Posts Tagged With: empathy

feeling hopeful at the end of the second month

I’m beginning to feel more at home in my own skin.
In my own home.

The first year of teaching is often called survival year.
The first year of anything could probably be called survival year.
This is the end of the second month.
End. Of. The. Second. Month.
Of a survival year.
During a global pandemic.

All the changes came so hard and fast. And came during the strangest possible time.
Pandemic kept us cooped up for safety. And just when that started to feel unbearable, three more people and three dogs joined this household.
Initially it was exciting and new.
Then it was all about getting settled.
Then simple logistics of cohabitating.
How do we make this work? Two small families creating one big family…how can we be both?

Expectations are being ironed out.
Anybody else hear Hamilton in their head?

“I’m past patiently waitin’. I’m passionately mashin’ every expectation. Every action’s an act of creation.”

Just me? OK…
Anyway, we’re beginning to managing expectations. We’re learning how to navigate each other’s personal language. We’re asking what did that mean when you/she/he said that? We’re figuring out how to cohabitate successfully.

I’m used to being alone the majority of my time.
Now I’m never alone.
My daughter is used to being in charge of her own environment.
Now her environment is not her own.
YBW continues his routine of going to work each day.
Now he supports more people.
Husband N is becoming more and more anxious about finding a job.
YBW and I agree he needs gainful employment, we want him to make the best possible choice instead of taking any job because it’s a job.
Baby K alternates between being so delightful it nearly kills us, and being a tiny terrorist demon bent on destruction. (as a toddler do)

And doesn’t even include the chaos of construction in the house.
YBW and I have no access to our own bathroom. And trying to make due with the bare minimum in the hall bathroom is taking it’s toll on me.
I know I’m feeling the stress.
I am acutely aware everybody experiences me feeling the stress.
I do my best to make sure to explain myself and/or apologize if I’m irritable or querulous. (more than normal)

It’s simply too much all at once and my adaption rate is lagging.
To combat this, I am actively carving out time for myself.
I’m reading again. That simple act sparked a change in me. Shifted me from the back of my brain back to the front. My brain moved out of survival mode and into all the good stuff.
I’m so much better off for it. (so is everyone else)
I’m engaged in a mindful way, not simply navigating fight or flight.
I will work as hard as I can to remain here in this healthy brain space.

I will learn to balance my needs with my wants when they’re at odds.
I want to spend every possible moment with Baby K.
I need some quiet time for myself.
Every time I think I’m on it, I fall. Honestly, she’s hard to resist…
But then I remember we’re at the end of the second month.
End. Of. The. Second. Month.

And I offer myself empathy and understanding.
Which, if I’m being honest, I never do.
My personal expectations are residual from my childhood, keep my head down and do the hard work and don’t complain about it. I received no empathy or understanding. I was expected to do what I was told without question.
I end up expecting myself to manage all ‘the things’ and be resigned to do so without complaint.
When triggered, we all go to the place we ‘know’.
So, if I offer myself some grace, it can be a place where I can stop and breathe. I can bask in that grace and encourage understanding for myself. I can stop the triggers, and in doing so I can find balance.
I can manage my own expectations.
I can take the time I need.
I can take the time I want.
I can feel strong and grateful instead of anxious and overwhelmed.

I feel indescribable love and joy having my daughter and her family here.
Now I’m working on making it comfortable.
For me.
For my husband.
For Thing 1 and Husband N.
For Baby K.
Though, let’s be honest, she’s in high cotton as the tiny princess in this multigenerational household.

At the end of the second month, I feel tired. But more than that, I feel hopeful.

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Gloria

Gloria (by Branden Jacobs-Jenkins) was our first show of the season at Woolly Mammoth Theater Company. When choosing our subscription, we purposely choose Talkback Sundays shows.
About which the theater company has this to say:

“Complete every show with an in-depth conversation. Talk with the artists who create Woolly’s season, and help us turn every audience into a community.”

I find sharing questions and thoughts with the actors and other audience members make these post show conversations an excellent way to learn more about the subject matter. To stimulate thought. To simply enjoy the show even more.

Here’s what I carried with me from the theater.
The importance of making human connections.
Without this ability, we’re missing out on the opportunity to further our own human development. If we can connect with the people around us, we continue to learn important social and emotional skills. Empathy, communication, cooperation, and patience. Not to mention honing self, and social awareness, responsible decision making, and the simple ability to feel comfortable in a variety of situations. When we see other humans as competition, or road blocks to our ambition, we create a toxic environment. Toxicity is bad for all humans.

And
Who’s story is it? How is it decided? Who has the ‘right’ to a story? Who ‘gets’ to tell it?
Now this is powerful stuff!
And in some ways is directly related to a human’s social-emotional skills.
Let’s say an event impacts a group of five humans. Each human receives the event and reacts to it differently. Each of those humans share their story of the event…you get five different events. Makes sense, right?
Why?
Because we see things through the filters of our own life experience, the event is shaped to fit what we are capable of understanding and relating to.

Here’s where empathy comes into play.
If we are connected to the other humans around us, we are able to at the very least, hear and accept their points of view. We will always view everything through our own filter, but we’ll have the ability to have feels, and some sort of understanding for the other humans that shared the experience. The event itself will create more connection instead of division.
When it comes to sharing the story, there will always be different versions, but they’ll be more closely related.

But who has the right to share this story?
Those ‘most’ impacted? What does that mean? Who decides what that means?
The meaning of ‘most’ to one is not the same as to another…
Who has the right to decide one is not worthy of sharing the story?
Who has the right to profit from the sharing of the story? Does anyone have that right?

Is the power in the story, or in the telling of it?
Who has the right to the power?

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