Head or Heart?

Most people would agree that some practical decisions ideally need to be made without much emotional involvement – major financial decisions for example – and yet often in life I’ve found that however much careful research and thought and planning has gone into a particular difficult decision, what looks on paper to be the best way forward for me has then proved problematic to follow through in practice.

Regardless of the logic and reason and plain common sense in some decisions, the bottom line for me is if I just don’t feel it, there’s no point in me forging ahead. I imagine most people sitting somewhere central on a continuum of reason and emotion, with some being more naturally cerebral and others being more essentially intuitive in their approach, so always weighted towards one side slightly more than the other.

It seems I’m most definitely a gut reaction girl, I feel the world around me and act accordingly, apparently unable to fully separate heart from head. So sometimes the deciding factor for me in any big important situation is not only a case of logically asking myself  ‘Can I afford it?’ but also considering the emotional consequence of my decision – ‘Can I afford not to?’… 🙂

Fandango’s One Word Challenge: Cerebral

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Crocodile Dundee and Me

I’m sitting here alone on my sofa on a Sunday evening watching TV, and Crocodile Dundee is on. I remember watching it at the cinema when it first came out way back when, and I just loved it! The humour is great, even if the styles and the themes are more than a little corny and outdated, but yet still it makes me cry. And inevitably it’s making me think about difficult stuff from my past.

It’s also making me think of other old movies I love, and why I still love them so much. Pulp Fiction and True Lies, Working Girl and Mona Lisa Smile. Going back even further, there’s Grease, and Dirty Dancing, and Strictly Ballroom. And never forgetting Saturday Night Fever. They all touched something in me in their own way; a hurt to be salved, a need to be fulfilled, a desire for something more in life.

Perhaps I’m more of a romantic than I think, yearning to be loved and taken care of. And perhaps I’m more of an extrovert in my imaginitive spiritual soul than I am in my fearful introvert heart, dreaming deep down of daring to be brave, be wild, be so much more than I am or ever can be in real life. These movies were my fantasy, my alternative future, my escape from unhappiness.

Thankfully I no longer feel that same agonising need for change, but somehow watching these old movies today still touches that little kernel of magical memories that grew into a precious germ of hope all those years ago, and for that I shall always be eternally grateful… ❤

Guilty as Charged

Even the merest thought of how I might respond to today’s Daily Prompt word has me all tied up in knots. Sometimes I feel baffled by the prompt word, or uninspired, or just too damned lazy to bother, but occasionally a prompt word jumps off the page and whacks me on the head – bam! ‘Guilty’ is one of those words that leaves me stunned and reeling at the sheer enormity of how to answer. Do I make light of it, or delve deep into my psyche, or write a never-ending list of things that make me feel guilty?

It took me years to try to understand the difference between guilt and shame. Apparently, guilt is feeling bad about something you’ve done to some else, whereas shame is something you feel bad about for yourself, and we often conflate the two. Hmmm… to be honest I’m still not sure exactly where to draw the line with some things.

For example, I feel guilty about not being the kind of daughter my mum wanted. Actually, even before that I feel guilty about being born a girl in the first place – my mum wanted six boys, and I came along first and spoiled it, or so she’s spent a lifetime joking about to all and sundry. Funnily enough, I’ve never quite enjoyed being the disappointing punchline, and the joke certainly wears thinner with every year that goes by.

So to me, I feel guilty because me being born a girl, and so not good enough straight out of the box – well, the womb – definitely feels like something I’ve done to someone else. Although according to several therapists I’ve seen over my lifetime, not meeting somone else’s expectations for me is not actually my problem, but the someone else’s. Even if that someone else is my parent. But in my mind I don’t feel ashamed of being female, so to me what I feel, feels like guilt.

See where my rambling confusion comes from? I even feel guilty about not properly understanding what it is I feel guilty about, and even of being sure if it’s guilt I feel at all. Aaarrrggghhh…! Maybe I can just offer a defence of suffering a metaphorical concussion from the bang on the head from today’s hitting-all-my-buttons-with-bells-on prompt word, and plead guilty as charged… 🙂

Daily Prompt: Guilty

Collateral Damage

The most important thing when dealing with a narcissistic person, so I’ve found, is not to take the hurtful things they say personally. Because it’s not about you, it’s about them – it’s never about you and always about them, no matter what. Knocking you down is never about keeping you low but about keeping them high – your feelings are incidental, nothing but collateral damage in their interminable quest for puffed-up perfection.

They need to feel good about themselves, and so you must be kept forever not good enough in their eyes in order for them to facilitate and fulfil their own fantasies of grandiosity. And so it’s never about deliberately hurting you, it’s more about salving their own suffering, ironing over their own inecurities, denying the desperation of their own delusions of grandeur. You are a mere inconsequential bit-player to their shining main protagonist.

