Auntie Says…

Dating Abuse and Manipulation

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Auntie Says… A different kind of bullying. You’re not alone. Be Aware.

If you ask any kid what the biggest problem in school is, they’re likely to say bullying. It’s one of those insidious things that sneaks in and shows up in the hallways every single day. Campaigns, like Pink Shirt Day, bring much needed attention and awareness to the problem as students, teachers, and communities work together to make the situation better. 

One facet of bullying that’s rarely mentioned though, is the reality of dating domestic abuse/manipulation among young people. Like school yard bullying, it can no longer be swept under the carpet and ignored, otherwise it’ll grow and fester in secrecy and those entrenched in the ugliness will feel alone and forgotten. A strong message needs to be embraced—namely, love should never hurt, be about jealousy or control, and domestic violence can (and does) occur among young dating couples—believe me, you don’t need to be old and married to be caught in an abusive relationship. 

Usually the relationship begins like any other but can end up feeling suffocating, controlling, or even dangerous. It doesn’t necessarily happen quickly and the subtle nature of it can leave you in doubt. Just keep in mind that a loving relationship is a partnership of two, not a dictatorship of one. You always have a right to discuss your concerns and have them heard. Sometimes it’s just a misunderstanding or miscommunication. Life happens, but when the negative behaviour is escalating into nonstop bullying you may need to put your pink shirt on and find some help.

Here are some things I want you to be aware of, for yourself and your friends—and guys listen up—we so often think of domestic/dating abuse as being against women but it happens to guys too. It’s not okay to have a girl dig her nails into you, pull your hair, kick you or blame you for being late etc—nope not ok. You should be able to say ‘I don’t like that…’ or ‘please don’t do that…’ and be heard and respected. 

Signs of an abusive relationship:

Excessive isolation and manipulation. If your partner takes up all your time and attention, always wants to be with you (not your friends and family—just you), is very possessive, doesn’t want you to hang with other people, and makes you feel bad for having any type of life independent of them— that’s not normal. If your partner threatens self harm if you don’t comply with what they want, this is a huge red flag (and a scary one) and an indication that you need to seek advice or help.

Does your partner always have to have their way? Are they really bossy and demanding? Moody? to a point where you feel threatened if you defy them. If your partner forces or pressures you to do things and you comply just to keep the peace—that’s not love.

Is you partner hyper critical and always putting you down? If they tell you you’re fat or stupid—dump them—now. If a partner tells you how to think or tells you that you’re opinions/beliefs are wrong…that’s not love. 

Is your partner controlling? This could be anything from being told what to wear, who you can talk to, or what you can eat. Is your partner deceptive and sneaky—do they cause you to be late for work? miss an exam? show up just as you’re about to leave with your friends because he/she needs you? This in not ok.

Is your partner jealous or insecure? Do they get angry when you talk to other people? Do they want to know who you’re with, or who you’re talking to…all the time. Do they check your phone without permission and accuse you of things you didn’t do? This is not love. It’s controlling and will escalate over time.  

Does your partner have an explosive temper? Is everything always your fault? Do they give you the silent treatment or punch walls? Are you afraid of them? 

Is your partner physically hurting you? Call 911 or if necessary attend your local hospital emergency. 

For confidential victim service information for yourself or a friend, call VictimLinkBC, 24/7 in British Columbia and Yukon 1-800-563-0808 

If you think you, or a friend, may need this number in the future, put it in your phone under Auntie…no one but you needs to know what the number is for. There are also many local resources available. Your school/college counsellor, and local police being two very public and accessible ones.

The message of Pink Shirt Day is that we all deserve to be treated with dignity and respect. No one should ever live in fear. Embrace the message. Be safe. 

Faye Arcand is a freelance writer living in the South Okanagan. She can be reached at faye.arcand@icloud.com  or www.fayeearcand.com #SignsOfAbuse #RespectNotFear #AuntiesSays 

Faye Arcand

faye.arcand@icloud.com

Auntie Says… Not all guys are pigs.

I recently spoke with some young men about the MeToo/Time’s Up movements. They all said that being a guy in todays world meant that they’re basically “scum” (their word-not mine) and no matter what they do they’re left to feel less than appreciated, simply because they’re male.

