Friends Off: Diving into Polarizing Impact of Covid-19 and Pandemic Beliefs

Broken Friendship Pictures, Photos, and Images for Facebook, Tumblr,  Pinterest, and Twitter

As the year 2020 unfolded it started with the bushfires raging across Australia, burning 18.6M hectares and killing 1B animals. Then, the US drone hit Baghdad International Airport and took down Iranian major general. With war breathing over the shoulder, and racial tensions over police brutality reaching a boiling point, we got dealt with the worst pandemic in recent history that killed 1.4 million people so far. I’ll spare you the rest.

A year ago I was blissfully ignorant to the deep rooted belief systems within my peer network. Those were simpler times when the pre-requisites for relationships with one another were based on whether they made us laugh and offered companionship. The interactions with one another grew with safe and respectful dialogue whereby the intimate bonds and connections over shared experiences and emotions were validated through the feelings of acceptance and belonging.

But as we enter another year in the same predicament, new conversations are occurring as we look back and reflect on the changes in our lives. The biggest change I think many people can attest to is the breakdown of many friendships and relationships that at one time held significant space in our lives. It’s evident that people’s perceptions of others within their peer network vary within their own position amidst the pandemic and how they’ve chose to operate within it. I’m 100% guilty of unfollowing, filtering and overtly ignoring my exposure to opinions whereby I feel I may be experience judgment about their character as a result of their beliefs. I’m sure it goes both ways as well.

For the purpose of this conversation it’s important for me to identify where my beliefs lie in the grand scheme of things.

I believe there is a pandemic and I believe that the stats being provided are vastly minimized as a result of our 3rd world countries not having the ability to provide testing in addition the ability report accurate death tolls. I believe the vulnerable and disenfranchised voices have been silenced by those who carry the privilege of youthfulness, good health, and access to health care and mental health benefits. I believe in the recommendations that are being provided by the health organizations and I’ve chosen to listen to them. I believe the circumstances of mistrust and convoluted information sharing has polluted minds as opposed to “Awaken” their ability to think independently. I believe in the right to exercise ones rights as long as it is not at the detriment of public health. I believe it is necessary to be considerate of the varying ways people are choosing to navigate within these trying times. I believe I should be sensitive and cautious about what I choose to share as it may be triggering or upsetting to others on a public platform.

“Geography divides people only if the people allow it – faith divides people only if the people allow it – intellect divides people only if the people allow it – politics divides people only if the people allow it. So, unless the people allow it, nothing can tear our world apart. Unless you allow it, nothing can tear our society apart.”

― Abhijit Naskar, Aşkanjali: The Sufi Sermon

In addition I am coming from the place if a person who was infected with Covid-19 in July 2020 and do not believe it is “just a flu” for everyone as a result of my own experience with it. Read More Here

I am fine with wearing masks and I’m fine with getting a vaccine as I’m a frontline worker within vulnerable communities. Everyday I face the risk of exposing my elderly mother who lives with us to Covid-19. I don’t care about what others choose- to each their own. I’ve oscillated between being hyper vigilant to neglectful with regards to adhering to the gathering rules and I have hugged friends and entertained a select few in the basement of my home on occasions. I struggle between my own selfish needs for company and the need to protect the health and wellbeing of others who could die from Covid. One could say I am a hypocrite- I choose a kinder term- I’m only human.

Many friends and acquaintances in my network managed to adopt passionate voices for Human Rights; but not when the racial inequality reached its boiling point this year, but rather when they were told to wear a mask. Many used their voice to fight and support causes that in my opinion outed their ignorance and bigoted attitudes. I admittedly chose to fall back from these people when I realized how self serving they were and that they no longer had a place in my bubble. So as you can see I’m no stranger to the divide and recognize that my tolerance for stupidity is less than forgiving. As harsh as my disclosure may sound, I thinks it’s important to highlight my own biases for the purposes of recognizing that intolerance exists at both ends of the spectrums. My own ability to engage in dialogue that perhaps could facilitate understanding seems to require far too much energy that I simply do not have. We are all placed in difficult positions of having to navigate how to simultaneously process and make sense of our own heightened feelings of vulnerability and anxiety, while also staying attuned to our friends and family’s needs and creating a “holding space” for their anxieties.  This weighs on our patience and ability to feel empathetic, and we cannot always be expected to respond 100% of the time with our best foot forward. But try telling that though to the friend or family member who feels like you are not doing enough- or just do what I do-Not Give a Fuck.

So this in a nutshell is the lens I am coming from. And while some may align themselves with what I’ve shared, I’m sure 50% also disagree. Which leads me to believe we are more prone than ever to show people the door and give them the boot. We becoming more polarized within our once treasured friendships which are dissolving at an alarming rate.

