Parents

My parents are simply terrible communicators. I have listened to them down-spiral this morning as they fought each other in bed resulting in multiple verbal traumas. After all of the coaching I have done, it was as though my dam had been made of paper and been asked to hold back a lake. There was no moment in which good communication skills, or even basic listening took place. The downside of living with people in such close proximity is that if they had a bad relationship, it sends negative vibrations throughout the environment.

Personally, logic should have prevailed in their argument instead of suppressed emotions. Uncorking on each other is a pretty unproductive activity and results in no progress forward. In the short time I listened, I heard vocal agitation, misunderstandings not clarified, NO I statements at all, accusations, judgements and insults. These are not the tools we should be using with each other when attempting to communicate something important.

The one thing I have tried to pass on to them is a practical application for the principles of mindfulness. Before driving as fast as one can down the emotion freeway, we need to stop for gas and make sure we are headed in the right direction before charging off. My parents have failed at doing this, which leads to the bulk of their issues. Fights like the one they just had only deepen the ongoing resentment and cause bitterness and anger to take root. It’s a destructive process and they need to be aware of that before it becomes the ONLY way they know how to attempt to resolve conflict or attempt expression.

My first job as a Peer Support Specialist is to repair the broken communication bridges between my mom and dad, and help them find a better way to speak to each other. Obviously, what’s going on right now is not working, and no matter how hard they threaten, they’re not likely to go their separate ways. They just need a better way of communicating. which will need to be something they are both equally invested in doing. At this point, it should be obvious to them that what they have going on right now is unsustainable, or at least, in desperate need of repair.

I have often been this person for my parents, but I detect now things are different. I have a unique position of regard, and I need to take that role seriously and balance my approach as a true impartial figure. Frankly, this is not hard since both parties are in a similar state of decay, and similarly need work done in order to rectify the issue. I’m optimistic though, because this deterioration today is a valuable lesson about how we don’t want to keep doing things. Fights hurt. Feelings get smushed. Crying and snot happens a lot. It’s not the best thing ever. What we need to be doing is looking at that and going: “How did I get here?” “What do I need to do to prevent myself from getting here again?” If we can divest ourselves of the need to ridicule and blame, then we are likely to make progress forward.

So for now there are tears and anger, but soon the dust will settle and they will be more receptive. In times of acute emotional crisis, the best thing is to focus on diffusing that heightened state with compassion and safety. Once out of the altered state, the work of understanding can be done.

The Prodigy

Milestone moment for me Blog! I have just received my 4 certificates of qualification from the Peer Support programs I enrolled in over the last few months, and I am pleased that my training is largely complete. I have volunteer hours I still need to log, but the hard work is done.

Yesterday I had an actual graduation ceremony at Recovery Innovations, International’s San Diego office. Only about half the class turned up for the event, but I was very glad my parents could be there. Every single classmate I gave a hug to spoke highly of me to my parents, which felt wonderful. As the ceremony drew to a close, I was the last person to speak before the gathering. I always find public speaking to be a bit “amplifying,” however, I think I handled myself with poise.

Someone I was not expecting to see was there, my old case worker Annette. Back in 2014 when I came out of the hospital, she was right there helping me get back on track. She got me into the WRAP classes and that really made such a big difference right away. As I got healthy and went back to work, we closed my case and I said my goodbyes. Here we are 4 years later and she’s representing NAMI San Diego watching my graduation from PET. “Before I met you I was but a learner… now I am the master.”

She gave a big speech about how proud she was of me and that really warmed my heart. She saw me at my lowest point, and now here I am reaching all new highs. It must have been refreshing for her to see that. I was moved by her words and my mom turned into a puddle. My instructor Gloria also stopped and made a special point to highlight my skills and accomplishments. I was showered in praise and compliments which was altogether overwhelming.

But well earned, Blog! I worked my ass off to get to where I am now. I didn’t ask for anything, I just did what I had to do to get myself back to a place in my life I could be proud of. My parents got a chance to see how hard I’m trying to change my life for the better, and that helps reassure me a lot. I want them to know I’m not just Eric the pot smoking chocolate eater, but Westin, the articulate and loving Peer Support Specialist.

I hope you all have a good Friday. I start my volunteer hours down at my old clinic next week to complete PET requirements. That should be a piece of cake. I wish for you all to have fun on your weekend and live in an action-packed non-boring sort of way. I vicariously thrive on your vices! Fulfill your desires and yes!