Monday, November 1, 2010

Motivational Posters & Greeting Cards

I have an issue with motivational posters and most greeting cards.

My friend Darlene, over at Emerging from Broken, shared yesterday about a motivational video which really struck her and the comments are really coming.  I got done my comment and I knew it was something I had to blog about too!

Have you ever struggled to find a good greeting card?  In a greeting card world where do we find real sentiment?  I'm always seeing lovely card images and struck by the verses which don't apply, that seem patently false.  I cannot, really truly cannot buy a card which says things that are not true!  This seriously limits the sentimental card selection for me and  not every occasion can be handled by Maxine!  

I didn't understand why so many cards made me leave the store feeling frustrated and strangely hurt or angry but as I've moved along this healing path I'm learning that sentiments are not truth.  I remember looking for a card for Father's Day and they all were either praising, apologizing or laughing at the Dads.  I wasn't someone with a sports Dad whose prowess I could praise.  I didn't feel like I had to apologize for not being a good daughter and I didn't see how calling someone names or teasing them was funny.

Cards for anniversaries, birthdays and even everyday sentiments seemed laced with all sorts of cutting barbs, lies and strangeness.  I certainly didn't feel like I could call my brother my best friend nor did I think I should be sorry for being his sister.  But those were the choices!  Father's Day was always hard, birthday cards were sometimes almost enough to bring me to tears.  Why couldn't they be honest?  Why did they have to make the giver sound like a cheerleader or a beggar? Cards for spouses are especially strange to me.  I'm alive because of you or I'd be lost without you or there isn't a world without you and I'm sorry for not being as great as you.  Where is the equality, the love, the we are in this together?

I make my own cards now and avoid that racket.

"Soar Like An Eagle" or how about "Fight, Steal and Bully Like A Big Bird"?

Motivational posters, videos, seminars and books have the 'bully you for your own good' flavor that used to confuse me because it seemed I was the only one they hurt!  Mike Rowe, on a wonderful Dirty Jobs episode tore apart the whole motivational thing and I loved it!  He saw through it from a working person's point of view and I saw through it from a survivor's point of view.

"There is no 'I' in TEAM." but there is a ME and that's who I look out for.  I don't let the TEAM take ME away any more!  You don't get to drag me into the darkness of your abuse!  You don't get to 'motivate me' with your cutting words, your sly, "it's for your own good".  

 Don't try to motivate me with your bullying and your threats, you false team and your strange bullying disguised as motivator.  I don't need someone to shout at me, even from a poster.  I don't need your seminar to show me where I'm not social enough for the herd or that I'm not a team player.  Survivors, like me, tend not to be team players because it was the team mentality that crushed us down, pushed us down, drug us through the hurt and blamed us.

The sarcastic inner me loves to edit those posters is that same inner me that doesn't 'get' the other kind.  Is it my gallows humor or my cynical nature?  I don't know, except that I've learned this one lesson: no matter how 'nicely' it is put in words, on a poster or from whose 'caring mouth' the words come - if they hurt they are hurtful words!

It can be hard to tell but you can almost always spot the clues and you can feel when it is wrong for you.  Respect that intuition, that instinct, that my healing path, surviving to thriving friends is the start of learning to listen to a healed part of you.  The part that, as an adult, can say nope I don't care HOW nicely you say THAT, it still hurts and that is WRONG.  That part, as an adult, which says I'm caring enough of myself to walk away from a hurt and it is that instinct which was pushed down, squished and almost killed when we were being abused.

As children, as people trapped in abuse we couldn't act on those instincts because we didn't know to listen to them and we weren't strong enough.  Everyone was trying to make us something else and we lost our self.  We didn't have a choice but we do now.  We can ACT NOW because we CAN be strong enough.  I can - for myself.  For my husband. For my son. For my friends and family.  I can, and I do.  Even when it has me leaving Hallmark's store empty handed or  has me laughing out loud in a corporate lobby at their 'motivational posters'.