The Grumpy Introvert's Advice on Friend Breakups

There are probably many reasons. Could social media be driving polarization? Many people think so—and, indeed, Facebook, Reddit, and Twitter have all become sites of ferocious political argument. Social media, it seems, amp up moral and emotional messages while organizing people into digital communities based on tribal conflicts. The recent Trump incited riots and storming of the capital is a good representation as to how social media has provided a platform for similar minded communities to unite and organize. There was a common assumption that radicalism only existed within the Islamic extremists, focusing on how these groups were used to groom and recruit supporters. Needless to say, the predominantly white extremists who prefer the term “Patriots” continue to be given Oxygen via their online platforms, feeding on the vulnerable, and for a better term, the Gullible. Domestic terrorism has been vastly overlooked as White nationalists are now the #1 threat facing the United States in regards to terrorism. Nationalist Chapters in Canada continue to grow at rapid rates as well, capitalizing on those seeking to find refuge among seemingly like-minded people.

“We can divide the river’s flow and subsequently channel its splintered force in any way that our selfish agendas might compel us. However, it all ends up in the sea, for although the river’s power might be diminished by such meddling, its destination is not. And on this mutual journey to the seas of freedom, might we as the human race remember the mighty river that we are. And in remembering that, may we soundly reject those who would selfishly divide our unity in order to prompt us to lesser seas”

― Craig D. Lounsbrough

Many have become complacent as they scurry to find a place to belong as their personal divides grow. Global events have evoked polarized public response whereby many have felt the responsibility to share their poorly sourced collection of “research.”  It has served to reinforce their personal beliefs in addition inadvertently push agenda’s that often people are innocently unaware of. There is a reason why a very small portion of us have  gone on to obtain PHD’s; to publish a factual article and science based study at this level requires almost half a human life span.  Meanwhile we have Facebook Franny spitting Wikipedia facts whereby Gullible Glenda spams her timeline and so on.

I fondly reflect back on March 2020, when we all clung to the novelty of Zoom hangouts and remote celebrations as the circumstances felt all so temporary. With the deepening of visible divisions in how people are handling the ongoing pandemic have become the source of growing tension resulting in a decreased desire to connect with those on the opposing side. As our lives have become quieter, many of us face difficulty finding something to talk about. In fact I struggle weekly to figure out what I’m going to write about that isn’t Covid-19 related. My desire to see people via zoom is not appealing as I spend the majority of my day staring at my double chin in a never ending series of WebEx meetings.

The escalating toxicity of the polarization within our friendships and relationships, I cannot avoid mentioning that there is another side to the story. Some have said their relationships have strengthened during this time, as they have prioritized whom they care about and how often they check in. This in actuality is healthy, and perhaps a practice many of us should have been practicing long ago. Ego’s will always be bruised in the process and feelings hurt; but consider the benefits of having more time to invest in yourself and your own growth having less baggage to worry about.

In Conclusion these are the facts:

  • For some, their values no longer align
  • For others, it’s not differences — but distance
  • Our relationships may have been forever altered
  • We are all Grieving the Losses

Ultimately, relationships may be affected forever after the pandemic and we will emerge not the same people we were a year ago. This will be one of the many traumas to come out of 2020/2021 that we don’t even fully know about yet.

“Each thinker will regard anything that clashes with his or her worldview to be insane and in conflict with reality. That’s because each thinker regards his or her worldview as reality itself and not as just an inner illusion. However, worldviews are just inner illusions. Making matters worse, people with similar worldviews tend to join with others who share major elements of their worldviews, and they tend to avoid those people who have worldviews that aren’t similar. This segregation results in confirmation bias among peers, making matters much worse.”


― Petros Scientia

Dead Air

TV Static | Tv static, First youtube video ideas, Drawings of friends

Hard to believe its been well over a couple of months since I have felt the desire to write again. In fact I’d lose almost every desire that once pulsated throughout my body as quickly as a candle being blown out by a brisk draft through a window pane. By the end of January in Calgary Alberta, the once magical snow kissed landscape begins to feel relentless, as its winds become inhospitable, piercing through your heavily layered body.

Like clockwork, I can always anticipate the Seasonal Affective Disorder spread its heavy wet blanket over me around this time. Seasonal Affective Disorder(SAD) is about as reliable as those Phone Scammers around tax seasons. This years dose of S.A.D. was especially brutal for myself as I not only already deal with having clinical depression/anxiety, but if you didn’t notice we are also still in the middle of an ever evolving dumpster fire of pandemic.

Past years I’ve timed vacations around this uninvited guest- but alas travel to a tropical destination continues to remain out of reach for us Canadians.

As we are all well beyond the one year mark of when the pandemic was declared, the socio-economic effects of the pandemic have long begun to to unearth its devastation. As a social worker who has been steady on the front lines since this time last year I am admittedly weathered, bitter, angry, and feeling forgotten. On the radio I hear daily the well deserved warm thank you’s being offered to Health Care Workers and our hardworking teachers. But I can’t help but feel a pang of hurt when I consider the level of support and interventions we have carried along the way go un-noticed and invisible to the public eye. And I admit, nobody likes to hear about child abuse while they eat their breakfast toast and sip their morning coffee.

