I’m Human & This Being Positive All the Time is BS

Human beings feel all sorts of emotions — fear, love, loathing, hate, like, happiness, elation, anger, grief, and many more. It is part of the human condition.

The current mantras are “stop being afraid”, “always have a positive attitude” and “stay positive”. Social media is filled with clever sayings and memes about the “think positive” mind-hive .

Well, sorry folks, I’m here to tell you, unless you are a monk or some ethereal being, it is not human to be positive every minute of every day. Is God positive all the time? Well, if you believe the Bible, no! God was a very angry God sometimes. God was judgmental. God was vengeful. God grieved.

I’m a firm believer in having your time to  feel your anger, feel your grief, feel your fear. You can’t wallow in it but not allowing yourself to feel these things I have learned from therapy is damaging.

The author, Maddy Paxman, wrote about the grief she felt after the death of her husband, Michael, in an article in The Telegraph, and how it is not acceptable to show grief, in which she states:

Anyway, try not being strong and see where it gets you. Once, at an ice-rink birthday party for my son’s friend, I sat down on the floor in the corner and sobbed. No one came near me. Diana, Princess of Wales’s funeral notwithstanding, public displays of emotion are still largely a cause for discomfort. We do not know how to witness another’s pain, simply to stand by them as they grieve. So grief and sadness become private, hidden, shameful even. I even found it hard to cry in front of myself.

I have found this to be true even for myself. You get labeled as a “negative” person when you show how you really feel at that moment. You are given anecdotes in which everyone knows someone with three children, whose husband died, and is now dealing with cancer… and the death of a parent… and the loss of a job. And of course, this person is always happy and cheerful. I don’t know how to break it to you but that person – she is just putting one foot in front of the other and often pastes a smile on her face to show to the world. She is not as happy as you think. She isn’t opening her heart and soul to you however.

How do I know? I spent years telling people I was “fine”.  I was anything but fine. But I was known as an always upbeat and happy person. It was a lie. It was a lie I told others and I often told myself. And when I wasn’t lying to myself, I was berating myself for having negative emotions. “Why am I sad and anxious? I should be happy. I have so much going for me” was a reoccurring theme in my head.

I talked to my therapist about my grief, for the loss of my dad, for the loss of my cat, for the loss of friendship, for the surgery I had in December, for the loss of the woman I called “grandma”, and she told me that I must allow myself time and permission to feel what I feel. She said it is imperative to not allow anyone to tell me how I should feel and give me a timetable in which to “get over it”.

People want us to be positive all the time because as, Paxman said in her article, anything else makes you uncomfortable. We are human. We don’t like being uncomfortable (another emotion!).

Talking about business, Seth Godin wrote in Linchpin; Are You Indispensable

Discomfort brings engagement and change. Discomfort means you’re doing something that others were unlikely to do, because they’re hiding out in the comfortable zone. When your uncomfortable actions lead to success, the organization rewards you and brings you back for more.

Glennon Doyle Melton wrote about this on her Momastery Blog in 2014, specifically writing about anger and the discomfort people feel when you express anger. She wrote “Forbidding half of the human experience to half of the human race is quite insane and dangerous.”

I know that when friend or family member is uncomfortable with my negative emotions, I stop confiding in them. Then I stop talking to them about anything of any import. Because I don’t trust them with my feelings, honoring all of my feelings, or more to the point, honoring all of me.

We need to honor our friends and family. All of them, in all of their messy glory. I need to honor myself in all of my messy glory. Because we are human.

No More Discounts

Memes. People love to hate them. So many have bad grammar and spelling (and those drive me nuts, I admit!). Some are too facile. There’s absolutely no space for nuance in a meme. Much is left unsaid for lack of space and the need for the meme to be short, sweet, and to the point.

But this one has all the nuance it needs in its one little sentence. It’s a lesson I sorely need to learn even at 56 years old. It’s one that I hope I get before I get so old I trust everyone because I don’t remember anyone or how to put on my own underwear.

