Need some opinions, pretty please?!

Discussion in 'I Have a Question...' started by betteroffunknown, Feb 20, 2015.

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  1. betteroffunknown

    betteroffunknown Well-Known Member

    I apologize in advance for this being so lengthy, so I hope you'll bare with me as I share it. I just feel it'll help give the best picture of the pickle I'm finding myself in.

    Ok. I'm a consumer advocate on some committees for the state. Just started doing this a couple years ago, so still fairly new to it all. I've been received quite warmly there which is why I'm now on more than the original committee I started on.

    I've also recently become a mental health client again after enduring a pretty significant trauma a few months ago. After having gone through that, it might go without saying, but I had become a bit moodier and haven't really been my normal, easy going, polite self that people are so used to seeing. I became a bit more tense (still never rude though), but do my best to hide it. (Some days I seem to be able to hide it better than others.)

    Now I know others are noticing a difference, and some people in my personal life have actually said so while those I serve on the committees with haven't, but I 'know' they're seeing a difference. They just haven't said anything which is fine and understandable being as it's business, not personal, at the meetings, which is why I haven't spoken up and told anyone something happened.

    Here's what I need some opinions on. I'm feeling bad about not being my normal easy going self at the meetings, and I'm beginning to fear I'm starting to make those at the meetings feel uneasy about my being there simply based on the looks I'm getting. Their looks really are ones of concern, and those could be interpreted in any number of ways.

    Now, I'm somewhat close(r) to one lady on the committees. After my heart surgery last year she offered to start taking me for my bottled water runs (I buy them by the case), and she really seems to enjoy doing this for me. She's also taken me to and/or from some meetings because we live relatively close to one another. We also have a special connection through her being an adoptive mom of 2 boys out of foster care. (They're now grown.) I was adopted out of foster care when I was 10wks old, and we both have a love of children. She actually advocates for children at these meetings. We've had some nice talks, but not anything too intensely personal, either.

    Anyways, I haven't told anyone from the meetings that I suffered a trauma a few months back, and there's a part of me that thinks it might be good to let just one person know (without sharing any specifics) so it will help them understand a little better why the sudden changes in me and if need be they can let it be known (when relevant) to others we serve with. I'm thinking if I share with anyone it would be the one lady. However, I don't want it to concern anyone too much, either. (There's no need for that.) I'm also terrified of the possible ramifications by sharing, too.

    I had one, trusted friend who works at the mental health center suggest I go ahead and share with the one lady (again no specifics) just so they'll understand why I'm being the way I am right now, but I'm still not sure. I play out possible outcomes of stepping out and sharing - I guess as a way of preparing myself. I know that more often than not it rarely goes the various ways my head will play things out, but still..... I fear that by sharing I will be getting too personal, and fear that it may be more than anyone wants or should hear even though I can't and wouldn't share specifics with them.

    Guess you could say I'm wondering what you all think. Do you think I should share just so at least one person has a better understanding, or do you think given the business nature of it all that it'd be too much to share? Or do you have other thoughts about this?

    I'm just torn on what might be the best way to handle this with the committee folks. Thanks in advance for any opinions you can offer!!!!

  2. Miss Invisible

    Miss Invisible Well-Known Member

    Hi Rhinolady,
    I'm a fairly new on here but I read your post and thought I'd reply:) I think it sounds like you have a good relationship with the one woman, it seems like there is a good level of trust and acceptence there. Disclosure happens when you're ready for it. It sounds like you'll have support from this person when you do!
    The rest of the committee? It's a personal choice whether to disclose or not to the group in a business type setting. Me, personally I would not. That is because I am more of a separatist when it comes to business and my personal life. I understand your feelings of disclosure will explain your actions to the others but you aren't obligated to divulge your personal life to your business coworkers. Just telling that one business/friend might be enough to make you feel you have an advocate in the buisness world without disclosing to everyone. It's your decision, do what you are comfortable with.:)
  3. betteroffunknown

    betteroffunknown Well-Known Member

    Thank you SO much for sharing, Miss Invisible!!!