While it appears that women of all ages are finding the strength and support to come forward to report long time abuses, harassment, and general mistreatment, some guys are left feeling confused.  It’s important to remember that the attention given the MeToo and TimesUp movements is long overdue but, I want to point out that not all guys are pigs.

The comments of the young men made me very sad. MeToo is about the discontinuation of a misogynist culture that allows sexual misconduct to go unchecked—it’s about speaking your truth, ending the silence and stigma of shame. It wasn’t meant to be a man-hate thing, but it’s clear some are feeling exactly that.

This is a perfect time to sit down with our sons, nephews, and other young men in our lives to educate them about what’s going on, as we all experience this powerful paradigm shift. They need to be taught how to respect not only women, but also themselves. The whole idea of ‘boys will be boys’ is not acceptable—it hasn’t been for a long time, but now, even more so (that’s a whole other topic).

The movement has brought about a universal awareness and solidarity that went viral so fast, heads are still spinning. The voices roared loud and the pendulum swung quickly to the side of the accuser . The intensity of the MeToo movement can be overwhelming for anyone. It’s like a fast moving train, driven by a force of long standing pain from those silenced by years of abuse and humiliation. The momentum of the movement illustrates the overwhelming systemic problem that’s been festering but, we must not—I repeat—must not—paint all guys with the same brush.

It seems like every time I turn on the TV, another man is resigning or has been fired from a position because of sexual misconduct, harassment, or rape. For the young men that I spoke with, this was one of the concerns they expressed. The lack of due process and the media frenzy acting as judge and jury. While it appears that many of those accused have stepped down to avoid the frenzy, I’m hoping too that we see criminal charges brought and due process given.

Some of the confusion for the guys comes from not knowing what’s acceptable anymore. No one wants to come off sounding sexist, insensitive, or ignorant. Nor do they want to do something that could be construed as abusive or inappropriate.
Guys ask yourself this—if you’re acting/speaking in a certain way towards a woman, ask yourself if you’d be upset, or offended, if another guy were acting/speaking that exact same way toward your mother/sister/aunt/wife/girlfriend. If you wouldn’t want someone talking like that to your mother…then stop, because it’s obviously an issue. Does that make sense?

Don’t go around thinking that women can’t take a joke or are overly sensitive. You’re not stupid—so don’t act like it. Stop and think. Be respectful. Treat a woman as you’d want to be treated. Simple as that. If there’s any doubt in your mind then it’s probably something you shouldn’t say.

The world has changed and everyone needs to catch up quickly. Even actor Matt Damon got himself into hot water for making comments comparing the severity of different allegations…a pat on the bottom vs sexual assault, for example. The fact of the matter is that they all degrade, they invade personal space, and they cause shame, secrecy, and humiliation. It’s about the bigger picture. Go back to the test…do you want your wife’s boss patting her on the butt…I don’t think so.

Use your common sense. Ask questions. Don’t be afraid to compliment some one for looking nice and it’s not sexist to hold the door open for a woman—it’s just kind. You can hold the door open for me anytime and believe me when I say, I’ll hold it open for you too.

Faye Arcand is a freelance writer living in the South Okanagan. Contact her via email or twitter at faye.arcand@icloud.com or http://www.fayeearcand.com  #notallguysarepigs

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Auntie Says…It’s your responsibility to show up.

