Ronja

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She stared at him as he aimed the gun at her face.

 

Was she supposed to be scared? She was petrified.

She realized all the things she loved about her life. Suddenly her concerns, fears, and disappointments were petty.

 

Was she supposed to stop talking and moving? She was frozen in place.

She wanted to live. She wanted to keep breathing. Her mother and father. Her best friend. Their faces were blurry in her memory. What color exactly were her sister’s eyes. Brown. But what shade, and what did they do when they were happy, sad, angry? She wanted to see them again. She couldn’t remember them well enough! If he pulled that trigger, would she be just that kind of distant image for them?

 

Was she supposed to beg for her life? She was undecided.

It seemed silly to plead with someone who had already made up their mind. And she was stubborn, why beg for something while she still stood tall. But she knew there were ways to break her, that would make her plead and scream.

 

Was she supposed to hate him? She would not do that.

Hate leads to revenge. Revenge leads to more violence. She could not do that to a world already full of anger and violence. So she would stand still, and cry, and beg if needed. But she would not hate.

 

So she studied his face. Looked for the humanity in the light of his eyes, the lines around his nose and mouth. And she looked to the sky behind him. Perhaps it would not be so bad if she could just see the blue of it all, and white of the clouds, the birds circling by.

 

Better to leave this place seeing the beauty of it all, than to feel hate as her last emotion.

 

She was scared as she stared at the blue beyond, but she was determined.

INFP in an E**J world

Being an INFP in a world where being extroverted (E) and judging (J) is difficult. Not that extroverted and judging individuals are worse. But they are more valued in this society, and so being basically the opposite doesn’t make life easy.

It’s difficult because:

    1. Just because I don’t have a detailed reason for my choices doesn’t make them not rational.
    2. Just because I feel things with more intensity and more often, doesn’t make me over emotional, and therefore easily written off.
    3. It’s frustrating to see how people treat each other. Like the other is less important than their concerns. Can’t they feel the awesomeness of humanity in each of us??
    4. I will need a lot of alone time. It doesn’t make me antisocial, and it doesn’t make me lazy. I just really need to curl up in a ball and ignore everyone and everything. It’s like detoxing.
    5. I’m not nice all the time. I’ve got a mean streak and temper like everyone else.

But it’s also kind of awesome, because:

      1. The world is super magical and I can find so much more joy in the little things than most people I meet.
      2. I don’t need much to be content, I’m easily pleased.
      3. I understand others easily, I’ve felt their emotions and I value their existence.
      4. My mind is a massive, dynamic place. It is the biggest adventure to exist in it.

*This post is using terminology from the Meyer Briggs (MBTI) personality inventory

Don’t Try to Fix Things

As a social worker, the first lesson I had to learn was the power of sitting in silence.

When a person is emotional, freaked out, or in pain, it is a very human reaction to search for a solution. To try to make them feel better. It’s uncomfortable to witness negative emotions, it’s uncomfortable to watch someone hurting. So we try to fix it.

For example, if a person is crying because their partner broke up with them and they’re afraid they’ll be alone forever, most people’s immediate reaction is to placate. “What an idiot for breaking up with you!” “Why would they do that??” “They will never be able to find someone better than you” “Of course you won’t be alone forever, you’re good looking and wonderful, you’ll find someone in no time!” These are not bad reactions, and sometimes we all need to hear these things from our friends and family.

However, in general, the placating doesn’t help much. In our rush to fix the negativity, to make everyone feel better, we’re doing the opposite. We’re making it about us, and our relationship with the person, and what we think and feel about the situation. We’re also expressly trying to change their emotions (from negative to positive, from distraught to accepting, etc.), which is actually telling the person that their emotions are wrong and in need of changing. It’s not validating.

When we don’t validate a person’s feelings they’re likely to suppress what they’re feeling and pretend to feel something else. To make us, the observer, feel better. They might even become angry at themselves for not being able to feel better, to feel the positive emotions we want them to feel.

So how to help? By sitting and listening with patience. Just showing up and staying while the person purges themselves of the negative emotions does more for the individual than all the placating and fixing. It tells the person their emotions are real and they are worth being listened to. It also proves to them that they have the support and acceptance in their lives to get through the negativity and find their way back to a more positive (or at least neutral) state of being.

But total silence is kinda creepy. It’s alright to give a hug and some kind, encouraging words. But maybe only after some quiet, active listening.

Georgie

story book character

It was her birthday! Excitedly, she put on her favorite dress and the prettiest crown in her collection (her Mama had given it to her a few years ago), and ran out into the woods.

The light of a new day pushed through the branches of the familiar trees. Fresh and green, and smelling of earth.

She was excited to see her fairy friends again. Every year on her birthday she had gone out into the woods and they had been there. Rustling through leaves, floating with the dust in shafts of light. They called to her to play with them. They were magic and imagination and she loved them.

It was her birthday and she could not wait to see them again! Though the dress pinched a little as it grew too small. Though she no longer looked at her crown collection, unless it was her birthday. She was certain that in the woods the magic remained.

But as she stepped through the shadows and dappled sunlight, all she heard was the breeze and the whisper of cars off the nearby highway. Where the fairies used to laugh at her as they danced, there remained only leaves, twigs, and dust. She strained her eyes looking for them, but found only a brown bird and caterpillar.

She stood there then, in her too tight dress and the crown slipping down the side of her head, and had to admit that she’d lost them.

