Blogging Slump Giveaway

Hey, y’all! Due in part to my intense blogging slump and definitely because I love playing Santa year-round, I’m hosting my first Caramel Files giveaway! I’m really excited about this particular giveaway, as I’m rewarding one lucky winner with two, yes I said TWO, books! The winner will have the chance to choose one book and I will also surprise him or her with a mystery read!

The Simple Rules

  • This giveaway is open internationally!
  • The winner will receive one book of choice – excluding pre-orders – from either Amazon or The Book Depository worth $15.00 or less.
  • The winner will also receive one surprise book chosen by Maggie (if you’d like, link me to your wish list in the comments section or via email at thecaramelfiles@gmail.com so I can better choose a surprise for you!)
  • The giveaway will end May 31 at midnight CST
  • GOOD LUCK!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Love, Maggie

Blogging Blahs

I really love blogging – so much, whether or not I gain a following. I just enjoy the freedom to write what I want, when I want and to decorate my blog. If you haven’t noticed, I change the look of my blog, even subtly, quite often. However, I’m pretty much in a blogging slump, both here at The Caramel Files and at The Bookkeepers’ Secrets.

For a while, it seemed like I was churning out blog material left and right, even if some of that material was merely a nugget of an idea. Now, I can thing of nothing to write except about my apparent blogging slump. Seemingly, I yearn to write the most when I feel like I can’t – when I’m simply and painfully devoid of original thoughts.

As you might know, I’m ‘participating’ in the Blogging from A to Z Challenge this year. I started out with a bang when the month-long challenge began April 1. I had scheduled some essays I was proud of, then I got behind. Whereas in the past I would have simply given up on the challenge, I’m going to post my letter-based essays as they come to me – even if I post into May. I did well with posting on time until I reached the middle of the alphabet – I’m stuck on O.

I’ve been incredibly absent at The Bookkeepers’ Secrets and I hate it. I’m just struggling to come up with stuff, any stuff, right now. I also have a bunch of reviews I’d like to write, but I can’t seem to get started. On a positive note, I have been doing well with reading and I’ve enjoyed my book choices for the most part this year. It seems like I either do well with reading or on the blogging front, but not with both in unison. I figure I go through phases.

Reading and writing quite obviously go hand-in-hand. When I feel like I can’t write, I don’t feel like I get quite as much out of my reading and vice versa. This sounds like a contradiction as I write it, as I am making reading progress, but I want to read something really rich this year.  Perhaps I am reading voraciously in search of the penultimate and elusive book of the year.

I’m totally stuck again – maybe writing about it will somehow re-release my creative juices. I need that flow, that ease of writing what comes naturally – especially when it involves bookish goodness. As far as ideas for writing go, I have plenty, perhaps too many. I have so many visions for my blog – of additions, of original features, of challenges, of everything. I may have fried my brain overloading it with ruminations regarding my A to Z topic – random essays.

If I wasn’t worried about quality, I would go ahead and write crappy posts that don’t inspire me for A to Z. However, it’s just not in me to do that; I take too much pride in my writing and the basis for what I’ve written. It’s not in me to post something I’m not passionate about, especially when it comes to essays based on personal memories and randomness.

My posts may not always be exactly perfect or have the effect I hope for, but I only hit the publish button when I’m truly satisfied, at least as satisfied as possible. I definitely have a tendency toward perfectionism and if I give in to that side of my personality too much, I basically end up getting nothing done – or started. I think that’s where my habit to procrastinate originated.

So, here I sit, churning out words with great difficulty, but writing nevertheless. I’m hopeful that as I write about my inability to write that tons – I’d settle for a couple – of ideas will zip into my exhausted brain. I have a few ideas for projects integrating fellow bloggers; however, I’m so new to such endeavors, that I don’t really know where to start – how to introduce and structure special blog features.

I’m just a girl full of ideas, yet devoid of thoughts of how to bring such ideas to fruition. Perhaps I’ll get it together suddenly, have several epiphanies, and know exactly what to do as far as The Caramel Files and its contents. I don’t really even know why I’m fretting over blog content – am I too obsessed with perfection? Am I too focused on writing only that which should be well-received? Am I too serious about this blogging stuff?