I would not normally start any conversation by saying “when I was young…” It makes me picture a hunched over old lady waving a finger in the face of a young person. But, let me tell you, I was recently left shaking my head mumbling … “wow, when I was young, I’d never have done that.”
Here are the circumstances. Judge for yourself.
I needed some help around the house and someone recommended a young woman who was, as it turned out, looking for work. I texted her, we chatted on the phone, and set up a time for an interview.
She was lovely. A single mom in her early 30’s. She was well spoken, well dressed, and said she’s not afraid of hard work. We spoke at length about expectations and the need for consistency and reliability. Her enthusiasm and positive energy towards dealing with life issues impressed me. There were no bells or whistles going off in my head and everything seemed to check out. She started that day and did a fantastic job.
We arranged a schedule and she agreed to return the following morning. I felt a sense of relief in finding the right person.
About an hour after she left I got a text—the next day was’t going to work because after checking her calendar more closely, she’d forgotten about a prior commitment. Fair enough. Not a big deal. She’d officially start at 9am the day after.
It arrived. She didn’t.
I waited and finally contacted her at 10am asking if she was coming. There was no reply. Because she didn’t seem to be the type of person who’d just ditch a job, I worried that she’d been in an accident or something bad had happened. I finally received a text at 5pm saying, ‘oh sorry, I slept all day, I guess I needed sleep. Can I come Friday?’
I think my jaw actually dropped. I was incredulous. I shook my head and simply couldn’t believe it. Like, what just happened here?
I found myself saying…“wow, I would **never** have done that—ever.” I was flabbergasted just by the fact that we’d discussed that reliability was so important.
I didn’t respond to her text. Her words were so flippant and immature, I was afraid I’d blast her and I didn’t want to say something I couldn’t take back.
This is obviously not a person I want in my life. I e-transferred her the money that I owed her and left it at that. She reinforced a negative stereotype about the laziness and lack of resourcefulness on the part of young people and that ticked me off because I know it’s not true.
I will say though that young people need to know that there are basic professional standards that apply across the board and one of them is that you’re only as good as your word. If you tell a client/employer that you’ll be there at a certain time then that is not negotiable. I don’t care if you’re tired, had a fight with your girlfriend, or that you just don’t feel like it—those are your problems—not the employers.
We’ve all been there. It’s life. We all get tired. We all get sick. We all have things happen around us that we can’t control—you’re not unique in that way. If you have issues that preclude you from working then talk to your employer immediately. Don’t let things fester and for heavens sake, don’t just drop out of sight and leave others scrambling.
You have a job to do. You’re to present yourself as a professional, whether working as a floor sweeper, server, or doctor. There’s to be no whining or sniveling. Someone is counting on you to preform your duties and you should be making every effort to work to the best of your abilities—every—single—time.
These days (there I go again sounding like an old lady), there’s no excuse for not calling or not showing up. Everyone has a cell phone—including your employer—and you must take the time to let them know if you’re going to be late or away—and the reason better be a good one.
Employers invest their time in you. Whether it be training, interviewing, reference checks, etc., it’s time consuming and expensive. They’re counting on you.

 

If you can relate to the person in this story more than you can with the person telling it, then you’re probably not going to get far in the world where life building skills are required. Be aware of that. Don’t lie or misrepresent yourself and never agree to show up when you already have no intention of doing so.
Now, I’m not saying that this young woman lied, I’m sure she had every intention of returning, but I wasn’t her priority and that’s where she went wrong. She made a choice…a choice to sleep the entire day away. Good luck in your future. If you don’t make some changes, I’m afraid the writings’ on the wall.

Faye Arcand is a freelance writer living in the South Okanagan. Reach her for comments or suggestions at faye.arcand@icloud.com or http://www.fayeearcand.com

Auntie Says…”What we think, we become.” (Buddha)

Here we are at the beginning of 2018 and I’d like you to take a critical look at your thinking. Is it centered around self doubt or truth? Are you overanalyzing a situation that you can let go? Let’s take a look…

A few months ago I met a young woman who described herself as “abrasive and unlikable”…those were her words. She’s in her mid 20’s, very attractive, fit, and presents herself as a professional. I was taken aback by her self effacing talk and told her what I saw. She said that she’d never felt good enough and couldn’t compete with the people around her—especially other woman. I asked her if there’d been a specific incident that brought this on and she said that she’d been very shy in high school and just “knew” that others didn’t like her.

This was so sad because she’d allowed herself to become crusty and defensive in her negative stance simply because of her own, (I think false) thinking. She compares herself to others, “knows” what others are thinking about her without actually experiencing it, and is stuck with that terrible echo in her head of not being good enough.

Does it sound familiar? It’s not unique—we all do it, it’s just to what degree. What we need to remember is that those messages we allow to live (and sometimes fester) in our brains are not always tried, tested and true. As we progress into this new year, it’s a great time to reflect on the internal dialogue and perhaps work on making some changes.

