10 September 2013

Dealing with the Mean Girl Inside

I had a long evening a little bit ago, talking the Princess Girl down from another of her Emotional Catastophes. Goodness, that poor child has such Big Feelings about everything! However, I understand better than I would have in the past: I live with Big Feelings all the time now, and have, lucky for her, been learning new coping skills that I can share. :)

We discussed how to talk to “the Selfish Whiny Girl inside” and the “Mean Girl who says awful things to you about yourself”. You see, it’s possible to say, “Listen here, Selfish Girl, you are whining. You do not NEEEEEED the thing you are fussing about and we are NOT going to throw a hissy fit because that would be unkind and we will just feel guilty afterwards. You need to go in the corner and stop your whining.” You can say, “Mean Girl, we do NOT talk to anyone that way - not even ourselves! You be quiet now.” And you just keep telling them to be quiet and sit down until they obey.

Most of us grownups also know the Inadquate, Not Measuring Up Girl … she shows up to tell you how useless you are, and before you know it, the Scared Girl is there shouting, “We CAN’T be less than perfect! Someone will be angry and it won’t be safe! hurry, hurry, try harder!” and then Mean Girl shows up saying “you insert-nasty-words-here … you are never good enough … insert-self-deprecation-and-beat-up-words-here…”

And before you know it you have a big ol’ nasty party in your head.

And they ALL need to be told to get to their corners and behave.

Because we sometimes need these Girls - but ONLY when we REALLY need them. We need the Selfish Girl to protect us from people who will use us up with no regard to our feelings or needs – then it’s her job to come out and say “Hey, I need to be heard, I need this and you need to pay attention to me right now!” If we truly ARE NOT trying, then it’s okay for the Inadequate Girl to say “you know, we could do better if we gave this a little more oomph.” And if we are truly in danger, we need Scared Girl to say “RUN! RUN! RUN!” and if we are being bullied, we need that Mean Girl to come out and tell other people to buzz off in no uncertain terms.

But we don’t need those voices turned in on ourselves in destructive ways.

It turns out that the simple step of asking the Girls if the situation really warrants their involvement seems to help.

“Is that something we need, or just something we want? Right, we’re just whining and being unfair to the people around us. Quiet down now, Selfish Girl.”

“Am I doing my best? Yes? Well then, Inadequate Girl, you be quiet - all anyone can do is their best.”

“Is this situation actually dangerous? No? Well, then, Scared Girl, thank you but your input is not needed right now.”

“Do we EVER speak to ANYONE in that kind of language? No. Right. So Mean Girl, you need to apologize and behave.”

It sounds silly but it really works.

I told the Princess Girl that I knew about talking to these ‘Girls Inside’ from dealing with my PTSD, and explained that mostly I have a Scared Girl I need to talk to. That when I start acting strange, it’s because the Scared Girl inside me is screaming that we need to HIDE RUN DO THE THINGS THAT MAKE US SAFE! And I have to tell that Scared Girl that the things she wants me to do don’t help, they make it worse, and we really are safe and she needs to just take a few deep breaths and stop shouting. Of course, I explained all this with the full play-acting experience of me speaking sternly to the Scared Girl and the Scared Girl cowering and squeezing her eyes shut and stomping her foot and covering her ears and saying “NO NO IT’S NOT SAFE WE HAVE TO RUN AND HIDE AND ACT ALL WEIRD THAT IS HOW WE STAY SAFE!” I startled the Princess Girl, but I could see that she could relate to having such Big Feelings about things.

I explained my Big Feelings, the ones that come with my PTSD, are like when you have a nightmare and you wake up but you are still scared even though the lights are on and you know you are safe, you are still shaking and terrified: my nightmare happened in real life, and the scared from that time still comes to me, and that’s what is happening when I act so strange: my Scared Girl is shouting that we are not safe and we need to do these weird things because then we will be okay.

“I didn’t know all that,” she said, big tears in her eyes. “Is there anything I can do to help when you get like that?”

Bless her. Such a loving heart that girl has.

I said that she was very, very kind and I appreciated it very much. I suggested that when I start acting all weird (best description for it, at her age – everyone in the household recognizes it when it starts, it looks a lot like grumpy, but mostly I think it’s recognizable at a visceral level as ‘stay clear of this person, they are volatile’) … when she sees that, she can say “Hey, it’s okay, you really ARE safe now” … and then just get out of the way, in case I’m not in a place where I can hear, but it would at least be a good try and I wouldn’t get mad if she said it. :)

She promised to do that. Such a sweet kid. And then she went to bed, calm and collected, with new coping techniques.