So I was actually surprised when I learned that the faculty of social work at the University of Calgary had started a Province-wide research project that looks to understand effects of pandemic on child service workers and the children and families they serve. It was Dr. Heather Boynton, PhD, that recognized something we have all been carrying mostly in silence or behind the closed bathroom stalls where you could find any one of us choking back the tears, or coaxing ourselves to pull it the fuck together.

People in the mental health field are experiencing mental health and psychological trauma firsthand, as well as layers of grief and loss. However, they’re not recognized as first responders.

Dr. Heather Boynton, PhD

When I reflect on the year I’ve had, I thought about taking tally of all the things that happened to me, whereby I could use it as evidence to excuse myself for feeling the level of low I hit. I had thought about writing out the list of sorrowful details, but shit, we’ve all lost so much. And for a good chunk of 2021 I had lost all hope.

And if you are of the super human breed and don’t relate; Loss of hope is more infectious and destructive than the Covid-19 variant that is spreading like wild fire. Lack of hope can mutilate our sense of perception, spoiling and dismantling the very structures that have kept us so strong and resilient. It can impair our once unequivocal sense of purpose on this planet and make us feel as insignificant as an amoeba floating around anonymously.

And I imagine if you were to put me under the microscope, you’d most definitely come across a fleshy white blob, eating Dorito crumbs from the cleavage of their sports bra that had no intention of doing the job it was intended for. And if wasn’t for the tears that would stream down my face on an hourly basis, they’d probably still be there.

When I grew weary of the crying and the binge eating, I’d retreat back into my bed and stare blankly out at the world, waiting for the moment when I could stop feeling this dead inside. The empty void I felt reminded me of when I was a child and would stay up late sometimes, wandering downstairs where there was an old wood floor model TV. I would turn the channel dial on the old TV and all there would be on at that time was static or those colorful bars with that agitating tone. I’d sit and stare at the flickering white noise in anticipation that maybe at the next turn that the welcoming cheerful sounds of a cartoon would soothe my fears of the dark and lonely room. Just like in those moments in the basement, I’d feel paralyzed by the loneliness, unwilling to seek comfort, as it appears that even then I needed to sit with my pain and digest those feelings that terrified me.

I would never wish a deep depression on anyone. There are hundreds of people this last year that have taken their lives as a result of being isolated from their supports, connections, and networks that once made them feel like a necessary person and essential loved one.

I feel profoundly honored that I was not one of those people that chose an alternative way to cope with the pain. This last bout with my ol’ nemesis was transformative in terms of processing my trauma, the grief, and the sorrow that often holds no place in our busy professional/personal relationships. And lets face it, I can’t imagine there are too many individuals lining up to hear about my vicarious traumas, let alone me wanting to hear about yours after the hours of 4:30. If they could just start manufacturing masks that come with a whole energy bubble protector that sprays glitter on shitty attitudes that would be my biggest wish for 2021.

Since I can’t hold my breath for that one, I can breathe that sigh of relief that regular programming has commenced. Victory has not been won entirely over the sadness, but I have begun experiencing the ability to put my body, mouth and mind back into motion. It began with walks with my dog with some tunes, and then blossomed into attending the gym. I introduced a Honey Stick “Pineapple Express” Sativa before bed for a sounder, longer, and more relaxed sleep to aid in my jaw clenching. I’m back on a multivitamin/mineral regiment that I love because they taste like gummi bears. I welcome opportunities to spend time with friends and open up more about how I’m feeling and have been feeling. I hug my dog and I hug her a lot as there is something about her soft fur and the tenderness in her eyes that heals me. I cook for friends and make plans to go on dates- even if my body feels tired and often undesirable. I put that lipstick on keep it pushin’. And lastly, I’ve began feeling like I wanted to write again.

So here we are…slow and steady wins the race against depression and seasonal affective disorder. Today was my baby step back into the blog world again.

Lastly I wanted to share a poem I came across which spoke to me and touched on those feelings of nothingness that I encountered. Its comforting to know that in the depths of those murky rough waters that there are others swimming in the deep with you. The ocean, holding us all in its mouth, a mouth so deep that it has no base

a lie about numbness

I have sunk into a slow numbness,
perhaps because something broke over me
the second i saw you again.
i realized,
it’s better to be in full-blown sorrow
than in a fragile happiness,
forever staving off the blackness.

but instead, i have sunk into a slow numbness.
perhaps because you look away from me now
the exact same way that i look away from you.
your aversion gives me numbness.
don’t you see it?
that’s all this ever was. a fear of the numbness. a fear of the pain.
your indifference gives me numbness
because who wants to feel it
when the ripping apart begins.

i have smoked to numbness.
i have cried to numbness.
i have raged to numbness.
i have laughed to numbness.
i have embraced the numbness.
i have dug myself into numbness
but you gave me the shovel.

you gave me the numbness.
and i feel absolutely fine. i feel nothing at all.

-Madelaine

A Series of Acts to Self Sufficiency: Playing Hard to Get with Society.

