Facade

Hiding behind your screen

Posting meme after meme.

Quick-witted and overly friendly

Frequently judging one too many.

 

Wanting to be liked and pretending to not to care,

But getting upset when receiving a glare.

A gossiper extraordinaire

Who enjoys making fun of what people wear.

 

Ruffled because the news wasn’t heard first,

No congratulations or well-wishes but a self-centered outburst.

Contributing to drama to increase the tension

Because of your craving to be the center of attention.

 

We see through your camouflage

Even with protection from the entourage.

You’re materialistic, self-absorbed, and insecure.

Seeing through your mask will occur.

 

We see your fear of looking inside

Because it’s uncomfortable and you’d rather hide.

You’re afraid of what you might find

And those around you will no longer be blind.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gossip Is Your Delusion Of Power

 

Person A did x with Person B.  Person B isn’t happy about x and vents her frustration to Person C.  The venting evolves into gossip between B & C then persons D & E join the “conversation.”  A has no clue that B was ticked off about something.  B feels “better” because she confided in a “friend” and even more powerful because she assumes she has others supporting her.

Sound familiar?

Why in the hell do we resort to this adolescent behavior as adults?  I can understand why adolescents engage in this.  They’re still learning how to interact with each other and deal with their feelings about a variety of social situations.  As adults, what do we gain from this?

Well, it makes us feel like we have some kind of power.  We think we have someone else on our side that validates our feelings.  I mean if whomever we talk to doesn’t disagree with us, then we must be in the right?

Right?

Wrong!

We make the mistake of assuming that the “friends” we choose to listen to our issues about another individual must agree with us because they didn’t say anything against us.  As a result, we feel empowered, and because of that feeling of empowerment, we continue to talk about other individuals.  It’s a vicious cycle of a delusional form of power.  We tear others down to make ourselves feel better.

We avoid confrontation and conflict because it makes us feel uncomfortable.  It’s so much easier to talk about Person A then to tell them why you’re unhappy with them.  Conflicts don’t get resolved by gossiping to others about the situation.  Uncomfortable or not, go directly to the person you have an issue with and talk to them.  You gain more respect and deeper trust by going speaking directly to them.

What goes around comes around.  How you treat others will be how you’re treated one day.

A. Mac

 

The Mean Girls

When I was in elementary school, my father’s profession led us to living in several locations every 12-18 months which meant I enrolled in new school in a new city, state, or country every school year through 5th grade.  I am used to being the “new kid.”   In every school, there was always a group of people willing to get to know you, establish friendship, and help you get to know the ins and outs of the campus.

When you work in a public school district as a therapist, you are often assigned to more than one campus.  Many of us are reassigned to new campuses every 2-5 years.  I returned to an elementary school setting after 10 years in a secondary setting.  I love working with kids of all ages, so I knew I would enjoy working with younger students; however, elementary teachers and administrators are an entirely different entity.

There is a great deal of micromanaging in elementary schools.  Administrators want to know every little detail about teacher’s classrooms, programs, and student performance.  They want to know about every lesson plan, conflict, celebration, project planning, or meeting that occurs between staff, students, and parents.  This is understandable since they are responsible for how their teachers educate students and communicate with parents and other professionals., but do they really need to know every detail?  I mean details like what time you went to the restroom, entered a classroom, attended an IEP meeting, etc… They want to be involved in every single meeting that occurs on their campus or have someone tell them the results of the meeting.  Teachers prefer to go straight to their principals regarding any issues, concerns, or conflicts with staff instead of talking directly to the person(s) involved in the subject matter.   Secondary teachers and administrators appear more relaxed or easy going, are less likely to overreact,  collaborate and support each other across academic departments, and prefer to speak to you directly before approaching someone on a higher pay scale.

There appears to be more of a Mean Girl mentality in the elementary setting compared to the secondary setting.   Remember the bossy girl in elementary class?  The one who tattled the most, got the kids to rally behind her, and preferred to be the center of attention?  It turns out that some of those girls grew up to be Mean Women and became teachers.  Not all teachers fall into this category, however I do see this more at the elementary level.

