Doing Tricks

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Since I last posted, I’m creeping ever closer to regular old fighting-shape. I wonder if the lil’ concussion I had last Friday/Saturday somehow jolted my brain in a positive direction. It could happen. The brain’s a mysterious thing.

I’ve learned a couple of tricks lately. One is the whole ‘smile until you feel it’ trick. This one I learned from my dog. He does this thing where he licks my face like a maniac until I begin to laugh. It works every time, even if I am sobbing. I like to think he is the genius, awesome sidekick every superhero needs to have. He spurs me into smiling when I don’t want to, and by doing so, ends up creating a real smile on my face. Anyway, when I am not hanging out with Hurley, I have been practicing forcing my face into a smile. Or, I sing– especially in the car. Either way, after a little while, I begin to feel better. Are the facial muscles tied directly to serotonin and endorphins? They must be.

The second thing is remembering kick-ass characters in movies, particularly Quentin Tarantino movies. I rewatched Kill Bill 2 the other night (uncut) and when she is learning to fight from Pai Mei, working super hard and failing at first and having him deride her skills, I saw a parallel to my life, in a way. But then, of course, she gets better and better and earns not only his respect, but her own confidence. I can do that. Well, maybe not the kung fu… or, can I?… but I decided that I could work hard and fight through the crap and figure out what it is my bosses want from me. And then, kick all kinds of ass doing that thing they’re requiring of me. Why should I lie down and wave a white flag? That’s stupid. NO. I FIGHT. And I fight with resolve.

Another trick? A song I heard on Monday morning. It’s Before the Morning by Josh Wilson. Yeah… yeah… it’s technically a Christian rock song. But, wow. It’s got fantastic lyrics! I heard it on the radio and then immediately ran to my computer and downloaded the song from iTunes. I posted a very cheesy video below so you can hear it; I’m not crazy about the Christian imagery, since I think the message transcends just ONE religious belief, really…but whatever. It’s kind of my theme song right now. It works. It reassures me that it’s all going to get better. And what’s coming in my life is going to be better than good. It’s going to be, again, KICK ASS.

One other thing to help me tremendously was having a co-worker unexpectedly back me up in a meeting and express his own displeasure about how things have been progressively harder for both of us. It felt kind of awesome, and I didn’t know I was waiting for this until it happened. It  basically told my boss that it’s not just me feeling frustrated. The challenges are legitimate. After that, my co-worker and I talked for a long time and he gave me some advice that was surprisingly astute. He pointed out how I often phrase things in meetings; I focus on the negatives and the problems and never talk about my achievements. Huh. I didn’t realize I did that, to be honest. So it was really helpful to get some critique that might give me insight into what I have been doing wrong.

Today, I tried to toot my own horn, as they say (ugh, someone hit me with the cliche-stopping-stick), in a couple of meetings, and DAMN. It feels very unnatural and weird. I feel like I am bragging, or I’m egotistical or something. I don’t like it. I also can’t take a compliment, and immediately try to deflect it. Why am I so uncomfortable with success? It’s very annoying that I do this. But maybe I can use the smile trick, and keep doing it until I feel it. Practice.

But you know what? My boss has responded VERY well to the little things I’ve been forcing myself to do. I’ve said things that could be bad news with a smile, and immediately offered a possible solution. And I said ‘thank you’ to a compliment. I went to her desk and talked with her about an article, rather than emailing her, and she just brightened up. Clearly, this is what she was looking for. She WANTS and NEEDS me to go and see her regularly. She likes the ass-kissing stuff. And so, that’s what I have to do. Damn, it feels so phony and I think I am just very weak at doing it. But, if I want to stay in the game, I’ve got to play. I don’t like the way I have to play, right now, but I can grow into it. I hope so.

And if things still don’t pan out after 60 days, I’m formulating the backup plan. I’m trying to figure out what I might want to do that’s a complete 180 from what I do now. While looking through the job ads, I was drawn to a very intriguing-sounding job title:

ELECTRONEURODIAGNOSTIC TECHNICIAN

You know what that is? It’s the person who attaches sticky pads and wires to people’s scalps and records their brain waves. And then deciphers the squiggly lines on the paper. Honestly, I LOVE that crap. I’m just fascinated with the brain, and anything science-y these days. Plus, the subtle workings of the brain have affected my own family– when my Mom had her aneurysm and she had an amazing recovery, but yet had some slight personality changes after she healed. Why did that happen? I want to know how her brain actually handled that trauma, because I love that my Mom is still with us when the odds of her survival were stacked against her those first few days. I’m so grateful for her and her surgeon’s deft work, all the time. Twelve years later, I realize that I would not mind going to school and learning all about this. Plus, it (it’s known as END) shouldn’t be a particularly bloody or gory field in medicine. And who knows… maybe I’ll get really into it and study more and go on to do the gory stuff. I can’t rule it out. It might be fun to wind up a real doctor someday. No one would expect THAT!

