Have We a Core Personality?

My German grandmother wouldn’t allow a speck of dust to be out of place, let alone her own bedspread. “She puts a pin in the middle,” my father explained, “So the sheets and blankets are even.”

We sat for our Sunday visits in her tiny, tidy front room. I’d look over at my hunchbacked progenitor and wondered how she managed to keep so neat at her age, and in her condition.

“Don’t touch those!” she warned whenever we neared her knickknack shelf.

“Maybe you could play outside,” my mother sighed.

Outside didn’t promise much. The yard held long, thick grass but no swings or slides. The garden was dead; sprayed that way since Great-Grandmother couldn’t pull weeds. The dilapidated, warped-window garage was padlocked; forbidden. At the rear of the property ran a communal watering canal, also forbidden.

My pioneer stock great-aunt, on the other hand, kept a dog. She kept a candy jar. She kept roses.

“Thank you; thank you,” she told us as we pruned her roses. We tried to visit often enough to keep up on the flowers. She couldn’t bend or stoop anymore on account of bad knees, and I could see how it pained her not to kneel beside us in the lush, fragrant garden of bushes.

“Look, Shadow,” she would address her pet, “Some friends to play with you.” As the black poodle wagged his stump of a tail and slid after the old tennis ball we threw, Great-Aunt said, “He just loves it when you come.”

Both ladies aged and moved into care facilities. Both retained their manners and demeanor. “They always serve the same food,” Great-Grandma criticized the staff’s meals. “What a lovely card,” Great-Aunt praised our handmade creations.

I wondered, in my childlike mind, what made for the difference in my elderly relatives. Did my German one behave as she did because of her osteoporosis hunch? Did my rose-loving aunt feel happier because she took a strong dose of medicine for her joints? Or, was there a core personality in each?

What, then, was my core person like?

From what I could see, not good. I related to Mary Lennox of The Secret Garden, described as an odd little thing who did not get along well with people. I had a temper. No one seemed to like me -and that was fine with me! I cried easily, was stubborn about everything, and felt others ought to be forced to do what was ‘right.’

I saw myself in my great-grandmother’s eyes, yet recognized that hers was a repugnant personality.

Still, I seemed unable to change. I still seem unable to change. A counselor told me I could; that mine was a personality of years of learned behavior. My husband thinks I can; that my gloomy outlook is a matter of controllable perspective. I berate myself; saying I ought to be less sarcastic.

Yet, out it comes. Couldn’t dry wit and depressed sarcasm be my core after all?

I’m curious if this is the case with you, my readers. Do you think we have a core personality? What is yours? Have we the ability to change? Have you done so? How?

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I’m not sure my relations would approve of what I wrote last week:
Wednesday, September 25: Helped out the rising, driving generation with “11 Adulting Tips About Cars.”

Thursday, September 26: “The Darn Sock Connection, a parody,” a parody on “The Rainbow Connection.”

Friday, September 27: Winner of the Weekly Terribly Poetry Contest. Congratulations to The Abject Muse!

Saturday, September 28: Announced the 45th Weekly Terrible Poetry Contest. The theme is a tanka about pumpkin spice. Sniff some cloves and ENTER today!

Sunday, September 29: “Never Forget the Soap,” in response to Carrot Ranch‘s prompt.

Monday, September 30: An inspirational quote by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi.

Tuesday, October 1: “Wilhelmina Winters, One Hundred Six.”

Wednesday, October 2: Today.

I also posted all this week at my motherhood site. I wrote “Make Time for Yourself (A Parenting Myth),” “9 Halloween Movies for Kids (Adults, Too!),” and “The Morning Menagerie.”

Photo Credit: Alex Harvey 🤙🏻

©2019 Chelsea Owens

The Cure for Depression

Step right up, folks! Step right up!

Come feast your eyes on this marvelous tonic; right here, right now. What you may think is a simple bottle is actually the most secret of formulas from the Jungles of the East; from the hand of Marvelodijiling, the famed Healer and only man to live past 200 years of age without a health problem of any sort.

This is The Cure for Depression.

It is, indeed. You may shake your head at me, madame. You may wonder at the authenticity, young sir. I assure ALL that this product is exactly as it says. One simple dose each day will GUA-RAN-TEE to rid you of the woes of Depression.

