This morning I awakened at about the time I got the call from my sister two years ago letting me know that our father had died. I get up early, not usually in the 4 o’clock hour though.
I wasn’t surprised I stirred early today with Dad on my mind. I got up, quietly pulled on yesterday’s clothes, and waited for the clock on the stove to say 5:00 before I made my coffee. I sat outside and watched the sun begin to rise over the Cape Cod Bay.
My Dad was not an early riser, definitely more of a sunset guybut he would’ve appreciated my sunrise images, especially the coyote tracks in the sand and my obsession with them now.
The coyote is the mascot of my Dad’s much-loved, alma mater—the University of South Dakota.GO YOTES!
A few days before Dad died I called to tell him that Jeff and I got stung by jellyfish while on a kayak excursion. We were FaceTiming so I showed him the welts on my arms and described the way they stung…sort of electric-like if my memory serves me correctly. I had a flight booked to come see him in a few days so we kept our call short.
This morning I remembered a song Dad used to sing to me:
Lisa, Lisa I’ve been thinkin’
what a fine world this would be,
if all the Lisa’s were transported…
far beyond the northern sea.
I miss you Dad, thanks for the company this morning.
The acronym FOG—Fear, Obligation, and Guilt, was first coined by Susan Forward & Donna Frazier in Emotional Blackmail: When the People in Your Life Use Fear, Obligation, and Guilt to Manipulate You.
I have loved fog since I was a child, my favorite weatherphenomenon by far. What I find so alluring and mysterious about fog is what’s UNSEEN. That’s precisely why I find this the perfect acronym for these complex and often confusing emotions.
We don’t know what’s happening around us until the sun burns away what’s obscured from our vision and then we’re able to gain more clarity.
Fear is a mental process that that triggers a physical response in humans when confronted by a threat.
Obligation comes from an innate sense of community responsibility. We are born with an instinctive sense of obligation to those around us.
Guilt comes from the same root as obligation. Most of us feel guilt when we do something that we think hurts others or disappoints of others.
“Emotional blackmail is a powerful form of manipulation in which people close to us threaten to punish us for not doing what they want. Emotional blackmailers know how much we value our relationships with them. They know our vulnerabilities and our deepest secrets. They can be our parents or partners, bosses or coworkers, friends or lovers. And no matter how much they care about us, they use this intimate knowledge to win the pay-off they want: our compliance.”
Source: Emotional Blackmail: When the People in Your Life Use Fear, Obligation, and Guilt to Manipulate You
When someone is trapped in the FOG of an unhealthy relationship, a common method of control is the use of gaslighting.
Gaslighting deploys often repeated phrases and makes us doubt our own beliefs, even when there’s overwhelming and well-documented information to the contrary.
Here’s an example of gaslighting: The world-wide virus, Covid19 is a Hoax, a Plandemic designed to make this administration look bad before the 2020 election.
This can’t possibly be true—173,000 people in America have died so far from the virus and 1000 Americans are dying every day. Being told repeatedly that the US is managing the virus better than most other countries is false, often repeated, and done deliberately to make people doubt the well-documented reality that the virus is ravaging our nation on so many levels. There were protocols in place for how to manage a likely pandemic. They have been ignored by the Trump administration.
Clearing away the FOG will allow more visibility into the reality of your relationships and how they may be affecting your health and quality of life. No one should live in a constant state of FEAR, OBLIGATION, and GUILT.
If you find yourself in a challenging relationship of any kind, the OUT of the FOG website provides very help information. There are tips about how to take care of yourself, respond with compassion to difficult circumstances, put appropriate (and loving) boundaries in place, and when to seek professional guidance to navigate turbulent emotional waters.
macro: intended for use with relatively large quantities or on a large scale
A constant macro view can be exhausting—wasting our time and talents. Most days require us to narrow our focus, take a micro view, and determine where & how we can make the most difference to the people and circumstances we face in our lives.