Every time I have experienced growth in my life there has been a lapse of time in the middle of it all that is nothing short of uncomfortable. In fact, I’ve often questioned whether its depression creeping its way in, unleashing a new unfamiliar way to torture me, as the solitude feels inauthentic to my character. But unlike depression where it can make one feel confined , isolated, and exhausted; the seclusion has in fact afforded me the privacy necessary for the next transition into a new chapter of the ever evolving “Me.” I think we have all experienced times where our friends wonder if we have fallen off the face of the earth, or experienced pure shock when when the life of the party turns down an opportunity to get out on the town. Some may even take it personal. And for this reason I probably spent more years than required trying to appease people’s expectations of me out of fear they may not understand that its not them it’s me. The “Me” that I have habitually put on the back burner, as to not hurt or disappoint anyone’s feelings. And to be fully authentic with you, there are freckles of self indulgence there as well, whereby I have always found pleasure in feeling needed or necessary in peoples lives. Meet Cece the Martyr. *eye roll

Nonetheless, I feel like the Pandemic has thrown me into a new wave of self evolution, whereby it has forced me to familiarize myself with the ability to be self sufficient in so many ways. With most of life’s distractions removed, namely a day to day peer network, I was left to my own devices. It is in my nature to become bored very easily and for me I became very bored with sharing my feelings of discouragement and the feeling of powerlessness over the pandemic and surrounding complexities. I became bored with talking about my ailing mental health, my feelings of loss and freedoms, and even more so, listening to others. It was like I hit a wall. I realized the wall I hit was in actuality my own resistance to let go of What Was, and begin to accept a new way of thinking as in What’s Possible for me.

Let me provide some context.

I was a young mother at the age of 22, who for the most part experienced motherhood on my own as my peers were busy doing things that typical 20 something year olds do. My experience was vastly different. When I reached the period in my life that I could afford the freedoms that I had missed out on, I was able to make up for lost time tenfold. I look back at these times with immense gratitude, as they were the best times of my life! Many of the friends I met along the way are now family, and we continue to spend hours laughing at the memories we shared. But like most good things, they sometimes have to come to an end. This was admittedly heartbreaking for me- I felt like I lost my limbs. I wasn’t ready to let go and I didn’t know who I was without them, in fact I didn’t know who I was without anyone.

For many of my friends they went on to get married, start young families, or build empires as if it was like it was always meant to be. It was like they morphed overnight, going from skinny dipping in fountains to banking on a solid 8 hour sleeps so they could be rested for their half marathons. I have literally watched for the last 20 years gaggles of unsuspecting friends be captured and sucked into the mystery in which they take on their roles so gracefully. Its like their souls seemed to be prepped to embrace the warm and inviting hug of change. It perplexed me because transition for me has always felt like an internal battle of the wills.

I’m not saying that I have never achieved growth through conscientious intention. My life has been sprinkled with deliberate achievements where I have been cognizant of the measures that lead me to building who I needed to be. In fact it would be that same sense of intention that fueled this fierce hyper-focused woman; hell-bent on clinging to what I assumed was the quintessence of who I am. That’s assuming the concept of our souls is a static force, whereby the flames require the same degree of fanning. Ultimately, I know over the years I’ve begun to stop building the metaphorical fire and trust that the hottest embers deep down still burn just as bright.

10 Outrageous Quotes from Sex and the City's Samantha Jones

But rather than get carried away with metaphors, what I’m trying to communicate is that I’ve experienced fear accepting and opening my heart up to the new ways that excite me. I have been terrified to let go, and the biggest release lately has been the decreased interest for human interaction. Admittedly my network has been gradually growing smaller for a multitude of reasons over the years but I could have never imagined that I’d find myself as a borderline recluse. And up until recently my biggest source of anxiety has been mainly around the question “Will I ever feel like myself again?”- As in will I ever get back to a place where the Inner Samantha Jones in me will reappear so we can resume scheduled programming. The kind of programming that I’m familiar with where I can predict the outcome, do my twirls, make the audience laugh, shake shit up, with the anticipated end of the night dip. It wasn’t that long ago that this version of me was alive and well, swinging from the Chandelier. So you can understand what a drastic change it is for me to feel pure joy and peace, tucked away in my little cocoon, leaving texts unread and calls unanswered.

As the saying goes Bad Habits Are Hard to Shake- Enjoyable behaviors can prompt your brain to release a chemical called dopamine. If you do something over and over, and dopamine is there when you’re doing it, that strengthens the habit even more. So that explains the lull, or the lapse in time when our brains are re-adjusting to new Dopamine triggered events. And also explains the new events in our lives that trigger pleasure that perhaps we never took the time to explore. I believe the outcome of establishing these new habits with ourselves is what creates the desired outcome of Self-Sufficiency.

