I admit that I struggle with the general idea that one has to “qualify” in order to get married. There’s this list of things that single women are given and expected to accomplish before they are ready to get married. We tell our girls that boys will always be there and to get their education first. You’re expected to work on yourself, do fun things, finish school, pay off debt, and get a decent job among other things before you qualify for marriage. Now granted, my story is different in that while I’ve always wanted to get married, I had a feeling that I would be on the road less traveled for a long time. I just didn’t anticipate how long it would be. I was hoping for 25 but now I’m pushing 30 without any actual potential mate on the horizon. I find it frustrating when I’m told that there’s something that I’m doing wrong or just haven’t done yet that makes me unqualified to be married. I see people all day, I’m a good listener, I can hold an emotionally safe place and challenge the perspectives of others in a way that is non-threatening and supportive. I’m the sole provider of my household of one and while I’m not rich, bills do get paid and I travel once in a while. I recently completed the highest educational level one can achieve (PhD) and yet the Universe still apparently sees me as unqualified for a mate. I’m all about doing the work but shit, being alone gets old after a while. I’ve learned how to self soothe and what to do to calm myself down but there are times that I’d sell my soul for a hug and the knowledge that someone has my back. Yes, I’m approached by guys but so far they aren’t ready for anything serious or want me to finance their lives and take care of them. Neither is an option I want to live with. It sounds corny but I want to matter to someone. Really matter. I haven’t found that yet and the older I get the less optimistic I am. It’s just exhausting and tiring doing it alone all the time and while I’ll always do what I have to do, I wish things were different.
Not too long ago I had the experience of being flown in for an interview. I have to admit that it was an experience that I’ve never had before and I enjoyed the opportunity to travel without any personal expense. The position was for a job at my alma mater. It felt so surreal and full-circle to walk the same grounds that I walked as a teenager and be there in a different capacity. All my former professors seemed happy to see me back as a potential colleague. I met with the president and vice president. And all I felt was confined. It wasn’t that the position wasn’t nice or that I felt that it was totally out of my comfort zone. It was the expectations that came along with it. While I had a good college experience, it was also very sheltered. There were multiple rules that had to be followed in order to escape expulsion. While I had a genuine desire to give back, I realized that I didn’t want to teach or enforce rules that I didn’t have any intention of keeping. I appreciate people who are genuine and I knew that I wouldn’t be my best personal self if I felt conflicted between what was expected of me and my own thoughts and opinions. I’ve learned that sometimes the best professional decisions aren’t the best for me personally. I want to be fulfilled in a position but also feel that I can be genuine about my experiences and perspectives while learning from others. You have to learn how to say no to things that won’t benefit you in the long run. Now, to only learn that lesson about men…
I ran across this blog and wanted to repost it. March is Social Work month and while I don’t work in direct care as much, I have a lot of respect for those that do. When I was in school, I had grand dreams about the exciting life of a social worker and it definitely is. But there are ups and downs like any other profession but there’s always an opportunity to make a positive difference despite the many obstacles. It’s a thankless job at times but someone has to do it.
I’ve been neglecting this blog in a big way recently. Some days, it’s really hard for me to get the motivation to write. But I’m trying to get back to updating regularly. I’m trying to find my way back to my passion that has gotten lost in the day-to-day shuffle of life. This month is […]
I commented to a colleague of mine the other day that the work we do naturally makes us cynical. I’m not an expert in human behavior or personality but I’ve found that many of the clients I work with have ulterior motives. I think that’s something people don’t always want to acknowledge but it still continues to be true. There are certain times of the year where you see more people depressed because of relationships, then there’s the season of behavior problems with kids and adolescents. Somewhere in the year the presenting challenge changes to people experimenting with a new drug or hallucination with agitation. These cycles go on every year. While they aren’t always predictable, they still happen in a certain order. As I’ve said before in a previous blog, sometimes the key to not getting stuck in the dysfunction of others is to realize that you can only do so much. I can’t fix your spouse, I can’t change the fact that you’re being bullied, I can’t personally guarantee that you’ll never feel depressed again. I’ve come to the realization that life isn’t about fixing people. It’s about laying out their choices and attempting to create an environment where they feel empowered to make the right choices. And when all else fails, respecting the fact that they are ultimately the decision maker and only intervening when it’s absolutely necessary. The interesting thing is that it’s often my job to intervene. Taking away someone’s rights to make their own decisions isn’t something that’s enjoyable but it’s required. Life would be so much better for a lot of people if they took the time to think before making decisions that lead to actions when they are extremely sad, angry, or tired. But that won’t change anytime soon and as my colleagues say, I guess it’s the ultimate job security.