Not everyone deserves a place in your life or your heart. Some people can be acquaintances. Some are only business associates. Some are friends of friends and you are cordial. Some are Facebook friends and that’s an entirely new category of “friendship”. Some people need to be standing on the outside in the cold because they truly are bad people.

Others aren’t really bad people but they still need to remain outside because they are bad for you. My friend, Robin, calls these people her “kryptonite”.  These people are dangerous to you because they appear so friendly and helpful but for whatever reason, they just tear your heart and soul to shreds. Maybe it’s karma. Maybe it’s just a clash of personality. Maybe it’s opposites attract.

No matter what the reason, those people demand discounts on your heart. Stop now! You are worth every single penny. Don’t give away your worth to anyone.

I’m going to start taking my own advice.

discounts

I Sure Do Miss You

You are gone one year today. Some days it seems like this year has dragged on. But in all honesty, I can’t believe it’s been a year already.

I can’t believe that I miss my gluten contaminated house filled with your cakes, doughnuts, breads, and cookies, Mr. Cookie Monster.

Having you live with me was so incredibly difficult and yet so incredibly rewarding. While I didn’t like your nocturnal need for tea and conversation,  I cherish those 3 a.m. conversations nonetheless. In those talks I learned so much.

I miss your advice. Oh boy do I ever miss your advice. Lately I could really use it and somehow asking myself “what would Dad do?” doesn’t seem adequate.

I miss your voice. I miss hearing you say “love you babe”.

Thanks for being my dad. Miss you Dad.

Lying

We’ve been hearing a lot about lying lately.  Apparently lying is en vogue these days.

Our president thinks the media lies. Fact checkers prove that our president lies with every breath he takes. Michael Flynn neglected to tell the VP about something he did and had to resign as a result.

Some however would question whether Michael Flynn actually lied. They will say he merely omitted giving information. 

I had a conversation about this with a friend. My friend believes that the omission is not a lie. I was told that as long as the precise question is not asked, there is no lie. Merely not speaking the truth is okay. I take some comfort that my friend did use a fair amount of word salad to say that, hopefully an indication that he is trying to believe it but not quite sure himself. In a later conversation,  this person said that he didn’t lie, he just left out part of the story.

But this conversation wasn’t sitting well with me. It felt very false. How can the obfuscation not be a lie? How do you trust what the person is telling you knowing it may not be the entire truth?  As usual, I have taken the time to think about it and do a little research as well and now I’m blogging (or at least journaling) about it.

As a law student you are taught early on about the difference between lies of commission (speaking outright lies) and lies by omission. You are taught that in some circumstances,  a failure to act (or speak) is as bad as acting. Similarly, omitting an important fact that would be incriminating is as bad as lying to avoid saying something incriminating. 

I’m not a Christian but the New Testament is very clear that a lie by omission is sin. I can only assume that our law, based on biblical morality, sees lies by omission as unlawful because of the biblical command to not lie or bear false witness.

So what is lying by omission and is it really lying? A lie by omission is an indirect lie. You are lying by omission when you deliberately leave out important information which gives others a misconception of what is really going on.

The most obvious example is a married person having an affair and the married person doesn’t say “I’m working late” but lets the other spouse believe that’s why he’s coming home so late. Then the married person goes out on a date while his spouse waits at home thinking loving spouse is hard at work. 

In my friend’s viewpoint, as long as the spouse doesn’t  specifically ask “honey are you cheating on me?,” forcing a “yes,” there is no lie. However, I think the spouse left in the dark will feel that this “don’t ask, don’t tell” moment needs to be called what it is. A lie. And a betrayal.Research bears this out as I will explain later. Plus you need to know to ask the right question!

Perhaps a better description of this person is “deceiver”. A deceiver is a person who willingly deceives another day in and day out and seems comfortable with doing it. 