To date I am happy to report that despite my resistance the act of being self sufficient has carried no adverse affects, in fact has inspired me to grow creatively in so many ways. I spend more time thinking about my future and actively committing to plans and ideas that inspire and push me in directions outside of my comfort zone. Time with myself has pushed me to take on new learning, as well as re-visit old passions around design, writing, and fashion. I have become more self reliant on my abilities to work indepedently on my own mental health, often focusing on not panicking and placing trust in myself to manage it more effectively. I often have to remind myself not every worry, fear, or pinch of sadness warrants attention, including my own. I have also learned to make the time with myself more enjoyable with adding music to my day when I’m alone, or taking time to make small talk with the strangers at the dog park wherein its just enough interaction to remind myself that I’m not alone, and brief enough as to not take away from the Me Time I’ve come to love. The desire to appease the masses and do the check ins is usually intentional- meaning I have control over the energy I give or have available. Its neither forced, or phony.

That being said, I feel while my experience has been somewhat organic, that going forward being mindful as to how to achieve this should be consciously maintained. I came across an article posted by Raven Ishak who outlined some helpful Tips in : 6 Ways To Be More Self-Sufficient that I thought may be helpful for anyone facing a similar circumstance that I have described above.

Establishing your personal space is vital to understanding who you are as a person. While it might be easy to depend on others for their opinions and help, it can become very unhealthy, and you can lose sight of your individuality if you’re not careful. Being self-sufficient can be scary, but it’s worth it. It can make you a strong, independent person who doesn’t need the validation of others. Even though it’s never a bad idea to ask for help, it’s important to try not to be solely dependent on your friends’ or family’s thoughts. For instance, if you’re the type of person who cannot make any big decisions before asking all of your friends their opinion or you’re extremely uncomfortable doing things alone, you just might be emotionally dependent on others. Instead of continuing this behavior, here are some tips on how to go down the path of being more self-sufficient.

1. Increase Your Self-Esteem

Sometimes becoming more self-sufficient means you need to look deep inside yourself. Are you proud of who you are? Do you feel confident in your everyday choices? Having higher self-esteem could be the special ingredient you’ve been looking for. According to clinical social work/therapist Chamin Ajjan in an email to Bustle, “A belief that you are unable to care for yourself without the help of others is often linked to low self-esteem. You can empower yourself by increasing self-esteem and self-compassion. Doing this while working to master new skills can help to reinforce that you have the ability to provide for your own well-being, making you more self-sufficient.”

2. Stop Asking For Permission From Others

Why give so much power onto others when you clearly have it within yourself to make good decisions? Being emotionally strong means you know the right decisions to make and are not afraid to make them. According to licensed clinical psychologist Kim Chronister in an email to Bustle, “The last thing you want to do when it comes to striving for emotional or intellectual independence is asking what others think about that idea. You risk losing your power and your motivation by asking everyone around you for permission to move forward with your idea.” Instead of asking others for permission, follow your gut and do what you already know you’re supposed to do. Because sometimes when you’re asking other’s for permission, you could already be seeking for the answer that you’re hoping they will say. Just listen to your heart and things may magically fall into place.https://856fe575a14dfe1f245f6652c5c619ec.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-37/html/container.html

3. Learn To Be Comfortable With Your Independence

As you grow up, you may go through some tough obstacles that will make you a strong, independent person. But sometimes life happens and you lose your sense of independence. For example, maybe you’ve just gotten out of a long-term relationship. Instead of finding someone else to depend on, do something that will get you out of your dependent funk. According to psychologist Dr. Nicole Martinez in an email to Bustle, “Develop a hobby, as you need to learn to be comfortable with your independent time. Learn good self care habits including getting enough sleep, eating well, taking time for yourself, and having a good work or school, and life balance.”

4. Be More Assertive

Wanting everyone to be happy is not a bad thing, but being a complete push-over is not, because let’s be real: Pleasing everyone is never going to happen. When you put other’s feelings in front of your own, you can lose focus on what you truly want out of life. According to Chronister, “Assertiveness is a trait that can combat feelings of emotional dependence. If we assert our feelings by telling others what we truly want from them, we not only gain more respect interpersonally, but we become more emotionally independent as a result. Assertiveness is an expression that conveys that your opinions and feelings hold the same weight as those of other people. Maintaining your stance, even if it opposes another’s, is a sign of emotional independence.

5. Comprehend What Causes Dependence

What if I told you that being dependent on others can actually be explained due to chemicals in your brain? Understanding how your brain works and why you become easily attached might help fix the emotional issue. According to Loretta Graziano Breuning, PhD, in an email to Bustle, “Oxytocin is the brain chemical that makes mammals feel safe in the company of others. A gazelle’s oxytocin falls if it roams too far from the herd, and it starts feeling unsafe…When you know what causes this feeling, it’s easier to manage. You can tell yourself, ‘I am safe, even without the herd’ and find new ways to make yourself feel safe. But you have to do it again and again because your mammal brain keeps going there.”

6. Spend Time With Other People

It can be easy to become dependent on another person when you’re spending time with them 24/7. Even though you know the person like the back of your hand, it can become unhealthy if the thought of spending time with other people gives your anxiety. According to Chronister, “It’s healthy to have your interpersonal needs divided up so that you are not overly dependent on simply one parent, or your partner, or one friend etc. Renew your friendships, make new ones, spend time with healthy family members, and network so that your needs will be met by more than one person at once.”

