Wednesday, July 31, 2013

"Storm Damage" Post Workplace Abuse

The damage that a storm, or any natural (or unnatural) event causes is instantaneous.  And visible.   Anyone can see it.  Depending on how violent or visible the event is, the  media pick it up and plaster pictures all over the print media, TV and the internet.

Our first reaction was exhilaration on experiencing the storm firsthand while driving through it and then later through seeing the damage firsthand.

On seeing our backyard for the first time after the storm, we were thankful that it was our neighbour's tree which had snapped and not ours.  We were secure in the knowledge that he would tend to it as soon as possible.  It was nothing more than an annoyance in our lives.  Nothing major.

We went out to survey the damage around the town which at first added further exhilaration.   Then as we saw more and more of the extent of the damage and began to perceive that restoring power was not going to be a quick fix, we began to comprehend the seriousness of the situation.  And the situation became just a little more major in our estimation - but still more on the annoyance level than anything else.  Still nothing really major.

We began to wonder:  just how long is this going to last?

Just how long are we going to be inconvenienced by this?

Just what measures should we take to live through this happening?

We got out the flashlights.  Note to self:  make sure that all flashlights are in an easy to locate location.  Another note to self:  make sure they are all working and that more batteries are stocked and stored nearby in that central location to make location easy.

We got out the radios.  Note to self:  Make sure to stock batteries for radios in that central location.  Also, make sure to note where said battery powered and hand cranked radios are located.

One of our immediate needs, more immediate than a light source, was food.  Without power and not having a gas stove, what were we going to do?  How extensive was the damage?

Not knowing, we made do with crackers, cheese, sandwiches and potato chips - which was a good decision since the power didn't come on until the next morning.

Again, we may not have been aware of everything at that time as in how long it was going to last, when would power be restored, etc., but because it was something natural, something more or less obvious, the situation we were dealing with and the steps needed to deal with the situation were fairly obvious.  And really, for the most part, it was more of an annoyance, a blip on the screen of life.

With abusive situations, the victim finds themselves dealing with unseen damage.  All the damage is internal.  Hidden inside the body - and mind.

The situation is not obvious.  Even to the victim of the abuse.  Many times, the victim is not aware that they went through the emotional equivalent of a severe storm and battering to their mind and body.

There are no overt trees or power lines down.

However, inside where the person truly lives, they are living in a chaotic mess.

Verbal assaults have totally destroyed their self esteem.  Stress and overwork have done a number on their energy levels and with resultant chemical imbalances in their bodies.

First there is the acute phase which can be a stress breakdown with stress symptoms such as stuttering, impaired cognitive abilities, making mistakes both at work and outside of work.  These are just a few of the symptoms I experienced in one or both of the abusive work situations I lived through.  Similar to when the physical storm I've described in our region first hit.

Next, usually months later, comes the chronic phase in which physical symptoms such as (in my case) extreme fatigue, lack of balance, inability to think or talk, etc.  start to manifest themselves.  Even long-term illnesses can crop up during this time because of the high levels of stress the victim has endured and how these high levels of stress have impacted the victim's body's ability to cope with life's demands heal itself.

Because of the nature of the beast - the beast of workplace abuse, that is - survivors cannot just make out a list of needs to fill like we did with the physical assault of the storm.

When I was walked out the door of that company that day in March 2005 and the door closed firmly behind me, I unknowingly started the trek through a minefield of trauma and PTSD.  Things I never in a million years ever dreamed would invade my world.

Not only did they invade my world due to the abusive workplace situation and its equally brutal end, but they made themselves quite a home in my life.

Never even bothering to introduce themselves.

What many people, even myself, perceived at that time as nothing more than an annoyance, a blip on the screen of my life, was something much more destruction.  More lasting.  More detrimental.

This is the beginning of a series going through the initial wasteland of emotions, untreated and undiagnosed trauma and PTSD which lasted eighteen months.

A period where confusion and hopelessness reigned.

Monday, July 29, 2013

A Week After the Storm: The Cleanup Continues

On July 19th at approximately 6 p.m. a storm swept through our area.  The rain slanted sideways.  Rain poured in torrents off the windshield of the car.  Even with the wipers on at their highest setting, they couldn't keep up.  I pulled to the side of the road.  The traffic lights a block ahead of our stopped vehicle went out.  At that point, we didn't know the extent of the damage or the extent of the power outage.  We just kept going on, hoping that eventually we'd come to a working traffic light.  We didn't.   As we progressed, we started to see trees down along our route home.  Some even in the road.  Cars gingerly maneuvering around them.  When we got home, it was therefore no surprise to see that our power was out.  For how long, we didn't know at that time.  We went into the back yard and this is what we saw.  It was our first hint of the massive destruction which had taken place in our area as the storm cut in a straight line through.

Since the power was out, we decided to get in our car and take a ride around.  Trees were down all over the area.  People were already out checking on the damage.  We saw where large trees had come down taking power and phone lines with them.  We saw power crews already working on some of the worst of the damaged area.  We saw neighbours helping neighbours.  We saw a fire truck across a street, blocking it, because of a downed power line.  We saw areas where there was little to no damage and all the power they could wish.  Where life was normal.  Then we re-entered the damaged zone where life was anything but normal.  

Yet even there, life was going on.  Not the same way as normal.  People were responding as normally as possible to an abnormal situation.  One restaurant stayed open.  Having what they called a parking lot party.  In one area, neighbours were out with reflective vests, guiding traffic through a street down to one lane because of a downed tree.  Others sat in groups on their porches.  Making the best of the sudden change in their situation.  Like us, hoping it was only for a short while before power - and life as we know it - would come back to normal.

