Misunderstood

I am currently reading Forty Days on Being a Four, a book of reflections by Christine Yi Suh, who identifies as an enneagram type Four. In the day one reflection, she discusses the story in Luke 7:36-50 in which an unnamed, sinful woman enters the house in which Jesus is eating with a Pharisee. The woman’s dramatic display of emotion makes Christine Yi Suh think she’s a Four. Indeed, she is greatly misunderstood by the Pharisees, who see just her sinful lifestyle and don’t understand that she is in fact displaying her faith, love and devotion towards Jesus.

The reflection ends with the question in which ways I, being a Four, have been misunderstood. Well, for one thing, I’m often not even seen as a Four. Others would most likely describe me as a Five, because I’m such a thinker.

In fact, one of the main ways in which I feel misunderstood, is that my intellect is overrated and my emotional life underrated. As a child, I was described as self-centered, selfish even. I often got the feeling that I was seen as unfeeling. I am not and never was unemotional at all.

Indeed, I do feel that the depth of my emotional life is often misunderstood. I used to joke that I should give my parents the table of contents of the DSM-IV (we were still in IV era at the time), so that they could pick a random disorder to label me with when I wasn’t being my desirable, intellectual self. I mean, they often labeled me as dramatic, psychotic even. I wasn’t.

People who really know me, know that deep down, I’m definitely sensitive. I may not show it on the outside as much as the unnamed woman in the story does.

Another way in which I am often misunderstood, is in terms of my behavior. Too often, my challenging behavior has been seen as a willful act of defiance. In this sense, I do relate to the woman in the story, who lived a sinful lifestyle up till the point she met Jesus. Like Jesus saw beyond her acts, so He hopefully sees beyond mine. Like this woman was saved by her faith, so hopefully am I.

I also see that other people who know me, look beyond my distant, intellectual façade and also beyond my dramatic emotionality. They don’t see my intellectual and distant appearance as a sign of lack of emotion. They also don’t see my dramatic displays of emotion as mere manipulativeness, like my family used to. They, in fact, see me as a sensitive but also caring woman.

Like the woman in the story, I am sinful. I mean, my challenging behavior was there when I was a child and in some ways still is there. However, I recognize that I am not just my behavior. Like Bobby Schuller says, I am not what I have, I am not what I do, I am not what people say about me. I am the beloved of God.

Starting to Explore the Enneagram

A few days ago, I read on another blogger’s post about the enneagram and suddenly got interested in exploring it. At first, I thought it may be against Christian values, so I shouldn’t be exploring it if I’m serious about being a Christian. Then I checked out some books on it anyway and discovered that several actually look at the enneagram from a traditional Christian perspective.

I first got Helen Palmer’s book The Enneagram, which explained the basics of how the enneagram works. I honestly had no idea at first. I mean, I saw it as just another personality typology just like the MBTI and had little idea that the points are actually connected in several mathematical ways.

I took an enneagram test and it showed I’m a Four with a strong Five wing. I’m still undecided whether that’s correct or I’m really a Five with a strong Four wing. After all, I really do feel deeply (which is consistent with type Four), but I don’t easily verbalize my emotions.

I got a book off Bookshare called The Enneagram Type 4 by Beth McCord. This book is rooted in the Christian faith and the enneagram alike. The first chapter explores faith and the enneagram from a type Four perspective. It starts out by giving an overview of the type.

In the first part, Fours are described as having a deep and rich emotional life. My gut response was: that may be me, but is it truly me or is it what I want to be? Then the explanation goes on to talk about how Fours see themselves as somehow apart from the rest of humanity. They often feel that they’re missing something that everyone else has. Wowah, that’s so me! When I read on, I got a flashback of my father telling my psychiatrist shortly after my admission to the psych hospital, that I just want to be different. Maybe he’s right in some way.

Fours also long for the ideal life and are constantly seeking to change their circumstances and themselves to try to find that “missing piece”. Wow. I read somewhere that most Fours keep the door even in a committed relationship ajar, always keeping the possibility open that their truer love will come by at some point. I don’t do this with my marriage, but I certainly do this with my living situation.

At the end of the chapter, there are some questions for reflection. One of them is about rescuing yourself or bringing about change on your own. How have you attempted to rescue yourself?

Well, for me, I’ve constantly been on the lookout for a better living situation. Even just yesterday, for no apparent reason, I started looking at another care agency’s website to see if I might fit better into one of their homes.

I feel constantly insecure because of my childhood trauma. Then again, maybe I’m also hopelessly looking for an ideal that doesn’t exist.

