Delaying Tactics

Man, 11 days since my last post? I had no idea it had been so long. Time flies, I guess. It’s been a busy 11 days, so hopefully I can be forgiven for neglecting my blog for so long. When last I wrote, I had just been to church for the second time, and had just finished my first week at my new duties in the receiving area of my store. Things have definitely gotten more interesting since then.

For one thing, I actually managed – with the help of a good friend, who deserves all of the organizational credit, because I would have trouble planning my way out of a paper bag – to run my first session of an RPG called Dungeon World, which I’m sure I have mentioned int he past. The first session was at a nearby game store, and it was me, my friend, and two gals he knew from work (we all work at the same company, just different stores). I thought the first session went really well – people made fun characters relatively quickly, the system didn’t get in the way, and I felt like I was able to improvise pretty smoothly, all fo which seemed to lead to a great first session. I say first, because this week we got together again, this time at my place, and two additional gals showed up – making the demographics 4 women, 2 men, which is weird, but awesome. The two new players again made up new characters quickly, and we finished up the adventure that had been started in the previous session, finally killing the Spider-Witch Florimel and returning some very traumatized children to their families. It was a lot of fun, and a big confidence boost for me, because I had been really worried that I wouldn’t pull it off very well. hopefully we’ll have another game soon.

Also, my birthday was this past Sunday. I turned 35, which sounds like a lot now that I think about it – so usually I try not to, because then it involves me trying to work out how close I am, percentage-wise, to becoming a Steve Carell character. You know the one. I celebrated thusly: on Saturday, after having nabbed the second Captain America movie on Blu-Ray earlier int he week, I started watching all 9 Marvel movies, in in-setting chronological order. I managed to get all the way up to the Avengers before calling it a night, then the next day, my birthday, got through Iron Man 3 and Thor 2 before going out to dinner with three friends, all of whom are awesome. We went to a Brazilian steakhouse called Fogo de Chao, and if you’ve never been to such a place, let me tell you – it’s like a festival of meat. They have a salad bar, but mostly, you sit at your table, and you have a little thing at your place setting – one side is red, the other green. When you flip it to green, servers magically appear with all variety of meats and give you pieces, until eventually you are so full that you get what one of my friends called the ‘meat sweats’. Then, for dessert, two of my friends, both women, rolled out a dessert they had constructed especially for me – a three-tiered pyramid of donuts from various places around Houston. Let me tell you, I was very full at the end of the night, and very happy. If any of y’all are reading, let me say this to my friends and family(both those who were present, and those present in spirit): I love you guys, and each one of you has helped me to have a life worth living. You have made my life so much better by being a part of it.

As for my professional life, I’m mostly used to working in the receiving area of the store now; my back still aches from being on my feet and carrying boxes all day, but it’s far less stressful than customer service for me. And I get to listen to audiobooks, music, and podcasts while I work – so far I’ve made it through Daring Greatly, by Brene Brown, Reality is Broken, by Jane McGonigal, all of the On RPGs podcast, and most of the podcast episodes of the Knights of the Night group dealing with their experiences with Dungeon World. At home, I’ve also been reading through a good book, through it’s taking longer than it normally would because I tend to read before bed, and my new job means that when I get in bed, my body tends to prefer sleep to reading much of the time. The book is called Friendfluence, by Carlin Flora, and it is about how friends influence us, change our lives, and can actually have an impact on our physiological well-being. It’s a pretty good read, and I look forward to finishing it (mostly so I can point out to my friends exactly what their presence is doing to my brain, which seems fun to me). I am still waiting to hear back from the Via Hope group on whether or not I will be accepted into this round of training for Certified Peer Specialists, and I should hear back from them by the 22nd.

All in all, it’s been a busy week and a half, but in a good way. I’ll make an effort to keep my blog more updated, because I know it’s something I have been neglecting, and I have some ideas for other things to write, but right now my body is telling me it was a bad idea to get up this early, so I’m going to listen to it and relax on my day off.


Again, I’m sorry for the delay between entries; this time I have a much better excuse. I’ve actually been visiting my family in St. Louis for the past couple days, and while I meant to write a post while I was there, I kept getting distracted by things like food and sleep. But the trip went well; it was good to see my parents, and it gave me a chance to do some things I’ve been putting off for a while. I read two books between leaving Houston and coming back; one was a book on Captain America (because, let’s face it, he’s my favorite superhero and he’s awesome) called The Virtues of Captain America, which talks about Cap’s virtues in philosophical terms, and explains why he’s a good role model, even though he’s a fictional character. If you’re a fan of Captain America, I recommend reading it.

