is going through. Many times women won’t open up to their friends or relatives because they feel ashamed and may feel like they have failed in the relationship and/or marriage. Be present, be aware, be supportive. Learn and recognize the signs of an abuser and don’t give second chances.
It’s funny how quickly time can pass when you’re having fun–or even not having fun. Time passes even when it seems to be standing still. In a short period of time I’ll officially be a year older and hopefully a bit wiser. It’s usually around this time every year that I get somewhat nostalgic and ask myself yet again, “what am I doing with my life?” The answer never seems to be what I want. However, this past year was a game changer of sorts. I posted a lot about change and making hard decisions all throughout this year and some hard decisions were definitely made. I traveled a fair amount that included trips to France, Mexico, and Greece. I started a job that I realized wasn’t a great fit. I started working nights and stuck it out for a while. One of the biggest lessons learned this year was the importance of being clear about what I want and going after it. I met some pretty big goals simply because of planning and being willing to step outside the box to make it happen. I had a huge disappointment that made me reconsider the direction of my life–as most disappointments do. Ups and downs are a part of life and this year was no exception. However, I’ve learned a lot and matured as a result of being willing to challenge myself and some beliefs that I previously held. I did a overhaul of my life and relocated across the country just to start from the ground up and begin building again. Definitely not something for the faint of heart but I think it’ll work out
This article caught my eye and I wanted to blog about it because of its accurate description of an issue that many don’t want to address. You can read the article here. I don’t think that I’ve read an article that was so clear, honest. and straight forward about suicide. It’s a world that is foreign to a lot of people. Not because so few are affected, but because there’s little honest dialogue about it. The article reports that suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death in the state for people ages 10 to 44. This is highly disturbing for a lack of a better word and it’s a world that I live and breathe in since it is so closely connected to my profession and current line of work. An interesting irony is that depression can make you feel as if you’re the only person in the world whose is struggling but in reality there are millions who share a similar struggle. The common thread that I observe in a lot of patients who have either attempted or are contemplating suicide is that they don’t want to be in pain anymore. This pain can be emotional, physical, or a combination of both. It can be related to stress or a situation that was out of their control that significantly affected them in a negative way. In some situations just being alone with their thoughts starts a downward spiral that can be hard to interrupt. Another reason why having empathy and compassion is important along with being supportive and knowing resources can be helpful. You don’t always know the internal struggles and battles of those around you.
This week has been one of reflection. It’s not that I don’t usually reflect because that’s definitely not the case. As a classic overanalyzer (probably not a word), I have an abundance of reflecting and planning thoughts at the same time. One thing I remembered today is that I promised someone that I would give them the link to this blog but then I thought about how it could possibly skew their perception and decided to postpone it until a later date. After all, I am searchable and if they really wanted to find out beforehand they could. But I digress. I think I have found the perfect way to not get over jetlag. Travel 8 hours back (in timezones), hop off the plane and then immediately start a 72 hour night shift work week. It’s practically fail proof. I was recently in France for some school obligations and also some fun and I must say that it was a raging success. I definitely should have stayed longer than a week but it was a quick trip. After my wonderful adventure last summer, I wanted to try more international travel this year. Unfortunately this meant that I had to schedule most trips in the last six months of the year but as the year is coming to a close, it’s nice to know that there are a still a few places on my schedule. Outside of my school obligations that included sitting in various seminars during the day, I had the chance to explore some of Paris with a few friends who I (ironically) met in Spain. The fact that I was in the city last summer was nice because I had the chance to enjoy the experience a bit more without the need to take a picture of every single thing related to French culture or food. The weather was absolutely perfect the entire time I was there and the food was exquisite. One very nice thing about the trip was that I actually had the opportunity to relax. For the longest time I thought that I just couldn’t relax but I discovered that I just have to go overseas to do it (go figure). The combination of good conversation, good wine, great friends, and an environment thousands of miles away from obligations was a wonderful experience and was just what the doctor ordered. I haven’t been that relaxed in years. Aside from one other thing, the highlight of my experience was traveling to Normandy and seeing some of the historic sites from WWII. We went to the American Cemetery and it was so sobering to see all the white crosses lined up of people who died at such a young age fighting to liberate a country that wasn’t their own. It felt overwhelming to think of all the parents, siblings, aunts, and uncles who had tearful goodbyes to their loved one who they would never see again because they died halfway across the world. Needless to say, seeing the beaches and the plaques and the American flags flying high was pretty thought provoking and reminded me of all the things that I sometimes take for granted. Driving on narrow roads and seeing the beautiful countryside was also memorable. It was the best trip I’ve taken this year and well worth the jet lag and sleepless nights. Can’t wait to go somewhere else.
