I have been feeling them for a while. A gentle hint of a breeze at first, barely stirring my attention. Now it would seem they are blowing like a gale force wind through my heart. Let me explain…
I have had a very hard last three years in my personal and professional life. Very stressful. Not that ‘stressful at the moment’ and a glass of wine will fix it kind. No. I have had the long term, exhausting, heart sapping kind that had slowly depleted my resolve and my emotional reserves.
I had a job in a small town that I loved. I was pretty content, but didn’t make much money, which wasn’t a huge concern for me. I was able to pay my bills, and the ends met, so I was fine with it. Then came along an opportunity to more than double my income, with better benefits and a two tier retirement with a 401K. So, like anyone else in my situation would, I jumped at the opportunity. More money is good right? Retirement…good. Insurance…good, especially with three rambunctious boys to contend with.
So, after a 6 month process, I began my new job. It was great at first, I had never made as much money in my life before. I was in a financial position to break out of my destructive marriage, and be free for the first time since I was 18. Everything was looking up.
Then the shine wore off.
The supervisor in my new job hates women, and he did his best to mess with me every chance he got. Changing my schedule almost daily, making sure I was never able to take vacation time, paring me up with a partner that was spiteful, hateful and mean, making my shifts 12 hours of absolute misery. The night supervisor was just as nasty to me, and went out of his way to try to get me fired before my probationary 90 day period was up. It finally took me and who would be my new, and best, partner, getting him demoted to get him to leave me alone. Still, he dug at me any chance he got. I was regretting taking this job big time, and longed to go back, tried desperately to get back, gladly taking a huge pay cut and lose my benefits. Anything to get away from these loonies.
To top off the stress in my office, the areas I work in are terrible. Shootings, car chases, stabbing, beatings, assaults, burned out derelict buildings, houses that should be torn down, people in the streets all hours of the night, drug deals in the open, pimps and hookers, drunks, domestic fights on the sidewalks, kids on street corners when they should be in bed, parroting their parents lifestyle, repeating the cycle of self destructive behavior. I drive past huge piles of contaminated soil, travel through areas that literally smell like sewer and death. Its dark, dirty, smelly, and strewn with garbage, piles of junk everywhere you look. The roads resemble those in a war zone, with ripples, bumps, potholes and whole sections of street missing. Just driving the streets beats you half to death. The noise never stops. People, cars, gunshots…it is never quiet. Nothing like what I came from. Where I came from, its quiet after 11, and the only noise is from the frogs, night bugs and the sounds of the river lapping at the banks. The air smells fresh, clean, not like something that got left to rot in a sewer in Tijuana. The pollution and streetlights hide the stars. Not a place for a country girl like me.
So then the year of furlough came, and dragged out. I made it through, and never missed a payment on anything. But at great cost to my nerves. Sleepless nights, bad dreams and worry. Constant worry. Worry for my house payment, worry about food, worry about my kids. My relationship with my ex-husband deteriorated a little more, and his inability to be a mature help was taxing on my already taxed spirit. I was tired all the time. Some days it took all my energy to hold my head up and pretend for my boys that life was fine. I was able to supplement towards the end with a small job I stumbled on thanks to a friend, and finally, I was recalled to work.
Now, you would think that after a year of being laid off, I would be anxious to get back to work and start that income rolling in again. Nope. I held a lot of anger and fear inside, on top of what was already there. Anger at the job not being what I was lead to believe it was, fear that I would just be furloughed again, and anxious about who I would have to work with. Turned out, that last one wasn’t something I needed to worry about.
Now the wind begins to pick up…
While I was gone, the night supervisor I got demoted put in for retirement, and has since gone. The hateful person I was paired up with left our department before I came back. I was partnered up with a great person, and it made all the difference to me getting re-acclimated to work again. Everyone should be so lucky as to have someone of his integrity and character to work with. Since I have been back, the company has hired a new person, and I have moved up in seniority, and out of the schedule hopping extra board position, into a permanent job. My working and off days are planned out in a rhythm, so I know when my days off are a year from now. I can make plans, and have a life. See my friends. Plan trips with my kids. Maybe meet someone new, who wont be emotional and financial suicide to be with. The faint breeze I barely noticed before is starting to blow hard with a renewed sense of purpose. I have a little hope forming at the edges of my jaded heart.
Then, I had to undergo tests. My stomach was a mess, I had terrible pain sometimes, and other troubles, which started, of course, when I was laid off. After my procedures, I was told that they had to remove three polyps from my colon, all three being the cancer forming kind. one was already inflamed, but it has been removed with its other two trouble causing friends. I also have acid damage in the lower part of my esophagus from stress induced acid reflux. I have an ‘elevated’ risk of colon cancer, and I have to go back in 5 years for another test. I am grateful for the stomach troubles, because if I had waited until I was 50, I would most likely be too far gone for help.
Now, there are two ways I can look at that. 1.) I can panic and be all tied in knots for 5 years, waiting for some invisible bomb to go off in my digestive tract. Or 2.) I can go about my life with a more positive mindset, an improved diet, and work at shrugging off so much hurt, resentment and fear from the last, oh I dunno, 19 years of my life.
I have chosen the latter.
I described who I used to be recently to a close friend, as a tiny person standing inside of the hurricane of my anger, screaming to be heard over the twisting, damaging wind. Now, she is a lot bigger, and the wind is finally carrying her voice, instead of snatching it away. I am no longer waiting for every moment to be right, agonizing over every decision, and looking backwards, reviewing my every stumble and mistake. I am jumping in with both feet more often than not, and I get better at it as time goes on.
I have a therapist. She isn’t big, or mighty, but she has been a great influence on me, and I feel liberated every time I see her. She takes away all the things I have been worrying about, and they become background noise. She tells on me with a dip or a jerk if I become distracted by the noise in my mind.
In the spirit of jumping in with both feet, I have brought home her big sister. And I do mean big. I went from a 250 Honda Rebel to a 900 Kawasaki Vulcan. I haven’t been able to give her my time quite yet, since I haven’t gotten her license to be a therapist, and she isn’t insured to provide her services, but soon we will be spending as much time together as possible. As soon as it stops raining anyway.
Things are looking up. the winds of change are blowing hard, and I am feeling better than I have in years. Freer. Happier, and stronger, both in mind and in spirit. Do I still have issues at work? Sure, but only until the supervisor finally releases his abusive grip on our department, and finally retires, slinking back under whatever rock he came out from under.
Until then, my therapist and I will be busy.