The other book was one I’ve read before – Brene Brown’s The Gifts of Imperfection. I though it had some good stuff the first time I read through it, and my second read-through definitely confirmed that – and it helped me to work out some things I’ve been going over in my head recently. Recently, my work has been asking employees if they would voluntarily self-identify as having disabilities – which includes things like mental illness. There doesn’t seem to be a benefit to me self-identifying, but there’s a part of me that wants to – and a part that is scared to, as well. 

That’s where authenticity, as the title implies, comes in. I don’t tell anybody at work about my depression, mostly because I am afraid of how they will react to hearing it – will they reject me? Will they tell the managers? But at the same time, keeping that from people – when it is an important part of my identity – means that I constantly feel like I’m hiding something, that I am lying to people. I am showing them a face that isn’t really me – I’m not being authentic. And not feeling like I can act like myself is not a cool feeling. It’s good when there are times I feel I can joke around and discuss things with my co-workers; those are times when I feel like I’m being myself. It’s becoming clear to me that feeling like I can be myself – not just parts of myself, but all of myself – is important to feeling happy and comfortable. While keeping my mental illness secret might help to keep my job safe, it doesn’t help my own sense of well-being.

I also have been feeling that my weight is a problem. I’m not particularly fond of what I see when I look in the mirror in the morning – I don’t think it makes me any less worthy as a person, but it does kind of bother me. So that is something else I am going to get back to working on. I’m going to a consultation at a place called My Fit Foods on Thursday, to see what kind of diet they recommend; they sell a number of ready-made meals intended for helping people to lose weight, and I’m looking into a fitness program – inspired by the one Chris Evans used to get ready for the Captain America movies – to get some exercise in. It’ll be rough – I haven’t felt like I’ve had a lot of energy lately – but it is something I want to do, and I think it will help to make me feel better.

The Language of DBT, Part 2

So last night I had this really long, cool post about distress tolerance skills all written up, with cool anecdotes and everything, and it took me over an hour to write. Today I find out that it didn’t get posted, and didn’t even get saved. And today has kind of sucked for me, though it is something that I won’t be going into right now. So instead, I’ll just link to a site that covers them: Crisis Survival and Acceptance Skills.


Meaningful Work

So it has taken me quite a while, but I have managed to work my way through more of Brene Brown’s The Gifts of Imperfection. And as I keep moving through it, I continually wonder exactly how it is that she has such a direct line into my head. Chapter after chapter, it sounds like she’s either reading my mind now or has in the past – but I would imagine a lot of people would feel that way, reading through this book. It seems to cover a variety of situations and circumstances that are common in all of our lives, simply because of the way in which we live or lives. The one that really made me want to write something, though, is Guidepost #9: Cultivating Meaningful Work.

Those of us who have jobs go to work. But not all of it is meaningful. I like working at B&N, but I don’t really find any meaning in it; it’s just something I do to make money and get experience that I can use further down the road. What Dr. Brown calls meaningful work comprises  a number of different factors, on which she elaborates: gifts and talents (when and how we use the gifts that each of us have), spirituality (being able to share our gifts and talents with the world), making a living (the ability to use your talents to, well, make a living), commitment (how committed we are to our particular area of work), supposed-to’s and self doubt. Both of the last two are linked, because every time we think of something that we are supposed to do – “I’m supposed to hate my job,”, “I’m supposed to care about making money, not meaning” – we start to doubt ourselves, and drift away from being committed to doing any meaningful work.

She talks about other things, as well, but I really like this chapter, because while I have a job, the meaningful work I do is totally unrelated. To be honest, it’s here. I don’t have to write this blog; there are reasons why writing it could be problematic for finding another job. But I find meaning in it; it lets me explore what is going on in my head, talk about issues that have meaning to me, and do it in a public forum where anyone else who feels inclined can comment. It might end up helping other people who have had or are having similar experiences, too, and that’s always a plus. I used to think that, when I ‘grew up’, I would be a writer of fantasy novels; now it turns out that I did end up writing – just doing an entirely different kind. 

