All the F’s … and a Toxic Epiphany

Be warned: There may be cursing in this post. I generally try to keep things “family friendly”, but I also feel there are times when a solid round of cursing best expresses the true depth of feeling in a person’s heart. And I currently have lots of feelings in my heart. Lots of not-so-great feelings.

This past week was a complete and utter crap-fest for me. Work is always a bit of a nightmare — not because it is difficult or because it involves life-or-death issues, but because there is just So Much Of It, and because all of it takes time. And, also, because I feel constant pressure to do the best work I am able to do in the amount of time available to me. It often feels like, the more I am able to do and accomplish, the more that gets piled onto my plate. No … “plate” isn’t right. It doesn’t feel like I am sitting down to a wonderfully full plate of beautiful and nutritious food. It feels like someone is piling rocks on my head. The weight of all of it and the worry behind wondering if I can get everything done on time and with as much accuracy as possible feel like a heavy burden. I’ve been thinking to myself: “Self, just hang on, and this will get better,” for about three years now. So far, it has not gotten better. This past week was more of a fire drill than usual. There were emergencies that popped up every single day of the week, which pulled me off of other matters I needed to be working. My company text app was, literally, dinging at me constantly every day of the week. People were calling me. Deadlines got moved. And so on and so on. If it can happen during a work week and it is negative, basically, it happened this past week. It was beyond crazy, and not the good kind of adrenaline-pumping, isn’t-this-fun sort of “crazy”. No. This was the kind of “crazy” that leaves you crying at night and unable to sleep because you feel like a failure.

This all culminated on Thursday, when I got dinged by my supervisor’s supervisor (the Higher Boss) for inadvertently delaying in finalizing a deal. It was around a 2 to 3 day delay. To be fair, there was a delay on my part. This was because I was running around putting out other fires, although I did not get the chance to explain this. But the fact is that I had promised to follow up on something at the beginning of the week, and I failed to follow up until Thursday. The deal went through. Everything got signed that very day. But I got a scolding because this item should have had more priority than I had given it. I did not realize it was supposed to have a higher priority than I had given it. No one told me this, and no one gave me a hard deadline. Fair is fair: I should have asked. Higher Boss never asked what happened or why this particular task fell through the cracks. They didn’t care what was happening in my life or at work. And now, I have to have daily check-ins with my supervisor because it seems I am having trouble prioritizing things. I have been told this is intended as an effort to help me feel less stressed and/or to make my workload feel more manageable. I’m trying to take this at face value, but I have to be honest and say that it does not feel that way from my side of the fence.

I don’t mind the daily check-ins. I like my supervisor, and I talk to them multiple times a day, anyhow. So this really is no different than what I am already doing. But the implication that I f’d up, coupled with all the background information and the fact that I didn’t have full understanding of the intended timing/priority … Well, it feels grossly unfair to me. And, honestly, I’m still a little bit angry about it. No. Scratch that. I’m still a lotta bit angry about it. I’m sure I will get over it eventually. Hopefully by tomorrow or the next day. But I’m not over it yet.

Here’s the thing: This job has made my world so, so small. My entire world has become the 2 or 3 foot space where my work laptop sits. My entire world has become two computer monitors and a crap-ton of contracts. I have been working 9-12 hours a day, every day, for the past 3 years. This past week, I made a point to step away for 30 minutes to an hour for lunch each day. This was the first time in 3 years that I have done this. Before, I was sitting in front of my computer (or standing, as I have a standing desk) for the entire work day, other than quick bathroom breaks for me and the dogs. I don’t have anything left over for myself or my family at the end of each workday. I don’t have mind-space for writing or spending quality time with my husband or daughter. I can’t sleep at night because of anxiety and stress over possibly missing something or missing a deadline. When I do sleep, I constantly have stress dreams. I am So Damn Tired, both mentally and physically. All the time. After I calmed down from Thursday’s phone call, I looked over my running list of open matters. I closed out 30 matters for the month of March. And you know what? None of that mattered one bit.

And that was when I realized something: All my fucks are gone. In that moment, on the phone with Higher Boss, and in the aftermath of that phone call, I felt like I could actually see my very last fuck growing wings and taking flight. I still want to do my job to the best of my ability. I still care about my work, because I have a strong work ethic. I feel this is something that is, somewhat, being used against me right now. Even so, I owe it to my team to do my best to support them and help them. But any motivation and happiness I previously felt in my job are gone. It is becoming harder and harder to see the good points of this job, because all I feel is just … TIRED.

And this leads me to the “toxic epiphany” I experienced this weekend. I know, I know. This was a bad transition, but bear with me because it’s late and, as I’ve already established, I’m TIRED.

As part of keeping my licensing current, I have to attend a certain number of hours of continuing education for my profession. I’ve been too tired at the end of each workday to deal with continuing ed. And each workday has been much too busy to give me time to listen to courses during the day. My hours are due by the end of this month, so I am running out of time! This weekend, I sat down and made a start on them. I binged 5 hours, two of which dealt with mental health issues in my profession. In each of those courses, the presenter mentioned studies that have shown people in my profession are more likely to suffer from depression and anxiety than the average adult in my country.