Self-sufficiency is a beautiful behavior that everyone should try to achieve. It allows you to embrace your own thoughts and establish healthy habits, and while having relationships in your life is a factor that is much-needed, being completely dependent on them is not. If you have gone through a hard breakup or just need to reevaluate some life decisions, hopefully a few of step tips can help you achieve the independence you have been looking for.

In conclusion, if you are a person who has already realized this long ago, please continue to support the rest of us who are still accepting the power of self-sufficiency- or for a better word our Inner Introvert. I figured I’d leave a few jokes with you all who may need to laugh at themselves!

At the start of the pandemic, it was a good opportunity to tell wether I was an introvert or an extrovert.

Turns out, I’m just a pervert.

What do you call an extroverted snail?

A slug

A Husband And Wife Are Creating A Password On Their Computer

A husband and a wife are creating a password on their computer. The husband, being a confident, extroverted man, puts in “My Penis”. Although insecure and introverted, the wife falls on the ground and laughs because…

**The screen says “ERROR: Not Long Enough.”.*

I’m what you would call an anti-social extrovert.

That may sound like a contradiction, but it basically means that being alone makes me what to kill myself and I love it

.

Thanks for coming by! Don’t forget to Like, Comment and Share if you have Enjoyed what you’ve Read,

Relinquishing Independence and Inviting Interdependence: Understanding When its Safe to Let Go of Control.

Solo Vacation-Its a thing “Independent Women” Do.

This is a tough post to write because simply put, I’m pissed off. I never like to write when I’m upset because often my emotions at the best of times can be fleeting and reactive. And I am glad that I took the time to take a few days to cool off before publishing this post and took time the time to reflect upon what ignited my temper tantrum. You see, I feel more and more these days that my affinity for independence, has impeded on my ability to engage and trust in the idea of Interdependence- A term that up until recently seemed like a swear word.

To provide further insight to my inner workings, I am a deeply sensitive person, who has a history of being taken advantage of in previous romantic relationships, by friends, and family. Over the years I have become far more assertive in protecting my best interests, as these experiences have not only hurt but been a reminder that I often get tired of. These experiences have served only to reinforce the idea that the only person I can count on at the end of the day to protect my achievements, growth, and my value quite frankly is me. But what if this isn’t the case all the time?

Let me also just say before my loved ones read on and feel hurt by my unhinged thought processes, allow me to shine light on you first before I go any further. I do not want to minimize the people in my life that are amazing and loving supports who have been unwavering with their loyalty to me. Without them I would not be the reasonably sane person I am today. I feel like I belong and am important to those who show me love, kindness and thoughtfulness. They aspire me to continue being who I am in my most authentic form, and also why I’m writing this today. I believe it is my responsibility to address that no negative experiences from the past is going to discourage me from being who I love to be. They allow me the safety to love fearlessly- I’m in gratitude of that.

But as mentioned above sometimes I just get tired. You see, I have been indepedent for a very long time, long before I actually had developed the skills to actually carry that out sucessfully. I was a boarding school kid who’s parents lived on the other side of the world. For the longest time I had very little need for them and relied mostly on the company and guidance of my peers and teachers at the time. So when I ventured into the cold world of hard knocks, I was simply a lamb to the slaughter, naive to the dangers and cruelty that lay beyond the borders of my prestigious boarding school campus.

It would be through a series of really crappy life lessons learned that I’d finally figure out it that is was do or die if I did not do what was necessary in terms of creating some stability. Having a daughter at the age of 22 and being a single parent had a lot to do with motivating me to be my best ally in life. I had learned through some traumatic and life altering experiences that counting on people or believing in people was never a safe option- which in hindsight is really sad, and I don’t believe this to be true for everyone. I strongly believe that my mistrust is rooted in my own trauma, and am able to see examples of people who truly can be counted on. Read Here to Learn More.

When I consider examples of the term interdependence what comes to my mind is a few of my friends who are married/common-law. I would say “happily married,” but there are days I’m sure they’d disagree with that statement. I most certainly am not the one to make any judgements on marital bliss given my own track history. So I will stick with the topic and zero in on part of their marriages that is heavily rooted in their commitment to the partnership aspect of it. I percieve this like perhaps a running contract whereby they have developed some level dependability on the other person. As in, to know that if they fall, the other will catch them. If they loose their job, they will clothe and feed them. If they want to pursue their dreams, they will carry them until they succeed, or again…catch them if they fall. The freedom to raise their children as a stay at home mom or dad and know everything will be taken care of. And if I could be perfectly honest…the freedom to be a kept Woman/Man/preferred Pronouns* le sigh….one could always wish right? My dream would also include a nanny, a cook, a personal trainer and an on call therapist that also feeds me grapes while draped in fancy loungewear.

I digressed.

