Thursday, March 22, 2012

Riding out A Bad Monday

Well, it's almost midnight on Thursday. . . four days since my last post and I feel compelled to update. The week has gone like this:

Tuesday: extreme fatigue and lots of snappishness, but I tried hard to keep it under wraps since I knew that it was the result of Saturday's mishaps and Monday's pathetic-ness. Met with some writer friends and acquire a little hope.

Wednesday: frustration and anger, in mass amounts. There was also lots of deep breathing. Until the soccer game that afternoon. At which point all the children set to whining and I decided to give them all extra chores while admonishing them for their brattiness. Did some Visiting Teaching that evening and it really improved my mood.

Thursday: Better. A lot. Pretty much normal. I also got a thank-you note from a bunch of parents (who weren't mad at me) and that made my day. A  simple thank-you can do so much! I even cleaned bathrooms and vacuumed and did laundry. If I'm doing housework, I must be feeling better.

I also came across an article tonight that explained why this whole Odyssey of the Mind might have been so deeply hurtful to me. Some of it is because I'm not the kind of person who is open to ambient touching, so when that parent grabbed me by the shoulder and spoke forcefully to me it crossed a really big line for me. Another reason is because I am a bit of a Highly Sensitive Person (it's a genetic/temperament thing) and, as this article explains, sometimes when an HSP perceives punishment they overreact. Sometimes by being too nice. This phenomenon is called pathological altruism and is described in very dramatic terms by this article.  While I think a lot of that was overblown and I didn't identify with it at all, this part really struck me:

Dr. Oakley couldn’t help doubting altruism’s exalted reputation. “I’m not looking at altruism as a sacred thing from on high,” she said. “I’m looking at it as an engineer.”

And by the first rule of engineering, she said, “there is no such thing as a free lunch; there are always trade-offs.” If you increase order in one place, you must decrease it somewhere else.

Moreover, the laws of thermodynamics dictate that the transfer of energy will itself exact a tax, which means that the overall disorder churned up by the transaction will be slightly greater than the new orderliness created. None of which is to argue against good deeds, Dr. Oakley said, but rather to adopt a bit of an engineer’s mind-set, and be prepared for energy losses and your own limitations.

Train nurses to be highly empathetic and, yes, their patients will love them. But studies show that empathetic nurses burn out and leave the profession more quickly than do their peers who remain aloof. Give generously to Child A, and Child B will immediately howl foul, while quiet Child C will grow up and write nasty novels about you. “Pathologies of altruism,” as Dr. Oakley put it, “are bound to arise.”
Now since the whole thing went down last Saturday, I don't think I've pulled any pathological altruism. But I think things were so painful because I was already acting in pathologically altruistic ways. I was already over-scheduled and stressed, but I kept bending over backwards to help out the kids, parents, and coaches because I thought it would be nice and because, well, I had a couple negative interactions with one coach and I was trying to fix things. I mean, this is the coach who yelled at me Saturday and then I went out and bought her a thank-you gift for all her help. Then she yelled at me some more. Something is backwards there.

This is hard for me to understand, though. I mean, aren't we always supposed to be kind and turn the other cheek? Aren't we supposed to be quick to forgive and quick to help? Isn't that what it means to be Christ-like?

This is the part where all you readers raise your hands and say, "Wait, Laura! Don't you remember the oxygen masks? Put yours on first!"

I know. I know. But sometimes there isn't time and sometimes I think I already have it on, but it turns out I don't. Sometimes regular life is more complicated than a crashing airplane--especially when life starts resembling said airplane.

Hmm. . . food for thought.

Anyway, the other thing I'm working on remembering: failure is part of the plan. Things aren't always supposed to work out. Failure is part of what Heavenly Father had in store for all of us. And it's okay.  Because of Jesus.

My goal for Friday: stop over-thinking-- at least for a little while :)


Kelly said...

just now reading the last couple of posts after my crazy week of having a hospitalized child. I just want you to know that I appreciate all you do and have a lot of love in my heart for your and your family. Please don't ever feel worthless, because you mean so much to me. You are a fabulous teacher, you are so very good at explaining things clearly to children. This is exactly why you are a mother, and a very good one. If other parents yelled at you, I can only assume they were stressed out themselves, or never learned that kindness is a better choice. I hope you can find it in your heart to forgive them, and I hope they can find it in their hearts to forgive you. I hate contention so much. It robs you of so much peace. I appreciate all you are trying to do, not just for your family, but for everyone around you. Hang in there, and remember you are of worth and value, truly!

sadGirl said...

This post really resonated with me. I have been struggling with the very questions you posed... shouldn't I be turning hte other cheek, forgiving,and be quick to help? I'm not sure I ever go for my oxygen mask first... and I'm still struggling with convincing myself that's what you're supposed to do. Feels selfish. And I know that's crazy talk. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.