This hit me right between the eyes. Y’all — We are talking a true “zing” moment, when, suddenly, so many things made sense for me. I’m a survivor of trauma. It was not intentionally inflicted, but it still happened. And it still makes up a part of who I am and how I approach the world. I already struggle with depression and anxiety — both as a genetic pre-disposition and due to the trauma I experienced. I’ve been diagnosed with PTSD, and that colors the way I approach the world and how I react to stressful situations. Basically, I picked the absolute worst profession I could have picked for myself. It’s like I took my pre-dispositions and just added more on top of them.

And that was when I realized something: I have been moving from one toxic relationship to another my entire professional life. (Granted, I was a stay-at-home mom for many years, which was pure bliss. Seriously. It was the first time in my life I truly felt safe.) I kept thinking there was something wrong with me; that, surely, there was a type of job in my profession that I would find satisfying and that would not compound my depression and anxiety. But now, I wonder … Maybe it wasn’t me, after all? Maybe this particular profession is just unhealthy for me? Maybe there is no way to fix this or to make this better for myself? Maybe, this is the reason I always felt like the proverbial square peg stuffed into a round hole? Maybe, it’s time for me and this profession to break up, once and for all. And maybe, I have some serious thinking to do. And, honestly, I am not sure what to do with any of these feelings or revelations or … well, “stuff”. But I do know one thing: I can’t physically keep going the way I have been. It is not sustainable. But where does that leave me?

I honestly don’t know.

A Week of “Meh” …

Last week was a week of “Meh”. Remember how I mentioned I was doing some contract work for a local nonprofit organization? And remember how I mentioned that I was enjoying the work? And remember how I mentioned that I was starting to feel more alive and better about myself than I had in years?

Yeah. Well … that’s all gone. Thank you, COVID-19. I found out last week that I won’t be getting any more contract work for now. Luckily, the company feels it’s a temporary pause. They didn’t cancel my contract, and they told me they are looking forward to having me back on the team when things go back to normal — whenever that might be.

I’m not mad about getting shut down. I totally get it, and, honestly, I was not surprised. I felt really fortunate to be getting work as this pandemic started rolling across the U.S., but, in the back of my mind, there was that feeling of dread. You know the one I mean: that nervous, sinking feeling that tells you things are going too well, and that you are soon in for some disappointment.

april2019-dandelion-macro2-sm

It sucks. I don’t think I’m overstating things when I say that. The people I was working with were very apologetic. I know they feel terrible about it. But, really, they have no reason to. It’s not their fault. It’s not my fault. It’s just the way things are for right now. Times are uncertain. We have no idea how long we might have to huddle in our houses. Maybe only until the end of April. But maybe all the way to June. Or maybe even longer. Everything feels uncertain and scary now. Businesses have to cut expenses. And, of course, an independent contractor is the first expense to go. I’m not angry about it. I’m just … sad.

So, my contract work dried up last Monday. Before the pandemic happened, I had applied for a job with a company in our town. Last Tuesday, I got a call from the hiring manager for that job. He wanted to let me know they are dropping me from consideration, although he appreciated my interest in the job, and he said he wants to introduce me to other people in the company’s legal department once we can all leave our houses. I came into the hiring process late, and they already had people lined up for second interviews, so I didn’t have much of a chance, from the start. The hiring manager told me this, up front. I appreciate his candor and his willingness to continue offering me some of his time and assistance. It was incredibly kind of him to make the effort to call me in person, instead of letting the form rejection letter speak for itself. But … getting rejected sucks, too. Even if you weren’t totally sold on the job (which I wasn’t), getting rejected is a blow to the ego. Last week felt like a combination knock-out punch!

summer2018-maui-mamasfishhouse-sunset1-sm

And so, I have been feeling bad about myself. No matter how much I tell myself none of this has anything to do with my skills or qualifications … No matter how much I remind myself no one could foresee how everything has had to shut down due to COVID-19 … No matter how much I remind myself that this is all a matter of bad timing and nothing more … I feel like a big, fat, ridiculous, stupid LOSER.

Depression has joined the party in my head, whispering that I am worthless and making it hard to do anything I want or need to do. It’s hard to get up in the mornings. It’s hard to work up the energy to do even the simplest household tasks. Luckily, I can’t avoid cooking, as my family still needs to eat. And the dogs still need to be fed and loved on. These have been saving graces for me. Even so, I can feel it pushing down on me — that black cloud of self-hate, tinged at the edges with feelings of failure and worthlessness.