It turns out – according to Dr. Brown and another author, Marci Alboher, that more and more people these days are pursuing what they call slash careers – writer/surgeon, carpenter/playwright, lawyer/artist – in order to give themselves as much of a helping of meaningful work as they can. When people don’t feel fulfilled doing one thing, they’ll often turn to something else – maybe not as a full-time job, but as something that helps them to express themselves, and use gifts and talents they don’t get to use in the rest of their professional lives. I take some solace in that, because no matter what else I end up doing in my life, I can always write – whether on this blog, or on something more private, or something more whimsical – and find some sense of meaning in that.

In the meantime, I think more people should read The Gifts of Imperfection – you’ll probably be surprised at how much of what she talks about in it applies to you.

Workin’ 9 to 5

Just wanted to post an update saying that I have been, and will be busy tomorrow, working at my B&N job, which is a little crazy this week because of our upcoming inventory. Once it’s over, and I have some time to rest and gather my thoughts – probably Thursday – I will post something a little more thoughtful and in-depth. I’m still working my way towards The Gifts of Imperfection, and so it will likely be about that.

Oh, and I have heard from Calla, and she’s doing well, so that’s good news to me. Well, I’ll be back on Thursday.


I started reading Brene Brown’s book The Gifts of Imperfection earlier today, and I have to say that even a few pages in, her topic really resonates with me. It seems to be largely about learning to feel comfortable in our own skin and not judging other people for things we have done ourselves. As someone who has been struggling with mental illness- and inferiority issues – for a long time, that really hits home with me.

One of the hardest parts about learning to manage my depression, from a therapy standpoint, was realizing that I, as a person, am worthwhile. I have to find worth in myself, because placing all that I find worthy outside of myself means that it can be easily lost – a friend I place worth in might leave, items I value might be lost or stolen. But my own worth is internal. Now, this was a problem for me, because, being depressed, I didn’t feel like I was worth anything – to myself or to anyone else. It’s why I tried to commit suicide, in part.

The Gifts of Imperfection speaks to that; it says, at least to me, that one of the bravest, most courageous things we can do is place that worth in ourselves. And not in a way that places us above other people – but in a way that lets us realize that we are worthwhile, much m=like them, and that we are capable of the same successes and failures that they are, and vice versa. And the way we find this worthiness – at least according to Dr. Brown – is threefold: courage, compassion, and connection.

Courage is important because it takes courage to express that we are afraid we might screw up. It’s hard to admit to others that we might have moments of weakness – especially if we have worked hard to give the impression that we have no weaknesses. But that courage to show others that we are capable of error – that we are human – creates the possibility of a connection between us. In a similar manner, it takes courage not to judge others; that feeling of superiority that we get from thinking we’re better than others is nice, but fleeting. 

The judgement part, for me, was actually one of the easier things to learn. I’ve screwed up a lot over the years, and I’ve hurt a lot of people and let a lot of people down. I know exactly how fallible I am, and so I don’t judge anyone else for their actions. In Menninger, there was one woman who was terrified to speak up in one of our groups because, as it turns out, she had tried to commit suicide once – and she thought that was such a horrible thing that we would ostracize her. When I heard her say that, I just looked at her, smiled, and said, “I’ve tried twice. That woman over there has tried four times. Nobody’s going to judge you here.” That makes it sound like I’m some sort of saintly character, but I’m not; I’ve lied to my friends and family before, I’ve manipulated people, and I’ve done plenty of bad stuff. 

I think that doing that, and being in a place like Menninger, really showed me the dangers of judging other people, and how much being judged hurts. And so I’ve made an effort since then to avoid laying judgement on people. It’s a process, and it’s something I have to work at; like it says at the beginning of The Gifts of Imperfection‘s first chapter: “Practicing courage, compassion, and connection in our daily lives is how we cultivate worthiness. The key word is practice.” So, I practice. 

More on the book as I move through it.

Local Update

It’s been a few days since my last post, and that is largely because I don’t have a whole lot to share at the moment. I had to miss my Family Connections group for work today, so I don’t have any update on that front, and I haven’t heard from Calla in the last few days. I haven’t gotten any traction in the job search lately, either; I applied to Enterprise, but was turned down out of hand because I don’t meet their experience requirements. That seems to be a very repetitive song these days, sadly.

