Coping Challenge: Obstacles Beyond My Control

Disclaimer: this is a place of learning, safety, and hope. Take what you want from the post and forget the rest. Maybe this will help you. Maybe it won’t.

This is a short post.

Life is hectic right now because of the fires in Oregon and along the West Coast. Then there is snow in the midwest. Hurricanes in the South and Southeast too.

And of course making mistakes or feeling triggered because of stuff happening outside of my control. That’s how life goes sometimes.

But it doesn’t make me feel any less helpless when the obstacles show up and are outside of my control.

That’s when the inner strength and resilience come in to play. I may be feeling triggered because of my own mistakes and outside events or actions or experiences influencing my life. But I can still control my actions and reactions. Sometimes I do things on instinct; in the short term it gets me in trouble. In the long term, sometimes they set the foundation for a better outcome.

Right now, my goal is to stay safe and prepare for the possibilities while working and enjoying Gale.

I hope you all stay safe and healthy too. You have the same inner strength and resilience necessary to cope with the triggers and obstacles outside of your control too.

thanks for reading.

Holding Hands with Gale

Life Quirks: Coping with Change – Meet My Cat Gale

Disclaimer: this is a place of learning, safety, and hope. Take what you want from the post and forget the rest. Maybe this will help you. Maybe it won’t.

The Beginning

It happened so fast that I still feel unprepared.

I’ve been trying for over 4 months to adopt a cat through the Oregon Humane Society, but it’s been a challenge because of COVID-19-related changes to the adoption process. But on the busiest, most challenging week post-COVID, Gale came into my life.

I applied Wednesday. Talked to the counselor on Thursday. Met and brought Gale home on Friday – completely unprepared.

Gale's profile photo
Gale’s profile photo

The counselor told me about the attitude on the phone; and that she loves food and catnip. That was good because I love food and catnip too. That’s how we bonded at the shelter. I brought fresh and dried herbal quality catnip as a bribe.

2 years old, slightly under weight, doesn’t like being handled and will make it known (growls and hisses anyone?). She was pissed when the counselor put her in the cardboard carrier, so we agreed it was best not to move her again for the ride home. The counselors were awesome! They helped me bring her and her “new owner kit” plus a few extras to the car.

We took a Lyft back and luckily had a patient, kind driver who liked cats. Lucky because Gale decided she didn’t like the cardboard carrier and told us so. Then she got feisty and started poking her claws out; scratching the holes open; biting the holes; and rolling in the carrier to rock it.

Home Introductions and Respecting Boundaries

It started with her wanting to be with me all the time. Have some scratches on the bedroom door and molding because I didn’t always leave the door open when I left the bedroom. She wanted to explore on Saturday and made her way through the whole apartment.

Then she decided to start scratching inappropriate items while watching me for a reaction. Yup, testing me. So I didn’t know what to do. The literature says keep cats confined to one room for a week. That cat’s won’t be very affectionate or interested in being near their humans for a while or eat a lot the first week.

We had our first “scare” this morning when she had trouble with hair balls and eating something she wasn’t supposed to eat, but got out on her own. That was interesting times at 3:30 this morning with me calling a 24 hr vet for advice and doing my best to check out a cat who is suspicious of everything and doesn’t like being touched unless it’s on her terms.

I got to listen to lots of coughing, throat clearing, sneezing, whistling, and other cat-trying-to-get-a-hairball or something else out noises until about 7 this morning. We slept late, and I fed her around 8:30 like Saturday. Between the hospital operator and the clinic receptionist, I felt like Gale would be okay after she spit out a small piece of something she wasn’t supposed to eat.

And me panicking because Gale is not doing what the literature said she’d be doing

Mistakes, Underestimating Cats, and Emergency purchases

So, I’ve been talking people’s ears off with my nervous chatter and questions because Gale bonded fast and started exploring the apartment yesterday. Not a week after living with me. Nope. Not my girl with her attitude and STRONG boundaries.

My mistakes: underestimating how fast delivery services would be, Gale’s appetite, and her need for appropriate scratching posts, not understanding the depth of her suspicious nature, and not scheduling a vet appointment on Saturday.

A call to the animal shelter Saturday calmed me down and reassured me it’s better to let Gale set the pace and follow literature instructions exactly. The email from our adoption counselor reassured me that Gale was acting like a normal Siamese cat – minus the attitude. The phone person connected me with a local store that sold Gale’s food, litter, scratch posts and other cat necessities.

The bus was delayed, so I used Lyft again. And again grateful for great drivers who helped me cope with my anxiety and get all Gale’s stuff into the apartment building. The store people at (Mud Bay) were amazing and helped calm me down some more while working with me to fill my list: 2 scratching posts, a carrier, food, litter, hair ball treats, dental treats, and a bed to start.

