Elementary

Third grade was a turning point for me intellectually.  I remember being told that I was talented and gifted in school.  I just never knew what that meant or how to apply myself.  Up until 4th grade, I had no direction in my education.  I would fight pretty consistently among my peers.  Even to the point that school mates would cower and tell others "Don't mess with her.  She is crazy!"  They were right to some extent.

If I got into a fight with another kid you could almost always guarantee that I would come away with a DNA sample from hitting, scratching and even biting them.  I was determined that I would at least hurt them equally or more, no matter the age or size of the individual.

My 3rd-grade teacher was named Mrs. Benedict.  All I could think of was General Benedict Arnold and “treason” when I called on my teacher.  However, she proved to be far from it later on.

I was having a rough day at school with two other students pestering me; probably for my maiden name. Kids at school and in the neighborhood would call my brother and me "hokey pokey" and that was a blow to our young egos.  The two students had cornered me on the playground and we all know what happens when a wild animal is cornered.  They either fight or flight.  I bet you can guess which one I did.  I hauled off and started a tavern brawl in the middle of the playground.  Fists were flying and teeth were grinding.  I had tufts of hair and I made Mike Tyson look like an amateur.

The next thing I knew "Benedict Arnold" was breaking us up but I had to get one more lick in.  I swung as hard as I could, missing both students and landing a punch square in the face of my teacher.  After my teacher collected her wits and her glasses from the ground, she marched all three of us into the principal's office.

I don't remember the lecture, detention or any other discipline from that day except the phone call to my house.  I knew if my dad answered the phone that there would be more punishment waiting.  Guess who picked up the phone…my dad.

I did get a belt taken to me when I got home.  Just imagine this skinny kid trying to keep her butt as far away from a grown adult and his belt as I could.  I would maneuver around like some primal dance.

I was grounded after the beating.  It was a beating and not a whipping. My dad rarely hit anything except my legs and my back.

*******************************

  I believe that you do not need to “hit” children to make them behave or to punish them.  If you are angry (fearful) about what your child did then take a timeout yourself long enough for the feeling to dissipate.   I do this because when I discipline my own child, I want to do it in love and not anger.

*******************************

After being grounded, I still had to go back and apologize to my teacher the following day.  The next day came too quickly.  I remember reaching back and rubbing the soreness from the previous day's escapade.  Now it was my turn to say I was sorry.  Mrs. Benedict took me back to her desk to talk.  I kind of coughed nervously waiting for one of us to start the conversation.  Then in words barely audible, I said I was sorry.

Mrs. Benedict brushed that apology to the side and boldly said that "she could see something in me that I could not see in myself".  Remember, I am only 8 at this time.  I took the expression literally and wondered how she could see inside me.  She then told me that she was recommending me for the advanced program (honors level classes) and that I would have to be bussed next year to Goldsmith Elementary.  I didn't know what the advanced program was, what being bussed meant, or where I was going to go to school.  I knew I could adapt to whatever environment the teacher threw at me.

Growing up in an atmosphere that I never knew what to expect from day-to-day, I learned how to acclimatize quickly to my environment.  I would adjust not only to the current situation but also change my behavior to the personality that I thought would cause people to accept me.  I did this consciously and sometimes unconsciously.

I was motivated by the sense of abandonment and the panic that was caused by the real or imagined feeling of abandonment.  This fear is unbearable pain and feels like everyone who I love is torn away.  I felt worthless and empty inside.  These feelings could send me into a spiral depressed state where I sometimes would cut or self-harm because feeling something was better than feeling nothing.

The unlovable and self-destructive type of Borderline adaptation involved abdicating all responsibility for creating my own personal hell.  I saw myself as a fearful (angry), suffering, and unlovable victim.

For years I had labeled myself as having no worth or value.  I used to believe that no one could possibly love me.  I had intense self-hate or self-loathing and these thoughts were implanted within my identity.  Just like you would say I am a teacher, then I would say I do not have any value and I hated myself.

To overcome this label took a lot of effort and many coping skills.  It is a daily battle but one that has become easier over time.  My therapist and I met three times a week for Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy.  It was a very confrontational process and each time I would come in and say “I wasn’t worthy”, then he (my therapist), would have me use the ABC model to dis prove my belief.

REBT is designed to produce results by helping clients manage their emotions, thoughts, and behaviors.  My current therapist, who studied under Albert Ellis, has taught me that my emotions are not caused by an event but rather my thoughts and perceptions of that event.  To explain this process there is a formula for visualizing the process of solving our emotional problems.  A + iB = C which has been enhanced upon by Michael Cornwall to A + iB = C/D > E.

This may look like a difficult equation but let me try and break it down for you the best that I can.

 

A = Activating event

iB = Irrational belief

C = Consequence

D = Disputation

E = Emotional Evolution

 

The formula is taking an (A)ctivating event + an irrational(B)elief = an Emotional (C)onsequence which can be divided by (D)isputation for a greater (E)motional outcome. [CORNWALL, MICHAEL. "Chapter 6." GO SUCK A LEMON. S.l.: LULU COM, 2016. 61-62. Print.

Take for example I have a friend Robert who I call and tells me that he doesn’t want to talk to me.  The (A)ctivating event would be that he doesn’t want to talk to me.  My irrational (B)elief that occurs is that I think I am a bad person.  Then my emotional (C)onsequence is “Robert must be angry at me.” and that makes me afraid of losing him as a friend.

Here is where the effort comes in with (D)isputation.  You have to challenge your beliefs through disputation and hold them to a rational standard.  For example, “Is it true that Robert is mad at me?”  “Is there any evidence of this?”  Even if it was true then, “What does it have to do with me?”  If it was true I could still choose to be content instead of being angry or afraid.

If we are successful at disputing our irrational beliefs, then we will be able to exchange our (E)motional response to something more manageable like disappointed instead of fear:  “None of what I am telling myself is true.  It is true that I can live content even if my friend is angry with me.”

It was through this model of disputing illogical beliefs that I saw the beginning of change in my thought process.  I could see scientifically, using the method that my deep rooted beliefs from my childhood were foolish.