I don’t have the answers at this time – they may never come and I accept that – I just wish I had a creative crystal ball, one that could reach inside the depths of my soul and pull out ideas without me having to dig for them. But, nothing truly comes easily and when I finally do get something on paper that I’m proud of, the toiling becomes worth it.

Love, Maggie

Nicholas

My family always had cats when I was growing up. Mom and Dad had two cats when I was born, Nicholas and Alice. Mom has told me of precious memories in which Alice would lay across my baby body while I was being bottle fed. I guess that’s when my connection with cats began. I adore dogs too, but we didn’t get our first, Molly, until I was in high school. Now I’m technically a cat and dog person, but cats will always hold a special place in my heart.

While Alice moved in with my grandparents when my family returned to Tennessee from West Virginia, Nicholas stayed with us until he passed away at the ripe old age of 18. He was a quirky cat. I remember being little and at the time Nicholas was a fat cat. Apparently, due to being nervous, at least that’s how my parents explained it, Nicholas incessantly licked every bit of fur off his stomach – he had a bald belly!

We have a bunch of old pictures of Nicholas just hanging around, lounging, with his tongue sticking out of his face. Mom and Dad also have told many a tale about that cat, who probably really had nine lives. For example, Nicholas was outside, near the road, while my grandfather got the mail. By Granddaddy’s account, a creep driver swerved to hit Nicholas, who survived.

Nicholas lived with my grandparents for a short time with Alice. My Mom has a story of Grandmother driving by our home with Nicholas, whom she tossed out the car window while saying, ‘Nicholas wanted to come home!’ and then sped off! Apparently, Nicholas drove Grandmother nuts because he always tried to run into the house. Alice got to live out the rest of her years with my grandparents, as she loved being an outside cat.

Another time, Mom recounted driving away from home one day. She said she glanced in the rear view mirror and ‘saw fur flying’! Mom instantly pulled over and there was Nicholas, on top of her car, with his claws dug into the top – perhaps it was cloth back then – holding on for dear life. That was at least the second life he used up!

There’s also a story in which Nicholas walked across the canopy of my parents’ bed as they slept one night. He ended up falling through the fabric canopy and landed, claws out, on Mom and Dad! Another time, when he was a kitten, he actually peed on my Dad while he was asleep in bed! Nick went to the vet for neutering the very next day.

When I got a little older, I would dress up Nicholas in my doll’s clothes and put jewelry on him. I could tell he wasn’t fond of playing dress-up, but he tolerated me. Essentially, I grew up with that cat – I remember him living with us at each home we were in, in every state. He slept with me at night every now and then, he liked to spread himself by sleeping somewhere different each night. I remember sitting in a rocking chair with him in my lap. I couldn’t stop wiggling for whatever reason and he literally kicked me with one of his hind legs, basically telling me to be still.

It’s interesting to me how animals seem to intuitively know when they are near death. Each cat we’ve had that was outside at its time of passing has simply wandered off into nature to peacefully die, never to be seen again. That’s what our Nicholas did. I remember our neighbor kids finding bones that were small enough to belong to a cat in the woods near their backyard. Assuming they belonged to Nicholas, I scooped them up and buried them in our backyard – that’s how much he meant to me – he deserved a proper burial.

To Nicholas, my first black cat and beloved buddy – I love you, always and forever.

Love, Maggie

Mister to Miss

I immediately burst into tears when, about three years ago, I heard the news that my husband’s male cousin had come out with his decision to transition into a woman. I didn’t cry out of disgust, disappointment, or judgment. I began to cry because I could somehow feel a pin prick of the pain our loved one had most likely lived with throughout his thirty-something years.

I grieved not only for him, but with him, from a distance. I cried out of happiness that he chose to reveal his true self rather than take an easy way out through either suicide or continuing to live a lie. He was married – I have fond memories of the wedding, easily one of the most fun weddings I’ve ever attended.

We saw him for the last time during the summer of 2013; he had already begun the early stages of transitioning, but no one, not even his family, save his wife, knew. I remember noticing that he not only looked different at the time, but he acted differently. He was more effeminate, nervous, awkward, yet still the pleasant, hilarious person he always was.

I left his home in 2013 knowing that something was happening with him, I just had no clue what it was; I thought that perhaps he was having marital issues. I had no idea just how deeply his circumstances and emotions were running.