A thought that has been on my mind for a while now, is what one of my fellow patients at the locked unit told me back in 2007: I need to work on me, not on circumstances. This ran totally counter to my admission’s objective, which was to find a suitable living facility for me. However, now, over thirteen years later, it’s truer than ever. I am in the best possible living situation already and there’s no perfect place. Besides, I always take me to whatever place I go.

The last question for reflection is how realizing you belong to Christ helps you? It is still hard for me to truly surrender to belonging in Christ, so I’m not 100% sure how to respond. However, when I can get myself to understand that I truly am God’s beloved child and belong to Christ, it will radically transform my life. I no longer need to be on the lookout for the perfect life, since I’m made whole through Jesus.

What I Like About My Body #Write31Days

Welcome to day 17 in #Write31Days. Man, this challenge gets hard and I have almost half the month still in front of me. Then again, I can show my persistence by continuing with it anyway. Today, I have yet another post about my body for you. I am going to describe the aspects of my body I like.

My body image tends to fluctuate a lot. Some of my insiders are not adjusted to living in an adult body, and as such they hate my feminine figure. I am quite curvy with large breasts, so I understand that’s difficult for the child and young teen alters. I must say though that most of the adult insiders are pretty content with my feminine body. It helps that my husband is attracted to my curves too.

The first thing I like about my body is my hair. I have long, dark hair. I need to make a hairdresser’s appointment soon, as it’s been almost six months since I had a haircut.

I also like my femininely narrow shoulders. My husband occasionally uses a quote from Schopenhauer about women with their narrow shoulders and broad hips being inferior. He doesn’t mean it seriously though and I also like my hips, although they’re not terribly broad.

Another thing I like about my body are my hands. I have pretty thin wrists and fair hands. Skip my nails for now, as I tend to bite them.

Lastly, as of recently, I’ve developed a greater appreciation of my feet. I used to have terrible toenail fungus. That is, until my husband sent me to the doctor and I got oral medication for it, since the topically-applied stuff wasn’t working. I still don’t really like my feet, but I don’t hate them as much as I used to.

What parts of your body do you like?

Resisting an Impulse #Write31Days

Welcoe to day 16 in #Write31Days. Today, I picekd yet another prompt from The Self Exploation Journal, but I twisted it around. Thhe prompt was to write about the last time you did something impulsive. Instead, I am going to write about the last tire I resisted a destructive impulse

I have been struggling a lot over the past few weeks. My husband has been working extremely long horus this past week and has been very stressed about it. Thankfully, he contacted his manager on it today and will be working slightly more normal hours from tomorrow on. However, today he wasn’t home till 9:30PM.

I hadn’t slept very well last night, because my husband was stressed out yesterday and I took over his stress. In my mind, it became worse and worse, until I was imagining my husband dying in a crash with his truck today. Needless to say, I was quite tired when I got to day activities in the morning.

On top of that, one of the regular staff was off sick, so there was a substitute. Because this regular staff would remain on sick leave tomorrow, the staff worked out who to find as a sub. Wednesdays are the busiest days at day activities, so I was quite scared that one staff would need to handle the full group on her own.

By 2:30PM, I was very irritable. I didn’t understand the jokes people were cracking. I was constantly worrying too about how to make it through the evening. I got an impulse to elope. Instead, I decided to try to walk around the building on my own while the staff checked on me tha tI was headed in the right direction. I did fine.

My staff did notice that I wasn’t coping thoguh. She asked whom I could call if I wasn’t coping while home. I decided to call my mother-in-law right then and she informed me my husband had already asked that I could eat with my in-laws.

Had I actually given in to the impulse and run off, people would’ve been a lot more worried than they already were. Besides, since this was my second time going to day activities for a full day, I might have been suspended. I don’t think I’d have gotten in any physical danger had I actually run off, as the day activities place is in a very quiet neighborhood. However, I’m still glad I didn’t give in to the urge.

Four Skills I’m Pretty Good At #Write31Days

Welcome to day 15 in my #Write31Days challenge on personal growth. Today, I have another list post for you. One of Lisa Shea’s journaling prompts on self-esteem has us write about our skills. What things are you pretty good at? Here goes.

1. Writing. I’m by no means a bestselling author – I have only had one piece of writing published in a book so far. I also make a lot of typeos in my writing. Overall though I consider my writing to be pretty good.

I started writing at about eight-years-old, wanting to become a children’s fiction author once I’d grow up. Now my husband is one of my worst critics when it comes to my children’s fiction, saying my stories aren’t very imaginative to say the least. Then again, when he compliments me on my blog posts, I take it all the more to heart.

2. Calendar calculation. You didn’t know that’s a skill? It is! My husband can’t tell whether October has 30 or 31 day without looking at the calendar, so I’ve got to believe that calendar calculation is a skill. It refers to being able to tell what day a given date in the past or future falls on. I’m not nearly as good at it as I used to be some twenty years ago, but am still pretty good.