Labelled glass bottles with various powders and liquids

…And if that sales pitch convinced you, then you and I need to have a long talk.

Actually, we can have a really short talk: Depression doesn’t work like that. For one, it isn’t “cured.” It is, however, a condition that CAN be managed once you learn the skills. This depends on the severity of symptoms and genetics and a whole crapload of stuff that would best be handled by a professional.

I am not a professional; at least, not that kind. I am merely a fellow sufferer with access to Google. I have, therefore, come up with a list:

1. Connect with a human.

2. Connect with a paid human; also known as a counselor, psychologist, therapist, and perhaps a psychiatrist.

3. Swallow that pill, if necessary.

4. Get up, then move.

5. Get outside.

6. Eat something healthy.

7. Do something that brings you real joy.

8. If it doesn’t fit in with #7, do something for someone.

9. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.

10. Sleep, at sleeping times. Wake at morning times.

11. Follow a routine.

12. Meditate, pray, journal, etc.

13. Don’t get sloppy and don’t skip what works.

14. Never give up. (Never surrender.)

Whenever you’re in your cave, I’d like you to pull out this list. Grab one; do it. Maybe steal another after an hour of trying the first one.

Furthermore, I’m gonna help a brother/sister/broster/sisther out by writing individual articles about each of these ideas. It’ll be a tetradecalogy. Stick around; eat some chocolate.

Come for the treats, stay for the community, and live life for the future you.

 

Originally posted at The Bipolar Writer Mental Health Blog on May 28, 2018. I intend to publish one of these articles each week.

 

Photo Credit:
Matt Briney

 

*Chelsea Owens is not a licensed anything, except a Class D driver in her home state, and shares all information and advice from personal experience and research.

It’s not about the destination, but about the journey. It’s not about reaching a place, but about realizing that the long road toward that place is, in fact, the place itself.

There’s no pursuit of happiness. There’s no reaching for something.

It’s just us and the long and winding road.

It’s just us and life.

And the way we choose to see things.

-Cristian Mihai, “A matter of perspective

“…There are two entirely opposite attitudes possible in facing the problems of one’s life. One, to try and change the external world, the other, to try and change oneself. Although both attitudes are potential in everyone, most of us have become one-sided, biased toward the preferred attitude in most of our dealings…”

-Marion Milner (pseudonym Joanna Field), A Life of One’s Own, Preface.

A Fitting Idea

Light Bulb

Take the shaped thoughts of another and apply them to your mind. Sometimes they fill a gap neatly, completing a synapse with a satisfying *click* of thought current.

Many times the expressions instead fall to the floor, with the other un-matched logical laundry.

Years later, you are getting ready for a change. Pulling at an exposed piece, you disengage the idea from its neighboring detritus and hold it up.

“What a cute thought!” You exclaim. “I wish I’d tried this on years ago!”

Dear Son

Dear Son,

I try to love you, but you make it difficult. I see love as soft affection, listening considerately to my advice, and respecting my intelligence.

I get calls and e-mails home from school about concerns parents have for their children who play with you. When I ask you about what happened; you respond with complete ignorance, offended honor, or adamant disagreement.

Your instructors ask me what I recommend for working with you. If I knew, don’t you think I’d tell? Sometimes I ask you. You laugh and say, “I don’t know!”

I will keep trying, because you are my son. I hope that you will grow out of many of these things so that you will be successful in life and have the many friends you love to play with.

Love,
Mom

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Dear Mom,

I try to love you, but you push me away. I like to hug you really tight so you can see how strong I am and how much I love you! I see love as giving me what makes me happy, surprising me with fun games or treats or fun places to go, and agreeing with me when it’s my brothers’ fault!

Sometimes the teachers don’t listen to me. I try to tell them that I accidentally bumped his head or meant to just throw snow at his coat and not down inside it. That one time, it was really my friend who pushed her down, but she thought it was me. I usually don’t remember, because we’re having fun.

My teachers move my peg down when we’re still talking and they get to “1” counting down. Can I make a chart for home with pegs? Then you can move my peg up or down and I can have computer time.

When I grow up, I want to be a computer programmer like Dad and work with him and eat lunch with him. I will buy a house on this street so I can visit you.

I love you Mom,
Charlie