But as much as brood over this idea, I don’t actually believe I could ever be that woman. My experiences have defined me, and to be honest ruined me to ever accept a life of leisure. Underneath all that layered scar tissue lives a little twinkling light of wonder that glimmers with the thought of one day letting myself kick up my feet and letting Jesus take the wheel- but with Jesus being a man, I have my doubts even with the almighty…enough said.

As I dive deeper into my own self awareness on the subject, it is not independence that I’m flouting, it is Mistrust. The kind whereby I imagine I could make someone feel “not good enough” to take on the role of being my partner. Or perhaps giving the impression that the care I require from another could ever live up to the expectations I have set for myself. I also worry about my ability to live through another disappointment that at times in my life has almost annihilated me. Yet here I stand like a bronzed statue, weathered by the storms, blessed by the luck of the seagulls excrement; my placard almost illegible. Nobody knows what to think when they see a spectacle as grand and calamitous as this but maybe admire from a distance, maybe occasionally taking a photo with it. That pretty much sums up the bulk of why few have been brave enough to tackle exploring a partnership with me. They just don’t know where to start.

But like most good parties, pity parties too must come to an end. Just as I love to take care of the loved ones in my life, I need to allow others to take the opportunity to take care of me, even if I feel that they fall short at times. Not every man or woman is meant to be kept, just as every man or women is not meant to be keeper of others. Nor should I assume that the value behind the “keeping of each other” should be measured by the means that we often run too when we think of freedom, namely financial freedom. Although if I never had to work again, that it would sit okay with me!

According to Terry Gaspard, Licensed Clinical Social Worker, “Reliance on others can be healthy and affirming. The problem is that as children we weren’t always taught how to balance self-reliance with healthy interdependence.” Terry explains “On the surface, it’s wonderful to be independent, self-sufficient and resilient. But when you believe you must do everything for yourself, you create your own demise. It’s hard to let your partner in. It’s hard to give him/her room to come through for you. But if you are ever to enjoy the full nature of intimacy, you must. In small doses, self-reliance is positive. But when it pervades your approach to the world it can deprive you of true love, commitment and trust. To avoid this fate you must learn to reign in your self-reliance, to recognize when it prevents you from trusting in your partner, and to acknowledge when it denies your partner of everything you have to give.”

Dr. Willard Harley, a marriage counselor, defines interdependent behavior as activities of a spouse that are conceived and executed with the interests of both spouses in mind. He maintains that certain levels of dependence in intimate relationships can be beneficial and promote emotional closeness.

6 Steps to Achieving Interdependence

1. Take ownership if you are too self-reliant. If it’s extreme, pinpoint the source of it and examine your thoughts, attitudes, and beliefs.

2. Challenge your beliefs and attitudes about accepting nurturing and support from your partner. Resist the urge to be self-reliant around hot-button issues such as money, work, or family matters — like how you celebrate holidays or vacations.

3. Visualize yourself in an honest and open relationship and work toward allowing yourself to be more vulnerable with your partner — a critical aspect of intimacy.

4. Remind yourself daily that it’s healthy to accept help from others and a sign of strength rather than weakness. This might also apply to your work setting.

5. Develop a policy of joint agreement if you are in a relationship. This term, coined by Dr. Harley, describes an agreement couples make to resist making decisions without an enthusiastic agreement between them and their partner — especially important ones that impact both people.

6. Adopt a mindset that it’s good to count on your partner. Believe that you can share your deepest feelings with him/her and it will promote healthy attachment, trust and intimacy. You must let them in and embrace the idea that you don’t have to go through life alone.

Dependence is often seen as a dirty word in our culture. It conjures up images of weakness and insecurity. But certain levels of dependence in intimate relationships can be helpful and sustaining. Intimacy serves to help illuminate parts of oneself never truly realized. Healthy partnerships bring out the best in people, because when they feel safe and loved, they are free to grow and explore who they are as human beings. Instead of depending on a partner, we need to seek interdependence. We must believe that we do not have to go through life alone.

“Life doesn’t make any sense without interdependence. We need each other, and the sooner we learn that, the better for us all.”

― Erik H. Erikson

As I suspected, in being overly self-reliant, I must remember that by allowing myself to depend on others, I can help develop autonomy and strength. Revealing vulnerability with my partner, has never been the issue, its the “what’s next part” that has always scared me. What if they think I’m crazy, or what will they do with this info? Will they use this to hurt me or use against me? Will they magnify my weknesses and silence my strengths? Or alternatively will Letting go of control, fear and other intense emotions help to make my relationships more solid.

Only time can tell as I grow more secure in the idea that others love me,. To accept that independence and love do not need to exist on separate planes.

When you depend on others, you are at your strongest. I will take this forward with me as I relinquish some control and communicate faith in others ability to “Take Care of Me.”

Impact of COVID-19 Pandemic on Posttraumatic Stress, Grief, Burnout, and Secondary Trauma of Social Workers

More recently I’ve heard the term “Secondary /Vicarious Trauma,” used during my debriefing team check-ins as we have all become more aware of the the need to be proactive in this area. I personally am far too familiar with Burn-out and Compassion Fatigue, whereby I have applied the prescriptive measures to mitigate the impact on me.