 

I’m Back!: Lessons Learned From Grad School

So this site tells me I haven’t posted in 8 months. Here’s why, I’m working on getting my Master’s in Social Work (!!). Which, I have discovered sounds easier than it actually is. I though I would be more tired, and have a little less free time. Turns out, it’s a bit more than that.

So I’m back. With a few lessons learned from grad school. In no particular order …

  1. Social work students all need social workers / therapists themselves.
  2. I am the level-headed, calm personality at university. Let me repeat: I am level-headed and calming  you guys … I have found my people.
  3. Popcorn and wine is, in fact, a legit dinner choice.
  4. Suddenly everyone, including the roommate, feels comfortable talking at me for an hour about their problems. Don’t get me wrong, I actually appreciate it, but at 11pm I really just need to get things done so I can collapse.
  5. Dashing out the front door, late, with fifteen bags in tow does, in fact, count as exercise. As does running back in five minutes later because you forgot something.

It’s been an adventure so far. 1.5 years to go! (wait … what?? … noooooooooooooo)

Let’s Talk Racism

Straight up, as a white person I’m not forced to talk about racism. As a white person race can be easily ignored. Set aside. The words “I don’t see skin color” is an easy dismissive of the whole problem. Being white gives me the privilege of not having to think about race and racism every day.

And it’s exactly because of all that privilege that I need to talk about race in the United States. Actually in the world. But let’s stick to my country for now. It’s because I don’t have to talk about race that I NEED to. When we ignore the issue it festers. It festers in each of us through intentional, and unintentional, racism. And it festers in this country until we start shooting each other over it, and blaming each other, and becoming defensive to the point of blinding rage.

The shootings that have taken place over these last years have left me sad. But the shooting by one white man of nine black people has finally made me talk. I think because I’ve finally seen enough.

Jon Stewart summed it up pretty well: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/20/us/jon-stewart-addresses-charleston-shooting-in-his-daily-show-monologue.html?_r=0

Go check out what he has to say about it. Go on. I’ll still be here.

He really states the problem well. We spend millions of dollars and thousands of lives fighting terrorists who threaten us. We walk right over international law and human rights in pursuit of our safety. But when we start shooting each other, when a white american man starts shooting black americans, we shrug our shoulders and find a way to write him off as crazy.

My father read something a minister had said, at least I think she was a minister (I can’t recall who it was, if you know please let me know so I can give her credit). She stated that the response of many is to pray. But that is inadequate and unhelpful. She says that to talk to our god(s) is not enough, God will already know what has happened and God will take care of his/her/its side of things. What we really need to do is talk to each other.

People don’t kill each other out of boredom. People don’t burn cities because they are content with life. They do so because they feel unheard and unvalidated. They do so because they are treated as lesser. This young white man was a symptom. As are all the angry and scared people of color. And we who are white are not listening. Instead we act perplexed or offended or even defiant.

I could tell you so much abut the racism the teenagers of color I work with face every day. I could tell you so much of what I see around me everyday. But that would be inadequate. Because as a white person I’m sure I don’t even understand or see half of it. Instead I’m looking to open up a dialogue in my communities. I’ve started talking to everyone I meet about racism in this country. Including with the teenagers I work with.

But that is not enough either. As a white middle-class person I have an excess of platforms to do this kind of talking. People will listen to me. Who isn’t being heard in all of this is the lower class Blacks, Hispanics, Asians, Native Americans and anyone else not Caucasian. Who isn’t being heard are those experiencing the racism.

They may be speaking but they’re not being heard.

So I’d like to ask all the white people in this country to start listening better. Like I tell all my teenagers in classrooms all over Massachusetts, listening well means asking questions and then not talking back to the answers you get. Listening well means making eye contact and not interrupting. And listening well is taking what you’ve heard and attempting to use that information in a positive way.

But I don’t know how to empower people to start talking, how to give them a platform. The best I can think to do is start a dialogue about race. I’m starting to ask questions and listen to answers.

And it’s super uncomfortable. But nine people were shot in a church where they were praying for peace because for decades we’ve been too scared of being uncomfortable. People are dying and cities are burning all so that we don’t have to face each other, make eye contact, and listen to what the other has to say.

God Yells Back With Deafening Silence

I don’t really have a lot to say. Work is busy. Grad school is busy. Friends and family keep me preoccupied.

I don’t really have a lot to say.

It’s like emotional writer’s-block. My soul feels cluttered.

When I read the news I end up having nothing to say. Though I feel like screaming. And beating my chest and yelling until the human race comes to a screeching halt. Until the Earth stops spinning. Just for a moment, so I can smack everyone across the head with a rolling pin. Like a stereotype of an Italian matriarch. Knocking some sense into us all.

My soul is distressed.

I pray to God to deliver us all from this. To enlighten us suddenly so we can find a way to live together in peace. I pray for light to be shed into all the dark places in our lives.

But there’s no answer and the silence become uncomfortable.

I could almost become angry at God. And I certainly become frustrated with my faith. It all seems a little pointless to believe in something I can’t prove exists when that belief doesn’t even seem to lessen the suffering around me.

So I have to remind myself that faith without action is not really faith. That’s the tricky bit you see. I remind myself of one of my favorite quotes that I can’t be bothered to hunt down right now. Let me paraphrase:

Sometimes I want to demand of God why he allows all this pain and injustice in the world but I’m afraid God will ask me the same question.

I’m not sure how to answer God. Except to make sure I seize all the opportunities that come my way to help someone else. To show some love and kindness. Because I don’t like having a cluttered, distressed soul. And all that happens when I yell at God is that God yells back with deafening silence.