Here’s the thing: I need to get my shizzle together and stop whining over what I have lost. Today, I sat down and thought about all the good things in my life: my family loves me, my parents are still in good health, my dogs are a constant delight, and so on. Yes, I may have lost out on something that made me feel good about myself, but my family is still okay. My husband’s job seems stable, and we are (so far) weathering this crisis pretty well. I don’t hate staying at home, which is a huge positive right now. I can still enjoy nail polish and reading and all the little things I love on a daily basis. No one I know is sick with this horrible virus. I am so fortunate in many ways, and I don’t even realize it.

tx-hwy1-IG-sm

No, I think it’s not quite that I don’t realize it. I think it’s more that Depression has a way of hiding these things from me. At times when I start feeling down on myself, I have to remember to go looking for them. This isn’t to say that feeling sad over getting rejected or losing work is wrong or anything like that. On the contrary, it’s a valid feeling, and I need to let myself grieve over the things I lost. But I need to remember I haven’t lost everything. I need to remember I have also gained. And I need to remember that this loss, no matter how awful it feels, isn’t the end of the world.

Today, I took a walk in the sunshine. I felt the wind against my skin. I smelled the freshly cut grass. I raised my arms toward the blue sky above, and it was Good.

NaNo Me!

Y’all!! It’s the end of October. And you know what that means, right?

Well … yes. Halloween and trick-or-treating and scary ghost stories and all of that. But October 31 means tomorrow is November 1. And November 1 means the beginning of NaNoWriMo.

Heaven help us all.

donatedbooks1-sm

I think I’m going to give NaNo a try again this year, for the first time in a few years. Just thinking about it makes me alternately excited and nervous as heck. I can feel my fingers shaking just a little bit on the keyboard as I type this thought out loud. To be honest, it scares the hoo-hah out of me. The rational part of my brain knows this is silly. It’s not like anyone is watching or paying attention to what I do or grading my performance or anything like that. It’s not like anyone even cares whether I attempt NaNo. And, certainly, the universe doesn’t give a flying flip about whether I succeed in it or not. Rational me knows this.

But there is another part of my brain where Creative Me lives. She has been locked away for what feels like a very long time now. She has almost forgotten the giddy feeling of ecstasy that comes with writing and creating and bringing a thought to life. Creative Me has forgotten she exists. She has become bogged down in the daily struggle with Life and Depression. She has forgotten how to breathe. She has forgotten how to live.

I need to create. I need to write. I need to watch words fly off a keyboard and onto a computer screen or off a pen and onto paper. I need to feel the joy of that once more. I need it so badly that just thinking about it makes me want to cry. And yet, I sit here every day and waste seconds, minutes, even whole hours. I tell myself, every day, I am going to write. But it doesn’t happen.

pish-bookshelves3-jan2018-sm

I’m scared. That’s the truth of it all. I am scared to death to sit down and write. I feel this way about pretty much anything, which is why blog posts have been few and far between in here. But the idea of writing fiction scares me so much more. I think it’s because I want it so much more. Or because I need it so much more. What if I can’t? What if my creativity is gone? What if it never existed, in the first place? After all, if it was true and real, would Life and Depression be able to steal it away so easily? What if, all this time, I have told myself I am a writer and that the words will come back to me one day, only to find out I was wrong? Only to find out they are gone for forever?

It’s big stuff, this fear. These feelings aren’t for the faint of heart. I have them every time I sit down at the keyboard. I hear those voices in my head every time I put my fingers to the keys: You are not good enough. You will not succeed. No one believes in you. You are nothing.

But, really, I can’t keep going like this. I need something different. We are in a new town now. We are in a new state. I’m happier, overall, because this town is quieter and more peaceful than our previous home. I feel like I can breathe here, without the trapped feeling that dogged me in Virginia. I love our new house. I’m not working yet, although I hope that will come in a few months.

It’s time. It’s time for me to take a deep breath and give this a try. I still don’t know what I’m going to write. But NaNo 2019 … here I come!

A Story of Mornings

I am not a morning person. I never have been. I am more of a night owl. No matter how tired I am, you will seldom find me in bed before midnight. On those rare occasions when I manage to crawl into bed at a decent hour (like 10PM), I usually end up reading for another hour or two before finally going to sleep. It’s like a switch flips inside of me after a certain time of night. I am “up” and ready to go!

Except … it’s night. And I’m an “old” married lady. And a mom. With responsibilities that have to happen during the daytime. It’s not like I can get dressed and head out for a fun night on the town when I’m feeling awake and ready to get my day started at 11PM or midnight.

november2016-mosaic-coffeeshop1-IG-sm

So, I have never been a person who hops out of bed before the alarm, rested, excited, and ready for the day. I’ve always kind of wished I was like that. Being a morning person, somehow, seems much more productive than being a night person. Perhaps it’s because life happens in the early morning and the daytime. It should happen equally as much at night. After all, a day is 24 hours, 12 of which are near dark or after dark — right? But I suppose Morning and Day had a better PR campaign. And Night was left with Vampires. And me.

Over the past several months, my usual patterns have changed. It is subtle — more like a different nuance than an outright change. Where I have always been slow to wake up, now I catch myself thinking about how I don’t WANT to get up in the morning. In those moments between being fully asleep and fully awake, Depression slithers in and whispers all kinds of things at me.