He always worked two or three jobs at a time under the guise of paying student loan bills. In truth, he was working so much to save money toward financing the change he was preparing to make. When he came out to his immediate family – my husband and I heard the news from my sister-in-law, via letter, we were all shocked. As the news set in, a lot of things began to make sense. Hindsight is definitely 20/20.

Now she is living full-time as a woman and she is beautiful. She is beautiful not only on the outside, but she is still just as beautiful as she always was – except it was obvious she was so much more comfortable in the skin she always knew she needed to be in.

While she has endured her fair share of struggles that I could never begin to truly understand, she is a true inspiration – a courageous person who had the nerve to attend her high school reunion as she really is. She was embraced by her former classmates and has received an outpouring of support from those who love her.

It hasn’t been a completely easy transition for her family, who never knew of her long hidden, suppressed feelings. I salute her bravery – she was in her mid-thirties when she came out. She easily could have continued living the lie she’d led for three-and-a-half decades. However, she chose happiness instead.

Upon meeting her for the first time, I was undeniably nervous. What if I burst into tears and cried in her face? What if I acted funny, even though I didn’t judge her choice? What if I made her feel uncomfortable? What if I blurted out personal questions? Fortunately, none of these things happened when I was introduced to her. It wasn’t a meeting after all – when I saw her, it was as though she was who she was meant to be all along; our interaction was as natural as before.

While he was awkward, nervous, jittery, and obviously carrying heavy stuff in his head, she is confident, happy, and exactly where she needs to be. Her confidence radiates and inspires me to be a better person, to be brave enough to be my true self as well.

Love, Maggie

A Literary Journey

While I can’t remember exactly how old I was when I first started reading, I do know it was at an early age. I had collections of Dr. Seuss books, fairy tales, you name it, I probably had it – and still do. I recall reading by the light of the hallway outside my bedroom when I was supposed to be asleep.

One summer, maybe after second grade, we were given sheets of paper on which to record our summer reading progress. When I turned in my paper that fall, I had filled it front and back; I don’t think any of my classmates did this. I can still see the look on my teacher’s face when I handed in my paper.

I was all about reading all through elementary school – I couldn’t go without having a book to read and would immediately choose new books to check out of the school library after taking an accelerated reading test on whatever I’d just finished reading. I remember a particular shelf in the school library that was filled with such books by Judy Blume, Beverley Cleary, and Laura Ingalls Wilder, to name a few. That was my favorite shelf and I probably read every book contained within the bookcase to which the shelf belonged.

I loved challenging myself to read ‘big’ books as a kid. I read Michael Crichton’s Jurassic Park in fifth grade and adored it. I felt like a big shot reading it during class breaks! I even won the first place trophy for having earned the most accelerated reading points from the time I was able to take tests, maybe in third grade, through eighth grade – it was always a competition between a few of my classmates and I and I would do my best to read fat books offering at least twenty points a pop.

By the time I hit high school, however, I stopped reading independently. While I had the opportunity to read a bunch of awesome books for classes, I had begun getting to the point of being unable to concentrate enough to read at all. I would reread paragraphs and entire pages due to my inability to really absorb myself in stories.

Many years later I figured out my reading habits had drastically changed as a result of being hit by intense anxiety and depression and other things happening in my brain. I was a junior in college and experiencing severe depression. I remember trying to do readings for classes and not being able to retain anything I had just read. Everything was daunting and I missed reading so much.

I feel like I’ve missed out on so many books because of my mental illness. Fortunately, I am now able to concentrate on reading. Being able to actually focus on words now has shown me just how deep my depression ran before I sought help.

I’m proud to say that I’m once again obsessed with reading and have a TBR list at least a mile long! Once again I absolutely must have a book or my Kindle with me anytime I know I’ll be sitting in a waiting room. If I don’t have a book on my Goodreads currently reading shelf, I feel lost!

I’m so grateful that there is aid for those suffering with mental illness and that it is so widely available, even if the quality of care isn’t totally up to par. I’m lucky to have found an excellent psychiatrist whom has helped me return to my old self through a mix of medications and therapy.

