Changes

Yesterday afternoon I was told I would be giving up my office today and moving back into the pit to make room for a new administrator. The “pit” is the main office. It has 4 desks and currently 3 women, one of whom is my supervisor. I call them the mean girls club. I think that they are mentally stuck in high school and they’re the girls in the clique that whisper behind everyone’s backs. I sat out there when I first took this job and at first it was okay. Then they got comfortable with me. They’re loud and obnoxious and catty. Then came a conversation on instant messenger about another coworker that escalated to my supervisor jokingly saying she wished this other coworker would die. There is also a problem with the layout. The last desk simply doesn’t fit so the chair is in a walkway. There is no privacy, no personal space, and you’re constantly bumped into. This was a particularly difficult situation for me since I am already very self conscious of my weight and felt like I was in the way. I told my supervisor and our department administrator (the decision maker) that I was very distracted and unproductive in that environment. Within days we had a plan for me to move into an office once a doctor moved. They warned me that when we ran out of space I might have to give it up.

The problem is that over the course of the months I’ve had this office, I’ve developed such a problem with these women. I’m nice to them and they are polite to me. But they were unhappy I didn’t want to be part of the club and they made it obvious. One of them doesn’t even look at me or say hello. They “forget” to include me in department lunches. I watch them have their whispered conversations and disappear for hours at a time together. When the department administrator told me I had to move back in there, I said okay. I said I could deal with it. What choice did I have? I walked back to my office and it hit me and I cried. I fought the tears for nearly two hours while emailing friends and my husband. I feared for my mental health and I simply can’t afford to leave this job. I would find another job, but the job market here is still bleak.

Finally I sent a message to the one friend I have in this department and we took a 15 minute walk and talked about it. She brainstormed ideas with me and we came up with some potential options that I may have been blinded to if I had stayed in that place of mental turmoil. I was nervous about approaching the administrator but then I happened to run into her in the bathroom. I kept it casual and just made the suggestion that I move in with another coworker. Now, the girls here really don’t like this coworker and can’t understand voluntarily being around her. I’ll take some grief for that. But, if I can’t have my own office, I feel it’s the lesser of two evils. Truthfully, she’s not that bad. And we won’t be face to face, it’s an L-shaped office and she’s in the short section and I’m at the far end of the long section. She also works 10-7 while I work 8-5 and she’s out and about quite a bit. I will have to share the long side of the L with a part-timer but he’s a friendly, quiet guy who also chose to work in there rather than in the pit so I have no hesitation about sharing space with him.

It’s not perfect. But it’s tolerable and will keep me here in my job. It will keep me from dreading coming to work every day. I’m disappointed in my initial reaction but glad I recovered in a matter of hours. I’ve mentioned this to my therapist but we haven’t had time to delve into the issue of why I react so strongly to everything. Maybe next week we should take some time to explore it.

Refocusing

I’ve been so confused, no wonder I can’t lose weight! Two of my close friends are both getting healthy by giving up pop, making slightly better food choices, and exercising. I’ve had doctors telling me not to worry about exercise but to overhaul my diet, doctors telling me I should be a vegetarian, doctors telling me to cut sodium 100% out of my diet, doctors telling me to pay for a weight loss treatment center I can’t afford and one doctor telling me to make better choices and exercise every day even if it’s for just 10 minutes. That one doctor that believes in moderation and exercise? She’s my psychiatrist!

It makes perfect sense. I know from experience that exercise makes me feel better and feeling better helps me make better choices. It was just so hard to ignore all of the other doctors that should know better. I was on the verge of overhauling my diet again. I stopped and remembered how many times I have done exactly that and it has backfired every time. I will make some improvements to my diet including lowering my sodium, adding more fruits and vegetables, drinking more water, and monitoring my portions better.

The last thing I truly focused on health-wise was stopping the binge eating. I would say that at this point, it is 90% gone. I can’t eat the quantity I used to even if I wanted to and I’m finding it easier to distract myself in the evenings. I know it helps that, through therapy, I am feeling my emotions rather than stuffing them in my mouth. The one weak area I seem to still have is when I’m tired. It took two months which felt like a long time but it’s breaking two decades of a bad habit!

I also know that exercise can help me sleep better and I need to use my light therapy again with the season changing. I shouldn’t have waited this long! I hardly see any daylight before work now and only about an hour afterwards. I’m sure it would help if I could get out of this basement office some during the day too!

So here’s my next steps: 1) use the light in the mornings, 2) work exercise back into my life.

