I’ve spent the last 5 days in a beach house with my mom and three of her sisters.  Today is the last full day (we leave tomorrow).  It’s been interesting on a number of levels.  In the first place, I really don’t know any of mom’s family very well.  I know them by name and most of them by sight, but I wasn’t familiar with their personalities or how they interact together.  I found it very interesting to discover that mom appears to be the political black sheep of the family — she’s a registered Democrat, and the three sisters all identify as “Conservative” or “Libertarian.”  There is an unspoken agreement that they do not discuss politics when mom’s around, which makes it much more peaceful than it would be otherwise.

The biggest challenge for me on this trip has been fighting the depression that typically plagues me on the weekends.  Vacation, even a lovely beach vacation, is really just a week-long weekend, so I have had to be very conscious of my moods and take care not to let them dip too low if I could possibly avoid it.  For example, I left a couple things undone, things I had fully intended to do in the week before we left but simply didn’t do, either out of laziness, bad timing, forgetfulness or the confusion of preparing for a week away from home.  I had made promises to a client that I would take care of something for him and I didn’t get it done.  It has definitely been a struggle getting myself to not think obsessively about this failure.  I know that I have disappointed him with this, but I also realize there is absolutely nothing I can do until I get back to town — I was supposed to mail some manuscripts out along with some demo recordings and I certainly didn’t bring them with me.  I’m not trying to not think about it at all — that would be impossible.  But I am trying to keep from beating myself up about it… too much.  It doesn’t help anyone if I ruin my vacation because I’m too busy hating myself for being lazy and/or forgetful.

My mom has had great success with daily “affirmations” — simple statements designed to contradict the negative thoughts she has about herself, others, and the world.  My difficulty with this concept is that I don’t think I have the dedication to keep up with it.  In order to have the maximum influence possible, affirmations should be repeated daily.  It’s easy, so easy, and yet I have never cared enough — really I guess I’ve been too afraid, to cynical — to give myself wholly into it.  Additionally, I have the excuse of having some trauma which I associate with affirmations on notecards.  Basically, when I was in high school (sometimes I look back and think, how could I not have known it was wrong?) my dad was dating a woman who was an LPC (counselor).  Actually she was his counselor, which already is a huge violation of counselor-patient ethics.  Anyway, she had this system where we identified the thoughts and views I had that were negative and contributing to my depression.  On one side of the notecard you write that “false” statement.  Then on the other side you write the “truth” — an affirmation that contradicts the false statement and that you’re supposed to repeat to yourself every day.  The relationship didn’t last, and my dad and I both emerged rather traumatized by the experience.  So notecards, especially when used in the therapeutic process, kind of bring that back to me, this uncomfortable feeling of being used, misused.  I’m getting to a point where I think I may be able to reclaim notecards and use then for my own daily affirmations.  Really I think I’ll have to.  It’s too hard to remember all the things I need to remember about which of my perceptions are dark and skewed and which I can truly rely on.

As soon as I move out of mom’s house (I say this about all the changes I want/intend to make) I will start with some daily affirmations and see how it goes.  It certainly can’t hurt, right?

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