    I have zero intention on sharing with the entire group. Can't say that's even come to mind, and like you, I tend to keep things separate in such cases and typically do. That's why I'm so torn about sharing with just one person. Guess I'm just afraid that I've unintentionally been harming the relationship I have with folks at the meetings, and by harming I mean giving them reason to question if they should even have someone like myself there. I'm just very sensitive to the idea (and have been all along) that I don't want to ruin their willingness to have future consumers and/or consumer advocates. The thought of doing that horrifies me to my very core!!!!

    I learned early on that it took nearly 2yrs of other business folks advocating and encouraging the state to even allow my position of consumer advocate to be on the original committee I began on. (I found it encouraging to learn that people are advocating for us even when we're not aware!)

    I am one of the first 2 on this committee, and the 2nd one rarely, if ever, shares at all. (We're the only 2.) And the 2nd one isn't involved in any of the other meetings I attend. I share, when applicable and relevant, and they've absolutely loved my approach which 99% of the time is in the form of questions. I would hate to see my recent moodiness damage that willingness they've come to be good with.

    Sometimes I'm finding myself really good with the idea of just not saying anything to anyone, but early on I began entertaining the idea that maybe I should just tell one person so there's some understanding and they don't think I'm just being strange for no apparent reason. Personally, having some understanding helps me immensely, so guess I just assume that's the same for everyone.

    I guess 'if' someone asks then I'll share, otherwise, I will plan to say nothing.
  4. Miss Invisible

    Miss Invisible Well-Known Member

    It sounds like you have worked hard to establish your position in this committee, that's inspiring. I understand not wanting to jeopardize that. Perhaps feeling out the situation and what you're comfortable sharing with that one person could help in looking for that level of understanding you're seeking.
    I come from a long line of overly analytical people where a "look" to me is opposite of the true intention. I am working hard to change this. When I find myself analyzing too deeply, I implore rational self talk. If that doesn't work I get a second opinion from a trustworthy source within the situation, an ally. In your case, if you are comfortable maybe that one person. Just remember, share if You want but not to soothe others opinions of You.
    And try not to second guess your self Rhinolady, it seems to me like you are an asset to this committee :)
  5. betteroffunknown

    betteroffunknown Well-Known Member

    Thank you for continuing to share your input, Miss Invisible!!! I'm finding this incredibly helpful!!! (More than anyone can realize)

    How would you suggest I feel out the situation with that lady? (Just curious cuz I'm not sure)

    I tend to be very analytical (not necessarily critical though) as well. I've made it no secret that I'm an over achiever in the thinking dept. Rationalizing objectively through things has been a huge help and asset more times than I can count, which is why I continue to do it, but it has also been known to work against me. It can be a blessing and a curse, and sometimes it's hard to find that balance (for me anyways). I will tend to keep going through things in my head till I can 'settle' on that which I can be content with. Emotion can tend to impact the objectivity, though. I'm learning to be more decisive because sometimes I contemplate too long, and then the moment has passed before I reach some conclusion.

    I have worked really hard within these committees. It has NOT been easy for me!! Can't emphasize that enough. It's not something I've been trained to do, and I'm still terrified of speaking in front of groups!!! I usually do well one on one, but groups is a whole other cup of tea. (I don't know how some people do it so effortlessly.) Obviously I will speak up, but that's why I ask more questions than anything - my timidness. It has often taken encouragement from someone at the meetings for me to speak up. There have been countless times I'll bend over and share something with someone next to me (usually one of 3 people), and they always urge me (excitedly) to share. So they've been very supportive and encouraging yet not pushy, either. They've been amazing!!