I have a friend willing to go to the gym after work with me so I want to make that happen at least 3 days per week to start and build up from there. And days that I don’t go to the gym I need to spend at least 10 minutes on the treadmill at home. I also need to make a point to take my dog for a short walk when I get home. She doesn’t like the outdoors much and runs back in the house as quick as she can but it will do us both good to get some fresh air even if it’s already dark some days.

Nightmares, Part II

My sister was in labor and we’re sitting in a waiting room and they put something over my head to knock me out. When I come to she’s gone and they tell me she was ready but I wasn’t so I go through the door looking for her. It’s mostly dark in the room and there’s a line of beds filled with girls. I see her and she sits up and she looks weird to me and she hands me this baby that’s almost like a toddler. I give it back to her and she says something cryptic to me but I can’t remember it. It was that they had done something to her or the baby or both and watch out for them or find out what. The next thing I remember I’m in the parking lot going from one nurse to another and none of them will give me answers. I go back inside looking for my sister again but the beds are empty now and I come to a metal door with a glass window in it. My parents are on the other side and won’t give me answers and I’m trying to break the glass with a hammer. My dad swings back with an ax from the other side and it comes through the window and suddenly my sister who hadn’t been there a second before says “now look what you did, you got your dogs throat slit” and I turn to look and my dog had jumped up and the ax had slit her across the throat except she didn’t seem to be bleeding much. Next thing I know I’m on the floor trying to hold her and wanting to call the vet and I can’t figure out how to do both. I woke up then.

I sent my husband a text because he was in the living room with his headset on. I broke down crying about the time he opened the bedroom door. I don’t know since the dream was so unreal but I cried hard for a good long time. My husband just held me. When I could finally breathe again he brought me tissues, klonopin and ginger ale. I was still so disturbed that I curled up on the couch with him and stayed up for a few hours before managing a nap until my alarm went off for work.

Nightmares, Part I

The week before last I had a very troubling nightmare. I’ve been trying to put it out of my mind ever since. Last night I had another, even more disturbing nightmare. This is the first of the two.

I was home alone, in a small house on the beach but laid out much like our current one. It was completely dark outside. I hear teenage girls chanting on the beach and it sounds like they’re saying “hey norton, we’re waiting on a murder charge” over and over. My first thought is that they’re on their way to some kind of protest. Then suddenly there’s a small group of them chanting this right outside my patio door and I realize it’s meant for me and I pull the curtain closed real quick. They move to the other side to another door and as I pull that curtain closed there’s a camera flash and I see one girl’s face. There’s a gap in the curtain and her face is pressed against the door now and I yell “I’ll get my gun” and they change their chant to “bite the bullet, you’ll get the bullet” over and over. I run from the room and that’s when I wake up.

I wake up breathing hard and remembering every detail vividly and still haunted by the chanting. It was hours before I went back to sleep and even the next day my memory of the nightmare was clear as it could be.

Remembering

The day my mother died was sunny. I know it was cold and windy, and even though it was early January, I remember feeling the warmth from the sun that Saturday.

I was in the car with my soon-to-be-ex-husband. We were working through some of our issues and I was driving. My father called and asked me to meet him at the hospital because my mother was having chest pain. I took my ex back to his car and then headed to the hospital. I remember not being ready for my family to know that he and I were on friendly terms. I don’t remember if my sister was already at the hospital when I got there.

My dad told me that they had a fight that morning. He told my mom that “one of them would have to croak or they would have to get divorced”. She had been in her bedroom and had decided to get up and take the dog for a walk. He saw her from the master bathroom window. She came back inside and told him her chest was hurting, especially in her back. He called an ambulance.

She had flirted with the paramedics. My sister wandered in and out of the waiting room. She was talking to her boyfriend on the phone for most of the time. My dad was getting hysterical and had to go sit in the waiting room. It was just me and my mom and I was holding her hand. I got to tell her I loved her. She told me she knew she wasn’t going home. She was afraid. I told her she was wrong.

She squeezed my hand tight when the pain came. I don’t remember letting go. I just know I was moved aside by the nurses when she coded. I was standing outside the curtain crying when the nurse said she was sorry and walked out to the waiting room with me.

My dad broke down immediately. He saw my face and he knew. They took us to a small room and various people came in to talk to us. I don’t remember saying much of anything to them. The organ donor coordinator came in and I didn’t argue when my sister said that my mom wanted to be an organ donor. I still don’t know if I believe her. Some of my mom’s closest friends stopped by. My sister had started calling them immediately. I was in shock at the time but now I don’t understand doing that. It seems better to spend time with family first, to let it sink in. I don’t remember the rest of the day, any of it.

