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» Hatrack River Forum » Archives » Landmark Threads » "Familiar Odors" -- a 5,000 Landmark

   
Author Topic: "Familiar Odors" -- a 5,000 Landmark
Farmgirl
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“familiar odors”

That’s the term I like to use. You know how sometimes you might be at a certain place, and you catch just the whiff of something…. Apple pie, fresh pine needles, whatever ….. and you are transported back to a previous time. Sitting on the stool in grandma’s kitchen, hiking through the Colorado mountains with family…

What I use the term “familiar odors” for is to explain how my past, in family, friendships and relationships, affect the way I am now. The paradigms that I sift all my incoming information through. Maybe I had a classroom bully named Greg when I was growing up, who constantly tormented me. Now I’m an adult, but when I meet someone named Greg, I may just for a moment bristle-up and get defensive or shrink back and be reluctant to know more about them. It’s a “familiar odor.”

We all have our ‘hot buttons’ and usually these are because of familiar odors. God knows that people on Hatrack have pushed my buttons a number of times, and have usually figured out what they were. [Smile] Like threads involving off-hand jokes about shooting cops, or stereotyping of others. That’s because for me, those conversations bring up familiar odors from my past, and affect me according to how they influenced my life at the time.

I have recently been building a new relationship with a new friend. I find that I bristle at little things that have nothing at all to do with him – it has to do with my perceptions due to previous relationships.

Growing up, my mother had problems with interacting with other people. She was, and is, a very dependent, needy person. She required others to make all her decisions for her (or else they just won’t get made at all); she hated going out of the house; she had anxiety and social phobias to the extreme. (I know I covered all of this in Derrell’s Mom thread). Because she was that way, and because I was too young to really understand what was going on, I viewed it as weakness. I saw how it crippled her. Because she was that way, I resolved to be the extreme opposite. I would need no one for nothing. I became a “people person” who thrived on relationships – yet I never gave in to “needing” anyone. Skin of iron, lack of emotion. That was how I determined to keep from being “weak”.

Although I now know, at age 43, that there has to be a balance in all things. I need to be open to my own needs and the needs of others. Being “needy” once in awhile does not mean weak. But sometimes those old familiar odors slip back in. Someone around me becomes “needy” and clingy toward me. And I run the other direction as fast as I can. How to best be my friend? Act like you really could care less if I’m even there – you are so busy living your own life and so happy and stable in yourself that you don’t need me. I’m lucky to have you. I have to work at you noticing me.

My ex-husband, for lack of a better word, was just a slacker. A bum. A free-loader. Each morning he complained about his life. Complained he didn’t feel good enough to go to work (even if he felt fine later in the day). Complained that people didn’t treat him right. When I first met him, I felt so sorry for him. This poor guy. People had treated him so badly. Then, by the end of six years, I had lost the ability to feel anything at all. I certainly didn’t believe him when he said he was ill, because he was ill every day, it seemed. Total hypochondriac. I certainly stopped believing that every job he lost was because his “boss screwed him over” and that he had done nothing wrong. I knew better.

Now, when I meet people, if they begin complaining, I bristle. Why? Because it is a familiar odor. They may be genuinely ill, or genuinely mistreated, but my insides are saying “buck up and bear it!” “I don’t want to deal with your problems, you bring me down!” Someone calls in sick to my work, and my mind always says, “are they really sick? Are they goofing off?”

I need to learn empathy again. I have lost it over the years. I know as a Christian I need to be able to empathize and help others bear their burdens, to love them and embrace their trials as if they were my own. To go past the iron skin.

But I find it so hard. I want so bad to be strong, and fear that allowing empathy in will create weakness in me – neediness like my mother’s. I need to learn to not run from needy people – or scorn them. It is okay for all of us, at sporadic times, to need each other. To need to be loved. To need reassurance and affirmation.

My head know this; my heart knows this; but sometimes the familiar odors are too strong.

Farmgirl

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ClaudiaTherese
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Stunning metaphor, Farmgirl. Thanks for such a well-written insight. This is really quite a striking landmark.

