Bite your Tongue.

There are many times where one will need to put this into practice. Often with total strangers, sometimes with friends and colleagues. Usually it’s with the people closest to you – family.

The people that supposedly know you the best seem to be the ones that overstep the mark on a regular basis.

I’ve talked many times on here about boundaries. My family overstepped every boundary I set for myself; they themselves rarely kept any.

From telling me every intricate detail about their private lives to offloading their problems at work on me or irritating friendship issues at every opportunity to the sicker elements of boundary crossing where they’d expose details of their bowel movements while I ate my breakfast or moaned about the constant itching they felt ‘down there’. How is that appropriate? Just because I am here doesn’t mean you can use me as your confidante, your doctor, your therapist.

I cannot give anyone medical advice and even if I could, it would be fairer on your child to see a professional.

As adults and parents ourselves, we too have everyday stresses and problems. I especially know that you need to find time to work through those sorts of stresses in order to get some happiness. You set personal boundaries to protect yourself, to assert your personal rights.

You can be close to a parent without overstepping these personal boundaries. You can share, talk and listen to each other but each of you know where to stop. You know when it becomes suffocating or stressful or inappropriate. Who would want their child feeling stressed out or worried to talk to them?

Not having a proper social interaction and taking a real interest in your children can massively affect them. My family on greeting me, never asked me how I was or what I had been up to – they only used the time they had to talk about themselves. If I dared to mention something to do with me I’d either be accused of and berated for being insensitive or selfish. This would only prevent me from ever offering any information up about my life so when things went wrong in relationships, work or home – it would solely be my fault for not opening up to them sooner.

How could I? It was an impossible vicious circle. If I revealed it all they’d use it against me or feel it was their right to delve as far as they could. Rarely did I receive anything helpful or thoughtful. Usually it was anger and criticism – probably why I don’t deal so well with it now.

I have bitten my tongue for many years and continue to do so now.

My father was a racist, homophobic chauvinist. He hated people from Africa, women drivers, lesbians, politicians, the police. He was critical, opinionated, angry, spiteful, dangerous and very tricky. Talking to him about anything was a risk. Sometimes it was a risk I had to take for my own sanity. In the weeks where he was ignoring me over some “mistake” I’d made, the silence was almost excruciating. If I attempted to make conversation with him he’d either leave the room or stay and utter nothing. He would not even look at me. He’d only break his stubbornness – his rancour – his belligerence if I weakened myself and asked his advice on some other mistake I’d made.

Power is everything to people like that.

When I do not speak of myself is when my family talk to me the most. When I show an interest in their lives, I am heard but only for an opinion on their matters and they’ll be pretty miffed if that opinion is anything other than supportive.

Conversation never flows with my family. Therefore I go through life biting my tongue.

Would be nice if others did the same (!)

 

The Right to: Disagree.

We can’t all agree on everything otherwise what would be the point of having opinions? What kind of a life would it be if we all just nodded in agreement with each other even when we believed differently. I know people who do this – conflict haters. Shamefully, I have acted this way before as some situations deem it, especially when confronted by an aggressor; nodding along can save hours of torment. However, in the actual world, away from abuse and when dealing with people of trust or friendship, you hope that your opinion is taken and respected whether others agree with it or not.

Recently, a “friend” on Facebook un-friended me. I use the term “friend” pretty loosely here. We were friends once, maybe not close friends but good friends. She was a good enough friend to be invited to my wedding and clearly I was a good enough friend for her to accept and attend it.

(Although after my recent discoveries that many a so-called ‘friend’ only really showed up for free food and a party, I can pretty much put her into that bracket).

I had noticed she un-friended me the week before but thinking, perhaps hoping, it had been a mistake, I re-requested her back. She accepted which led me to believe albeit naively that the prior case was true. That was until a week later I was “dumped” again. She hasn’t had a request from me since and she won’t.

There are several reasons I believe she has done this.

Six weeks ago and as something I often do, I asked some mummy friends on Facebook for some advice about my daughter’s sleeping patterns. We discovered that she was going through something called “Sleep Regression” where at a certain point in their first year, when baby is learning to sit up and crawl, they will find it hard to switch off their brains at night therefore will spend many hours waking up on all fours VERY upset and frustrated. It’s frustrating and incredibly upsetting for the parents too. No one wants to witness their little one so distressed and unable to do the one thing that brings them so much peace. We all need our sleep but especially babies. It is crucial for not only their physical development but their mental strength too.