I feel good about the new year. I feel optimistic and hopeful, for the first time in a couple of years. Even though I can’t yet see exactly HOW things are going to work out for us, I feel, in my heart, that they truly are going to work out for the better. But in those moments when I am first awake and faced with the prospect of a brand-new day, my Depression natters and picks away at that confidence and hope. “You are foolish,” it whispers. “You are a failure. Look at the situation you are in right now. It’s all your fault, and you can’t fix any of it. You will never do anything right. Ever.” And, the worst one of all: “None of this is going to work out. Nothing will change.”

29689742122_e13299a8dc

None of this is true. I know that. I KNOW it. And yet, Depression is so horribly, terribly persuasive. It seeps in around the edges and finds little chinks in the emotional armor. And I find myself lying there in bed, snuggled under my weighted blanket and thinking about how it will take more energy than it is worth for me to get up and face the day. It’s better to stay here, where it is warm and nothing has gone wrong yet. Depression always agrees with that.

And yet … the day is out there. Life is out there. It is a precious gift, and it needs to be lived through the good and the bad. So I gather up my strength and my courage, and I put my feet on the floor. Ready to fight another day. Maybe, if I do this enough times, Depression will learn to be quiet, for once.

Holly Jolly Days

I do not feel “Christmas-y” or “Holiday-ish” or “Jolly” or … well, any of these things. I feel rushed and harried and harassed and hassled. I feel a little bit sad and beaten down by life. Really, I kind of feel surprised that it is almost Christmas. December feels like it has scooted by at lighting speed. It is roaring toward the end before I even got used to its beginning! I wonder if this means I am getting old. Or if it means I am not enjoying life as much as I should. Or if I am letting moments slip by me unnoticed amid my worries. Or, maybe, I am just stressed about things, overall.

Whatever the case, I have been trying to capture that “magic” of Christmas for myself. I’ve been reading favorite books, although none that are holiday-themed. I’ve been watching Christmas and holiday movies on Netflix. I’ve been listening to Christmas music in the car. I’ve been trying to do holiday-themed and festive nail art. We have had our tree up and decorated for a while, and I make sure it is lit every evening. I love sitting down next to a tree full of colorful lights. Today I sat down and wrapped gifts. That generally puts me in a festive mood. I love wrapping. And it did help a little bit.

dec2018-leesburgva-7-sm

But, still, I have to confess I am more than a little bit in the doldrums. Even after all of my holly-jolly-making efforts. I’m just … tired. I think that’s what it is. My daughter’s schedule is crazy. My husband is still searching for a job. In many ways, we are no further along this Christmas than we were last Christmas. I had thought we would be in the midst of changes for the better by now. Or that we would be able to look forward to something new and exciting. But, really, I am looking forward to months of “just the same” coming at me. I think I am exhausted, both physically and mentally.

We are traveling this holiday season. My husband’s family wanted us to come to Texas for a birthday and anniversary celebration. We are going to spend a few days with my husband’s family. And then, my daughter and I will spend a few days with my parents. It means we get to see all the parents this year. And it means my husband gets to spend time with his siblings, which he enjoys. It’s a good plan, and I’m sure it will be nice.

dec2018-leesburgva-15-sm

But … I’m dreading it. Does this make me a terrible person? Ugh. It probably does. But whatever. This is how I feel. I am dreading every bit of it. I’m dreading having to pack after spending weeks rushing from one appointment and school activity to another. I’m dreading having to get up in the wee hours of the morning to go to the airport for a 6 AM flight. I’m dreading having to go through security and talk to strangers. I’m dreading having to sit on a plane next to strangers. I’m dreading hearing my mom complain and feel sad about stuff. I’m dreading having to be around people who mean well but who ask questions I can’t answer. I’m dreading having to laugh and smile and pretend like everything is A-OK, when I feel like it is anything but.

Maybe I’m not capable of feeling jolly or festive this year? Or maybe I am just being a spoiled brat about the whole thing. It’s not like I would be happy sitting at home alone, either. At least, I think I wouldn’t be happy with that. Ugh. I don’t even know any more.

dec2018-leesburgva-8-sm

And I guess that’s the thing: I don’t know what I want. I don’t know if I want to go or stay. I don’t know if I am happy or sad. I don’t know anything about anything any more. I just want to feel …

Festive
Happy
Excited
Relieved
Joyful
At Peace

I want to find the magic and happiness I used to feel during the Christmas season. But I have to figure out how to find all of that within myself. It’s still there, isn’t it? I think I can feel it, just there, around the edges.

The Dead Wood

I trimmed my roses back a week ago. Or, maybe it was two weeks ago. Not that it matters. The important part is that I did the trimming, not the time frame in which it happened. I love my roses. I really do. Generally, I don’t even mind pruning them. I try to keep up with dead-heading them in the Summer, when they bloom and bloom and bloom. And then, as cold weather approaches and Winter starts to close in, I give them a really big prune. And I mean “big”. We are talking a drastic cut back.

