Rebel by Nature: And Probably Nurture

A Story of a Mental Health Therapist

I was born the 2nd of 3 children in a family of 5. I am the 2nd girl, born 23 months after my older sister.

My brother came along 3 ½ years later.
Some of my earliest memories involve arguing with family members, particularly my sister.


‘She’s going to be a girl, and her name should be Crystal’ I said, smiling and doing a little twirl.

I love to dance, like to get my way and tend to smile as a first attempt.
As for the name Crystal: I liked that name, and I wanted someone to boss around just like my older
sister bossed me.

Or maybe I wanted to lead them, differently, as leading is something I really like to do in
almost any circumstance.

I can remember standing in argument with her; she who had a great grasp of vocabulary from a young age
and is just about as strong willed as I am, if not more.

‘No. I told you.
We already have 2 girls. We need a brother. And his name isn’t going to be Crystal, that’s a girl’s name.’

Little did we know, his name would be Michael. That is my dad’s name, and my mom’s favorite name. It was
also a very common name during the early 70’s.

As I got older and wished I had a more feminine name, I learned that all three of us would have been named
Michael, with different middle names.
A few years ago, someone told me I was one of the ‘lucky’ ones who had a name without gender (I go by
Terri).

Let me tell you, that has historically NOT been my feeling about having a name can be both masculine
and feminine. I can remember searching for trinkets with the name ‘Terri’ on them. I could sometimes find
‘Terry’, which is the masculine version and not how I spell my name.

It was a pretty special occasion when my mom or I located one with my name and spelled correctly.

I came out a little oppositional. My due date was in late August, and I was born in mid-September.

Opposition means going against. There’s an author (Gretchen Rubin) whom I follow who describes four personality types, and one of
them is coined ‘rebel’.

To be oppositional, or rebellious, or saying ‘no’ just because someone told you to do something, are all very
similar words for a similar behavior tendency.

It is not just saying no because someone said yes. It is more than just disagreeing with a proposed plan. It is
saying the sky is purple because someone else said it was blue, but also with a little ‘kick’ to it.

A little sass, a
little emphasis, a little more rebelliousness.

I am a second born child, second girl before the boy. I have high energy, love to move, and have a brain that
works a little differently. My brain makes quick connections, and has a lot of working memory, and I put a high value on communicating verbally and visually.

I am strong willed, nurtured in a family of origin with and by other strong-willed people.

I have grown up watching my parents direct and lead, as my dad taught middle and high school band students within my school system.

Since moving to Texas in 2019, I now call a school corporation an ISD, meaning ‘Independent School District’. In Indiana, where I grew up, we call that ‘school corporation’.

My mom taught choir and music in a neighboring school corporation and county. My parents grew up in urban Indianapolis, living not too far away from each other. They met when they were both attending Butler University, in Indianapolis where they were both participating in Marching Band.

Prior to that, my dad attended and graduated from a private high school named Cathedral. My mom attended the local public school system, Arsenal Technical High School.

Moving to Tipton, Indiana, was a stressor for my parents. They had grown up in an urban environment and were not used to how things worked in a more rural, farm community. My dad taught in Noblesville, Indiana for 3 years, while my mom taught at Sheridan, prior to determining that life would be a little simpler if at least one of them worked where they lived.

A hesitation my mom felt was that it would mean that my grandma was a long-distance phone call away, as opposed to a being local call.

My grandma was my mom’s emotional support. They talked frequently, and having to pay to talk with her was something my mom was hesitant to do.

The car ride to my grandma’s house, still on the near-east side of Indianapolis, was a full hour from Tipton, as opposed to the 30 minutes they had grown accustomed to.

For around 2 years (when I was ages 3-5), my dad taught at Tipton Schools and my mom taught at Sheridan part-time, while we lived in the neighboring community of Noblesville.

Both of my parents drove around 30 minutes to work, and neither of them worked for Noblesville School Corporation, the district where we lived.

My sister spent her first two years attending Noblesville schools, and then it was going to be time for me to begin Kindergarten.

I was enrolled at an elementary in Noblesville. I had been DYING to attend organized socialization, so it didn’t matter to me where I attended school.

I hung out with friends in the ‘smooth alley’ that was just down from our house, but many of those friends were older or younger than me. I had not attended pre-school, and our childcare was in our home with an in-person provider.