I picked up a book at work today; it’s on something I wrote about several months ago, the 5 love languages. it’s something I’ve been interested in for a while, and I’ve seen a lot fo copies, in a lot of varieties, being sold at my store; I picked up the one for single folks (because that’s what I am) and I’m going to be reading through it in the next few days and seeing what it has to say. I’ll probably have some things to say about that as I read through it, and I’m also probably going to pick up another book by Brene Brown called The Gift of Imperfection.

Until I have something of interest to say, though, I’m not going to post just to post things. If readers have ideas about things I can blog about, I am all ears (figuratively speaking of course), but otherwise, I’ll post when I have something to post about.

Guilt and Shame

Guilt and shame are two concepts that, while closely related, don’t actually mean the same thing. Weird, I know. I mean, they’re spelled so similarly.Well, not really, but the two do kind of run together in my head, and have for a long time. They were touched on some at Menninger, but the way they were used they seemed almost interchangeable. It took me a while to realize that the two were different, and, more importantly, that their differences could be very crucial.

I mentioned the other day that I was reading Brene Brown‘s newest book, Daring Greatly. I finished it the other night, and I have to say that her book was the first one to explain the differences between guilt and shame in a way that actually made sense to me. Guilt, as a concept, is tied closely to action. Your actions are what make you guilt – when you feel that something you have done is wrong, like lying to a friend or stealing from a family member, then you feel guilty.

Shame is a whole ‘nother monster altogether. If guilt is the minor leagues, then shame is the majors. Guilt has to do something really big to get called up. Shame is worse than guilt, because while guilt is just feeling that your actions are bad, shame is feeling that you – as a person – are bad. When you lie, and get that little voice in your head saying “You’re a terrible person,” you’re feeling shame. When someone tells you that you’re worthless, or helpless, or something along those lines, they shaming you. They aren’t telling you that what you do is wrong – they are saying that you, as a person, are wrong, bad, or just messed up.

Shame is much harder on a person than guilt, because while fixing one’s actions, and thus averting guilt, can be relatively easy, changing how you see yourself to avoid feeling shame is much harder. And so trying to live in a world where same is not the first avenue people go to when they try to punish you is a good thing. Daring Greatly goes into how our society works on shame, in the workplace and in the family, and Brene Brown talks about how to change those things. They certainly don’t seem easy – we can only go as far as we’re comfortable with, after all – but after reading what she had to say, I think it’s worth reading for a lot of people. In particular, the posters here have some pretty good messages.



I’m not sure if I’ve talked about vulnerability on this blog before. I know I have mentioned Brene Brown before, because I have seen a couple of her TED Talks and really enjoyed them. She’s pretty local to the Houston area, but that’s not really relevant, just a neat fact. I’m in the midst of reading through her most recent book, Daring Greatly (yeah, a B&N link, what do you expect?), and it is, in large part, about how being vulnerable to others is a strength, not a weakness, and necessary to find real connections.

Now, it is an interesting subject to me, because for a long time, I was very reluctant to open up to other people. A few years ago, I never would have been able to write a blog like this, for example. But some of what I have been reading has me wondering – am I really being vulnerable on this blog? Yes, I share a lot of personal details, but it is a very impersonal setting. Aside from those readers who are personally known to me, I will likely never meet any of my readers, and what others choose to say about me here has no real effect on me – while I can say I have never edited or deleted a comment, you have to take my word for it, because there’s no way for you to really know.

Real vulnerability comes from being open to the people around you. Now, this doesn’t mean telling everyone your personal secrets, but it does mean that the people you care about, to some degree, have to be allowed into your life if you want to form real emotional bonds. That’s hard for a lot of people. I mean, it was hard for me for a long time. I think that was a large part of why I didn’t have any close friends in St. Louis – I didn’t want to let anyone get close or open up to them. I’m not really sure why that is, but it kept me from forming any close friendships there, which is a large part of what led me to my suicide attempt last year (whoa, last year; has it really been that long?). 

Now, I’m not all the way through the book; I just finished a long chapter on shame. But that chapter kept me awake, and reading, even on a long night when I would otherwise have gladly gone to sleep. But if the rest of the book is like the chapter on shame, then I think a lot more people should read it. Check it out – Daring Greatly by Brene Brown. Read it, and get back to me.


