I’m beginning to understand the psychology of grumpy people. You put a person in a situation of learned helplessness, render them even more helpless and you’ve got the ingredients for a very unhappy individual who makes other people equally unhappy. This morning I blasted an unseen benevolent individual who was just trying to do her job. Because the urinary tract infection has recurred, I am in another skilled nursing facility.  (I  did not want to subject myself to yet another traumatic experience, but under pressure from my family I yielded.)

It had taken me a whole year to extend my sleep time to over three hours (seven hours of sleep is the minimum recommended amount). It was the third time somebody awakened me in the middle of the night in this facility. I don’t feel good about the outburst, but sometimes life works on my last nerve (as they say in New Orleans.) By nature, I’m a pretty pleasant and self-sufficient person. Contrary to what my previous husbands believe, I’m a pretty un-entitled individual. I am sure that my development in the face of unimaginable adversity has contributed to this even-temperedness over time. Twenty years in the trenches researching, implementing, and researching again without remission of symptoms has lead to me becoming a boiling cauldron of frustration when certain stressors are presented.  Twenty years of dealing with an illness that appears to be intransigent no matter what measures are taken including completely changing diet, sleep patterns, supplementation, medications, stem cell treatment (and that barely scratches the surface) will either lead to complete exasperation or unfathomable blind faith. Deep psychological/spiritual practice helps tip the fulcrum in the direction of the latter.

Contrast this with a lifelong pattern of deferring my own power to others, and it makes for a lot of confusion regarding the direction needed for my own evolution. As long as I can remember, I have been deferring my power to an authority outside of myself. Each significant recurrence of that pattern seemed to result in a dramatic progression of the illness. This tendency seems paradoxical given the observation that I was too willful. How do I hold these opposites and bring awareness and develop a plan to grow through this seeming paradox? How do I process through this consciously and kindly yet also with fierce determination to finally eradicate this conundrum?

I would imagine finding the balance between willfulness and autonomy seems to be my work. And what seems to be most important is that when there is a transgression (like outrage from sleep deprivation at 5 AM) it is essential that one ACKNOWLEDGES the error and corrects the behavior with the essential ingredient of self-forgiveness or self-empathy. The way I would do that internally is to acknowledge the feeling that was triggered. And then I would feel the grief associated with the wound, make amends for my outburst and forgive myself.

My mother was known to be a grumpy person. Not knowing oneself and therefore not being able to meet one’s own needs is a set up for disgruntled behavior. Empathy as opposed to judgment is called for in these circumstances. Understanding that is most likely part of the legacy my mother left me. She didn’t have the opportunity to learn this for herself–it was obviously not part of her curriculum this time around. Returning to a nursing facility has been a major stressor for me. I need to take that into account and give myself a break and not in the form of an ankle fracture is time.

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