The last two years of my life have been a mess. In so many ways, I have felt like most of what I knew was wrong … most of what I had built was crumbling … and a lot of fear and uncertainty took hold. I still struggle with my own depression. My daughter was diagnosed with depression. My husband had a heart attack and quadruple by-pass. I lost both my beloved aunts. My husband lost his job. And he is still searching for a new one. And truthfully, I know we are still lucky and blessed. There are so many people who are suffering and sad in this life. There are so many people who have it much worse than me. It feels selfish, in a way, for me to talk about or write about the things I have struggled with over the last couple of years. And yet, selfish or not, it has been a struggle. And continues to be one.

flowers-vase-shelf-sm

My roses have always been such a joy. They have bloomed enthusiastically and energetically all throughout the Spring and Summer. And even into the Fall. But this past Summer, they hardly bloomed at all. And I realized that, in the scurry and struggle of my life, I had been a bad rose mama. I had neglected them terribly.

And so, I pruned. It felt good to stand in the gentle breeze and focus on nothing more than the one cut right in front of me. And, after that, to move on to the next and the next. All things in their proper order. As it should be. It felt good to talk to my roses, to apologize to them for being absent for so long, and to thank them for all the beauty and joy they have brought into my life. The rhythms and motions were familiar and comforting. It feels like it’s been a long time since I have slipped into my own life and worn it like a comfortable shoe.

rose-raindrops1-small

At the end of it all, I was left with something that resembled a pile of sticks. By the time I was done, the sun had started to set. I stood in the gathering half-light of dusk and surveyed my work. And, as always, I had this sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach. What had I done? My beautiful roses! Had I gone too far? Had I ruined everything in trying to do something good?

Right now, my rose bushes look sad. Our weather has been cloudy and drippy and chilly. I think this makes them look even more pathetic, and the one little string of lights we have wrapped around them to decorate for Christmas hasn’t helped in the least. Have you ever seen that Charlie Brown Christmas special where Charlie Brown rescues the saddest, smallest, most pitiful little tree and, then, the whole gang puts lights and decorations on it? Yeah. That’s what my rose bushes look like with their little string of holiday cheer.

rosylady-raindrops1-sm

But I have to keep faith and hope that, by Spring, things will look different. Things will look better. By Spring, there will be fresh leaves and new growth where, before, there was only dead wood. And by Summer, there will be blooms once more. Even though, all Winter long, I am going to look at my stick-bushes and feel that same sinking feeling. But it’s temporary. I have to remind myself it’s temporary. And I have to remind myself that removing the dead wood is good, even though it might feel like a bad thing. New growth can’t happen without it.

And maybe there is a life lesson in there for me, too. Maybe I need to cut away some of my own dead wood: my regrets, my sorrows, my guilt. I need to look in the mirror and say kind things to myself. I need to have faith that this difficult time will pass, and that there are better things on the horizon. In the Spring, there will be new leaves. And in the Summer, flowers.

A Long Post for a Bad Week

I really wanted to call it a “shitty” week, because there is no other way to describe it. But I felt bad putting that right there in my title. So I put it in the first line of my post, instead. I’m sneaky that way. Whatever. It really was a shitty, shitty week. There’s no point in sugar coating it or trying to make it better or calling it something it wasn’t.

So you guys know my husband is looking for a new job. He has been looking for a new job for over a year. Finding a new job is hard. “Hard” really isn’t enough word to describe it, but it’s what I have in this moment. So we’ll just go with it. Anyhow, I think we all know trying to find a new job is a suck-fest and a half. He has been close several times. Like, so close we felt as if we could reach out and touch it. So close we could imagine ourselves stepping into that new life. So close that it seemed impossible for it not to happen. And yet, somehow, it ended up not happening.

This week, that same, stupid scene was on a never-ending, repeat loop in the movie of my life. I had built my teeny, pathetic hopes and dreams into something coherent and cohesive. Was it a pretty design? No. Was it perfect? No. It was cobbled together with sticky tape and lumps of glue. It leaned in places and caved in at other spots. But it was there, still standing tall and keeping it together. This week came in like Godzilla and smashed it all to pieces.

tx-hwy1-IG-sm

There is a large and well-known company in the town where we are from. Last year, my husband interviewed with this company for an executive position. He interviewed and interviewed and interviewed. Over the course of about a month, my husband must have talked with nearly every person in every unit that would possibly come into contact with the position for which he was interviewing.

You might think I’m exaggerating, and I wouldn’t blame you for it. But I’m not. He interviewed over the phone three times. He traveled to the town for interviews three times. The on-site interviews were, literally, all day long, where he shuffled from person to person. Everyone loved him. The hiring managers loved him. The people he would work with loved him. They loved him so much that they flew my daughter and me down to look at houses. The whole way through, he is hearing how people love him and how they are talking about him at all levels of the company and how all the talk is positive. It was a love-fest of gargantuan proportions. Seriously, this hippie love-fest made Woodstock seem like a tiny gathering of a few friends. They flew my daughter and me into town to look at houses. Did I mention that already? Yep. I did. Because this was a huge thing.