So, that’s what’s going on around here these days, and how I am fighting off those horrible, hopeless and worthless feelings that seemed overwhelming last week. I had nowhere else to go, really, than down the positive road. I know my challenges and struggles with all of this crap I’m dealing with are far from over. I know I have to remain vigilant and not fall into the trap of sliding back into depressive, harmful thoughts. It can be too easy for me to do that. But, shit. We only get one life, right? I need to make it better. No one else is going to do that work for me.

Here goes nothing. Enjoy the magic show!

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7 responses »

  1. Wow, what a great post! I’m highly impressed with the attitude 180, I know how hard that can be especially when it seems like nothing is going your way. As I’ve mentioned to you, the reason I divorced my ex-husband was because he was the most negative person in the world and it was impossible to be happy when someone was always pointing out the problems in life. Not focusing/dwelling on the problems, accepting they exist and trying to find ways to work around them is the only way you’ll find true happiness. I think you’re on a great path right now and I’m so happy for you!

  2. Aww, thank you! I’m giving it my best shot. The key’s been just remembering that anytime things go wrong, there will be a point where they start getting better, too. It’s so hard to remember that, and believe that, when you’re down there in negativity-land. But doing stuff that’s very hard is how you learn (I never believed it when my math teachers told me that, though!). But thank you for the vote of confidence and encouragement… very cool! (And yes, we both had negative exes, and man, if I think things are hard now, all I have to do is remember how it felt to live with *that*, all the time, 24-7, and how little I liked myself and life in general when seen through that lens. I kinda forget about him, really, on most days and forget how far I’ve come since then. But it’s definitely something I should look to, and be proud of. And I hope YOU are, too. We are both on fantastic new paths. Especially you– can’t wait to meet your baby girl!)

  3. I have totally done the brain scan thing. I had a concussion when I was 9 and they needed to make sure I was ok. It is awesome. I still remember what it all looked like when I closed my eyes. It was a blue background with stars (like in cartoons) but shooting off from a central point (like the stars in the WonderWoman show) and there was pink streaks too.

    Im so glad you had someone pipe up about the challenges. Sometimes, thats all it takes is to feel like you are not alone. Email me who it was because I need to live vicariously.

  4. I think for people like us, it actually takes a lot of work to not fall into the negative. I know how damn hard it is to accept compliments and speak up for yourself because you don’t feel like you “deserve” it…. but you do… we do. I think looking into a change of occupation might be a good thing too… doing what you’re passionate about for a living is difficult to do without it somehow removing some of the joy from when you do it in your personal life. (not that writing for a magazine is your passion, but it drains your creativity for your own writing…. 13 years of being creative on demand for marketing jobs definitely sapped my creativity in my personal life)

  5. I need to do this because I feel myself being pulled down into a dark pit of despair. I have to try and be more positive. I have to try and change things for myself because they are not going to change on their own. Thank you for sharing this. You made me realize what I need to do to make myself happier.

  6. Wow, Crazy Princess… that would be a huge compliment if anything I said here helped you out, too! I hope it does. You don’t need to feel so bad all the time. It’s a waste of time and energy; and you are so much better than that! Think of all the great things you do have, and if you can, try to find the humor in the bad things. It’s there– you just have to look for it.
    I know things will begin looking up for you soon. I’d say go back to what you said in the comment above and take out the “to try” parts. For myself, I find that I need to be bold and decisive in my positive thoughts in order for them to “stick” otherwise I can fall back on the “well, I tried and it didn’t work” excuse, if that makes sense. Just keep forcing yourself to listen to positive self-talk, even though it feels stupid at first. Trust me– it works. I know I’m going to get depressed again sometime, maybe even soon. But I won’t let it beat me. No way. I want to have a great life, every minute possible.
    Hang in there, and fight!!! 🙂

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