Earlier this year, another therapist and I scheduled a meeting with on teacher to explain therapy service delivery systems and answer her questions about speech and language therapy.  It was supposed to be a meeting between the three of us.  At the meeting, two other teachers joined us and we were told that the principal may pop in.  We were surprised, especially when the meeting became an ambush.  It turned into a personal attack on me.  My partner was floored and observed the attack in silence and amazed at their unprofessional behavior.  I kept calm and listened to all kinds of “problems” they had with my therapy schedule and how I provide therapy.  To add to the situation, I learned that they had been e-mailing the principal about their issues.  The principal never contacted me but contacted my supervisor.  By the time I heard from my supervisor, the “concern” was exaggerated and consisted of misinformation.   This same group of teachers, refuse to tell us when they will be attending a field trip or special program, invite us to lesson planning meetings or team lunches, inform us when they are meeting with parents.   They e-mail the principal if you were 5 minutes late to their classroom or CC the principal to remind you that an IEP meeting is scheduled.  On more than one occasion they will tell you how much they miss the therapist who was there last year and wish they would come back to their campus.

Lately, the Mean Girls have been quiet, which led me to assume that things were okay and that all issues were resolved.  My supervisor hadn’t heard from the principal in a few months, so she thought things were going well.  We were both surprised when the principal was asked her to place me at another campus next year because I am “too seasoned” for her campus.  In the 27 years I have been in my profession, I have never experienced this.

 

 

 

 

Riding The Wave

Springtime is wonderful time of year.  Trees begin to turn green, flowers bloom, the temperature gradually increases, and the anticipation of summer fun  makes us playful and energetic.  I love the external side of spring but dread the internal side.  It’s the side no one sees until my former BFFs, Anxiety and Depression pay a visit.

It all started with my old friend Stress.  Stress is a moody little bugger and occasionally invites its cousins from other places I frequently visit such as work and family.  Professionally, this is a rough time of year where job stress increases secondary to closing out the academic year and making sure all evaluations, session notes, and billing have been submitted.  Unfortunately, when stress increases, my anxiety, disguised as OCD, increases which opens the door for depression.   On most days, my OCD and depression are manageable with medication and a few Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) strategies, but there are days or times of the year where I experience significant stress from different directions, and as a result, I drive many people around me nuts with my rigidity like lining things in my refrigerator with the labels facing left in a 45 degree angle or making sure the thermostat, TV/stereo volume, and number of tissues boxes I have are in even numbers.  I am hyper aware of everything and everyone around me.  Sudden changes in my routine, day, or plans make me feel like I’m blindfolded, set on fire, and trapped in a maze.

Depression is Anxiety’s fraternal twin.  When Anxiety pays a visit, Depression pops by a few days later.  I really dislike Depression.  Anxiety is annoying but Depression is the “friend” we all avoid.  Depression siphons everything that makes you enjoyable to be around.  Look at Eeyore, Marvin, and Debbie Downer.  Who would enjoy hanging out with them?  What do you do when your least favorite person comes to stay with your family for a few days?  You do everything you can to tolerate their company until they go home.  In DBT, this is also known as riding the wave.  To ride the wave,  a variety of strategies are used to help tolerate anxiety and depression until it leave us.  As we ride the wave, we must accept and let go of our thoughts and emotions as they enter and leave our mind.  If we focus on its presence, then it becomes amplified resulting in increased distress.

I’ve been riding the wave for 22 days now and it’s wearing me down.  Anxiety and Depression have overstayed and need to go home. I’ve reached out to those closest to me and started the next level of support to help me get through this episode.  It’s difficult to admit that you’re not okay but I’m glad I did.

Sharing My Martial Arts World

I have been involved in martial arts off and on since 1997. I’ve had to take a few breaks over the years to take care of family, finish graduate school, relocate, heal from illness and injuries, etc…, but no matter what temporarily blocked my path, my martial art was something I could consistently count on returning to.  Learning hyungs, punching/kicking techniques, etc… was a wonderful way to bring my mind and body together.  It helped me manage my stress and feel less depressed.  Learning how to defend myself was an added bonus.  I took my training seriously and found the time to get to the dojang two to three times a week for many years until I returned to the Lone Star State.

Neither of my ex-husbands or my immediate family, excluding my niece and nephews, were supportive of my passion. They weren’t interested in my classes, tests, tournaments, social gatherings, etc… When I moved back to Texas, I learned there were no local studios that taught my art. The closest studios were two to three hours away. After e-mailing five studio owners, one instructor responded and offered an alternate training schedule. I was elated to find someone willing to help me with my training and guide me on my martial arts journey. My ex-husband, parents, sister, and friends could not understand why I would drive so far just to attend a particular martial arts class.  My ex would often tell me that I was wasting money, time, gas, etc… when I came home from a night of training. He reluctantly went to my black belt test and griped about the three hours it took to complete the test. He refused to go to the promotion dinner when my test results came back from Headquarters.  It was at that point I finally realized that I didn’t need anyone’s approval or support to continue this journey, so  I stopped sharing martial arts stories, inviting them to events, or talking about the interesting people I trained with.