I share some of the same issues. Luckily, self-knowledge does seem to make it easier to identify when one is (or might be) reacting to a "familiar odor." Sometimes. [Smile]

[ January 18, 2005, 11:12 AM: Message edited by: ClaudiaTherese ]

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Lady Jane
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Wow...great landmark. [Smile] I love the metaphor, and I know just what you mean. [Smile] [Smile]
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Anna
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This is a very good metaphor, Farmgirl. Thank you for sharing this with us.
(((Farmgirl)))

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Space Opera
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Farmgirl, thank you so much for posting this! Like CT/Sara, I love the metaphor and really identified.

I think it's so important to look at our past and know why certain issues bother us out of the blue. If you feel you need a bit more balance in your life between needing and not needing I'm certain you will find it. Isn't it always said that the first step is identifying the problem?

And just so you know, you're honestly one of my favorite people here. [Group Hug]

space opera

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gingerjam
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ditto with identifying and a great metaphor.

that's a huge topic that relates to everyone and you managed to put it into a nutshell... hopefully highlighting the 'familiar odours' phenomenon for us all will enable us to increase our own self-knowledge...thanks!

quote:
And just so you know, you're honestly one of my favorite people here.
i know i've only been around about 2 weeks or so, but i agree...thanks for making everyone feel welcomed.
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dkw
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That's a perfect metaphor -- and kudos to you for working to recognize your "familiar odors."

[Hat]

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Icarus
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Awesome post.

I'm glad I read it.
[Smile]

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mothertree
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Did you ever see "What about Bob?"

"Gimme gimme gimme, I need, I need"

I tend to call "familiar odors" "scripts". But I know exactly what you mean. I have an ideal of responsiveness where I am not reacting to scripts but responding in an authentic way to the person I am with. It's an ideal I got from Bonds That Make Us Free by Warner.

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Carrie
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For me, the 'familiar odours' really are odours. I'll smell something or someone and be forcibly reminded of past times.

Thank you. ((Farmgirl))

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Annie
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What a great insight!

I'm glad we have you as part of our community here. Thanks for your persistence and competence and being sweet-ness. [Smile]

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Storm Saxon
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Neat landmark. Thanks for sharing.
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Elizabeth
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Great post, Farmgirl. Thanks for sharing.

Edit: not meant to copy SS, simultaneous post.

[ January 18, 2005, 12:44 PM: Message edited by: Elizabeth ]

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Dagonee
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Insightful, compassionate, and amazingly self-aware as usual, Farmgirl. [Hat]
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Bob_Scopatz
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I think this thread stinks.

[Wink]

Thanks for sharing, FG -- great landmark.

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BannaOj
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Why do I have the feeling dkw might steal this for a sermon? [Wink]

I love what you had to say Farmgirl. I know I need to recognise more in my own life when I start lapsing into a "familiar odor".

AJ

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ElJay
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[Smile]

Thanks for sharing, Farmgirl, and good luck becoming more the person you want to be. Knowing where you want to go is definitely the first step, and you've already proved once you can do it.

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Dead_Horse
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Neat post, FG! I think it might help me to become more self-aware to think of those familiar smells.

I have to laugh at [Laugh] Bob. My first thought on seeing your thread title was Farmgirl...farm smells...manure and freshly harvested sugar beets...and I was instantly 30 years younger and comforted.

I'm glad this thread stinks! [Smile]
Rain

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mothertree
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So what did ever happen with your ex? I remember a thread about that a long time ago...
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Farmgirl
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Oh -- he got everything turned back on eventually, around the first of December, I guess.

Hasn't done much since then, though, despite his earlier "plans" to find some work. He's still waiting on disability, and living on public assistance. He wanted to have one of the kids move in with him 1st of January because he was afraid he would lose assistance without having a "minor" child living there -- so I had my middle child go live with him, but SRS said he is going to lose benefits anyway.

*sigh* - well, his utilities will stay on until the end of March when the cold weather rule goes out of effect. Then they will all come due. And I'm going to try very hard to walk away and let him reap his own consequences...

FG

[ January 18, 2005, 03:37 PM: Message edited by: Farmgirl ]

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Allegra
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quote:
Now, when I meet people, if they begin complaining, I bristle. Why? Because it is a familiar odor. They may be genuinely ill, or genuinely mistreated, but my insides are saying “buck up and bear it!” “I don’t want to deal with your problems, you bring me down!”
This is my reaction as well. I try to be sympathetic, but I expect other people to have to same mentality as me. I am a bit crazy. I had a gallstone and I would have really bad attacks in the middle of the night. One night, the day before my scheduled surgery I had a horrible attack. I didn't wake my mom up. When she got up she found me in excruciating pain on the couch. We went to the emergency room. I was dehydrated and had to be on morphine and a nausia medication to get close to comfortable. My mom kept asking me why I didn't wake her up. I guess I didn't because I thought I should just deal with it. I expect other people to be this stupid, which is expecting a lot.

