1, 2, skip-a-few, 99, 100.

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(I can’t be the only one who heard that ‘joke’ as a kid, right?)

I missed a couple of days already – in my defence, it’s been a ridiculous few weeks and this week, in particular, was jammed full of stuff every single day.  Also, I forgot about NaBloPoMo.  Next week is going to be a whole thing, too, so I clearly picked the wrong year to commit to this whole ‘write every day’ thing.

I’ve done a lot of talking this week and that, sometimes, makes it hard to think of something to write. I guess I get it out of my system a bit? I’ve had some really good thoughtful conversations (and a lot of hilarious discussions) and since talking is how I process things best, it’s been really helpful. There’s been a lot of feelings happening, so having the ability to talk about it to a lot of really empathetic, understanding people has been so good.

The past few days have been full of presentations and meetings and conference calls and more meetings and more presentations and van night and.. it’s been completely exhausting. On top of that, there’s.. some bigger stuff related to work.

The problem is that I can’t write about the situation that’s happening at work – in part because it has to do with someone (staff, I mean) who isn’t me, and in part because it’s so complex that I’d need a flow-chart, indexes, a page with a ‘cast’ listing, and it still wouldn’t be a good enough picture. There’s, like, the BIG problem, then a secondary big problem and a tertiary, too. Then a bunch of smaller (but still significant) problems.

And while I can’t excuse myself from the problems, and I am definitely involved here, I am also not overly responsible for the outcome. Other people – several of them – will need to figure out what they’re going to do and how they’re going to end this situation (on different levels).

See what I mean about complicated?

But I’ve been trying to figure out some ‘rules’ to get through the next few weeks and to keep myself focused in the face of others’ unpredictability.

  1. Take care of myself – and ask others to take care of me, too, as appropriate.
  2. Remember my role and be clear about it. There are things I need to do and there are things I will do and then.. there’s other stuff. Which leads into,
  3. Protect my boundaries. I genuinely like the people involved in some parts of the issues and I need to remember that I can genuinely like them without getting myself into stuff that I don’t need to be into.
  4. Do not encourage ‘side drama’. Everyone fucking loves to add shit to the pile, right?
  5. Let people take responsibility (or not) for their own stuff and the consequences associated with that choice.
  6. Remember to love.

I dunno, it’s all easier said than done.  I have felt so much guilt about two of the BIG issues and, through talking to several people, have (mostly) managed to put that aside. I have questioned myself on multiple levels about how responsible I was for some of this (and, I know other have questioned it too, even when they didn’t say it).

And the only thing to do is learn the lessons, as best I can, identify the good parts and hold them tight, and then let the cards fall where they will. I’ll do my best to respond to whatever happens next in a balanced, steady way.

I am so grateful that it’s the weekend – that I can not read email, not check voice mail, not have to focus on anything other than doing my best to relax and live my own peaceful life.

Kids and People Who Take Drugs and Humans In General, Really.

Published / by violet / 1 Comment on Kids and People Who Take Drugs and Humans In General, Really.

When I used to work for a major corporation, I spent a lot of time complaining (sometimes crying) about how much it sucked.

The thing I love most about my current job is that the urgency, the issues, the work is all directly applicable to human beings (and not appliances, as was the case with the major corp).  If I’m going to get invested in any way in something, it’s much easier to do so with humans than washing machines or fridges. (And yet, I was probably still overly-invested in those fucking appliances.)

An acquaintance/friend of mine recently became a middle school teacher in the US. She has been struggling with it for a bunch of reasons (one part being that it’s all new) and has been writing quite openly about some of her feelings, the challenges, etc.  As much as her discomfort sucks, I have also been laughing a little bit behind my screen.. because hooboy, I recognize myself there.

What I’ve learned from working directly with human beings is that.. human beings are messy as all get-out. You can’t (generally) control someone else’s emotions or thoughts or behaviours. You can’t anticipate their needs. You can’t shove them into doing the right thing(s). You can’t control what they do when they’re not around. You can’t fix their childhood issues (whether they’re children or adults) and you can’t undo biology.

