Thursday, May 5, 2016

Flora

   I’ve had a reputation for being a bully as a child but I was never mean.  I simply didn’t know how to handle my anger.  Being a Caviteña (people from the province of Cavite), I was easy to offend, carried the grudge longer than the next guy and was inclined to retaliate.  Cavite was famous in the 50’s for the practice of “ubusan ng lahi”, which means in English “finishing the family”.  If someone got killed the victim’s family kills the killer, then the killer’s family kills his killer, and the killing goes back and forth until no one is left standing in both families.  

   In the article A Scary Filipina, I narrated an incident where I got angry at a man’s comment about the way my daughter parked next to him.  I wasn’t even the one driving, but I took his mild comment personally and responded with instant anger that actually scared him.  

   I never realized I had a problem until recently.  Flora, a social worker at Davita, was assigned to help me with my medical issues. She gave over and above her duties to help me with my quirks.  She gave me a pamphlet titled Symptom Targeted Intervention Guidebook.  STI was designed to help those with depression, insomnia, anxiety, rumination, irritability, negative thinking and social isolation.  My problems were insomnia, irritability, negative thinking and, although not socially, I am emotionally isolated.  

My phone wallpaper
   Flora gave me exercises to practice control of my thoughts and emotions.  She told me to print an image of a box and a stop sign to display where I can see it.  I put them on my phone wallpaper.  I am to put inside the box daily all my worries, anger, negative thoughts and close the lid on them.  The stop sign is to remind me to stop before reacting to any thought that makes me feel bad.  Avoid thinking of the past by taking 3 minutes to just sit and feel the present.  

   In the beginning I didn’t think it would help.  Every week that Flora and I talked, she helped me with one issue after another.  Like she were my psychologist, I tell her any event that got to me the past days and she would show me where I went wrong.  Eventually I started to make progress.  Lately, I have been cordial with two people I did not speak to for more than a year.  I am sleeping better.  I am now handling my irritability and negative thoughts by just bringing Flora to mind.  She has become my imaginary stop sign.  

   This week Flora said goodbye to me.  She is moving to another job, another place.  I tried to hold my tears.  You would think after losing so many people in my life, I should be used to it by now. 

See also:
Living on Dialysis 
The Bright Side of Colonoscopy
Get Up…

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