Delayed…Everything

Gale’s arrival changes all my timelines for the foreseeable future. It’s an interesting balancing act to help her feel comfortable with the whole apartment while trying to get my work done and needs met.

I’m lucky she’s not a clingy cat – as long as I am in eye sight or jump-to range, Gale is fine – or a destructive one.

Her boundaries are clear, and she’s so smart that she learned mine fast too. Now we’re working out how to live peacefully together.

So, If I’m not active or blogging for the next week or two, it’s because my schedule and routine are in flux.

Right now, my goals are:

  1. remember to eat regular meals and hydrate often
  2. remember it’s okay to leave Gale alone sometimes
  3. remember to clean up more and do my chores around work
  4. Make space for Gale’s stuff
  5. Shower, brush teeth, go to bed at my normal time
  6. Try to follow my sleep hygiene routine
  7. Use DBT, aromatherapy, and other tools in my toolbox to cope with feeling overwhelmed and triggered into nightmares

Thanks for reading!

Anger: I wrote a post, forgot to save it, and lost it…

Disclaimer: this is a place of learning, safety, and hope. Take what you want from the post and forget the rest. Maybe this will help you. Maybe it won’t.

*Trigger Warning: This post may contain triggers; read at your own pace*

I wrote a post about anger, triggers, racism, people-pleasing, and boundaries. But I forgot to save it as I wrote and lost all the content. No photos other than the main photo because this isn’t the type of post where I can find appropriate ones.

So instead of re-doing all that, I’m going to keep this as concise as possible.

My boundaries have been constantly violated this past few weeks by people who connected with me over social media to be “friends”. They pushed and pushed until I finally put my foot down and ended the “friendship”. And yes I have quotes around that word because their idea of friendship did not meet mine.

Each of these challenges had me constantly wondering what life lesson my spiritual guardians were teaching me. It kept me up a couple nights this week. It stressed me out so I have been off my diet lately – by diet I mean forgetting to eat or not feeling hungry and doing something about that. And it made me extremely aware of the changes in my body.

Positive changes, but still changes.

So then I realized this was a boundary challenge and a lesson about social interaction. I am not a social person. My interaction is mostly limited to my parents (daily), work (frequent, but not often), and other people once or twice a month. Email and text are the preferred communication tools, but phone calls and video happen too.

My interactions with these people felt overwhelming and frustrating. They texted multiple times a day every day for over a week using the social media messengers. At first, they agreed to friendship. But then they wrote comments that seemed outside of friendship and into the realm of intimate relationships. And they refused to give me personal space when I asked for it.

But I felt confused because my experience with this kind of social interaction and communication is almost zero. So I asked myself what is really bothering me about all these communications? Is it that I started an account with another social media app to chat with this person outside of LinkedIn safely? Is it that I felt let down that I gave in to peer pressure and shared outside contact info with two people who were strangers?

And was I letting myself down by ending potential friendships with these people when I was trying to “put myself out there more”?

That final question was the biggest and most challenging to answer.

But in the end, I valued my personal and emotional safety more than making and keeping friends. These people, with their constant need for communication, disrespect of my personal boundaries, and triggering comments/emojis made me feel exposed, triggered, and unsafe to the point where I had trouble sleeping and eating again.

Between them and the big racism issues popping up everywhere, I felt like I was falling down the rabbit hole again. Nightmares, dreams, you name it I experienced it all week long.

The lesson I learned?

I am enough as I am. I am putting myself out there and trying new things. Sometimes, the “new things” don’t work, so it’s okay to stop and move on.

Being solitary suits me so there is no need to try and form outside friendships or continue friendships that feel unsafe. Next time I start to feel this way, remember Theodore Geisel aka Dr. Seuss and his reclusive, yet successful and happy lifestyle choices.

So yes I am angry. I feel residual past anger and present anger. The challenge now is to climb out of the rabbit hole.

Thanks for reading.

2 Maya Angelou Quotes

Quotes from Maya Angelou – and a mini rant

*Trigger Warning: This post may contain triggers; read at your own pace*

Disclaimer: this is a place of learning, safety, and hope. Take what you want from the post and forget the rest. Maybe this will help you. Maybe it won’t.

REMINDER: These are my opinions and thoughts unless clearly attributed to another source. Feel free to stop at the graphic if you don’t want to read the rant 🙂

One of the best days of my high school life was when our literature teacher had us read Maya Angelou’s work, starting with I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. Back then I didn’t understand why Ms. Angelou’s words resonated deep within me or how I could relate to the story. But I did.

And still do. Relate and resonate with her words, guidance, wisdom (your words here).

My alter personalities enjoy reading poetry and biographies once in a while. But often they read these books after a complete switch, leaving me and some others out of the loop. It’s okay because we all have different interests and want to keep some things only ours instead of shared.

But they wanted me to share these two quotes with you today because they feel relevant to all the changes happening in present time.