I just wanted to be around friends who would be my age. I was also enrolled at Tipton Schools, at Jefferson Elementary.

My parents put our house up for sale and determined that my sister and I would start school where we were living when the school year started.

As fate would have it, our house sold in July, 1976.

We moved our things to our new home in Tipton with the smooth sidewalks for roller skating, where we would have a short walk to school. In addition to the events of moving school districts and homes, or possibly in the midst of moving, there was a local, tragic death of a middle school student who was watching his sister. He touched an electrical wire and did not survive.

Some of my first memories of living in Tipton involve the events surrounding that funeral, as the 8th grader was the son of one of my parents’ friends, and my mom helped to care for the children during the funeral. They also had a child who was preparing at that time to begin Kindergarten, and we are friends to this day.

We had moved to a relatively quiet street in Tipton, where people were discouraged from driving down it by the stop signs that occurred at every single intersection.

Our comment of ‘Look! We can cross the street without even looking here!’ was not received as well following my friend’s brother’s death, but it was a definite shift from our in-town home in Noblesville, which was very close to the then Boys and Girls Club and had quite a bit more traffic.

Since I have moved to Texas in 2019, I have been particularly interested and fascinated by the number of cultures and ethnicities that occur here in this city, which is the county seat of Collin County.

We have been here 2 years now, with one of them being a full year plus of the pandemic. Being social, but also somewhat introverted at times, I find myself wanting the same things I did when I was 5 and beginning school.

I have noticed in the last few weeks, since vaccines have become more common and people are beginning to come out of their homes and be a little more social, the excitement I felt at 5 of being able to get to know people and establish friendships is the same.

Here, instead of being the person from Tipton who works in Noblesville and surrounding counties; I am an empty nester from Indiana.

I am someone who has been described as ‘without any accent at all’, which I find fairly interesting.

I am friendly, which some people like and appreciate, and some people veer away from due to their own comfort or lack thereof with being social.

I live on a street and community with lots of different cultures and ethnicities.

We are close to multiple businesses that have moved their home offices from California to Texas, and we live in an area that was a field not too terribly long ago.

I’m getting to know neighbors and friends who are from Texas, Columbia, Venezuela, China, India, New York, Tennessee and so much more.  

I am able to provide mental health therapy at a time when the stigma is really being reduced. I work primarily with teens, parents, and those with attention, anxiety, or depressive tendencies.

It’s an exciting time to be a part of this field, which I began formally in 1995 when I graduated with my degree in Community Counseling.

I get to hear parents tell me that they are bringing their teen to therapy due to the teen asking for it for multiple years.

I get to meet with adults who have very little background in being in tune with their feelings, and report to feel better from mental health therapy but do not really know why.

I exercised some of my rebelliousness when I chose my university and my career back in the early 90’s.

Indiana University is a large, Big 10 University, and the size made my parents hesitant, as they were comfortable with a small university like Butler, where they and my sister attended and graduated.

I went into the field of mental health, which I would say I’m born to do, and pursued from an early age.

And boy, am I glad I did.

Covid Recovery: COVID19; mutations, effects from trauma, and a couple of other things

I’d like to say I initially planned to call this blog post ‘frustrations’, but that isn’t the case.

I started and stopped this computer 3-4 times, and the blog is continuing to want to open as if I am viewing it instead of working on it. Now, as I begin to write, I realize the wordpress.com app has an update so I did that and waited.

(that was a very short time, so I’m able to continue to write)

I participate in trauma recovery daily. I work in trauma, as a mental health therapist who listens to stories about trauma.

I am trained and informed in Trauma Informed Care (TIC); Trauma-Focused and Cognitive Behaviorally Trained (TF-CBT).

and

I am also living in, through, and working together with those who are trauma affected by the pandemic we are currently experiencing. The pandemic is fairly traumatic, so I’m using the word a lot and I’m attempting to use it accurately.

As the pandemic began in March of 2019, the effects were quite unclear to me. My grandmother lived through the Flu (frequently referred to as the Spanish Flu) in 1919 and talked to me about it, a little bit, when I was a kid and I would ask her about it.

‘Grandma??’ I would say, with a question in my voice to show I wanted her to answer and was pretty curious…

…..’yessss……’, she would say, again, with pleasure in her voice because she talked like that.