Guess what? About a week after our trip to look at housing, the company called my husband and told him thanks, but no thanks. The hiring manager didn’t even have the courtesy to contact him. Instead, it was an HR representative. With no explanation whatsoever.

I. Was. Crushed. I cried for days. I know that sounds stupid. It was just a job, after all. But my husband really needs a new job. And this wasn’t “just a job”. It was a perfect job. It would have allowed us to move back home. It would have provided us with a fantastic income. It would have answered pretty much all of our concerns and problems. Think about it. All those little, niggling doubts and irritations about money … wiped away in one swipe. This is powerful stuff.

fburg-wildseedfrm1-IG-sm

But, you know … Life doesn’t always happen the way you want or expect. And I know that. We all know that, right? Right. So we did what anyone does when life doesn’t work out as we want or expect. We cried a lot. And then, we moved on. We looked for other opportunities. My husband kept interviewing and interviewing and interviewing. And he got close, yet again, on several opportunities. But nothing stuck.

Until, now, a year later, when two other opportunities come up at the same company in our home town. These weren’t executive positions. And, truthfully, my husband was probably overqualified for them. But we felt we could make it work for our family. If it worked out, we would have the opportunity to move home, which would give us a lower cost of living and less bills and the ability to care for our aging parents. And, even more than that, it would give us a fresh start. Do you ever feel like you NEED a fresh start? Because I do. I’ve felt like that for a long time, deep in my heart.

After what happened last year, I was less than enthusiastic about my husband applying for these jobs. But he felt it was worth the chance, and I supported his decision. He applied. He interviewed on the phone. He went to the town, yet again, to interview. Everyone loved him. One of the hiring managers even went so far as to give my husband her direct line and her mobile number, in case he had any questions or concerns. She went so far as to tell him she was eager for him to come to work there. There was an offer. This was a preliminary offer, but, still … An offer! We couldn’t believe it. We were so excited and eager. We started researching schools and places where we should live. I realize now that we jumped the gun too much in this instance, but I’ve never been in a situation where a preliminary offer did not work out. And, in our defense, we are scared and nervous about what might be around the next corner. We needed, so much, to believe in this. We needed, so much, to believe that something good could happen for us.

rose-waterdrops2-sm

And then … Out of nowhere, it all fell apart. When the company HR representative first went over the compensation package with my husband, he talked the salary DOWN from what my husband was told in his interviews. Who does this? It was crazy and unexpected and confusing. My husband went back to the hiring manager to ask about this, and the manager told him she would work with HR to fix it. She did. They came up with a new package, and everything seemed great. The HR rep communicated the new package to us, and it seemed everything was good. This was on a Monday evening, at the close of business. Right after talking to HR, my husband emailed the manager he wanted to work for, asking for a time the next day when they could speak over the phone. He wanted to accept the job offer with her. We went to bed happy, thinking our long job search journey was done. It felt good to know we were moving home, and that what has been a stressful and pretty awful time for our family was, apparently, over.

Except … Unbeknownst to him, my husband failed to say “the magic words” when the new offer was communicated to him. The HR rep met with the two hiring managers on Tuesday morning, before my husband was able to talk with anyone in the company. He told them my husband wasn’t “enthusiastic enough” when they discussed the compensation package. He then went on to tell the hiring managers that it was his impression that my husband was only interested in promotion, and that he would never be happy in the positions for which he was being considered. The hiring managers, including the one who was so eager and excited about my husband coming to work in her unit, apparently got mad. And they rescinded both offers. Out of anger. Without even trying to discover the truth of the matter.

So, basically, the company HR representative got mad that my husband took steps to try and negotiate a better compensation package. And he went into a meeting with the hiring managers. And he did whatever he had to do to tank this entire deal. Which is pretty shitty. But what’s even more shitty is that neither of the hiring managers had the integrity to come back to my husband and hear his side of the story. Neither of them had the integrity to figure out this was, at best, a misunderstanding between my husband and the HR representative … and, at worst, an outright lie.

fburg-sunnyplant1-july2016-sm

WHO DOES THIS?!? I mean, seriously … Who fucking does shit like this? It’s perfectly normal to want the best salary you can get. There is no planet in the known universe where anyone, ever, would be happy with an initial offer that was LOWER than the salary communicated to them during an interview. Also, what’s wrong with wanting to move ahead in one’s career? Again, there is no planet in the known universe where people are happy to sit in a dead-end job for the rest of their lives. Or, maybe there is one place in the universe where that is the case, and we all know where that is. Right? Yeah. Right.

And what kind of manager gets so bent out of shape over the idea of a salary negotiation (which, remember, didn’t even happen; my husband was happy with the offer) that she acts in such a petty and ridiculous manner? This is business. It’s not personal. Well, it’s not personal to her. It’s very personal to us. Because she is playing with our lives and our livelihood. If interviewing for a job is like dating, this manager is the equivalent to the girl who sneaks into your apartment after a breakup and slashes all your dress shirts. I have a hard time wrapping my brain around it.

