I worry, I cringe, I fight…

Whenever I write about something personal which hits on a sensitive topic or tells about my history, I always have this nagging concern it will come off wrong. The critics in my head often scream, “What are you whining about?? You had both parents, you were (physically) provide for, other people have suffered way more trauma than you, sit down and shut up, no one gives a shit about what you are saying. You sound like an ungrateful little bitch, your life didn’t suck that bad, you are just sorry and weak”.

When I hear this voice in my head, it makes me want to delete my blog, delete my social media and give away all of my art work. The critic in my head is an unhelpful bag of shit. I heard that voice loudly this morning. So far, I have fought the urges to delete some of my more difficult posts on this blog, until today.

It is a difficult thing to bare one’s heart and soul. It can be an extremely scary thing, especially if sharing those tender parts of your heart got a bad response. In the post I deleted, I touched on emotional neglect and abuse. That’s a topic I haven’t known much about until I went through therapy. Many aspects of my experiences were validated as I learned more about the effects of emotional neglect and abuse. My past started to make sense. Behavior and thought patterns I had developed over time also made sense. Getting that validation was huge and it has helped me process the mental walls which have held me back.

I learned in my last psychology class that we are all “wired” similarly however, genetics and environment effect who we become. To put it simply, nature and nurture shape us. Funny thing is siblings can live in the same house, have the same parents, be exposed to the same events but have drastically different recollections of events. We are all unique in our resilience. An environment in which one person thrives, a different person could be destroyed.

Emotional abuse is a tricky thing because it does not leave physical traces but it scars the soul deeply. I absolutely hate the idea that I am a “victim” of anything. I have been accused of having a “pity party” when every I tried to speak up about things which made me upset or sad. Having a voice and finding my voice has been a struggle because that is something which I was always taught to suppress. It has been difficult to admit and accept that I was raped (always something which I tried to explain away) or that I was intimidated and bullied by family (and I was always made out to be “overly sensitive” if I reacted). There has always been that internal dialogue which tries to invalidate what I think and feel. Acceptance of the past events is continuing internal battle.

I write and paint. Both have been cathartic. Creating has made me feel more alive and has helped me realize, it is actually OK to feel. Writing has helped me articulate the spinning mess of thoughts in my head and it’s given me a voice. Organizing my thoughts has been wonderful, sharing them was terrifying but it felt necessary. There are always those difficult to write posts where I don’t get much feedback and I wonder if I’ve gone too far or exposed too much of myself. It is a fight not to run back to my shell and hide in the safety of silence and anonymity. I honestly fight that urge to disappear often but there is another other side of myself which is screaming, shouting and longing to be heard.

I worry, I cringe, I fight and I won’t stop.

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Dads, Your Job Is Important

…..please don’t f*ck it up.

Harsh words? Not really. I wish I could adequately express to each father the incredible importance they have in their child’s life.  This is draft #3 of this blog post. I’m really struggling with this topic but I feel, since it is so difficult, I need to see it through.

Being a dad is a tough gig. Being a parent is a tough gig. There is no manual for such a grand undertaking, you just have to follow your gut and hope it all turns out well.

This is the point where I usually tell you a bit about my life experiences and share how they’ve shaped me to be the person I am today. So here goes…..

Here is what I learned from my dad.

I learned determination, integrity and perseverance, to take pride in my work, to think ahead and plan ahead. I learned to treat elders with respect and how I should act in public. I learned the importance of managing money. I learned to obey and never question. I learned crying was seen as an undesirable weakness so I hid my feelings. I learned that asking for help was bothersome for others so I became resourceful. I learned that putting on a good face for the world, never showing your flaws or feelings and keeping everyone at a distance is how you survive. Also, people usually want something from you so they generally cannot be trusted, especially family. I learned men respond to a woman’s beauty and my body was how I was to get attention from men.

It turns kind of yucky there at the end, I know. However, that is my point. Kids learn lessons from you, even when you are not aware you are teaching. How parents, dads especially, choose to conduct themselves in front of their children matters.

Food, shelter, clothing and education are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to “providing” for a child. Dads, your presence is needed. Not only your physical presence but your mind and heart are needed as well. Material things are never a substitute for your input, influence and love. Never minimize your contribution to your child’s life. Never assume sitting on the sidelines is acceptable just because your partner may be more hands-on.

Dads, your job is massively important…..please don’t f*ck it up.

More than facial fuzz.

It is November. Many folks refer to November as “Movember” in reference to “No Shave November” which is said to raise awareness about cancer. I popped over to their site to give them a look and learn a bit about their cause.

No Shave’s site states that men can help raise awareness and donate the money they would have used on shaving products to cancer research. Interesting. Thing is, I see a whole bunch of mustached selfies of famous faces but not a whole lot of talk about cancer, research or giving to the cause.

I love men. Some of the best people I know are men. As a wife and a mother of two sons, I think men are incredible, wonderful and amazing creatures. I have worked in the healthcare field for about 10+ years and I’ve noticed that men are some of the worst patients. Don’t get me wrong, they are lovely people do deal with but they neglect themselves tremendously. It seems the whole “walk it off” bullshit (whenever there is a physical problem) has seeped deep  into the male psyche. So much so that hinders our fellas from seeking medical attention when something within the body go awry.

I am very passionate about men’s health. As a nursing assistant, I’ve spoken with male patients who were embarrassed about why they are seeing the doctor. Can you die of embarrassment? Yes. Especially if it prevents you from seeking medical attention for something “below the belt”. It’s not “weakness” to get STD checks, talk about lumps or address that pain in your nether regions

Before I checked out No Shave’s site, I was under the impression the month was to bring awareness to the various types of cancer which effect men. I was rather disappointed when I discovered that was not the focus. I’m quite passionate about educating and empowering people to be in control of their health decisions. Knowledge is power. The more knowledge you have about things which effect your life, the less likely you will be hoodwinked. The better you understand your body and are aware of it’s changes, the better chance you have of catching problems early. This goes for everyone, not just men.

There is lots of talk about women and breast cancer. Men also have breast tissue and can get breast cancer. For a information and a tutorial about breast cancer in men, click here. I believe a good self exam is possible without the “breast check device” as shown in the video. The important points to remember are: check the entire area (as described in the video) and be aware of changes and do not ignore them in hopes they go away.

Other cancers which effect men is prostate cancer and testicular cancer. To learn more about signs or symptoms of prostate cancer, click here. There are age ranges that are more “at risk” than others but my take on that is: anyone can be at risk if they possess the tackle! Testicular cancer is one which can strike younger men. Self checks are important at any age. For a tutorial on how to check your testicles, click here. Early prevention is important and easy. Getting an annual physical is essential to preventive care, even if you think it’s not needed.

Know your family’s history, don’t neglect your self checks and if anything seems unusual or off, see your doctor and get it checked out.

Gina