One thing I notice in relationships is the influence of power and control. The misuse of power and control in relationships is what makes them abusive in nature. Someone attempting and even succeeding at violating thee boundaries of their significant other through force or manipulation is an example of an extremely dysfunctional and unhealthy relationship. Power and control can also show up in other ways. I’ve also encountered it in the therapy room when I’ve worked with clients who are resistant. The whole thought behind power and control in this context is that people want to be in control of something. When their values or beliefs are challenged they immediately put up their guard and even subconsciously seek to manipulate the situation so that they remain in control at all times and they never have to change their faulty belief patterns. It’s the avoidance being honest with oneself and being in a vulnerable place. It’s almost like playing a game because as a therapist I’m trying to challenge them in a way that won’t make them defensive but will also be effective in helping them make necessary changes. Recently, I found myself in an unfamiliar environment where power and control dynamics came into play. I’m the type of person who likes to be in control at all times. Not necessarily in charge of what happens to me because I know that’s impossible, but I like being in my right mind (to a reasonable degree) without being impaired by various substances. I want the ability to exercise self control so that I don’t have to face the unpleasant consequences of a stupid and impulsive decision later on. That being said, this environment was very unfamiliar and out of my comfort zone. On paper it was a great opportunity to experience something new. However, it required a level of trust that I did not feel was warranted. So I did what any human who feels threatened in some way would do or would at least attempt–took power and control of the situation. While it was definitely an overreaction, I preferred it (at the time) to giving up power and control. It was a learning experience to be on the other side of a power and control dynamic where I was in a similar position to that of some of my clients and had to take action to remain in control. Interesting.
1. Every person who has mood swings or depression is not automatically “bipolar” and “schizophrenic.” These are terms that most people throw around without any idea what it truly entails. They’re usually wrong.
2. Telling someone who is severely depressed that they should snap out of it, pray more, or engage in some other activity that does not involve being evaluated by some type of professional is stupid. You may mean well but that doesn’t excuse giving horrible advice on something you aren’t qualified on. Mental illness isn’t the same for everyone.
3. Ignoring your kid’s obvious problems won’t make them go away. Playing ostrich in the sand as a parent doesn’t benefit anyone and 9 times out of 10, the problem(s) will get worse. Avoidance may work for you but sometimes you just have to man/woman up and face issues for the sake of your kid and their future.
4. There’s still a stigma surrounding getting help for mental health challenges but the truth is that we live in a different world than we did 100 years ago with different stressors. Being self-aware of your emotions and your own issues will go a long way in being a well-adjusted adult. There’s no shame in knowing that you need help and going through the necessary channels to get it.
5. Medications can work wonders. Some people genuinely need to be on medication for the rest of their lives in order to have a better quality of life. So stop telling people not to take their meds because you aren’t them and you don’t know how that could impact their day to day functioning.
I’ve always been a person who has had respect for people in power. I also think that it’s possible to have power without being in a position of power. In our world, many times power comes with money. The more money someone has, the more their opinion or perspective is respected. Because of this power, they can also influence others to a great extent. Power can also come from the set of initials behind or before your name. Initials like “M.D.” “J.D.” or “PhD” are generally more respected than “B.A.” “B.S.” or “M.A.” A few weeks ago I received a professional license that I’ve worked toward for the past 6 years. Along with credibility, one of the things that this license allows me to do is to sign a piece of paper that can hospitalize a person involuntarily for a certain period of time for evaluation. While there are certain parameters and guidelines that dictate when this option is appropriate, I get the opportunity to use my clinical judgment to see if those guidelines are met and I sign a piece of paper that can turn someone’s life upside down. My decision affects a lot of people including parents whose child is being taken out of their custody. Family members, friends and other people involved are all entities who can be impacted by the decision that I made. The thing about power is that it can be used as a means for good or for evil. It’s not a bad thing in itself, but it can be misused and mishandled. This can be especially true when people who are insecure are given an extremely large amount of power. All their decisions are made through the lens of their own self-identified deficiencies and the results are usually disastrous. I think that this is one of the reasons why it’s important to know who you are because power will only magnify your true character and your flaws or strengths will be showcased in your decisions.