If you think about it, in our culture, to be vulnerable is to be weak. Being vulnerable means that you have a weakness that can – and some would say should be – exploited. It is a bad thing in our eyes, and so we try to avoid it. But something I have been learning is that you can’t have meaningful relationships, and connect deeply with others, without being vulnerable. If you can’t open up, you will never have a deep, close, heartfelt relationship, because you will be too busy trying to protect yourself from pain to let anyone see that you can occasionally let your guard down. This is something that Brene Brown, a researcher into shame and vulnerability, talks about in one of her TED Talks:

I have a hard time being vulnerable. This is not news to those people who know me; it is hard work to get close enough to me that you can see past the outside armor I wear to the bits on the inside that I keep hidden away. I have spent most of my life wearing emotional armor that would make the armor medieval knights wore look like lace undergarments. I avoided most people, most of the people I did talk to I tended to be very taciturn, and even when I got to know people I used humor to keep from having to be serious – because if I was serious, then I was vulnerable. Being vulnerable meant a chance of being truly, deeply hurt, and I didn’t want that to ever happen again.

I would literally try to numb myself to things that made me feel emotions – if a song I heard made me tear up and feel like crying, I would listen to that song over and over until I had no reaction to it anymore. If it hurt to do something, I would do that repeatedly until I couldn’t feel the pain. Being numb was an easier way to face the world than being open, because being open meant pain. I had not felt joy for so long that I couldn’t remember how it felt, and so I didn’t believe I would ever have it again – and if I never had that again, why would I want to feel anything? What I didn’t realize was that this was very self-fulfilling – that by numbing myself to sadness, fear, pain, and guilt, I was also making myself incapable of feeling joy, because you can’t numb just one emotion – you numb one of them, you numb them all.

There were a few people who saw past my walls, mostly through perseverance and dedication and being good friends, but there were times that I put up walls that even they couldn’t breach – though they didn’t know it. My most recent suicide attempt in January is a sad testament to this fact; I had just spent almost two weeks with some of my very closest friends, and though I had been planning to kill myself for months, they never saw any sign of it. It was only after I had tried, and failed, to kill myself that I realized what I was doing to the people around me who cared about me – I had thought they would be better off if my useless, unworthy self wasn’t around anymore, but all I did was cause them immense amounts of pain, guilt, and sadness, as well as some anger.

So when I came to Menninger, I told myself that there, in that place, I would be totally open. I would be vulnerable. I would tell anyone who cared to ask anything they wanted to know about me, no matter how painful, or shameful, or difficult. This was hard at first, because I am a shy person – I am far more articulate writing here on this blog than I am in person, because I have time to organize my thoughts here. But little by little, I opened up. I told the truth, even when it was hard. I told people about things I had been hiding for years. I spoke up in groups even when I was embarrassed to talk.  I let everyone in, and let everyone see the many truths about me – and they accepted me. I think that openness, that vulnerability, is why I made so many friends in Menninger – we were all in a place where being vulnerable was expected, where we could tell each other anything and it was safe. So we formed close bonds through shared suffering, through trying to help one another.

I began to see that the person I had thought I wanted to be wasn’t who I was. It was something that I was moving towards because it was a familiar path, because it was something I thought was expected of me, but I didn’t know that that person was who I was, or who I wanted to be. I fought a lot of this; I still have problems being told I am worthy, that I am a good person, that people would fight to be my friend because I am such a kind and loyal person – I feel such a deep sense of being unworthy, being unlovable, that my first reaction is to reject those things automatically. But When I look at those reactions, I don’t know why I have them. I’ve never killed anyone, or sexually assaulted anyone; I’ve never enslaved anyone, or kidnapped someone. I have done nothing to deserve those feelings. So instead of feeling like I an unworthy of the things people say to me, that they must be saying them about someone they think I am, I need to try and accept them for what they are. I need to let myself feel those compliments.

Things will be difficult. Being vulnerable does mean we can leave ourselves open to all kinds of pain. There’s nothing that says being aware of myself and being compassionate to myself and being open to others means that the next girl I ask out will say yes. All it means is that being turned down like that won’t be the end of the world; it won’t be the universe pointing at me and saying “Ha! I told you so! Nobody will ever love you!”, but just one girl saying no to one request. The pain doesn’t go away. What it means is that I can accept the things others say, positive and negative, and take them in without always assuming and feeling and thinking the worst.  By embracing vulnerability, I am showing a kind of weakness, yes, but I am also showing strength, and that is worth so much more.

I’m still trying to maintain that openness. If you want to know something about me, just ask, and I’ll respond; I might do so privately as opposed to publicly, but I will tell you anything you want to know about me.