3. Researching topics of interest. When a topic captures my interest, I can research it for days on end and will quickly get to know a lot about it. As such, I know a lot about psychiatry – more than some so-called professionals would like me to know. The flip side si that I cannot convert all my knowledge into practice. For example, I know a lot about soap making, but after those first few attempts, I haven’t tried making soap on my own again.

4. Relating to other people in a unique way. Particularly to people with cognitive, intellectual or developmental disabilities. I consider myself pretty good at relating to my fellow clients at day activities. As such, I have been known to come up with some ideas for sensory activities.

What skills are you pretty good at?

Ways to Take Better Care of My Body #Write31Days

Welcome to day 14 in #Write31Days. Last week, I wrote a post on the topic of what my body is telling me. Today, I’m writing on a similar theme. The prompt from The Self Exploration Journal I’m using today supposes that your body is a temple. How could you better take care of it?

There are many ways in which I could take better care of my body. I’m already doing a lot better though than I used to. Like, until I was eighteen, I wouldn’t touch toothpaste and would brush my teeth with just water. Then, I went to the dentist to find out I had seven cavities. Filling them (without anesthetic) was horrible. From that point on, I started using toothpaste, buut I still had trouble sticking to a regular teeth-brushing routine. I struggled with this for many years to come and have only recently been able to consistently brush my teeth twice a day. I’m still not doing it very well, but I’m getting better.

Another way to take better care of my body is by getting off my behind. As a child, I was fairly active, but my activity level declined sharply in my teens. I got a computer, which meant hours upon hours of screen time. At this point, I’m still pretty sedentary, although I love walking. Since I cannot leave the house on my own, I need to think of ideas to fit in more activity at home. I already go on the elliptical regularly, but I’m thinking I could be dancing too.

Sleep is another aspect of body care that I’ve improved in. As a child and teen, I’d get no more than five to six hours of sleep a night. Now, I make sure that on week days, I get eight to nine hours of sleep. On week-ends, I get much more. That probably means that I’m still not fully rested from those eight to nine hours on week days, but I do’t know how to fit in even more sleep.

An aspect of body care in which I really need to pick up the pieces again, is food. I am doing better than I was when in the institution, when I’d binge on candy twice to three times a week. However, I’m still snacking a lot more than I should.

In what ways could you take better care of your body?

The Most Important People in My Life #Write31Days

Welcome to day 13 in #Write31Days. It’s getting harder and harder to keep up with the challenge, but I was reminded by my husband not to give up now that I have nearly two weeks’ worth of effort put into it.

Today, I’m making a list of the most important people in my life. I’ll also explain why these people are so important to me. I tend not to come across very appreciative of wht people mean to me. I mean, the people in my life right now are mostly very supportive, and yet I don’t tell them so that often.

1. My husband. Do I really need to explain? I first met him in 2007, when I was struggling to hold on living independently. He supported me throughout my 9 1/2 years in the mental hospital and through the nearly eighteen months we’ve been living together now. He also fully supports my choice of trying to get into supported housing, even if it means we can only see each other on week-ends. He’s also just the most loving person around. Hubby, I love you!

2. My in-laws. As regular readers know, I am in low contact with my own parents. For this reason, I’m all the more thankful to have my in-laws. My mother-in-law particularly helps me with important meetings and with other decisions I need to make.

3. My home support staff. I first met my support coordinator in August of last year, when I finally got approved for home support. At first, she mostly just monitored my care with my old support worker, but eventually, she had to step up more. She now sees me usually once a week. My new support worker – the old one was moved to a team in another area – sees me twice a week. They’re both very supportive and skilled and especially my support coordinator goes out of her way to help me.

4. My day activities staff. My assigned support worker is one of the nicest staff working at that group. Not that the other staff aren’t nice, but she is the one who most truly gets me. The other staff truly try too. I am so glad to be here. Now I must say my old day activities staff were nice too, but they weren’t equipped with the information to properly support me. Besides, the manager was probably more stacked against my “psychiatric” needs.

Who are the most important people in your life?

20 Things I’m Grateful For in Life #Write31Days

Welcome to day twelve in #Write31Days. Man, I’m late writing my post today. I really planned on writing two posts today, one for #Write31Days and the other for Ten Things of Thankful. I may write a #TToT post for this week tomorrow anyway, but I also found a great topic that fits both #Write31Days and #TToT. It is to list twenty things (or people, I assume) you’re grateful for in your life. Here goes.

