Category Archives: Evolution

Mental Wellness!

Family Time

Family Time

In a family there is often a family member who stands out from the rest of the family. Sometimes the difference is in their hair color, their body type, their abilities or their sense of belonging. Humans especially have a need for belonging. Groups of packs, tribes and families constantly remind us of our need for belonging.

We have reached beyond the smelling of people to determine if they are one of “us”. Sadly, the substitution of a simple smell test has been a lengthy list of requirements from each tribe or family for how one belongs. People often say that mothers automatically  love their children, but while this is the natural norm, it is not always true. Parents often shape the fate of their child with unfavorable comparisons to others, love based on performance and repeated behaviors to suggest that you are loved as long as you perform. Conditional love from parents, makes self-love almost impossible and sets up siblings to be competitive and non supportive.

The child who has trouble keeping a job, making good grades, keeping a marriage intact or living from crisis to crisis becomes despised by the siblings who do not have this difficulty. In time of crisis, the troubled child gets no recognition for what they have done, only that they have not done enough and they are banished one way or another from the family. The laughs and good times are quickly forgotten, the help that is given is negated, achievements of that person are meaningless. The person who needs love and support the most is denied what they need and not allowed to contribute what they can. Families implode. Children in imploded families are affected regardless of age and they are taught to treat their parents as the elders in their family are treated. So if grandparents are shuttled off out of sight and complained about as a burden, that is how they will see their care of their parents. If they see that the Uncle or Aunt with problems is dismissed and demeaned by their parents, then they will feel justified when they do not like their sister or brother’s spouse or hairstyle. Sarcasm is often used at family gatherings to tear away at the flesh of the weaker sibling.

We can not control the behavior of others, especially through anger. So  every family must decide how the family can achieve Mental Wellness. Can you love people where they are, for who they are , with all of their limitations? Can you establish boundaries without stating them angrily?Can you happily justify your anger and resentment so that you continue to punish that weak family member and drive them out? Can you check in regularly on the telephone  with the despised family member and if that is hard to do tell the family member why? Does this troubled family member talk over you, over react, interrupt you or not follow through? Maybe a meeting or two of the family with a therapist could be helpful.

In some animal packs or herds, they drive out the weak in the herd, they may even eat them! You can not with humans truly divorce a family member as someone will always track you down to identify the body unless you move around a great deal.

So get the help and support you need during times of family stress to promote Mental Wellness instead of multi generational family dysfunction. Each generation in a family learns from prior generations how to treat each other and that is how healthy or unhealthy family systems are created.

Are you happy with how your family is treating you or each other? Do you and your siblings have the sort of relationship you hope your children will have? When you deny a person love and belonging you contribute to  the poor quality of their life as well as  your own. When you silently seeth and resent someone you are poisoning yourself. Drink a little poison down or choose to grow in love and do things a new way.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sometimes devastation becomes liberation!

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Back in 1969 on this day my 52-year-old father died. I was 19 and it was devastating to me. It was the culmination of two months in a coma for my father and plenty of grim memories. It was an event that also made me stronger and even more self-reliant.

 

My Dad may not have been perfect, but he was perfect for me. He taught me that I could be whatever I wanted if I worked hard. He taught me to respect all people and to be “fair.” By the time I hit the halls of Birmingham Southern College, he was in a coma and I was one angry, sad kid. What I remember from those days now are the people who showed up for me in my life. Bob Tucker took me under his wing and Bob Shelton too. Dr. Randall tore up my midterm which was terrible (taken the day before my Dad died) and said,” Let’s just start the semester now.” My mother-in-law Jane Ashworth embraced me as her own, while my own mother was shattered and moved away. To this day, I remember those friends who “cut me a break,” like my pal Margo who now lives down the road and my dear childhood friends, Kaps and Josephine. My friend Dan McCarn understood, because he had lost his Dad as a child.

 

At 19 not many of your friends know much about grief and most people sure don’t want to talk about it. Death to a 19-year-old is gross and normal if the person is “old” (as in over 40). I enjoyed working in the Art Department and banging out sculpture and mixing up polyurethane foam and placing it in my “junkyard” finds. I had fun watching David Beasley make his famous neon lit Hot Biscuit. I spent time around the graphics lab and babysat for extra moneyfor faculty and staff.  (one of those people became my sister-in-law).

 

 

In the summer of ‘72 my friend Margo and I spent 10 weeks driving around the western states. I drove to Wisconsin from Boston alone and then we purchased a $5.00 tent and off we went. Today’s “helicopter” parents might have trouble with this. We did not have cell phones and it never occurred to me to call my mother. It was a “great” adventure and we still talk about it today. My Dad would not have thought this was such a great “plan.”

 

 

Losing my Dad was both devastating and liberating. I know he would have been grateful for all of the adult males in my life who have mentored me, protected me and guided me. So on this day I can say that Frank Gafford III left and in came, Bob Tucker, Bob Shelton, Dr. Randall, Dr. Bailey, Ron Lucky, Lew Linkous, Bill Dunlap, Leroy Lurie,George O. Mabry, Amasa Smith, Joe Simpson, Arthur M. Freeman, Kerry Teel, Irv Polster, Carl Whitaker, Dick Eskind, Hugh Halverstadt, Don Filson, Bill Calvin and Ted Klontz most of whom are certainly not old enough to have been my Dad, but they are men who have taught me and continue to teach me about this process we call living. I know he would have loved my husband George, as my mother did and just about everyone does.

You can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometime, you just might find you get what you need.”       The  Rolling Stones

On thinking naughty thoughts!

Peek a Bed

I don’t know why, but there is something hilarious to me about the juxtaposition of sweet images and bad behavior.

 

Ted, the dope smoking Teddy Bear or the sweet tune of the song ”I’m gonna kick somebody’s ass” always make me giggle. Cussing dogs, sarcastic cats and know it all birds turn my giggle box over like a 9 year old boy with a new fart joke.

Am I that much of a simpleton? Apparently, I am easily amused along with millions of others. I do not like the Three Stooges which is certainly another simple form of humor, why not? I believe I am a devotee of the irreverent, the naughty social behavior and especially when the human behavior is acted out by animals.

Our entire culture embraces the anthromorphication of animals. Pets are referred to as babies by many, whereas at my house they are more like siblings. My animal siblings amuse me and they are bossy always wanting to be let in or out.

Russell (also known as Dinner) has climbed to the #1 spot of food grabbers since Bailey left the planet.  If it is in range, it’s game! Francis Marion will look hopeful and Bedford will “bully” his way up to the line of the big NO, but Russell, like Bailey will see what can be grabbed. Bullet waits and hopes for something to fall on his head.

Being obedient at obedience school is one thing, but lessons are easily forgotten when a squirrel is on the deck or a morsel of food has hit the floor. Bedford announces that it is time for bed by trotting down the hallway to get his spot on our bed. I wonder if my animal pals have any naughty thoughts? I am pretty sure Bedford does or at least guilty thoughts ( see picture above).

My cats are murderers, but that is also part of their work ethic.  Don and Freddy are in charge of any potential mouse invasion, Judy holds chamelions at bay and Georgia O’ Kitty at 16 just demands!

I notice that dogs and cats are not burdened with thinking about their feelings. They are always in the moment. Animals are completely in touch with their experiences… oh nice warm spot, S-t-r-e-t-c-h….Feels good. Tastes good…I want out NOW!

No need to think, just be in the present moment, that’s the animal/mammal way ! We humans pay a price for that opposable thumb!