I guess this post serves as a pseudo public service announcement: if you adore books but are unable to concentrate on words and retain plot points, you may be depressed, like I was. I was so glad to find out what had caused my years-long reading slump. I’m even more glad to be able to say that chapter is over.

Love, Maggie

The Kindle Lending Library

Guess what?! In case you haven’t heard, Amazon now allows readers to loan Kindle ebooks to others! 😀 The only caveat to this awesome new feature is that not EVERY book is eligible for loaning. However, I have some amazing titles available to lend on a first come, first serve basis – due to the fact that each ebook may be loaned out only once.

The process is simple – I did have to spend a while to figure out the system, but once I did, it’s easy! If you’re interested in any available books from my Kindle library, leave me a comment. If you are the first person to request a given title, I can send you a link via email to access the book. You can keep a book for up to two weeks before it must be returned.

I hope people are interested in borrowing from my Kindle – I love to share!

Following are the books I have available to loan to anyone with the capability to read electronic editions! 😀

Love, Maggie

Knots

Dread. Sweaty pits. Beet red. Burning up. Dizziness. Shakiness. Tongue tied. The urge to vomit. 

Anxiety.

Anxiety has ruled my life as long as I can remember. As a child, I went through phases of intense fear of things like being kidnapped, death, being the center of attention, and thunderstorms. I even had – and still have – anxiety about my anxiety. I’m also a shy person, making my anxiety worse, or perhaps causing it, or both.

Being a hand-wringing, anxiety-ridden child, I would get intense butterflies in my gut and would basically have to talk myself out of having panic attacks. When I was training to be a lifeguard as a high school sophomore, I dreaded training all day at school, even though I did well and ultimately passed the class. In training, we had to swim 500 meters before starting anything else. For some reason, this aspect of training made me so nervous, that is until I started swimming. I was able to be alone and let the world go, clear my head and prepare for the lifesaving lessons coming up.

I seem to almost thrive on my anxiety. While I am now on medication to help ease my worries, I lived with my anxious feelings for 19 years without medicine. I was weird about taking psychotropic drugs until I turned at least 18 – that was a whole other irrational belief. I’m 34 and my psychiatrist finally figured out a good medication cocktail that works for me about five years ago – I’m much better now, but I can definitely tell a difference when I do, or don’t, take my daily dose.

When I was a freshman in college, I was a member of the rowing team. I walked on as a novice and dreaded every practice and race, but once we got started with our workouts, etc. my nervousness would dissipate. Obviously, I have found a connection between exercise and the assuaging of anxiety, which of course has been medically proven. Once I got my endorphins moving, I could conquer the world. Until then, I made myself literally sick with worry.

Throughout high school and some of college, I would wake up nervous as hell for no good reason and I would vomit. Every morning; like clockwork. My mom even took me to see a gastroenterologist, who rudely and adamantly accused me of being bulimic. I laughed in his face – he was so smug and sure he was correct. I’m still angry about that appointment. He was a jackass.

Finally, after years of suffering with a perpetually upset stomach, a nurse practitioner figured out I was in the throes of anxiety. She prescribed me some medication to get me through the days until I could see my psychiatrist again. I noticed an immediate change and suddenly everything made sense – I was having somatic symptoms.

I am proud to say that I no longer vomit due to my nerves every single day! Yay! 😀 I did go through high school trying to hide my sweaty armpits. I was a nervous wreck throughout my teen years and constantly worried about my peers either seeing my soaking pits or smelling the stench. I wore tons of deodorant and showered prior to school, but could not stop the sweat. The same nurse practitioner who diagnosed the reason behind my upset stomach knew that my sweating was due to anxiety as well. Thank goodness the sweating stopped once I started medication.

Sometimes I thrive on my anxiety, but it also holds me back at times and causes me to procrastinate A LOT. When I was in school, I’d wait until the last minute to start projects and I would usually kill it and make A’s. When I was in a graduate program, I waited until the night before a tough take-home test was due to start. I sorely underestimated the time it would take me to complete the essay answer-type test. I guess that’s why my teacher gave the assignment weeks before. Oops.

I stayed up all night and into the next afternoon working on my answers. Somehow, I managed to be the only student in the class to make a perfect score. I was floored. Apparently, in my anxiety riddled, must do this now phase, I figured out how the teacher had set up the test – it was all based on assigned readings, which I hadn’t read previously and had to skim the night I finally filled out the test.