The only thing you can control is yourself.  Set boundaries. Re-evaluate and reset boundaries.

We all know that’s easier said than done.

You could not pay me enough money to attempt to teach a classroom full of middle school kids. I’d be lucky to last an hour and, at the end of that hour, I’d be irreparably damaged (and I’m only slightly exaggerating). Honestly, chances are really good that I’d end up being one of the teachers in the news – a wonky, half-drunk mugshot posted next to a couple paragraphs describing how the students found me completely passed out in the parking lot before school in the morning.

(Large groups of children make me nervous.  Give me a bunch of people high on meth and I’m much, much more comfortable.)

The hardest, and best, parts of my job are.. humans. The clients, the client community, my coworkers, the partners, the families, the community in general. I am not always confident that I am working well with humans – some days it all feels like a perfect flow and other days it feels awful.

I’m constantly trying to figure out my boundaries. I’m trying to figure out why I’ve set them where they are, whether they need to shift (tighter or looser), trying to adjust them to different circumstances and different people.

The people that I work with, generally speaking, have completely different boundaries from my own – out of necessity, out of learning to survive, out of circumstances.  It can make me feel like I am too rigid, too cold, too uncaring. It can make me feel like I am not helpful, like I am not doing my job well.  There have been many days where I have spent a lot of time wondering whether my reaction to something was appropriate – too much? too little?

Many of the people I work with have intense needs – both in terms of their physical needs (housing, food, health care) and emotional (nurturing, caring, support). I am constantly reminding myself of what my job is – which can be hard since my job is not black and white. It is not a perfectly-boxed set of behaviours that I plunk on the table with each person.

My job isn’t to fulfil everyone’s needs. Sometimes I need to help people find other resources to support them. Sometimes it’s to nudge them.

Often, and it’s hard, my job is to step back and see the gap – the big, pressing, ugly need – and simply accept it. 

It is always hard to see emotional pain – and every single person I work with contains a lot of it. it is hard to step back and acknowledge to myself that I can’t fix it, or even patch it up, within the context of my job.

I have to refocus. I can help people by helping them feel they belong, that they have worth. I can help with certain practical things. I can help by listening (within certain contexts). I can help simply by accepting them as-is, where they are, regardless of what’s happening. For some people, I can provide structure and reliability and predictability. For some people I can offer encouragement.

I can’t wade into any part of someone’s darkness if I don’t tie a rope around myself so I can climb back out – and the rope is being very clear with them, and myself, about my limitations.

Sometimes people are very angry about that. Sometimes they try to manipulate me into changing my behaviours to fit what they need. And this is also really hard for me – because I know I could make them feel better (and, by extension, relieve myself of feeling bad for making them feel bad) if I just relaxed my boundaries a little bit.

But what they need is consistency. They need to see that boundaries can be filled with love and respect – even when those boundaries are different from what they’d like. In some cases, people will back off and leave. They need something else, or something more, than what I can give them – and that’s okay (as much as it suuuuucks). Sometimes people will fight the boundaries, push against the limits, demand that I justify/explain everything (repeatedly) so they can argue their side.  That’s okay. It’s hard, and it sucks, but it’s okay.

This is not unlike my friend teaching middle school kids. Kids are learning about the world around them and how far they can push things and they’re learning to be independent creatures (apart from their parents) and.. just typing those things makes me feel anxious.

I don’t say these out loud much, but this is the gist of what I would say to my clients if I could give them a schpiel about things:

Let me tell you what’s going to happen between us. Here’s what you can expect from me. Some of you will not like me. Some of you will think I am great. Some of you will try to fight me every step of the way. We will have conflict but that’s okay. You may move away from me or you may move closer. You will see that no matter what you’re doing, or how you’re doing it, I value you. There are things I cannot help you with no matter how much I wish I could. I have a role in your life and I need to stick to that role.  I will try very hard not to make you wonder where I stand on things. I will work hard to never make our relationship about my needs (and I will spend a lot of time thinking about my own needs). Here are the things I can do and here are the things I cannot. I will try to be direct when I answer your questions. I will hold on to confidentiality.