Her brother overheard the conversation and told me that he has a Scared Kid inside sometimes, and he thought the way I suggested talking to the Scared Kid might be really helpful.

Yay for increased return on investment for therapy: sharing what I learned with others! Win all around!

05 September 2013

This is not a gadget.

The Reluctant Farmer decided that purchasing a robotic floor cleaner would be a good investment in our relationship. I was skeptical, I mean, I ought to be doing the floors myself. It’s expensive. It’s a gadget. Surely a broom and a mop …

Well, the broom and mop haven’t really been keeping up very well, since they are powered by me. And I haven’t got a lot of extra juice these days. So I accepted his generous offer, and today, the Braava 380T arrived in the mail. A little square device, a bit smaller than those countertop sandwich makers that were popular in the 90s, it was super easy to set up. Batteries for the little cube that it uses to assist with navigation were even included in the box!

Now, I wasn’t really sure how well this thing would work. Obviously, I figured it would be better than what I was doing – sweeping with a broom every other day or so and mopping with either a steam mop or a sponge mop about once a week – but I really wasn’t sure how it would work on our floors. We have wide plank hardwood in the south wing (which is badly scratched and dinged up and needs to be sanded and refinished, but that’s another tale) and engineered hardwood in most of the north wing.

I was STUNNED by how well it cleaned.

I made things a little more straightforward by putting the chairs up on top of the dining table, like you do at the end of the shift at the restaurant, and I moved most of the spinning wheels out of the way so it would have fewer obstacles to go around. Then I just watched.

The cats weren’t quite sure what to make of it at first, but after stalking it for a little while, they decided it was harmless and ignored it. It went under the couch and around the table legs and puttered back and forth across the floor for about 45 minutes.

By the time it was done, the microfibre cloth was thoroughly loaded with pet hair and dirt, because I hadn’t done a preliminary sweep with the broom – I wanted to see what it could do by itself. As it went around the room, I did occasionally swipe the dust bunnies off the side, but when it returned the starting point and sang it’s little “all done now” song, I was amazed. The floor felt way cleaner to my bare feet than it does after sweeping: no doubt the effect of having been gone over very slowly with a microfibre cloth rather than quickly with rather tired synthetic broom bristles.

Now that the worst of the dust and dirt were picked up, I filled the little water reservoir at the sink, rinsed and wrung out one of the damp mopping pads, and set Matilda loose again.

(She is called Matilda because the movement of the mopping action looks like a waltz step to me: forward and to the right, back, forward and to the left, back, forward and to the right…)

The damp mopping amazed me even further.

The floor is CLEAN.

I am barefoot, and it feels wonderfully clean. Of course it’s not as clean as having been scrubbed on hands and knees, but it’s way cleaner than I normally get it, even with the steamer. Again, no doubt because it has been gone over slowly and methodically with a damp cloth, rather than quickly and haphazardly with a squishy mop.

And I didn’t have to do any scrubbing. Or sweeping. I washed the mats, since they needed to be picked up anyway and were pretty dusty, and I moved a few things around to clear the path, and that was it. While Matilda swept and mopped, I worked on an assignment that needs to be done for the weekend.

Now, see, you need to realize that I do not like gadgets in general. I used to have a food processor, but I got rid of it: I prefer a bowl and a spoon for mixing and a knife and board or my v-slicer for chopping things. I don’t want a rototiller. I have no need of a panini press or a toaster oven or an electric can opener or any of the fancier gadgets. This high-tech machine is not the kind of thing you’d expect a girl like me to be impressed with. I mean, it sweeps and mops. I can sweep and mop.

Except that when I sweep and mop it costs me spoons. When I sweep and mop, it costs me spoons and even then, it’s not a great job – it’s just enough: never any more than enough, and often not quite enough, truth be told. But I have so few spoons to go around and such a big list of things to do that it gets tough to prioritize floor mopping.

Matilda is not a gadget, see.

Matilda is spoons. In a little black box that meanders across my floor in near silence, quietly sweeping up the mess and leaving me free to spend my spoons on other tasks.

The Reluctant Farmer bought me spoons.

04 September 2013


I love my work.

Hand dyed yarns which will be packaged with my knitting patterns as shawl or sock kits.

Gradient dyed alpaca/wool lopi, which will be weft for a coat/vest/blanket (not sure which yet).

One blanket finished, the next started.

You might be able to tell that the twill direction changes at the centre: if you look at the second blanket, with the lighter weft thread, you can see the diamond that forms at the centre of the dark purple stripe which is the middle of the blanket, that’s where the angles meet. It isn’t particularly noticeable on the first blanket, but it’s showing up nicely on the second.