So, through surviving near-crippling anxiety, I have learned to function and kind of cope. I thought being anxious was just a part of my life, that I wasn’t meant to be cool, calm, and collected. Thankfully, through therapy and medication, my anxiety is under control and I’m like a different person than I was 15 years ago. As a person who was once afraid of taking medication for a psychiatric imbalance, I am now a major proponent of prescriptions and therapy.

My anxiety often revealed itself as irritability. I would lash out at those closest to me and would pretty much be a bitch. I figure people from my past think I’m aloof, but I don’t care about what those people think anymore. I remember this asshole girl in my senior class telling people that I had “issues”. This really hurt at the time, although it was true. I’m not going to dog that particular girl, but I feel like I got the last laugh by seeking to heal myself and solve my “issues”.

Just to illustrate how bad my anxiety can be, I often dread making simple phone calls. I hate calling anyone besides my parents and husband; thank God for texting and email! The thing that usually holds me back from doing simple tasks such as talking to people, is that I dread doing said task for hours. Usually, sometimes after days, I’ll bite the bullet and make that phone call. Stuff never seems to go as badly as I anticipate, especially conversations. I have had some unfortunate telephone talks with hateful strangers, as I’m sure many people have. I think I also have a fear of calling others outside my neck of the woods because I’m afraid people who live elsewhere won’t understand my accent.

In a nutshell, I was diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) a few years ago. The diagnosis came as a relief – I finally had an explanation and a way to treat my problem. I know I must be a pretty strong person to have lived with the anxiety I have for such a long time. While my anxiousness really never fully goes away, my medication is a lifesaver, as is my doctor.

My advice to anyone experiencing symptoms of anxiety is to reach out for help. I understand that asking for aid can be nerve wracking – it was for me at first. The key to overcoming any psychological issues is seeing a doctor, preferably a psychiatrist, but, hey, my nurse practitioner helped me hugely. I’ve also found that writing helps me so much – it helps for me to put my anxious thoughts on paper or to escape by blogging.

To all of y’all out there who are anxious – I understand and you are not alone. You can seek and receive help without stigma; it’s worth it. Life almost wasn’t worth living while feeling intense dread nearly constantly, but I see the beauty in life much more now and I want to live and experience all kinds of things. I may not be spotted speaking in public much, but I will certainly have a smile on my face and will live my life to the fullest.

Love, Maggie

Juveniles in Like

Dating before I met the love of my life at age 24 was weird and basically nonexistent. Looking back, I did a lot of flirting but was generally placed in the friend zone, as I was really one of the guys. A particular boy that I liked called me after I left him a drunken voicemail and told me I was still his ‘boy’. I was always flattered to be considered a true friend to my guy pals, but it sucked when I had a crush on one of them.

Like I think most people do, a boy with whom I grew up and I had mutual crushes on each other for years. However, both of us were too shy to make a move. I remember a strange incident where this uppity girl in my class actually told me I was related to this boy who liked me; before that, I was clueless about his crush. I honestly think her pushing him to believe we were somehow cousins kept him from approaching me. Plus, every time he got up his nerve, said girl would physically pull him away from me. Sabotage!

When I went to high school, my dating life was definitely nonexistent. My childhood crush actually sent word our freshman year that he still liked me. But, by then, after our years of dancing around each other, I was ready for him to approach me himself, to be confident that I would say yes. It never did happen, but things worked out how they were supposed to – we both have our own families and remain friends to this day.

I had so many crushes, especially as a teenager. I was also really picky and got grossed out pretty easily, unless I really, really liked someone. I remember thinking this guy in my history class was beyond cute – until we passed each other in the hall and he snorted snot through his nostrils so loudly I almost threw up. That was the end of that crush!

I thought a bunch of upperclassmen were cute, but I was scared of them! They all seemed so old when I first started high school – like they were already men and I was still an innocent girl. None of them paid much attention to me anyway. As a freshman, I had a huge crush on Robert, a junior who ran cross country with me. I remember melting once when he rubbed my head and tousled my short hair. Quite naturally, someone divulged my crush to him and he responded, “that’s okay.” I almost died!