Sorry for the slight derailment. Great Landmark. [Smile]

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Narnia
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Farmgirl, thank for taking the time to put your thoughts into words. I find that I identify. I feel like I need to be more empathetic as well. What's especially crippling to me is that I unconsciously assume that everyone is just as UNempathetic with me...if I call in and I'm really sick, I think "They probably think I'm such a flake. Am I really that sick? I should have just gone." I constantly worry about how I'm being viewed, and after reading your post, I realize that if I had more empathy for others, I might just end up having more empathy/charity for myself. It's something I struggle with.

Thanks for your landmark. I can honestly say that I've always enjoyed your presence here and all that you've had to say. Here's to 5,000 more posts!! [Smile]

[edit: Allegra, it sounds like you and I have a lot in common. [Smile] ]

[ January 18, 2005, 04:26 PM: Message edited by: Narnia ]

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Allegra
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(Narnia: We are two musicians that are really hard on ourselves. [Smile] )
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Derrell
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[Hail] Farmgirl. That was very well written.
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Synesthesia
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What a lovely post... I am TOO empathetic... I have been known to feel people's pain from long distances. I cannot even watch the news without feeling agony or watch people get embarassed or hurt in movies...
It is unpleasent a bit....and embarassing....

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punwit
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I enjoyed reading your post Farmgirl. Nicely done and I've never found you to be prickly. On the contrary you seem gregarious and people oriented. Of course self-perception doesn't always align perfectly with what others percieve. Thanks for sharing.
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Kwea
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Farmgirl, have you ever wondered what my screen name means?

There is a author named Dave Wolverton who wrote a book called Serpent Catch , and he made up the word kwea to describe something that happens in the book. The book is sci/fi, and takes place on a world that has been created to house various lifeforms. There are several continents, and each continent holds a specific geological era of flora and fauna....sort of like gigantic wild Jurrasic Parks.

On one of them there are Homo-sapiens and Neanderthal people living together.

Cross-breeding happens, but 99% of the time it is unsuccessful...they strains are too different and the child is born with deformities or retarded, or it goes mad. Humans have a great ability to plan for the future, but Neanderthals live so much in the present that the two views are almost impossible to reconcile.

You see, Neanderthals have very similar brains, only larger, than homo-sapiens...but the area that deals with emotions is much more developed.

Kwea is a word he made up to mean "emotional resonance", which is almost what you are talking about.

In Neanderthals it is so much a part of them that there aren't any human words to describe the feeling or the experience. If a Neanderthal man loved apples and was eating one walking down the road, and a snake bit him so bad he almost died, he would not ever be able to taste an apple without not only remembering that but actually reliving it. It would be fresh in his mind as if it was happening all over again.

This concept drives the whole book, and I was so taken by the meaning of it that I took it as a screen name...not just because of the story, but because that is the way I experience the world in a lot of ways. I hear a song that reminds me of a lost friend and I remember, and feel, like I had just seen them yesterday..if only for a moment.

I hear Amazing Grace and I think of my grandma, and of playing that at her funeral, and I feel like she had just passed away this week rather than 7 years ago.

I loved your post, and just wanted to remind you that not every smell stinks of pain and frustration. My grandma, and others, will be with me for the rest of my life, because of kwea.... [Big Grin]

[ January 18, 2005, 07:24 PM: Message edited by: Kwea ]

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ctm
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Beautiful post, Farmgirl. Not only can I relate to the metaphor, I really admire your honesty about yourself -- this is something I need to be better at.

Thanks for being a great role model!

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rivka
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*inhales scent of madelaines* [Wink]

Great post, Farmgirl. [Smile] And I like the metaphor too. Recognizing my triggers is something I really try (not particularly successfully) to work on. I salute you for your efforts!

(I'd feel guilty about my rant thread, but I think it's legit. [Big Grin] )

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Shigosei
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I love the way you introduced the idea of the past coming back to haunt you. Thanks for sharing, and I wish you luck in keeping those odors which bring back good memories, and making new associations for those that cause unpleasant ones.
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