There’s a similar form of deception, called paltering. A palterer  strings together a series of essentially truthful statements to create a false impression. This is most used to describe politicians and advertisers.

This Dilbert cartoon is a perfect example of lies of omission .

How  does this person look another person they are deceiving in the eye every single day and not feel that he is lying? 

I know I couldn’t do that without great discomfort and a lot of lost sleep. That discomfort is called cognitive dissonance. 

People however are capable of great mental gymnastics to make themselves feel better about their lying and some will go to great lengths to pull the wool over your eyes. Some people will even change their beliefs to avoid any discomfort they feel at telling lies. By changing their beliefs, they are no longer lying! 

Should you trust someone that is adept at omission/deception? George Orwell said that “the omission is the most powerful form of lie”. Research in the field shows that all this lying is damaging to relationships.

A study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology determined that a person who is  lied to by omission didn’t feel any better than one told an outright lie. The person feels just as betrayed and believes the behavior is just as unethical. 

In a study published in Cognition, MIT scientists revealed that if you lie by omission to children, they are adept at telling that you have not told them the truth and will stop trusting the information you give them from that point on. Apparently, kids are really astute! The shame is that as we get older we seem to lose that inate intelligence (and wind up spending a few hours researching and writing blog posts about it).

In other words, trust is eroded. 

How do you get that trust back? I don’t have an answer for that. Once you know someone is a deceiver, can you trust that person?  How do you know the person is not going to willingly deceive you even if you haven’t been on the receiving end of deception thus far?

Perhaps, though, the words of a wise friend will offer some food for thought. She opined that when a person shows you who he (or she) is, believe it. Don’t discount it. In other words, a person that deceives so easily and doesn’t seem to lose sleep over it should be approached with caution. Their words may not be dripping with lies but the omissions, those words unsaid, are suspect. Be vigilant. Proceed with caution.

Dad

This is too hard. His birthday was the 10th. Last year we were having cake and he was eating fish and chips. 

Sunday is the first father’s day without him. Advertisers want me to buy the perfect gift for him. I want to scream “my dad is DEAD! Stop emailing me this crap!”

Facebook is already blowing up with dad’s day posts. By Sunday it will be unbearable. I will have to do my best to do a FB fast.

The past two weeks have been filled with annoyances and heartache. Now Tuesday is the anniversary of his death and I’ve been dreading it. I’ve wanted to talk to him so badly. This only drives home how much I miss him and his wise counsel.  

They say it gets easier. I sure hope so.

A Fool No More

I have run the scenario through my head too many times to count now.

While the death of my father one year ago was possibly the most painful experience in my life, this one takes a top prize.

A man I loved, a man that I was honest with and  told  that I loved him and that I’d rather spend time with him than with almost anyone else, not only never loved me, he never considered me as a contender for his heart. He found something in me too annoying to want to live with me (but didn’t want to tell me what it was). I was never a long term prospect for his heart. 

He spent time with me, a lot of time with me over the last few months, but said multiple times during our last two conversations that it was better than staying home alone on a Saturday night. Plus at the same time he was spending that time with me, he was talking with an ex with the intention of getting back together with her. Gee, isn’t that sweet. Except that now that I’ve kept him amused for the last few months, it is now inappropriate to spend time with me and disrepectful to her. 

Well sir, over the last few months your behavior has been disrespectful to me.

I was told by multiple people over the last few years that I deserved better than him. That he was a self-centered, self-absorbed,  selfish, and conflicted man. My response was to defend him over and over and over again.

So now I feel like a fucking idiot. And I feel horribly used. And I feel like an idiot for allowing this to happen.

It makes me angry. At him. At myself.

A friend tried to tell me that it’s not on me. I opened my heart and gave freely and how that’s a beautiful thing. But I can’t help but to think that I was a fool and he played me for a fool. 

That’s on him. It will be lost on such an adept navel gazer who can’t see past his own nose, but it is on him. 

For my part,  the likes of him will not darken my door again.