Having witnessed my daughter waking every hour on all fours three consecutive nights and rife with worry, I asked my mummy friends for their take on what was happening. Many responded with past and current stories, sympathies and support. A few contrasting comments were made and many we could not all agree on. Much advice was offered too and I was extremely thankful for it. As a mum you question everything that you do and worry you aren’t fully doing your best so to hear different techniques was incredibly welcomed. I answered as many mums’ responses as I could, embracing each offering. Some were quick to dispel others but for me, any advice was good advice; I was at my wit’s end!

A couple of nights later I realised that some of the techniques that were suggested were not suitable for us as a family. They went against what we believed was right for us and our child and I posted that on Facebook. Something that was suggested that we did not agree on was given by the woman who has now disowned me. I was so shocked that she seemed to have taken personal offence to my words. All I had said was a certain technique was not for us. It was her choice to be offended by it.

I have the right to disagree.

I have the right to realise something does not suit me.

It does not question or disapprove someone else’s beliefs but it’s my right to make that decision for my daughter. After all, we know our own children better than anyone else.

To delete me is absurd but perhaps your motives were something else entirely?

You barely uttered two words to me after my wedding, joining the gang of pathetic girls who did the same. Yet, foolishly, I believed you were better than that. Educated, caring and responsible are how you came across, people liked and like you. I often hear very good things about you. You even gave me well wishes when my daughter was born prematurely.

There are many people that do things that look good.

What about just doing good?

No questions. No expectations. Just true.

Thank you to all the mummies who helped me last month. Your advice is very much appreciated.

xxx

To help you breathe better……

After last week, I decided to do some investigating of my own to find any natural remedies to aid my Asthma. I already know about the benefits of fresh lemon juice and its links to Asthma. I often drink lemon and ginger tea when unwell and have recently been having fresh lemon squeezed into a glass of water if any wheezing begins. It is not a cure by all means but it certainly helps. Other remedies include a few drops of eucalyptus oil on a tissue to be gently sniffed or drinking a strong black coffee (apparently it helps to open the airways).

I wanted to search for some breathing techniques too. For too long have I solely relied on my inhalers to relieve my Asthma symptoms. However, for my own resilience, I feel it is essential that I develop some more natural strategies to soothe and appease the pain.

A colleague of mine suggested Yoga. She is not the first person to mention it. My friend Katrina is constantly telling me to give it a go. She too suffers from Asthma and her regular love and practise of Yoga has practically sent it packing. I am not adverse to it, I just can’t seem to find enough willpower (or forced interest) in going to a Yoga class. It doesn’t seem “me”. Yes, health comes first before embarrassment but I doubt I’d feel very comfortable. I do not enjoy exercising around other people; an unfortunate side of Body Dysmorphic Disorder. I decided to take a look on YouTube and eventually fell onto a clip to do with the art of  “Pranayama” breathing. A Sanskrit word meaning “extension of breath”. Studies have shown it can be a great way to relieve asthmatic symptoms and reduce stress. I have only practised two forms of Pranayama – Shitali otherwise known as ‘Cooling breath’ where the breathing is done through the mouth with the tongue extended and Bhramari – Also known as ‘Bee Breath’ – where you make a humming sound while breathing. Both are equally effective. I tend to do the exercises at home before sleep and first thing in the morning (granted I have time before work!). I hope that over the following few weeks I can endeavour to attempt the other Pranayama exercises and hope that they also provide the same comfort as the others.

During my time at Drama School, we spent a lot of time before our dance and voice classes warming up. Much of this focussed on the way we breathed. We explored several techniques, drawing inspiration from Pilates, the Alexander Technique and general vocal warm ups. One exercise that I remembered was a technique that involved a partner. As you inhaled, you were to imagine your diaphragm and ribs expanding. You are to focus on only this part of your body moving. You must try to control your chest and prevent it from rising. If it does, you are not doing the exercise correctly. As you inhale, your partner needs to put their hands onto your sides, holding your ribcage. As they feel you breathe in, they must push against your ribs. You need to try to push against their resistance. At first it will be tough. Your ribs may not be used to moving like this but over time, you will start to see them expand more easily. As you exhale, your partner’s hands will maintain the pressure whilst continuing to support your ribs.

Try it. It might work for you. If anything, it’s a good exercise for your waist too!