I’ve had quite a bit of unrequited love in my life, both on my part and that of others. It always seemed like boys I had placed in my friend zone, as I couldn’t see myself ‘with’ them, would fall in love with me – their words, seriously. I attracted guys I wasn’t interested in romantically. I just couldn’t bring myself to date someone I didn’t really like that way, so I went through my teenage years without a steady boyfriend. I even asked out my own prom date, a friend who I figured out at the dance wanted more, which made me sick – he was my buddy.

I discovered that guys who like girls don’t like being called their buddies. Sometimes it felt like guys who liked me thought I owed them something, that there was no way we could just be friends. This fact always bugged me and, quite frankly, pissed me off. I had a hard time making girl friends in school, so I gravitated toward boy friends. Let’s just say that I spent a lot of time on my own.

I’m certainly not complaining about my lack of dating experience prior to meeting my now husband; things worked out just as they should have for me, romantically speaking. I always had a sense that the first guy I seriously dated would be ‘the one’ – and he was. I remember the first time I met him, on Thanksgiving Day 2007. We locked eyes before speaking and I thought ‘there he is’ – like I just knew he was it for me. He told me later that when we hugged for the first time that he smelled his beloved deceased Granny and he took it as a sign.

Meeting my husband is one of the best things that has ever happened to me – we’re best friends and I couldn’t imagine being with anyone else. Being with Elliott makes me happy that I waited to get serious with anyone – it just didn’t feel right with anyone before I met him. I went through phases of worrying that I would end up a lonely, old spinster. Thank goodness things worked out the way they did – I just had to be patient and it paid off. 😀

Love, Maggie

INFP is Me

Every single personality test I’ve taken has given me the result of being an INFP – introverted, intuitive, feeling, and perceiving – or a diplomatic mediator. I cannot agree more with this perpetual result; I’m definitely an INFP. I’m proud to be an INFP, but it’s also hard sometimes, as it seems like everyone else out there is SO much more outgoing than me. I have struggled with my introversion my whole life – a virtual pendulum swinging between ultimate confidence and total self-doubt.

Only four percent of the population can be pinpointed as INFP personality types, which blows my mind; I genuinely thought the amount of others similar to me would at least be in double digits! Feeling misunderstood has also comprised a big part of my life, which is typical of an INFP, but this is sometimes hard to deal with. I find it difficult to find like-minded people – perhaps because of that dang four percent!

My intuition has been very strong for as long as I can remember. When I was a little girl, I often evil-eyed men who made me uneasy and refused to accept attention from adults whom I did not know. My mom dubbed my intense scrutiny of grown-ups as my ‘creep alarm’. My creep alarm still ticks today! While it can take a while at times for me to really see people’s true colors, my initial sense of them – even if I ignore it – usually turns out to be correct.

Shyness has been a part of my inherent being as long as I’ve been alive. While I think most people realize I’m shy, not an asshole, I wonder if others believe I’m aloof? I have no control over what others think of me though, so whatever people see is what they get. I try to manage my bashfulness by smiling and greeting others and I’m attempting to stop avoiding people I know when I see them in public. I don’t know why, but I get anxiety often when I see acquaintances – I’m always scared I won’t know what to say if I can’t just wave and move on.

I read once that introverts have rich inner lives – I’d definitely say this is very true for me. My imagination is insanely vivid and I can entertain myself very well. Reading and writing are of course great outlets for me too. However, I do like to be social, usually with close friends and family and occasionally at a party or a concert. Like most introverts, I have to unwind after social events of any sort, even holiday gatherings with family. Recharging by myself keeps me sane.

I feel deeply, to the point that I can actually feel my heart ache in pain for others or with grief. For instance, on the anniversaries of the deaths of loved ones, my heart will seriously hurt, even if it doesn’t register right away what the date is. My mom told me a while ago about her reading that research has proven that there are brain cells, cells of memory, in the heart! Crazy, I know, but this fact makes so much sense. My heart and mind are very connected.