To have an ongoing familial relationship with a narcissist, you must remain steadfastly strong enough to refuse to see yourself through their compassionately deficient eyes. Instead you must recognise their inherent weakness, pity their perpetual inability to see the reality of anyone or anything as existing outside of their own distorted worldview. Only then can you be free…

Daily Prompt: Narcissism

Blending in yet never quite belonging

I can be a bit of a communal chameleon – I find it relatively easy to fit in with what everyone else wants to do, so generally tend to capitulate to their preferences with just about everything. Habitually I frame my needs around meeting the needs of others, blending in yet never quite belonging. I don’t like that I’m a people-pleaser. It took me years to realise that’s what I was and it’s taken me just as many years again still not to have it properly sorted out yet, which I find really frustrating.

One of my ongoing problems with people-pleasing into perpetuity is that I’ve never actually lived anywhere entirely on my own – I’ve lived variously with my parents, with partners, alone with my children before they grew up, in shared accommodation with others, but never just me on my lonesome, doing my own thing as standard with no consideration for anyone else, so have no real idea what ‘just being me’ without any reference to others entails.

Even temporarily, I don’t think I’ve ever been alone somewhere for more than a week at a time? Until now, that is. Yesterday my husband flew out to America to visit his family, and for perfectly legitimate reasons I’m not getting into in this post, circumstances have dictated I need to stay here in London right now. So for the next two-and-a-bit weeks, it’s just going to be me alone in our flat for the duration of his visit, and so far it feels really weird.

During my whole lifetime my precious alone time has been secretively squirrelled away, segmented into plain little hand-sewn pockets of personal solitude nurtured protectively amidst the colourful fabric of family life. I only know how to be myself in these small snatches of silence, not in the vast echoing emptiness of nothing else being said or done by others around me. And it’s not so much these days that others require it of me, either. More that I automatically offer it up so seamlessly it somehow seeps in unnoticed, unrecognised, unremarked on.

So here I am at 54 years old, actively experimenting with being just me for what feels like the first time ever. For the next two weeks I can go to bed when I like, get up when I like, eat what I like when I like, watch what I want on TV whenever I choose, without having to work around anyone else’s wants or needs. And yet I find myself waiting… and waiting… and waiting… but there is no-one to wait for, no-one elses voice to fill the void, only my own. I ask myself what I want for myself, and I don’t always have an answer.

My challenge for the next 18 days is therefore to try to find out my own personal likes and dislikes, to explore my own preferences in life when I only have myself to think about at home. If I can’t even do that when I’m by myself there’s not a hope in hell of me succeeding with anyone else around. So hopefully the next time my husband asks me what I want to do, I might have more of an idea of exactly what to tell him… 🙂

Slight Exaggeration

Sometimes I can be prone to slight exaggeration. OK, perhaps even a lot of exaggeration. I don’t necessarily mean the obvious blatant kind of linguistic exaggeration we all do about a million times a day (see what I did there?) but more a subtle, unintentional over-emphasis on (perceived) negative intent towards me.

For example if someone speaks harshly or abruptly to me for any reason, it feels like I’m being shouted at, and so I react as if I’m being yelled at even when the person is not actually raising their voice that much, if at all. So when repeating the conversation to someone else at a later date I’ll sometimes recall that so-and-so shouted at me, often only to be corrected, and I generally find on reflection I have to concede.

The thing is, I’m not deliberately attention-seeking or playing manipulative mind-games when I do this. It’s more that as an inveterate people-pleaser, emotionally I feel crushed inside to be so confrontationally critiqued by anyone. It’s as if the smaller and more insignificant I feel the larger and louder my ‘aggressor’ seems: A raging torrent to my tear-drop drip. I metaphorically shrink in size as they grow in stature, and so my language reacts to my memory accordingly.

I don’t like that I still do this at my age, still tend to speak so passionately from the heart in the heat of the moment instead of consulting the cool head of reason for clarity. It upsets me always to feel so vulnerable, and I wonder if it’s something I’ll ever grow out of, or if I’m always going to react in this over-exaggerated way?

Daily Prompt: Slight

Emotional Eloquence

I wish I could just say how I feel. Open my mouth and find a straightforward seam of sensation flowing finely into sound with satisfying linguistic logic. Unfortunately, such emotional eloquence eludes me. Instead I struggle with making sense of the melting-pot of malevolent mood simmering silently beneath the surface of my mind.

Here I am half way through my fifty-fifth year of life, still unable to give voice to the agonies of anger I feel fermenting in my veins, coursing and cursing and creating havoc in my heart. It hurts to hold it all in, all that painful passion turning to pure poison. It pierces my soul and sends enemy armies of septic spores seeping strategically under my skin.

Sometimes I just want to scream it all out in an unstoppable exorcism of ecstacy, rip right through the reasoned reserve and fracture the feminine facade that frustrates my feelings so. But instead of throwing the kind of tantrum more commonly associated with toddlers and teenagers I carefully and considerately keep my own counsel, quell and quieten my rage, swallow down the unpalatable unpleasantness and although it leaves me feeling sick to my stomach, sigh heavily and stay shackled to my shameful silence…

Daily Prompt: Tantrum