Other tips include:

  • Counting and breathing – counting is a tried and tested way of calming people down in moments of anger – especially children. It works for a reason. It keeps you focussed on your breathing and distracts you from the feeling of panic or stress.
  • Keeping your head slightly tilted forward- it is tempting, in discomfort, to want to lean back or tip your head backwards. If you do this, you restrict your airways and the flow of oxygen to your lungs decreases. The same applies for the recovery position. You must tilt the head down to prevent choking on the patient’s tongue or vomit.
  • Relaxing – close your eyes, put on some peaceful music.
  • Buteyko Method (Nasal breathing) – making a conscious effort to breath solely from your nose is proven to be a better way of getting oxygen into your lungs. Breathing nasally will filter the air more efficiently through your sinuses unlike breathing through your mouth. It also helps to humidify the air that you inhale.
  • Good posture – keeping upright and not slouching are simple solutions. A good way of spotting an Asthma attack is if the sufferer is leaning forward. This is a natural reaction to the chest closing up and can bring some relief but keeping the chest area open will aid the patient more. Get someone to rub your back gently if needed.
  • Steam – one of my favourite remedies as it involves a hot bath. You don’t even have to get in it. If you feel tight chested, run a hot bath, shut the door and sit down in the bathroom. Lean against a wall so that you do not slouch. Take deep breaths in. You could count to keep a slow pace and inhale the rising steam. I assure you that this is an incredibly soothing remedy.
  • Keeping a control of your emotions- this can be a tough one and slightly ambiguous. This doesn’t mean become a wall of stone, just be aware of how you may be feeling. Extreme stress and upset can fuel Asthma attacks so I am going to state the obvious now – sorry – but do not PANIC! It will only make it worse. Anger won’t help either. Even side-splitting laughter can trigger an Asthma attack. I cannot be tickled as I end up wheezing like crazy. It is strangely difficult to explain that to people.

I hope these tips are useful to any fellow Asthma sufferers out there.

Keep well and look after yourselves.

xxx

*Asthma UK – The United Kingdom’s leading Asthma Charity. Image from Google.

Self-help hater.

I confess it. I am a self-help hater. I have never been a fan of being given “advice” on how to be a better me. I prefer to analyse myself and be the one who gives the guidance. It stems from my father’s love of self-help books (a point I have blogged about previously). He needed instruction on how to live his life, without these books’ direction, he would not have been able to make decisions or create values. They were fundamental to who he was and detrimental to the power he possessed. It was a source of control. He used the messages in these books to dictate and order me around, to degrade my life choices and look down his nose at me. He would see it as “knowledge”. I can’t tell you how many clichés he threw at me. His favourite was “knowledge is power”. I read. Just not enough and I certainly did not read the books he was recommending. I did not want to “improve” myself. As a young adult, I was only discovering who I was. He hated that and attempted to crush and contain any self-exploration that I tried to seek.

It’s not that I am unwilling to look deeper into the depths of my character; I am. I just want to do it on my terms. I have sought out help before but through a legitimate path by seeing a counsellor. She gave me questions and ideas to think about so that I could journey through the past and present consciously to improve and develop my future.

Self-help books and ideas aid many people. I can understand that. However, I choose not to follow my life by what someone else is telling me to do.

Today, I was subjected to a little self-help. In a discussion, comments were made about regret. Someone noted a quote that spoke of how we tend to regret the things we haven’t done and not the things we have. True. Sometimes. This is a very general and broad statement. One that many people seemed to agree with. I can’t.

I don’t totally disagree of course, but life isn’t that black and white. Some of my biggest regrets in life are the big choices I have made. The biggest regret being my foolish decision to live with my father aged sixteen. The choice that upturned and capsized my life. The choice that handed my abusive parent the reins to control and mentally torture me. I regret staying with him for so long. Twelve years! I regret not fighting sooner and accepting my pathetic life. I regret so much that I chose to do.

I am not a risk taker.

I can’t imagine doing some of the things I long to do. I believe in responsibilities. I am not frivolous. Perhaps that is a bad thing. Perhaps I should be more spontaneous. Except I hate surprises. In twenty years time, I am certain I will have regrets. Not huge, life-changing ones but ones where I should have taken that holiday to the Caribbean or treated myself to that expensive bag I had been lusting after. I do not mind those regrets, they are the regrets that keep us human.

Life cannot be so straightforward nor can it be peaceful and effortless at all times. I am not saying I want a depressing and bumpy journey! I just understand that shit happens and we need to be ready to face it when it comes our way.

I have many regrets, and I’m sure everyone does. The stupid things you do, you regret… if you have any sense, and if you don’t regret them, maybe you’re stupid.
Katharine Hepburn

Too right! How anyone can say they do not regret a choice they have made is beyond me. How an earth can you ever repent, learn or forgive?