It’s not even that these were dream jobs. Or, really, even jobs that were all that fantastic. It’s that I can’t believe how mean and petty and outright horrible the HR rep and hiring managers were. And, by extension, the company itself. After all, a company is only as good as its employees. And the message this company is sending, loud and clear, is this: I will screw you over at every opportunity.

jamesavery-sorrentoring-book-IG-sm

So, yeah. All of this was bad enough to make for a crap-fest of a week. But, wait! There’s more!

My husband had an opportunity with a different company in another state. This particular opportunity has been banging around for a year. For a YEAR, the manager has wanted my husband to come work at this company. They have been talking around this thing for so long, and it always seemed like a good Plan B for us. The manager was eager for him to come work for her. She even went so far as to send housing information and set up calls for my husband with people who live in the city and work for the same company, so he could get a feel for life in this particular city.

Well, guess what? Plan B is now gone, too. After a year of saying how perfect my husband is for the job, that manager now suddenly feels he won’t be happy in the job. Really?!?! Personally, I think she promised him a salary that she found out she can’t deliver. And now, she is too embarrassed to admit it. But whatever … Either way, it’s shitty.

And then, a third opportunity fell through just yesterday. Same song, second verse. Or are we on the third verse by now? Whatever. The refrain is this: People Suck.

rose-raindrops1-small

It is hard to see someone you love so much treated so badly. It hurts when you have to stand by and let it happen. It hurts when you feel as if you are free-falling through a major hole in your life, and you have no control over any of it. It beyond hurts. It sucks. Right now, things suck for my husband and for my family. I don’t know what is going to happen to us. I don’t know where we are going to go or what we are going to do. I have to keep believing it is going to get better and that there is something better out there for us. But, truthfully, it becomes hard to believe any of that when so much crappy shit happens in the span of one week. I would say that at least it’s over and a new week is coming. But, honestly, I feel like I am taunting Fate at this point.

This has been one of those weeks where I feel like I’m watching all the Legos fall around me. And they are making a huge sound as they hit the floor.

A Rough Day

I’m taking a break from my Maui vacation posts. I had a rough day today, and I needed to blog it out. It is the latest in a long string of rough days. My family’s circumstances are changing right around us. It is stressful and a little scary. We are unsettled.

I don’t usually write about things like this. I mean, I write about my family sometimes. And I sometimes write about difficult things facing us. But I seldom write about myself, my background, and my own feelings.  I have to admit I don’t feel completely comfortable sharing this. Because I don’t want to hurt anyone, and there is a little kid inside of me who is desperately afraid of the wrong people reading this. Because they wouldn’t understand. And yet, there is something within me that needs to say it out loud, even if it is only to send the words out into the ether.

Sometimes I feel like life pushes me along in its wake. It shoves me this way, then tugs me that way. Which doesn’t sound like a bad thing. Not really. So you just go along with the flow. What could be wrong with that? It’s easy. You don’t have to think. You don’t have to want. You just float along.

oct2017-mantis3-sm

But it’s not that great. What if you want to choose for yourself? What if you want to know where you’re going? Maybe you have a destination in mind and want to choose your own path. Maybe there are specific things you want to do or see. But none of that is up to you. Because Life.

I’m a floater. I always have been. I was more or less trained to be this way from birth. I always had to be agreeable. I always had to be pleasing. I had to wear certain things or do certain things or care about certain things. Not because any of it mattered to me, but because it mattered to the people around me. Always put others first. Always care about their feelings, but have none of your own. Don’t make choices. Let others have their way. Don’t have hopes or dreams. Just … Don’t … Want … Anything.

When you grow up like this, you get the message. And it is this: You don’t matter. You are not good enough. You are not real.

I am an adult woman who is nearly incapable of making a decision. Or having an opinion. Or making a choice. Even something as simple as “Where do you want to eat?” or “What movie do you want to see?” ends up with me shrugging and saying that I don’t care. It makes my husband so mad.

nf-butfly7-sm

And then, one day, you’re all grown up. And you still can’t cope. Maybe you think you can. Maybe you even feel like you have made peace with all those things from your childhood. You have forgiven and moved on.

Except …

All those things are still there. Every hurt. Every sting. Every bruise ever suffered by your tender heart. Every moment of every time you told yourself, “If I do this one thing perfectly, I will be loved. I will matter. I will be real.” It never happens. And somewhere deep inside yourself, you know it never will. You hope for it and you try for it over and over again. And you end up feeling stupid and foolish.

No matter how much you think you have changed … no matter that you are now an adult … Those feelings and insecurities are always inside of you. Sometimes they bubble up to the surface and catch you off guard. And then you find yourself sitting in a public place in full-blown panic attack mode. You can’t stop crying. And you wonder if anyone would notice if you just put your sweater over your head to block out the world. Just for a few moments.

flowers-vase-shelf-sm

That was me, earlier today. I had a conversation with my mom. It wasn’t any big, heavy conversation or anything. It was just our normal, daily chit-chat. But something she said caught me. All these feelings came bubbling up, too fast and too much.