Someone posted this article on Facebook and I thought it was pretty funny. The author takes it upon him or herself to post several professions that women should avoid as they look for a significant other or husband. Now, some of these made sense to me. Like a life coach. I could see how that could be a cause of conflict in a relationship and could translate to being very annoying. This is probably a very biased opinion based on the fact that I’ve never met a life coach that I’ve liked. I can also see how marrying a therapist could be annoying but I think if both individuals were therapists it might be a pretty good fit. To be honest, none of the reasons given made sense to me. I don’t know of many jobs that don’t have any stress involved. The truth is that regardless of the occupation, relationships require time and actual effort in order to be successful.
I rarely browse articles but the title of this one caught my eye. After reading it I immediately realized that it was the best non-scholarly article I’ve read this year to date. I’m a psychology junkie and I love reading articles and books related to relationships, human interactions, and patterns of behavior. Very interesting stuff. Now, outside of the fact that the author is a good writer, she also took the liberty of attaching the original research article that she was referencing. This was great because it gave me a little more background on the original study that had been done. Which, by the way, would have been an excellent dissertation topic. The whole idea behind the article is that we choose who we fall in love with and that we can fall in love with someone based on interpersonal interactions we’ve had with them that were meaningful and required both individuals to be vulnerable to each other at the same time. The study the author referenced was conducted with college psychology students that were paired together. They were tasked with asking each other a set of questions and their emotional closeness was measured afterwards. There was also a component that author of the article noted that included looking into the eyes of the person for four minutes straight. Yes, four minutes. The idea behind that is that it is a way for both individuals to feel equally vulnerable at the same time. This builds emotional closeness. The author in the article tried this with a guy using the same questions from the original study and got positive results. It’s interesting how relationship dynamics can change when there are opportunities to talk about personal topics. You can sometimes see a different side of someone when they are by themselves versus when they are in a group because their defenses are down and a one-on-one interaction can foster an environment of intimacy and emotional closeness that is much harder to achieve in a group setting. So hypothetically, you could “gently persuade” someone to fall in love with you by looking into their eyes for four minutes and the facilitation of these discussion questions the author mentions and includes a link for in the article. Interesting.
There should be a mandatory recovery time after a vacation that has lasted a week or longer. I use the word “vacation” loosely because the entire time I was away was not a vacation. One thing I deliberately did was to leave my computer at home during one of my two trips. The point of this was to take a break to enjoy the scenery and the experience of being in a different country. Other than the quality time spent with cousins I rarely see, the BEST part of the trip going to the beach. I’ve never been to the Pacific Ocean before and while it’s not as breathtakingly beautiful as the Mediterranean Ocean, it was still nice. I don’t know why, but for some reason sitting on a beach and thinking gives me the most clarity. I can process my thoughts and feelings and then make appropriate decisions without the distraction of familiar surroundings. It sounds weird but it works for me. That’s one of the reasons why I love the beach–I can actually think. I don’t have my laptop with me and my phone is typically turned off. No one is calling me asking for something and the sound of the waves crashing on the sand relaxes me. This time I had the opportunity to make a plan for the new year and to finalize some goals I want to accomplish this year. It was quite a productive hour or so. Definitely a reminder that I need to focus so that my efforts won’t be in vain and I won’t be working harder than I need to.