This is so powerful to consider because of all the situations you encounter and internalize on a daily basis. Thoughts, both positive and negative, can become a part of you as they loop around in your head.
Do you ever silently beat yourself up emotionally over and over for things you’ve said, or didn’t say? Did? or Didn’t do? Should or shouldn’t do? It’s endless.
All simple and mundane actions or words that have the ability to spin out of control and get in your head whether coming from your best friend, a co-worker or complete stranger.
The day can be lost when a comment, a look, or gesture gets caught in that loop in your head that won’t let you rest because you’ve convinced yourself that you’ve made an egregious error and force yourself to live it over and over.
Picture this…you’re walking down the street and someone vaguely familiar is coming toward you. You can’t remember their name or where you’ve met—what do you do? Panic? Hide? Then they walk by and don’t even look at you…Now where does your brain go? For some, it’ll go straight to the negative and disparaging.
I’m forgettable…They don’t like me…They probably think my shoes are ugly…I have bad breath…on and on.
Can you see the spiral getting out of control? A downwards descent into self doubt, anxiety, and depression—boom—just like that. You felt positive about the day when you left home only to slide quickly into the proverbial rabbit hole of darkness and isolation by your own thoughts.
Nowhere did you consider that the other person maybe lost in their own spiral, on the phone, or is too nervous to say hello because they don’t feel worthy.
What’s really happening is, that like the young woman who sees herself as being unlikeable, you’re stuck in your brain as judge and jury without a trial. There’s no truth in the thoughts—you’ve made them all up. If you begin to recognize the false thoughts you may be able to pull yourself back enough to reevaluate the situation and your conclusions.
The mind is so powerful and you can find the strength to realize that not all thoughts belong—they’re false, they’re damaging, they’re toxic. Close your eyes and imagine putting them in an envelop, sealing it and mailing them away. I know, it may sound silly, but remember you’re the one in control of those thoughts and sending them away may be enough. Perhaps each time you think a negative thought, you have an envelop on standby and stuff it.
One that always works for me is to recite ‘not my circus-not my monkey’. Simply meaning that I’m not going to allow those outside thoughts that don’t concern me into my brain.
What you need to look at is whether or not any of those negative, self destructive thoughts are enough to take you off your game. Find some strength from deep within and remember that not everything you think, or even feel, is truth, and just because you think it, doesn’t mean that you have to believe it.
If you find yourself stuck in the negative thought patterns with no sign of breaking free, it may be time to seek help. Let’s make 2018 the best yet.

 

Faye Arcand is a freelance writer living in the south Okanagan. Reach her at faye.arcand@icloud.com or http://www.fayeearcand.com

*Published by Black Press

Auntie Says…Sometimes Christmas sucks.

So, the cat peed in the Poinsettia, the dog scarfed down the turkey, you couldn’t find any Fingerlings, and oh heaven forbid if the tree is not symmetrical and even. It really (yes, really!), is okay.

All around there’s bright lights, perky elves, and lots of good cheer, but sometimes you have to remember that it’s not an easy time for everyone. Christmas is one of those times of year when you think everything has to be perfect and easily forget about the reality of what’s going on around you.

We’re all fed a scintillating anticipation of the fantasy of what Christmas is, or should be. You do the advent calendars, or the count downs, to the “Big” day, only to have it arrive and fizzle. By the time the countdown is finished, you’re exhausted and done. People argue, some are undergoing medical treatments, many have to work (thank you police, fire, hospitals, first responders!), and some are just mentally checked out.

I love Christmas, but it hasn’t always been that way. A few years back, my younger brother, (Gordon aged 32), had a sudden massive heart attack on Christmas Day. He died on Boxing Day. Needless to say, it was the Christmas from Hell. For many years after, my Christmas’ was defined by that tragic memory and it took a long time to find a way to reconcile the loss. I had to redefine what the holidays are all about for me and make choices about the entire season.

Here’s some Auntie tips to help keep yourself on track for the holiday season.

