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~Seek first to understand, then be understood~
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I have a "friend" who shows up once a month. She turns my world upside down, over and over again.
I am a good person, caring and sweet, but when she comes to visit, I could rip off your head.
She takes no prisoners, foul words she does spout, I try to keep the words in, she lets them come out.
People don't understand me, or what this is about, to have this creature inside my head.
I despise who I am, half of the time, I feel sorry for my daughter, family and friends.
There's no way to describe it, for those who don't know, it's a living nightmare, she really needs to go.
~Neysia Manor, Rest in Peace

Sunday, November 22, 2015

PMDD - Owning What's Yours and Discarding What's Not

Hopefully this post will provide some information or inspiration to help get you through the next six weeks of supposed holiday cheer.  For weeks now, we have been (and will continue to be) inundated with media images of joy, happiness, laughter, good times and carefree events with friends and family.  

         But this isn't even close to the reality of what happens for most people during this time of year. 

         Not to mention what happens to women with PMDD.

         But still we try.  Over and over and over again.  Because we love our families, and even when we feel miserable inside, we want to make things good for them.

   So this post is for women with PMDD who are unwilling—or literally unable—to take a break from your family.  And this means any time of the year, not just the holidays.  I'm offering this post today, though, because I know relationships tend to be super stressed once we start heading into Thanksgiving and families start spending more time together than usual.
So...Recognizing that

You can’t fix something you didn’t break


It takes two to make a relationship, and two to break it,

There is only so much you can do.

If the person you are trying to connect with, be they parent, partner, sibling, or child, is not interested in having a positive relationship with you—the reason why does not matter—there is nothing you can do but hang on and hope for the best.

Prayer can be very effective when you have reached this sort of impasse with someone in your life.

But I also want to make sure you realize that if you are having a bad relationship with someone, anyone, in your life, and you are doing your best to take responsibility for whatever shortcomings you may bring to the relationship, and it still isn’t working...

Then the problem isn’t you, and you have no business taking full blame for the faults in or failure of the relationship.

Many relationships are broken because the person you are in relationship with is also broken. They do not love themselves, and therefore literally cannot love you until they heal. This is not always their fault, this inability to love, but once people reach adulthood, how much love and goodness they have in their hearts and their lives is a direct result of their choices in life.

Yes, happiness is a choice. So are peace and harmony, anger and strife. People choose to be happy or sad, appreciative or critical, content or bitter, encouraging or derisive. It is absolutely true that when you have control over nothing else, over no other circumstances in your life, you still have control over your attitude. (I am talking about the other half of whatever relationship you are thinking about right now. This does not apply to you, the woman with PMDD, just yet. We will talk about you a little later.)

The fact that whoever you are having a relationship with chooses not to be happy, or not to work with you to better the relationship, or not to participate in the relationship at all, is not your fault.  That is their fault. Fully, completely, and entirely. Do not take the blame for anyone’s bad behavior but your own. Ever. Any time, any place, any where. If you are an adult, you are responsible for your own behavior. If you are under the age of 25, you can still get away with some stupid stuff, because your brain is literally not fully formed yet, and people in their twenties tend to do things without thinking them through.

That’s part of life, that’s part of growing up. But once you cross that line, and start heading into your thirties, it is time to start acting like an adult, or you will find yourself in relationship after relationship that does not work, and, if you have any sense of self-awareness at all, will leave you wondering why.

The first tenet of being a grown up is to take responsibility for your actions, good or bad. It’s that simple. You hurt someone or their feelings, you apologize, and do what you can to make it right. You don’t blame them for being too sensitive, clumsy, slow, scattered, discombobulated, or anything at all. Aside from the one to three percent of the population who are genuine sociopaths, we all know right from wrong. We are born knowing this right from wrong. In some of us, that knowing gets killed/suppressed/obliterated very early on, but for the rest of us, we know. We know when we are at the receiving end of something wrong, and we know when we are at the dishing out end of something wrong. That we choose to do whatever it is we are doing anyway, is exactly that...a choice. And adults take responsibility for their choices, be they right or wrong.

So if you have someone in your life who doesn’t understand your PMDD, it’s because they are choosing not to understand. Choosing not to love. Instead they are choosing to believe you are crazy or lazy or out of control because it suits some purpose that works for them, not you. (This is assuming you are making every effort to enlighten them.) They may or may not be aware of this on a conscious level, but either way, this is what is happening. If they can keep the focus on you and your failings, there is no need to look at their own. If they can get you to take the blame for whatever is wrong in the relationship, they don’t need to carry their own half of the load.

Being in a relationship takes work under the best of circumstances. If you are in a relationship with someone who thinks “love is all hearts and flowersĖ® or “relationships just happen” then you have your work cut out for you. First of all, you’ll be doing double the work while they do none of it. And when something goes wrong, since you are doing all the work, you will most likely get all the blame.

Tell me how that is fair. Tell me it hasn’t happened to you.

Whether it’s with a friend, relative, spouse, or a  child, to make a relationship work you have to spend quality time together, and you each must make the effort to understand the other, and to find ways to create memories that make you both smile—instead of cry. No one can tell you what, where, or how this balance in your relationship should be. This is between the two of you and no one else. You and the other party are the only ones in the relationship, and you and the other party are the only ones who can figure it out, based on your individual levels of maturity, needs, personalities, time availability, emotional awareness, you name it.

Just like every woman is different, every relationship is different. You can look across a room and see a couple you think has it all, but you don’t know what goes on in that relationship. I don’t care what you think you know. You only know what you see and what you are told, and even then the information is skewed unless you are told by both parties in the presence of each other. When this happens, you still may not get the full picture. Couples regularly leave private details out of stories they tell about themselves.

But I digress. The bottom line is the people in your life are always responsible for their own actions and choices, even when they refuse to take responsibility for them. Not taking responsibility does not mean you are no longer responsible. The responsibility is still yours, whether you accept it or not.

None of this, of course, applies to a woman with PMDD when she is in the PMDD zone. Right now we are talking about partners/relatives who are in full control of their faculties at any given moment. Once a PMDD-ing woman enters her personal PMDD zone, all bets are off until her period comes and she returns to her regular state of mind.

But guess what? Once you have a handle on your own behavior, they can’t use it against you any more.

That said, no one who does not have PMDD themselves has the right to judge, blame, dismiss, discount, provoke, or otherwise torment you into making your PMDD worse. Neither do they have any right to excuse themselves for their behavior during an episode, especially while casting all the blame on you and your condition/disorder/disease/illness. Doing either—tormenting you and/or blaming you for your own torment—is abuse. Whether it’s fostered by ignorance or done deliberately, it’s still abuse, plain and simple.

It’s so easy to blame your own failings on someone who has legitimate burdens to carry. Do not fall prey to this tactic, this emotional abuse. As women we are often socialized to accept either responsibility or the blame for the bad behavior of those around us. This is doubly true for women with PMDD. Having PMDD makes us easy targets for blame.

Do not accept that blame unless it is truly yours. Daily I hear from women about something that happened during their latest PMDD episode, and without fail, they take the entire blame for the incident, even when the other party was a total jerk.

This has to stop.

Own up to what is yours, whether you are in the PMDD zone or not. And do not for one moment take responsibility for something that did not come out of YOU.

If awareness is the first step, and it is, shedding guilt and blame is the second. The book, Guilt is the Teacher, Love is the Lesson, by Dr. Joan Borysenko is an excellent resource for helping you to do just that. It changed my life, and if you want to change yours, it’s a great place to start.

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