I know in the following days I spent a lot of time at my parent’s house. It seemed there was nearly always a house full of people. I remember sitting on the kitchen counter in the corner. A guy I had just started casually dating came to the house and he was very supportive in those days. He met my parents for the first time the night before my mom died. He spent time with my father but my mom had gone out to dinner with a friend. She said hello to him when she came home but said she was tired and went up to bed right away.

It was my almost-ex-husband that came to the funeral with me. He was family. Afterwards there wasn’t room in the family car for me for the 3-hour drive to the burial. It was my dad’s niece who rode with him, my sister and her boyfriend. So my husband made the drive with me. On the return trip we weren’t invited when they stopped for lunch at a german restaurant.

It’s ironic, the past couple weeks of my life I have realized the hurt my mother caused me and started to deal with it. I have always acutely felt the pain from my sister and often from my father. But I am only now realizing how much of an over-arching theme this has been in my life. I know that I need to forgive in order to heal but I haven’t reached the point yet where I’ve figured out how to do that. Maybe it will come naturally as I work through this process.

Last week I felt like the grieving finally started. I’ve learned that I have to accept my mom for who she was rather than pretending she was perfect. I’ve identified why I hurt so much. I’ve written her a letter I can’t send. But I didn’t know how to grieve. I’ve spent my time wondering how to make that happen so that I have a chance of moving forward. Maybe you can’t make it happen. Maybe you just have to open yourself up to feeling everything you’ve been denying.

Last week I got in bed and I was holding the teddy bear my husband gave me and I thought about how I always get my stuffed Frosty the Snowman out when I’m sad about my mom and especially through the holiday season. I left him on the shelf but it made me start thinking about my mom and my grandmother. And for the first time last night I could remember how it felt to hold both their hands. I cried hard for an hour.

I feel like I’m grieving for the first time. And I don’t like being this sad person but I know I need to let it be for awhile. I need to give it time to sink in. She’s never coming back and I can’t change the past. But I can forgive the past in due time. Maybe that will come naturally when I’m ready the same way grief has come.

Forgiveness and Rejection

I got stuck mid-week. I was at a point where I had processed my feelings about my mom but I didn’t know where to go from there. Is forgiveness the next step on the road to healing? I’m not sure it’s necessary as I don’t harbor ill will towards her. I don’t really know how to forgive. Maybe I already have without a conscious effort. Forgiveness is a problem for me regardless of whether it’s necessary in this instance. There are a lot of other things in my life that I need to forgive because I’m holding on tightly to the hurt.

I had a therapy appointment yesterday afternoon. We talked about the progress I’ve made with this issue and how it relates to so much of my life. Many people have hurt me in much the same way, it’s kind of a theme. And I don’t trust because of it. I’m always waiting for the other shoe to drop. My therapist classifies it as a fear of abandonment. I’m not sure I feel that abandonment is the right word, maybe rejection is more accurate, but our time was up. She asked me to think about how I deal with this fear and how I should deal with it.

I know that I deal with it by typically leaving people before they can leave me. In more recent years, I simply don’t let people get close to begin with. I have a constant fear that my expectations will never be met, that people will always let me down. And so often, that’s exactly what happens.

It’s finally becoming clear that most of the problems in my marriage are mine. I fought to leave my husband for the first three years but I didn’t really have anywhere to go and he held on tight. I’m so grateful that he did. I still have my problems, and I still start a lot of fights, but it’s the only relationship in my life with any security. And yet, I fear if I was 100% honest with him, that he would leave. And I would deserve it.

Being Brave

It was 2005 and I was on FMLA and attending the half-day program at the psychiatric hospital the first time a therapist told me to write a letter to my mother. Every therapist I’ve seen since then has suggested the same thing but I could never do it. Finally, on Friday, I wrote that letter. It was hard, really hard. But I realized that I had such a mental block that the reason I couldn’t write before is because I had no idea how I really felt. My mother was safely on her pedestal in my mind and a negative thought was not allowed. I felt guilty, I think, over how I had treated her for a few years and I didn’t understand why I had been that way. I chose to only remember the time when we had a good relationship which was, unfortunately, only the last 6 months of her life. Now, I realize I rebelled and treated her badly because it was the only way I could get her attention and I so desperately wanted her attention that I preferred to be punished than ignored. The truth is she was a wonderful woman, strong and beautiful. But she was human and she had her faults like the rest of us. She did the best she could. And now I can forgive her.