    I'm really not worried so much about my fate within these committees as I am about not ruining it for anyone who could follow me. Don't want to make it harder for anyone else, and don't want to leave anyone hesitant to have other consumers and/or consumer advocates participating. This is incredibly important to me!!
  6. Miss Invisible

    Miss Invisible Well-Known Member

    I would say feel out the situation by how you feel at that moment, and whether it seems like it's the right time to start a discussion about what you've been through with that lady you want to share it with. Watching her nonverbal cues (body language) & more importantly your own emotions, start the conversation off small. By doing so, it allows you to gain perspective by approaching the situation in safe mode (as I call it). It may require several conversations to fully express yourself to her but it allows you to direct the stages in each conversation and the tone, topic, & time frame you're comfortable with. By feeling out the situation, you are able to pull back if necessary, starting slow & watching reactions allows for this.
    Just my suggestions, everyone is different. I tend to be an observational person so I look for nonverbal cues more than verbal in understanding. So, my #1 suggestion would be observe & take it slow.
  7. betteroffunknown

    betteroffunknown Well-Known Member

    Again, thank you SO much for sharing your suggestions!!!

    Last night I had a discussion with a friend, and they strongly suggested I shoot an email to the lady. In fact, the friend suggested I do it last night before I 'chickened out'. It was getting kind of late by that time, so I told the friend I would do it today.

    What I haven't mentioned to this point is that last Thurs there was a meeting that the lady chairs with one other person, and I didn't attend the meeting - to the shock of some. (I've only missed one meeting in 2yrs, and that was after my heart surgery.) The idea of not going began earlier this month when I decided to take the entire month off from the meetings so I could give myself some time to get my head on a little better, and figure out what was going to help me participate in a more 'normal' (for me) manner. However, when Thurs rolled around, I was mentally doing fairly well, but my body wasn't cooperating most likely due to nerves. I was having bad gut issues, so I didn't even call in to the meeting which turned out to be a good choice because I wouldn't have lasted through it.

    I've wanted to apologize for not attending mainly because they're really counting (and planning) on me to handle the consumer parts of the meetings, but I didn't warn anyone I wouldn't be there - not even another lady who normally takes me to this particular meeting let alone those who chair it. At the same time I was at a loss for words, and not really sure what or how much I should share, if anything, so I've remained quiet.

    The lady who normally takes me called after the meeting to find out how I was doing, so I told her I hadn't been feeling well for a few days (based on the gut issue but didn't specify that to her), but planned on being back next month. This was true. I've been having a lot of gut issues most likely due to nerves since the trauma happened, but will continue to work on getting that figured out.

    I do like the idea of writing because it allows me the opportunity to say things the way I'd prefer to rather than just spewing things out in person, but I'm not opposed to in person, either, because like I said before I do fairly well one on one. But the more I got to thinking (last night) about writing and what I'd write I was filled with some horrible, horrible anxiety by the time I was trying to go to sleep. It was depressing.

    So I'm thinking this apology, via email, may be the foot in the door to start a conversation, and will plan to go with your suggestion by getting a feel for it from there. Or I could just wait until Wed when there's a different meeting that the lady also attends (but doesn't chair). However, if I wait till Wed there's no guarantee she'll even be there in person. Last month she called in to it, and participated over the phone even though originally she was planning to attend in person. So I'm thinking email would probably be the best way to get this conversation started.

    I will take your suggestions to heart, though, and try to start off slow in the email, and get a feel for it via her response from there. Even though it won't be face to face so I'm seeing body language (which I find helpful too) it does help for me to imagine her actually saying whatever as if we were in person. She's a pretty straight forward, stable lady. She doesn't change like I do. (She's also an LCSW) I cannot and will not share any details with her; I will only share that I went through a traumatic experience and leave it at that. I'm SUPER nervous about how this will go sharing it with her, so nervous it makes it very tempting just to not do it.

    Hopefully I can manage to get this done today, and hopefully I won't freak out from the anxiety like I was doing last night. I became really content with the idea, because of the anxiety, of not sharing anything, but should probably get this done before I 'chicken out' again.

    Also, I should keep in mind that last night, when talking to this other friend, I realized that this lady I plan to email has been reaching out to me, but hasn't asked anything, and I found myself realizing she probably hasn't asked in case she's thinking she could be off base about this. By reaching out I mean she has checked to see if I needed my bottled water (she has been known to take me for that), and during one meeting last month, right in the middle of the meeting as someone else was talking, she leaned over and told me, "Have I ever told you how much I like you?" I'll try to keep these things in mind as I write the email!!

    Will see how this goes......
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