However, as the months have marched on and the world of child welfare has become complex and discouraging, I’ve become somewhat detached emotionally from how I’m dealing as I’m far too consumed with the bigger issues of the families I serve. The only way I can describe the feeling is in terms of feeling perhaps shell shocked and vacant- a robot of human being that seems to be floating from case to case. My main source of motivation for me to keep on truckin’ is that we (social workers) are needed more than ever at the moment. Secondly, when building relationships with the families and youth I serve, I’m also appeasing some selfish needs to satiate my own need for connection and confirmation that I’m not in struggle alone. In a world without gatherings, its pretty pitiful that I now count home visits, systems meetings, and investigation interviews as my “social time.” So with that being said, I’ve subscribed to a steady diet of toxic dysfunction without little reprieve.

And just like the pandemic “circuit breakers” we have all come to familiarize ourselves with, and perhaps loathe at moments, we too deserve a personal circuit breaker when it comes to addressing the psychological impact our work is having on us. More often than not, victims of trauma lack the words to express their grief and fear. Social workers recognize the need and are the first to respond. They are the ones who will speak hope into the hearts of the hurting. But in doing that, we too need to find the words and hope to address our own along the way.

I always wondered why somebody doesn’t do something about that. Then I realized I was somebody

-Lily Tomlin

So What is Secondary Trauma?

According to Rose Zimering, PhD , Suzy Bird Gulliver, PhD Mental health Workers and Social Workers hear tales of extreme human suffering and observe the emotions of fear, helplessness and horror registered by survivors on a consistent basis. Recent research demonstrates that these occupational duties may cause psychological symptoms in the practitioner who bears witness to the survivors’ account of trauma.

Primary posttraumatic stress disorder may be diagnosed in an individual who experienced, witnessed or was confronted with a traumatic event and responded with intense fear, helplessness or horror. Intentional traumas (e.g., combat, sexual assault, terrorism and mass violence), as well as unintentional traumas (e.g., natural disasters, accidents), may cause this pervasive psychiatric condition.

Secondary trauma is defined as indirect exposure to trauma through a firsthand account or narrative of a traumatic event. The vivid recounting of trauma by the survivor and the clinician’s subsequent cognitive or emotional representation of that event may result in a set of symptoms and reactions that parallel PTSD (e.g., re-experiencing, avoidance and hyperarousal). Secondary traumatization is also referred to as compassion fatigue (Figley, 1995) and vicarious traumatization (Pearlman and Saakvitne, 1995).

So What is Vicarious Trauma?


 Witnessing trauma (death, threatened death, actual or threatened serious injury, or actual or threatened sexual
violence) at work can take an emotional toll. Healthcare providers are at increased risk because their jobs routinely
involve providing care for people who are vulnerable. They see or hear about traumatic events experienced by
others. Over time this exposure can have a negative impact.


 Factors influencing work-related Vicarious Trauma include:
o The nature of the work (repeated direct and indirect exposure to crisis situations), your working conditions,
training related to coping with exposure to trauma, and what supports are available to you in the workplace.
o You can be at more risk for developing vicarious trauma if there are significant stressors and losses in your
personal life (e.g. domestic violence, providing care for a loved one at home).
o Compassion fatigue (reduced empathy) and burnout (feeling exhausted due to chronic work-related stress)
can increase vulnerability to vicarious trauma
o Those in helping professions can feel isolated as family and friends might not want to hear about the
stressful situations they encounter at work, and do to confidentiality/ privacy considerations some things
cannot be discussed outside of work.


 Symptoms of vicarious trauma can include intrusive thoughts and imagery about those events, avoidance of things
related to the events, feeling discouraged about the world, anxiety (e.g. tension, restlessness, racing thoughts,
feelings of dread, elevated heart rate, difficulty sleeping), and changes to mood (sadness, fatigue, irritability,
hopelessness, withdrawal from family and friends, changes to appetite, loss of interest in activities), similar to what
people suffering from PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) experience.


 If it persists vicarious trauma can cause difficulties functioning at work and home, and evolve into mental and
physical health issues, relationship problems, increased absenteeism and attrition (helpers leaving the field).

Some ways to prevent and respond to vicarious trauma include:


Debrief with colleagues or a supervisor on a regular basis and after incidents at work


Routinely and proactively practice good self-care


Set realistic goals, expectations and boundaries for yourself


Have some quiet time — being in nature, writing in a journal, meditating


Recognize and appreciate the hard work you do


Get enough rest


Exercise often — even short walks are very helpful for coping with stress


Eat healthy and drink lots of water

Develop appropriate outlets for difficult emotions – talk with someone you trust, journal, exercise to
relieve frustration


Check how you are coping — ask others for their opinion on how they see you coping. This may help
provide some insight. (i.e.family member, friend)

Get more support if you find symptoms of vicarious trauma increase or persists

I am lighthouse rather than lifeboat. I do not rescue, but instead help others to find their way to shore, guiding them by my example.

-Modern affirmation