Five years later, I find myself surrounded by my family of choice, friends, and boyfriend who encourage me to continue my journey, allow me to practice self-defense techniques on them, and take care of my dog the nights I embark the three-hour trip to the dojang.  Given the past history with my family and ex-husband, I was reluctant to accept this support and silently waited for it to disintegrate.  My boyfriend wanted to meet my martial arts family, see a tournament, and attend my 2nd degree test. My family of choice and friends asked questions regarding the history and philosophy of my art and invited me to teach a few self-defense classes within their community.  A few of them asked if they could go to class with me!

I find myself  continually wondering why my biological family and former spouse are so contrastingly different from my family of choice, friends, and boyfriend. A part of me expects the bridge to my martial arts world to collapse at any moment.  Another part of me wants to open all the doors and windows to my world and let as many people in as I possibly can.  Deep down, I know I need to stop thinking about the past, worrying about the future, and accept the present.  I have people in my life who love and support me, which is all that really matters.  In the words of Al Franken’s character, Stuart Smalley, “I am good enough, smart enough, and doggone it, people like me!”

A. Mac

The Importance of Office Location

Being a therapist in a school has its perks such as having 12 weeks off in a calendar year and creating your own appointment schedule; however, office space is limited in schools and many administrators and educators have no idea what therapists do.  My high school office is located in the same hallway as JROTC, dance,and athletics.  Here are a few things that I’ve observed and experienced over the year.

  1. It’s too noisy to do therapy and evaluations in my office.
  2. I hear kids talk about things that would highly concern their parents (BSDM for example).
  3. The kids eat lunch in the hall and it’s like an episode of Fame (they dance,sing, play music).
  4. Tap dancing to the nth degree.
  5. Girls giggle, squeal, and gossip.
  6. I hear basketballs and squeaky tennis shoes all day long.
  7. There are girls in groups of 3-5 practicing in the hall outside my office door  counting 1-8 over and over.
  8. The Laverne and Shirley theme song pops in my head every time I hear them count to 8.

~A. Mac

The Visit or Why I Choose to Live Away From Family

I like living a few hours away from my family.  I love and occasionally miss them, but I definitely don’t want to live near them.

They     drive      me     nuts.

In December, I drove home to keep my father company while my step-mother was to have surgery to remove what was left of a malignant lump from her breast. Just as I was exiting the freeway to get to the hospital, my dad calls and tells me that the surgery wasn’t going to happen and to meet them at the house.  I hadn’t seen them in 5 months.  They don’t have visitors over since my step-mother’s immune system is compromised as she undergoes treatment.

At first it was a warm reception and I learned why the surgery was suddenly rescheduled. I listened to them talk about her treatment and their plan to take a trip once the doctor approved her for travel. They began to ask me questions about my career, martial arts, social life, etc… then I mentioned a problem I was having with my ex-husband (it’s difficult to get your name off a mortgage after a divorce). It was at that point my step-mother expressed I “got screwed” in my divorce and went on to tell me how I did nothing right to take everything I could from him.

Ugh

I reminded her that he was a contributing factor to my depression and one of the reasons why I had checked in a hospital. I lived with his emotional abuse for 15 years and when I moved out of our house, I flourished. She stopped taking for a few seconds then said, “And that’s another reason why you got screwed!”

I sat there for 20 minutes listening to her rant until my uncle came over to check on my parents. The conversation changed to politics and how a particular businessman running for president is just what this country needs. There was no debate. There was no conversation. It was another hour of hate speech that made me cringe.  My dad sat in his chair reading the paper and didn’t say a word.  I felt like was back in high school and was reminded of a time I was forced to listen to why a boyfriend I had was no good for me and how they (my step-mother) were going to make me grow up by sending me away to college.

Suddenly, I remembered I wasn’t 18 but 48.  I have a happy and healthy life three hours away from them. They don’t know about my alternate lifestyle, my friends, the people I consider family, or that I am actively involved in my community. I’m a successful woman who can stand on her own. I am a survivor of two sexual assaults and a 15-year emotionally abusive D/s marriage. Yes, I have my ups and downs but I am a warrior and survivor.

I was ready to head back home after an hour and a half of “catching up.”

~A. Mac