  1. My husband.
  2. My family. Even though my family of origin isn’t very supportive, they are still there. My in-laws are especially importantt to me.
  3. My great team of home support and day activities staff.
  4. My online friends. I don’t have any real-life friends other than my husband, but I appreciate the network of supportive people online.
  5. Our cat, Barry.
  6. My relatively good physical health.
  7. The fact that I’m mentally stable.
  8. More than enough food in the pantry.
  9. A roof over my head.
  10. My computer and iPhone.
  11. Social security.
  12. Never having had to worry about money.
  13. A relatively good health care system. It could be better, but it could also be a lot worse.
  14. Psychiatric medication.
  15. The sensory room at day activities and sensory supplies at home.
  16. Sleep.
  17. Being a lot fitter than I used to be.
  18. The readers of my blog. I can’t seem to stick to just one blog project forever, so I’m glad some people keep following me.
  19. The weather. It’s really good for October right now, but generally speaking it’s never all that bad.
  20. Being alive!

I must admit that in writing this post, I did cheat a little by checking back at a similar post I’d written several years ago. I could probably think of enough things without cheaitng, but that would take me longer, and it’s now time for bed.

The Greatest Life Lesson #Write31Days

Welcome to day eleven in #Write31Days. Today, I picked a prompt from 100 Self-Help Journal Prompts by Francie Brunswick. It asks us about the greatest lesson we’ve learned in life and what makes this lesson so important.

Here I’m going to be a bit repetitive, as I covered this topic already in my letter to my younger self. The greatest lesson I’ve learend in life is that you need to stay true to yourself.

I have some codependent tendencies. In other words, I tend to be a people-pleaser. For years, I thought that to make up for the burden that I was due to my blindness and other disabilities, I’d need to let other people make everyday decisions for me. In that sense, at age seventeen or eighteen, I definitely would’ve met the criteria for dependent personality disorder. Not because I wanted others to do stuff for me or because I claimed support I didn’t really need, but rather because I allowed others to take responsibility for my life. Conversely though, practically, I thought I had to be extremely independent, never asking for help, for fear of losing other people’s approval.

Until my mental crisis of 2007, I let my parents rule my life. That may be normal’ish for someone at that age, but it wasn’t healthy. Then when I went into the mental hospital, I let my social worker make decisions for me. She was a very authoritarian person, threatening me with forced discharge from the hospital or guardianship if I didn’t do as she wanted.

Then, of course, I let my psyhcologist on the long-term care unit make decisions for me. Ironically, when she diagnosed me with dependent personality disorder in 2016, she used as one of the reasons the fact that I wouldn’t openly disagree with her. I told her half-jokingly that I assumed she’d remove my diangosis again if I fought her hard enough on it. She wouldn’t. Her diagnosing me as dependent was based on her screwed beliefs about disability and mental health.

I am now 32. I have the most supportive care team I could wish for. However, if I ever get to deal with less supportive staff in my life again, I know I can and must stick up for myself. I cherish Leonie, my fights-like-a-lioness insider, who emerged when I most needed her, when fighting my psychologist on the DPD diagnosis. I have a right to be myself. I am not dependent on anyone for making my decisions.

How My Friends and Family Would Describe Me #Write31Days

Welcome to day ten in #Write31Days. Today, I’m writing on how others see me. The prompt from The Self-Exploration Journal I’m basing this post on asks how my family and friends would describe me. They probably assume that my family are mostly supportive. My parents are not. But it still helps to look at how tey’d describe me to get to know myself. I am going to list a few qualities I’m told I possess.

1. Strong-willedness. Most of my family and friends agree that I’m pretty strong-willed. This can be a positive thing or a negative thing. I tend to fight fiercely for what I think is right. On the other hand, what I think is right is not always what others want.

2. Intelligence. My father pretty much reduces me to the three digits of my measured verbal IQ at age twelve. It’s 154, if anyone’s interested. My IQ was measured again last year and was down to 119, but my parents feel I wasn’t trying my best then.

3. Determination. Some of my friends view me as quite a go-getter. Other people tend to think I’m quite the opposite. It tends to depend more on their view on my disabilities than on me.

4. Humor. Way back in like 2005, my psychologist asked for my parents and sister to each come up with three qualities of me. My sister came up with my sense of humor. It tends to be pretty dark and cynical. I remember, when I had just been hospitalized on the psych unit, already cracking jokes about the differences between the patients and the staff.

5. Manipulativeness. I just had to list this one. Particularly my parents describe me as manipulative. In a sense they’re right. Then again, what strong-willed, determined person isn’t manipulative in the face of authority figures telling them what is best for them? I think that being manipulative isn’t necessarily a negative thing. All communication is in some ways manipulative, as its aim is to influence others. So can I just say I possess a bit of healthy manipulativeness?

What qualities would your friends and family say you possess?