And that is probably a good place to start. I really don’t like to disappoint anyone! I want to be seen as reliable, dependable, resourceful and competent. In many situations I am all of those things, but (sticking with honesty!) there are circumstances that prevent me from being able to follow through on everything I would like to.
For the last five years I have been struggling with trigeminal neuralgia, chronic stabbing face pain, which started after a whiplash injury. The pain is severe and has made my life incredibly difficult these past few years. However I have been overwhelmingly blessed with supportive friends and family not to mention a fabulous medical team. I regularly go to the U of A pain clinic for extra support, and I have explored various holistic and alternative medical therapies including acupuncture, naturopathy, massage, physiotherapy, counseling and so on. None of it has lessened my pain, but it has strengthened me physically and emotionally and allowed me to survive and gain insight into my life to learn how to manage the pain. I continue to go to pain clinics and explore all possible options.
I am optimistic about the future! Over the years I have learned how to take care of myself and to pace myself so that I don’t get completely burnt out or depressed. It has been a very intense journey, and still is, but I feel as though I am making significant progress into understanding myself better and discovering the kind of strength I have in the face of adversity. I know that I can’t do it on my own and I have had to become humble and gracious in accepting and receiving support from others. This is not something that I am innately at ease with. I desire to be the one who is giving care, not receiving, the one who is needed, not in need.
If you have not heard of the Enneagram I would urge you to check it out. It is a model of personality types that I have found extremely useful. It is quite extensive as there are nine basic types and then there are wings, subtypes and arrows that that all told give over 70 types! But in the end the premise is still that each person is of course completely unique because there are levels of integration or growth as well as aspects of other types that may appear in your personality because of life experiences.
If you want to know more about me based on the Enneagram, I am a 2, which is broadly described as the “Helper.” I have a strong 1 wing (the Reformer) and a predominant one-to-one subtype. When I am in a state of growth I move towards my more creative and expressive nature. I am self-nurturing and I make sure to take care of my own needs first so that the energy I have left over is given to others as a true and genuine gift, not a burden or debt that I expect to be repaid. When I am struggling I have difficulty with those things and move into self-preservation mode (as we all do) specifically to a state of being more aggressive and dominating. I find myself marking out my alliances and trying to decide who is safe and who is a threat. When I think about it rationally I know that this sort of black and white categorizing is not only based on limited and subjective feelings but is also divisive and unhealthy. However I still fall into that trap sometimes without meaning to and I think it must have some strong evolutionary roots.
At my best I am unselfish and altruistic, full of unconditional love for other people. But when I am stressed I can become overly people pleasing and possessive of the friends and relationships that I have. This is something that I have been working on steadily since becoming aware of it. It is easier now to recognize when my automatic coping mechanisms are kicking in rather than my “higher” nature, for lack of a better term.
My automatic reactions are usually based on intense feelings and a need to save face or to protect others or myself. My rational brain takes a bit longer to kick in, at which point I may already be digging myself into a situation that could have been avoided. Again these are things that I have been working on. I just started a cognitive behavioural workbook and I’m finding it quite enlightening. Psychology was my minor and I am quite intrigued by it.
There is also a strong side of me that strives to be incredibly rational and arrives at very idealistic solutions for myself and for the world. If given the time I will analyze a decision thoroughly before I act and I am sometimes caged by the fear of making a mistake.
I judge the morality of situations and people constantly and I feel strongly about things like human rights and ethics in general. Sometimes I feel as though these two aspects of my personality conflict with each other, the side that wants to give unconditional love and the other side that imposes strict moral conditions for approval. I think that the religious environment that I was raised in shaped a large portion of my personality, for better or worse. I no longer attend church, nor do I believe in a personal God, but I still feel a sense of purpose and a mission in life to help others and to make the world a better place, things I grew up feeling strongly about. Of course the content of that purpose and my perception of what makes the world whole and healthy has shifted markedly.
I think of myself as an activist and I spend a lot of time signing petitions and sharing my knowledge of the world and its problems with my friends and family. I feel a strong responsibility to protect the world for future generations and to advocate for human rights and the environment. I feel that I have been incredibly lucky and blessed in terms of the country I was born in and the loving family I was raised in. I have lived a privileged life in many respects and I want to give back to my community locally and to improve living standards globally in any way that I can.
I am not wealthy, but I have more than enough to buy nutritious food and to stay warm and live in a nice place. And I also have the security of family financial support to fall back on if I need it. In the global scheme of things I am very well off and I try to keep this in perspective and to not let local comparisons skew my judgment. There are over a billion people living in immense poverty, in situations that I have never had to experience. It seems only natural that I have a duty to give of my time and resources to organizations that care for the homeless and impoverished, which protect the environment and advocate for human rights.
My worldview stems from both my love for people and this earth and also from my own internal sense of what is right and wrong. I have experienced unbearable pain and misery and I had people to reach out and help me through it. I still do. There are people living every day in terrible pain and hardship who are not that lucky. And it is quite simply not fair. I know that is idealistic, but it is a strong conviction, one I am willing to dedicate my life to.
Haha, didn’t mean to turn that into a rant, but perhaps that is revealing in itself. I’m not always that serious. I love to have fun and to joke around. I think that keeping a good sense humor is actually the only way to survive difficult times and enjoy life fully. Life is comical in its ups and downs. That is why Shakespeare wrote tragic comedies. Sometimes all you can do is laugh at the absurdity of it all.
Ok this is getting long so I will leave it there. Not a very concise summary I realize, but if you want to get to know me better just send me a message! Or check out my answers to some of the questions. I’ve found those very interesting.