I have intense empathy almost to the point of being crippled in my own life and focusing on the hardships of others. In addition, I can be gullible and I’ve always had a heightened awareness of my being possibly tricked by creepy people. I’ve had some close calls – when I was in college in Knoxville, I went to a park to read and got freaked out fast by this lone guy who kept watching me. I ended up pretty much running to my car after he walked away from my space, only to see him returning, with something in his hand, smiling maniacally. Perhaps I jumped to conclusions and let my morbid imagination get the best of me, but I’m just glad to still be here.

Being empathetic is definitely positive, but I can’t help but sometimes think life would be so much easier if I were a sociopath. I know that sounds really weird, but if I was devoid of true emotion, I wouldn’t worry so much about others or give a shit in general. I do know that I am blessed with the empathetic qualities I do possess; it’s just draining to feel so deeply all the time. In turn, I am easily deeply hurt when my trust, which isn’t easy to get, is broken by so-called friends and others. This fact caused me to put up walls many years ago and I’m definitely a really hard nut to crack.

I feel that I am very perceptive, which I think goes along with intuition. While I can be fooled at times, I am generally really good at reading people, especially their facial expressions, body language, and the vibes they emanate. I can feel tension and anxiety from others intensely; I also can tell when someone is being completely fake. I haven’t called out many people on their harmful intentions, I just take solace in knowing what I know and steer clear.

When I can’t read someone, like my stepmother-in-law for instance, it bugs me. I can’t seem to get into her head at all – sometimes I wonder if she’s even a person. Maybe she’s a robot? My senses get thrown off when I’m with her. She’s either one of the kindest people ever or a low lying vindictive bitch. I just can’t decide and I don’t like it. Being in the dark regarding others’ true intentions makes me very uncomfortable.

In a nutshell, I’m an introverted, intuitive, sensitive, and perceptive gal. I’ve heard of people I knew throughout my childhood commenting on how much I’ve come out of my shell over the years. I have gained confidence in myself and supplement my personal growth with therapy and appropriate medication for the anxiety I often experience. Now I’m curious as to whether the majority of INFP personalities are also afflicted with extreme anxiety and/or depression? Hmm…something else for me to research while I have quiet time!

Love, Maggie

Heroine

If you have a bit of a savior complex – PLEASE STAND UP! You guessed it – I’m totally standing up! For some reason, maybe it’s grandiosity, but at times I feel like I can save people from themselves, especially those I love. Unfortunately, time and time again, I have failed to rescue others. I may be able to apply a Band-Aid to help, but ultimately, change is up to the ones I think need saving.

I’ve written a bit about my best friend, Brian, who died of an accidental overdose due to mixing prescription pills in 2003 at age 19. I can’t remember if I’ve written at all about him here at The Caramel Files, but I go pretty in-depth with his death and its effect on me over at The Bookkeepers’ Secrets, where I co-blog with Lila and Claire.

[my post about Brian can be found here]

Regarding Brian, we both knew he was a drug addict. I hoped to be a positive influence on him, to eventually help him decide to go to rehab. But, he died before he got to make what could have been that life saving step. I still wish I could go back in time and call 911 that last night I saw him. I had an uneasy feeling when I left the party, but sadly ignored it.

I felt guilty for a long time following Brian’s untimely demise. Thankfully, nearly 14 years later, I have forgiven myself and let him go just a little bit more. I now understand that I was just a baby myself – I was 20 at the time; I didn’t know then what I know now. As they say, hindsight really is 20/20.

Brian’s overdose was a catalyst in my decision to major in social work in college and eventually earn my master’s degree. I have worked with children and families in turmoil and emotional upheaval, which has been very difficult – rewarding at times, but difficult. Many times I wished I had a magic wand during my time in the field so I could wave new, happy lives devoid of problems into my clients’ experiences.

I still want to help people, I just need to continue working to train myself to keep my social worker hat on and avoid getting too personal and biased when listening to those dear to me. I find it easy to solve other people’s problems, my own, not so much. Why is this so? I think it’s weird. But, I also find it easy to stand up for other people, even strangers, over myself.

While I do continue to worry about ‘my’ people, primarily when they’re going through tough times, I’m learning to stay out of their business. This can be hard when my people spill their hearts out to me – I want to help and I feel that I have solutions, but others need to reach their own conclusions in order to become true change agents in their lives.

So, I shall continue to listen and offer my shoulder for tears – I just hope no one else dies…

Love, Maggie