by Lisa Lillibridge
to treat or consider (a person or a group of people) as alien to oneself
I want to blame
I need to blame
for my inner tornado
our world’s challenges
far too complex
entirely on my own
quell my fears
confirm my programming
please just tell me who, what, and where
I should other today
my team’s constant drumbeat
their clouding of my inner knowing
click, forward, like, share, and tweet
fair and balanced
the daily diary of the American dream
all the news that’s fit to print
like a howling airplane baby
like an ice cold beer
hot, salty french fries
or another slice of chocolate cake
how did I other today?
those people are not my people
that problem is not my problem
that place is not my place
conformity is obedient and compliant
than looking in the mirror
and down into my own heart
I know I should not utter a word
until I’ve walked at least
ten steps in someone else’s
or bare feet
but I do
we all do
and it’s destroying us
I’ve been thinking about how we will collectively remember this time in history. I decided to look back—photos, emails, texts, notes and more. Here’s a snapshot of my discoveries.
Now, these images show the mostly good memories of sheltering in place. I unfortunately, didn’t document my hissy fits, pity party days on the couch watching TV, dumping the remainder of the potato chip bag in my mouth over the sink, or the times I just drove away because my family was bugging the crap out of me.
I suspect many of you can both imagine and empathize.
A snow day.
My rehearsal dinner dress—circa spring of 1992.
Jen Wool appropriately social distancing.
A multi-day March headache.
Beer and trivial pursuit with the girls and Jeff.
Willa visiting Joanne and Bob.
Ellis stopping by for a front stoop chat.
Coffee time with Karen and Jeff.
Making coffee time a little fancier with my Grandmother’s china and a vintage wrap.
Lucy, Willa, and Jacob at Lake Winnipesaukee.
A Govoni family cookout circa summer 1998.
Things I wanted to do circa 1989…I either got distracted or thought leaving 20 blank was clever.
A note from my Dad sometime in the mid-90s after I had moved to Vermont.
Photos of a gorgeous house Jeff and I used to house sit when we were dating.
The wallet of my great uncle, that I was able to return to his family.
Below, notes on my phone I found funny and insightful.
I was going through photos today and realized that my memories from January and February seem like a lifetime ago. Us Vermonters are now in the 5th week of sheltering in place. It’s quite remarkable how much the world has changed in such a short time. WOW!
I decided to give my not-so-old images a treatment to make them appear as vintage and fading as they now feel to me. I provided captions for the images and a few links below.
“Sometimes you will never know the value of a moment until it is a memory.” ― Dr. Seuss
my great-grandmother or my grandmother for that matter on my maternal side. Nora died in 1938 before my mother was born and my grandmother, Mildred died before I was born.
However, in this chapter of my tender, and profoundly inquisitive, middle-age life, I want to know more about the women I share DNA with. They’re a part of me, my mannerisms, my choices and so much more that I’m completely unaware of. I need to know more.
Who was Nora? Mildred? What did they love? What did they fear? What made them laugh?
Unraveling the mystery of who they were simply will not leave me alone right now.
My father died just over a year ago and I so wish we had videotaped him telling some of his favorite stories. When families start losing a generation, the stories often disappear too.
This Thanksgiving folks, ask the elders at the table to share their stories. Let the kids ask questions and record their responses. You will be so happy to have the assurance that these treasured stories won’t disappear and can be shared for generations.
Enjoy your time together asking about the good ole’ days.
PS To any Kyte or Millette relatives who might read this, please contact me. I would love to learn more about Nora and Mildred. I would be so grateful for anything you’re willing to share.
when the world feels like a batshit crazy place is pretty challenging. I don’t know the best way to access a more grounded version of myself, but I do know the quickest. When I’m acting childish and feeling like I deserve more (or less) of whatever—a little gratitude for all of the good things in my life seems to ground me the most.
Gratitude not attitude seems to do the trick.
grounded—mentally and emotionally stable: admirably sensible, realistic, and unpretentious (Merriam Webster)
I’m not entirely sure about “admirably sensible” or “unpretentious“. However, feeling grounded, well, that’s worth a little exploration.