How foolish I must have looked: an overly-chubby woman with slightly wild blue hair, perched on a stool and crying into my sweater. It was not my finest moment. Luckily for me, I was meeting a dear friend. She arrived and gave me a hug and helped me collect myself.

I wish I could go back in time and meet Younger Me. I wish I could hug her tight and tell her that I love her. I wish I could tell her she is strong and okay the way she is. I wish I could tell her she is enough. And that she matters. And that she is Loved.

Feeling Sad

 

I live half a country away from the place my heart calls “home”. It’s a 2-day car ride. It’s a 3 to 4 hour plane ride. In terms of quality of life, the place where I live might as well be on the moon. It is that different. It’s more expensive and more stressful and filled with people who are, at best, inconsiderate, and, at worst, downright mean. We’ve been here for fifteen years, which feels like an eternity in exile. In many ways, I feel I have adjusted to living here. There are even things I like about it. But the longing for home and to be with my family is always there. It’s an ever-present ache deep down inside me. Some days, I’m okay. Other days … not so much.

Today was a “not so much” day. It didn’t help that the weather was gray and muggy, threatening rain all day long. Or that I woke up with a headache. Today, my anxiety was through the roof. I felt I couldn’t breathe, like the weight of this place where we live was pressing down and down on me, until I would be ground to dust beneath it. I’m tired. I think that might be the best way to explain it. I’m tired of living here. Not the kind of tired that can be cured with a good night’s sleep, but the kind of tired that makes you feel worn thin in all the important places.

tx-grayskyclouds-ig-sm

Today was my daddy’s birthday. He turned 87. And I wasn’t there. I couldn’t be there to eat lunch with him. I couldn’t be there to give him a gift and watch him open it. My daughter and I sang Happy Birthday to him over the phone, but it’s not the same. I’m half a country away, and I miss my family.

A few months ago, it looked like we might be able to move back home. My husband was interviewing for a job in our hometown. He had cleared every hurdle with flying colors. He got nothing but positive feedback at every stage, from everyone in the managerial chain. He was called back for a second interview, and then a third. The company even insisted my daughter and I come to town with him to look at houses. And then … everything went right down the drain. There was some last-minute political maneuvering within the company, and my husband ended up on the losing end. It was one of those “friend of a friend” things.

tx-hwy1-IG-sm

It sucked. There’s no nicer way of putting it. It just sucked. It still sucks. It was like, for one moment, the heavens opened up before me. I could look forward and see the future. I could see all of my closely-held dreams, moments away from coming true. It’s stupid and more than a little ridiculous of me, but I can’t let go of it. I still want to go home. I still have that dream. I still feel blindsided by the way the whole thing went down. Months later, and I’m still blindsided by it. I think my sweet husband has moved on from it so much better than I have. But my heart is still grieving.

I want to be with my family. I hate how morbid it sounds, but I want to have time with my parents before it’s too late. I’m lucky they are both in good health. They are rather curmudgeonly and set in their ways, but they are relatively young at heart. But, still … How many more birthdays will there be? Today, it really hit home for me. Just a few short months ago, it looked like we would be packing up to move by the time the end of May and beginning of June rolled around. Instead, it now looks like we are forever stuck in our same, old, fast-paced rut.

Today was my dad’s birthday. He turned 87. I sang Happy Birthday to him on the phone. And then, I hung up and cried.

The Grumps

I’ve got me a case of The Mean Grumps. I would say I just woke up in a bad mood, but I’ve been in a bad mood for the last several days. So I’m not sure I can write it off to something as simple as waking up with the grumps. I mean, I did wake up that way. But several days in a row? Ugh.

The most annoying thing about it is that I can’t put my finger on any exact cause. I think it’s a case of a lot of little things piling up to feel like big things. I feel unsettled and frustrated and annoyed. But not with any one thing. With everything.

It’s not really that things are going so wrong. It feels more like nothing is going right at all. My life seems to be flying away at the seams, leaving me to chase down thread after thread. It feels I will never be able to catch them all. I try to step back, take a deep breath, and remind myself that I don’t have to catch them all — not all at once. I can start with one thread. And then move on to another and another. And yet, when I think about doing that, I feel itchy and impatient all over. I don’t want to go thread by thread. I want it all different NOW. I want it all fixed NOW.

tx-grayskyclouds-ig-sm

And yet, I know thread by thread is the only way to go. The problem is that the thought of it makes me so tired. I feel exhausted by it. There are so many tasks, both physical and emotional, facing me. And, honestly, I don’t want to do them. When I think about going step by step and putting in the work and hours and mental and physical effort needed … Ugh. It makes me want to curl up in a ball and let the world pass me by. It all feels like Too Much.

As I was lying in bed this morning, it hit me: The Grumps. I turned up my ceiling fan to make the room cooler and cuddled up under my blankets and thought about how I didn’t want to get up at all. Wouldn’t it be much better to stay there, in bed? Yes, it would be. And that’s exactly why I had to get up and start on my day. Even though I knew I would make little progress on all the things I needed to do. Even though I had me a case the The Mean Grumps.