Ms. Angelou is like a rainbow peaking out of the clouds when I feel down. Maybe she can help you too.


Mini Rant

And now for the mini rant. I feel so frustrated and am not sure who to talk to or how to address this continuing problem in my life. It’s not like any part of me asked to be wired this way. But certain parts of my sense of self will take longer to heal than others.

Should I have listened to my instincts and cut the person off as soon as they started tingling? Or was continuing the conversation until the inevitable rejection a better option? I don’t really know. But I do care and wish relationships were not so messy or complicated.

If you’ve read past posts, you realize that social media is difficult for me on many levels. I have trust issues and “feeling safe” issues among others that relate to who is “friended” or “unfriended” becomes a “connection” or gets “disconnected” or “follows” and “is followed” on different accounts. Lots of mistakes in the past make me careful about what content I put up and where I go to interact on social media.

The other part that comes up here frequently is my choice to be single and celibate on purpose. Then explaining to people who connect with me on LinkedIn or other other social media places that I am not available without oversharing or overreacting to the trigger.

What is the trigger?

Male or female flirts with me/hits on me/shows signs of sexual attraction

My automatic/instinctive reaction?

Oh s*** he/she/they/it is dangerous and trying to attack/hurt me. Gotta protect myself. Time for the alters to come out and communicate with him/her/them/it.

Yeah, it never ends well for me (and sometimes the other too) once my instincts kick in.

So back to the social media – I am on LinkedIn for a lot of reasons, but the biggest one is that it’s supposed to be a professional network for people to connect and support each other’s business and work goals. Not for people to find partners or flirt or set up dates or other personal type connections.

And yet, twice in the past two years I’ve had men connect with me and then use the messaging tool to flirt with me. One time I asked customer support to intervene. The last time, I made a mistake and let it go on too far because of a miscommunication about the word “friendship”. That kept me up late last night and into this morning with all these thoughts:

Did I share too much? Or not enough?

Was I kind in my rejection? Or too blunt as I explained my reasons for not wanting his type of “friendship”?

Should I not have explained about the sexual and physical abuse in my past and how that translates to me being unable to feel or experience sexual attraction for others in the present?

*key point here: my body is healthy and normal (so the doctors, etc. say) and does react to physiological stimuli – my body reacts to attractive males – but the rest of me does not. Instead, everyone else notes the physiological reaction and reacts with “Oh s*** time to protect ourselves again”*

All my counselors agree that this is a defense mechanism developed when I was still a toddler to protect me from the abusers and pedophiles. And some day in the future, when I feel safe and learn to trust a male with those sensitive parts of myself, I will feel sexual attraction and romantic love and all that other stuff.

Key words being “some day”.

Not now. Not months from now. Not a year from now.

And so I still get frustrated with trying to make friends and be friendly without the “sex stuff” – as my child and teen alters call it – getting in the way.

Times like this, experiences like this, make me want to give up and go back to being a hermit who lives in her head. No worries about other people or other beings (my plants). No worries about being kind or considerate of others. No worries period. Just suffering and existing on a routine that keeps me breathing.

But then I get the proverbial kick in the ass from somewhere and realize I’m too selfish to give up the life I have now. I like/love/accept all parts of myself and who I am becoming. I enjoy having people, plants, and wildlife around.

I even find humor in the challenging people sent my way to teach me life lessons.

And this means prejudice, bullies, emotional blackmail, poverty, accidents, deprivation, rejection, or whatever else comes my way. My new neighbors teach me about change every moment of the day and evening. Like Maya’s quote above – I can’t change the people or the situation, but I can change my perspective and attitude about the people and the situation.

2 Maya Angelou Quotes

Plus, living, thriving with joy and prosperity as I roll with the challenges is the best kind of revenge against people trying to tear me down.

Maybe it’s the best kind for you too? Or maybe not…

Either way, I fall into a shame spiral. Fall over the side and drop for a bit. Then pick myself up and make the climb back to the top. But not the same place I fell.

The journey back up always takes me along a different path, but always gets me where I need to be in the end.

How do you handle communication and relationship challenges? If you want to share, please write in the comments. Your thoughts are appreciated.

Thanks for reading.

Safe, Respectful, Assertive Communication Grid

Alter Post: Being Assertive & Defending Oneself with Kindness + Honesty and a dash of stubborn

I decided to write about trauma-informed care on Scent Reflections, so here is the link if you’re interested.

Disclaimer: this is a place of learning, safety, and hope. Take what you want from the post and forget the rest. Maybe this will help you. Maybe it won’t.

*Trigger Warning: This post may contain triggers; read at your own pace*

Okay, now all the warnings are in place. You can continue reading or visit another time. I’ve written about Mother’s Day and anniversaries before, so thought I’d share something different this time. You can read about how my alters are learning to use DBT and protect our system (their preferred job) to protect and defend against hostile, rude, triggering, or aggressive people.

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