‘How come you were born in 1910, but graduated in 1929, but you didn’t repeat a year in school?’

That last quesiton was because those of us born in the first year of the decade (ends in ‘0’) tend to remember our birth year and others’, and, like I said, I was pretty darn curious.

She would then answer me with a little bit of laughter in her voice, a little bit of frustration, and would then again be a little bit misleading; because her experience with the pandemic in 1919 was not really my busines, nor did I need to know the answer, but eventually she told me.

‘I was ill one year, or actually, I was ill later in the year. The schools closed for the first half of the year, and then I got sick.’

So she missed a year of school, which was true, did not repeat a grade, which was also true. And I, the granddaughter of Eva and a child with lots of curiosity and questions, had my answer.

So, I moved on to different questions, different thoughts, and different experiences as I grew up to be just right about 50 years old.

2020 is also decade year, or ends in zero. And I, as a 50 year old rising, was busy getting ready for things like creating income as a mental health therapist/writer; my children graduating from college; and I was preparing to make income during the time that was just prior to COVID at the group practice I am contracted with, Blank Slate Therapy. (March 2020)

Emerging and Gathering in Crowds

So as we begin to get together into bigger groups, the COVID 19 virus is mutating into a less deadly, more able to travel form, for those able who have chosen to be vaccinated, at least. The hospitals seem to be filled with unvaccinated people, from what I have learned.

I’m fairly certain that the cold virus has been doing this ever since people began to to work to create an immunization it.

I see larger crowds, as a resident in Texas, a little more often than people in some other states do. My son who lives in Wisconsin has had a very different COVID experience than my husband or me, since Wisconsin’s mandates related to the virus have been quite different than the Texas ones.

When I see a crowd of people on television, it does not really have an affect on me. I haven’t been watching much television for several months due to how often the warning voices of the newscasters get my attention. I prefer an upbeat tone, with optimism in it.

Some of those who have been guiding the national newscasters, or perhaps even the newscasters themselves, have determined that if you use a very scary, deadly voice people will listen. I do listen, but the fear that the voice induces in me is not pleasurable

I’m noticing that synching back from COVID is as difficult for some people as synching into it was for others. I would guess that a lot of the same people struggle with synching back and forth, which is a sensitivity, and also affected by the pandemic, routine shifts, and change. Highly Sensitive People, (HSP) and Highly Sensitive Children, coined by Elaine Aron, are more sensitive than others and tend to be more affected by routine changes, as well as smells, fabrics, and anything else that can be classified to make people sensitive.

Reading Elaine Aron’s books about ‘Highly Sensitive People‘ and her book about ‘Highly Sensitive Children‘ helps with understanding how sensitivities are affecting parenting and yourself.

Some Examples

I have gmail accounts for different purposes; and this is a complication that is frustrating to me. That’s a frustration that I’ve been having at times, but not quite a often as I was, during the quarantining and trauma we’re experiencing during and through this pandemic.

If I log out of my gmail logged into one account, I have to take some steps to show gmail that ‘I’m really me’. This causes me to experience an amount of frustration.

The computer that I’m using is particularly impacting my level of frustration, regarding Google Suites and how it affects my MacBook Pro.

The computer example is that g-suites tends to take over and decide that the email owned by me, my place of work, or the place I work on a non-profit board, is my ‘primary email’. Every time that I fairly consistently use each.

What Can You Do

We are all living through this pandemic and have had some changes in our experiences or have been affected by it in some way.

As we work to stay healthy, emerge to experience those all important social connections, and continue to work, parent, and exist, there are some important things to remember.

Remember that we do not all have the same values, upbringings, or set of beliefs about health; whether that be mental, physical, or how we act during and post-pandemic.

It’s important to show respect to each other, and to recognize that each of us needs a level of respect as well.

If you ask an introvert who does not enjoy seeing people in person or interacting with others all that much what they have thought of the pandemic, you may get a very different answer than from someone who is quite social and enjoys moving around and changing their scenery.

As always, we remember the value of children and their own experiences which have been affected by the pandemic; what kind of changes that have been and are still being made to their daily lives and patterns; and their own tendencies to want to be around people or to leave their homes for activities.

I hope you, your family, and your loved ones work to recover from the changes we are continuing to experience, and I hope that you stay as healthy as you are able.

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