Let the concept of “perfect” go and don’t compare yourself to others. You know what I mean, I know you do. The tree needs to be just so, the food tasty and rich, and the gatherings all laughter and smiles. I’m telling you that its all a rouse and big commercial hype because someone will always do it better. Carve out your own traditions this year and try to make it something quirky. Use your imagination and have fun. It’s about building memories, not about outdoing the neighbours, having matching sweaters, being ten pounds lighter, perfect wrapping—you get it—let it go.
Know, and remember, that gatherings with family can be stressful. Just because it’s a certain date doesn’t mean that all past transgressions are forgiven or forgotten. Little friendly digs between family members can really set the stage for trouble, especially if alcohol, stress, fatigue, and a sense of obligation (aka: I don’t want to be here) are involved. Make sure you go in with a plan. Keep yourself busy. Know how to deflect. Me—I used to always go to where the little kids were. My nieces and nephews were always more fun than the adults. I come from a large family so Christmas dinner meant forty plus people—it could get hot and stuffy real quick—bring clothes so you can take a nice walk in the cool air—it does wonders.
Try and stay out of debt. This could be a hard one for some as the season is dictated by the commercial steam-train and especially where there are children it’s hard not to give in. I totally get it. I vividly remember being about nine years old and in my stocking I got a scarf and tam. I was thoroughly disappointed and disgusted. I can still picture it today, but I also got over it, and somehow survived.
If you know of someone who’s alone, or maybe going through a divorce, an illness, or elderly, invite them over. Usually there’s plenty of food and bringing in a stranger can stimulate the conversation and at the same time give back.
Try—just make an effort—to not over indulge. Whether it be food, drink, dope—just take it easy and remember you don’t have to pack it all into that one day.

Merry Christmas. xo

Faye Arcand is a freelance writer living in the South Okanagan. Contact her at faye.arcand@icloud.com or http://www.fayeearcand.com

*published by Black Press*

Auntie Says…With change, comes social responsibility.

Marijuana? Cannabis? Pot? Blunt? It really doesn’t matter what it’s called because in Canada it’ll soon be legal. For many who have prescriptions for medical cannabis creams, pills, oils, tobacco etc., the merits and positive affects, and usage, of the drug are not in question. The prescribed ongoing use under a doctor’s care is a great alternative for some patients to find relief from chronic pain or other medical issues. I’m sure it’ll be such a positive thing for them not having to deal with the illicit label associated with their medication.

The reality is though, that not all marijuana, or cannabis, users are the same. There are those that take it with a prescription, there are recreational-weekend users, the once in a while puffers, and then you have the trend of the wake and bake/daily (and often all day) user who are not under any medical supervision and/or personal scrutiny for their behavior.

For those that don’t know, the term ‘wake and bake’ (aka morning glory), is all about preparation. Before you go to sleep, you ready a joint/bong/bowl/pipe (whatever method you prefer) of marijuana, making sure it’s within reach so you can smoke it immediately upon waking. Some say the high achieved through wake and bake is superior, more intense, and lasts longer because the body absorbs more THC since it’s in a fasting state and isn’t fully awake. Others say it just kickstarts their day.

My concern about the wake and bake is that it may not stop there. Is it just a morning thing or is it all day? every day?

If it goes into all day, I say—you have a problem because your ‘habit’ (that’s a gentle word for addiction)—affects not only you, but others as well.

Life, and living it, is about finding a balance. If you’re getting up every single morning and reaching for your weed like this, you need to have a look at your life. If you wake and bake and then go into an all day smoke-fest, sadly you’re missing out on opportunities because you’ve become a functional stoner.

If you had a partner who woke up, rolled over in bed, and took a long swig of tequila every morning—just to calm their nerves before facing the shower or getting out of bed—would you be concerned? Then later, in traffic, she gets tense so pulls out the tequila and takes a couple of shots—just to take the edge off—an hour later she has an exam at school—oops, better have a few quick sips to get rid of the jitters. Every hour or two—just quick shots to get through the day. I mean come on, alcohol is legal—right?!

Would you wonder if they were impaired after drinking all day? Take that same scenario and replace the drinking with smoking pot. Does it make it any more acceptable? Would you be concerned? Are you impaired?

I know that marijuana can relax you or have a euphoric affect, but it can also bring on anxiety, panic, paranoia and memory loss. It also causes cognitive and physical impairment. It slows your reaction time, affects your co-ordination, slows your decision making, screws up your ability to judge distances, and can lower your blood pressure—all of which can present problems when doing your everyday activities. I recognize it’s different for everyone.

Smoking dope, with a wake and bake and all day/everyday, affects not only you, but those around you. Heck, even Woody Harrelson, the dope smoker extraordinaire, quit smoking because, as he said in Variety Magazine, “it was keeping him from being emotionally available.”