When I think about what I appreciate most in my times of.. difficulty.. it usually boils down to someone who feels steady (read: my beloved husband). Someone who can accept whatever’s going on with me and still be consistent. Someone who shows empathy but doesn’t make it about their own discomfort around whatever’s happening for me. Someone who doesn’t run in the face of my crap and who doesn’t take it on. Someone who agrees that things suck, yes, but doesn’t immediately try to fix it.

And so, this is what I try to do for others.  It is hard work.

I am a big fan of the instagram account @notesfromyourtherapist for reasons like this:

 

Truth.

Out!

Published / by violet / 1 Comment on Out!

You may have heard of an “Irish Goodbye” – which is where a person quietly exits, without fuss or fanfare.  I believe this should be renamed to a “[My Last Name] Goodbye” which is where one leaves by essentially sneaking out the door.

This is how the middle kid exited today. He spent many hours filling up his truck with stuff, with the enlisted help of several friends and his brother, and then.. he left. No farewell, no goodbye, just got in his truck.

If I may be honest, this is totally fine with me. He now lives, I believe, about 15 minutes away. We’ve already chatted on facebook.  Making a huge deal out of this would be, to me at least, terrible.

[My Last Name] Goobyes are good.  Let’s save the big ordeals for times when we need them.

The Journey.

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The Journey
— Mary Oliver

One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice —
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
“Mend my life!”
each voice cried.
But you didn’t stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
was terrible.
It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voice behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do —
determined to save
the only life that you could save.

Right-o.

Published / by violet / 4 Comments on Right-o.

I missed yesterday. I was positive that I had written something yesterday but.. maybe just in my head? (That sort of implies that I had some deep thoughts yesterday but no, no, I did not.)

The middle kid is moving out today. Well. He hasn’t been home in a few days and his instagram shows the back of his truck full of his friend’s belongings, so I assume he’ll show up here at some point to load up his own stuff.

I am curious just how often I’ll hear from him once he’s fully out of the nest. If he decides to emulate his older brother, the answer is “not at all” but.. I guess we’ll see. At the very least, I imagine we’ll hear from him occasionally for practical things and perhaps he’ll stop by for Solstice and dinner on his birthday. Free food and gifts are pretty much universally appealing.

In the meantime, I am doing laundry. In a few minutes I’ll start attempting to sort through my ‘seasonal clothing’ to see if I’m missing anything I need for the cold months. I may get super inspired and sort through my makeup – yesterday I washed my brushes and 7 (generic) beauty blenders. It’s worth noting that I don’t wear foundation more than a few times per year, so I have no business owning 7 beauty blenders, generic or otherwise. At least the makeup brushes make sense – I wear eyeliner pretty much every day… and should probably clean them a lot more frequently. Gah.

I have a series of grow lights in my room – for my succulents, violets, and other assorted plants (not weed). They’re on a timer and, when they turn on, it’s like the centre of the sun here – – but purple. The time changed last night (stupid daylight savings time) but I did not change the timer for the lights and.. so I woke up early this morning.  I’d like to say that I remained productive after that woke me up but, no, no I did not. It’s 11:45 and I’m sitting here in my jammas.

I’m hungry. Someone needs to make me some microwaved mini pizzas (me. The person is me.)

I’ve recently developed an affection for Depeche Mode having spent 30 years thinking of them as being overrated. Even some of the newer stuff is quite good.

I ordered legal weed 18 days ago and it hasn’t shipped yet. Good job government. Good job.

This may count as yesterday’s entry or today’s… we’ll see what happens later today.