Sometimes you need to stop and think. Would you want the doctor who’s doing your vasectomy in the morning to wake and bake? or how about the semi-truck coming towards you on the freeway— or your kids school bus driver — did they partake in their morning glory? Does any of it make a difference to you?

You need to remember that pot is addictive and you can become dependent on it. One common argument is that marijuana is just an herb and can’t be harmful or addictive because it’s all natural. That argument doesn’t float. Nature produces a long list of indulgences from nicotine, to sugar, to opium—all highly addictive.

As legislation and regulation come down the pike there will also be more enforcement. Are you ready for that? The police will eventually be checking for THC levels while driving etc. There’ll be many changes that come with legalization and it’s not going to just be a free for all.
Long term medical and scientific studies of usage, affects, and benefits will be done and available for us to learn from.

It’s an exciting time of change in our country. That change comes with the social responsibility of exercising our personal growth, ability to make wise choices, and defining our own boundaries. You all know where Auntie stands.

Faye Arcand is a freelance writer living in the south Okanagan. Email: faye.arcand@icloud.com or http://www.fayeearcand.com
Faye Arcand
faye.arcand@icloud.com

*Published by Black Press

 

Auntie Says…Be aware of Me Too.

Learning how to ask questions of your employer is important. Now that you have your money in order, there’s a darker, more sinister, side of employment that we need to discuss.

As you begin in the workforce you have to know there are sometimes situations that can happen that are totally unacceptable. There’s been a lot of attention in the media lately about persons in a position of power (this could be an employer, manager, fellow employees, etc.), being sexually aggressive, suggestive, touchy-feely, or complacent when it comes to young employees (or potential employees).
When you interview for a job, it should be on a level playing field. In other words, the successful candidate is the most qualified or best suited for the position. You didn’t get the job because you wanted to be treated in a derogatory way or to allow some creep to rub up against you or touch you.

It’s important for you to be aware of your rights.
It’s never okay for your boss (or coworker/manager/etc.) to touch you in any suggestive way. A boss doesn’t ask you to come into the back office at the end of the day and ask you to rub his shoulders. Nor does an employer make comments about your body, comment on your underwear, or whistle at the way you move. It’s not okay for dirty/profane/sexist jokes be told in the workplace.
Sex or sexual touching is never a requirement to stay employed and an adult saying that they’re attracted to you (you’re 16 and he’s 40)…is not flattering, or sexy, or special. It’s predatory and is not okay. (And, that’s not only for girls. Young men can also be the target of sexual assault or unwanted touching. So all of the above also goes for penis jokes, etc. Not okay…I repeat..not okay.
If a boss or manager says you’ll be fired (or demoted) if you tell what happens…that’s illegal. A manager/boss/employer doesn’t ask an employee to keep secrets and they don’t ask them to meet outside of the place of business alone to discuss matters. Even if your twenty one and your boss says he/she wants to take you for a drink to discuss a private matter…nope. Sorry. You don’t/shouldn’t have “private” matters to discuss with your boss. Its about the work, not a social (or romantic) adventure into adulthood. You have the right to say no.
The Hollywood scandals and the “Me Too” social media campaign illustrate the scope of the problem and that no one is immune. Famous actors/actresses, and seemingly the entire industry, ‘knew’ of the behaviour for years and yet stayed silent. This complacency meant that the next victim didn’t stand a chance. If you feel safe but perhaps fear for a co-worker, then it’s up to you to speak up. It’s just like when your parents, or you auntie, told you to stay away from strangers at the park and that predators looked for the quiet ones…the ones who wouldn’t kick and scream.
If you’re unsure of what you saw or what to do (and you don’t want to get anyone in trouble needlessly), then talk to Auntie. It can be better to discuss a situation rather than rush to accuse someone of something that was perhaps a misunderstanding.
Male/Female…doesn’t matter. It’s imperative that if at any time you feel uncomfortable, compromised, or threatened that you know you don’t need to stay in that situation. Tell Auntie. Tell a parent. Tell a teacher. Tell someone.

Faye Arcand is a freelance writer living in the south Okanagan. Email faye.arcand@icloud.com or visit her website at http://www.fayeearcand.com

*published by Black Press