A week has passed since the storm.  It took several days, but the power has been restored to all the homes.  The tree in the picture above is now stacked cordwood by our neighbour's shed.  Yet, the sound of power saws continues to punctuate our neighbourhood - and will for a while.  Many trees are still down.  Jagged stumps of what had once been majestic trees stand in people's yards.  On my walk, I saw a line which I can only assume is a cable line still down, held more or less in place by a piece of tape, a new pole lying on the ground, waiting for the crews to get around to it.

We've heard that it will take a month to get around to taking care of all the downed trees.  Those still on the ground are withering, the leaves turning brown without the lifeblood which once pulsed through them - before the storm.  Before the devastation.

Why am I going on about a storm in my area?  What does a storm have to do with me?  With my chosen topic of recovery from workplace abuse?

I've decided to use this analogy of the storm, its suddenness and lingering devastation as an analogy of trauma.   

Stayed tuned to this blog site for more tomorrow.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Post Damage and Workplace Abuse - Life Is Complicated

Damage in our neighbourhood after the storm on July 19th
Oh me!  Oh my!  Three days have passed since you've heard from me.  For a blogger recently committed to blogging every weekday, Monday to Friday, five days I week, I've failed miserably this week.


I'd love to say that I was in some exotic location doing something memorable:  in the Himalayas climbing Mount Everest (is it in the Himalayas?). Hmmm.

Or perhaps, on a beautiful Caribbean island wearing a bikini, lounging on the beach, long, silky hair lying luxuriously along my shoulder like a sleek mane.  Oh yeah.  Wait.  I don't have either a bikini or long, silky hair.  Nor does my hair lie luxuriously, sleekly on my shoulder when it was long.  It more or less resembled a brillo brush.  And the body shape?  Let's not go there.  OK?

So where have I been?

And what have I been doing?

Enjoying a day at the "new" splashpad with the grands.  I call it "new" because it wasn't there 30 years when my kids were kids; therefore, it is "new" - at least to me.

The most exotic locale I've been to lately has been the local park with my daughter, all three grandchildren - and my camera.

Or was the most exotic locale the local library?  Hmmm.  Maybe the grocery store?

I think you get the picture.

There is nothing "exotic" about my life at the moment.

Indeed, for the most part I've been holed up, not just in my house but in the room I consider my "safe" place.

I've been watching DVDs, knitting or rather tinking (which is knit spelled backwards and is basically unknitting what you've knitted).

Working yet again on a set of both physical and emotional symptoms that crept up uninvited.

Grief.  Weariness in the journey of recovery.  Wishing it were over.  Wishing my life was what it used to be in terms of things I could do.

But wishing is ... well ... just wishing.  It's reality that keeps bombarding me and slapping me up aside the head (rather thoughtless of it, don't you think?)

It's my altered reality that I have to deal with on a daily basis.

And this week, I've let that altered reality get me down.  I've let it take over.

I've let it ....

Yet, there's the other side of the reality.

I've persevered in the knit piece shown above (anyone in the market for a pink baby blanket in say the year 2015?).  It is now 21 inches long (isn't that the approximate length of the average newborn baby?).  In some ways, it's just like me.  Imperfect.  Mistakes and corrections to those mistakes knitted into the very fabric of the piece.

Isn't life like that, though?

Full of mistakes.  Things that we wish hadn't happened?  Things we regret?

We can't undo our mistakes.  There is no delete button in life.

But we can knit on.  We can incorporate our mistakes - and their corrections - into the very fabric of our lives.

So today, I put fingers to keyboard once again.  I look at the blank page - which is intimidating in its blankness.  I let my fingers drift across the keys.  And yes, I looked at the pile of pink knit on the chair beside me.  

I'm in my "safe" room.

I'm doing what I love best.  (Or rather two of the things I love best:  writing and knitting - NOT at the same time).

I am alive.  I am able to face today.

I put one finger to a key and press it down.  Then another and another.  Before I know it, I have a word, then a sentence, then a paragraph.

Eventually I have a blog posting.  Today's blog posting.

I am able to face today - and it's challenges.

For that I give thanks.

Life is often what we make it.  On July 19th, a severe thunderstorm with high winds barrelled through our area.  Leaving downed trees and power and phone lines in its wake with resultant power outages.  Here is how one neighbourhood restaurant dealt with what life gave it that day.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Life Post Trauma and Workplace Abuse ... A Piece of the Mosaic of My Life

... is what we make it.
... is complicated
... is challenging

And these are just a few of the qualities of life post trauma and workplace abuse.  It can also be:
  • good
  • like the weather; if you don't like it stand on the corner for 15 minutes and it'll change
  • tiring; it takes a lot of effort
Life post trauma and workplace abuse has many faces:

It can be so wearying and take so much effort that you feel like you're slogging through a very muddy field and not just any type of mud, but that which clings to you and tries to suck you down, grounding you in place, not allowing you to move forward - or sometimes even backward.  Stuck.

Yet it can also be exhilarating with a sense of excitement and expectation..  What is just around the corner?

My life specifically, post trauma and workplace abuse, is a mosaic.  Composed of dark colours, bright colours and some neutral colours.  A composite of life.

Unknown relative at the family reunion reading a copy of my mother-in-love's book
Take Sunday for example.  The annual family reunion for my mother-in-love's side of the family.  Held yearly, it has taken an extreme effort of the will to attend.  Why?  Because of the huge physical and emotional debilitations I deal with every day of my life.  Because of the hypervigilance that goes with me everywhere I go.  Because at the very core of my being after workplace abuse demolished my self esteem and devalued me, I am not only afraid of people, but of rejection.

A whimsical picture taken at the reunion in 2012

I feel like I have nothing to offer.

So then, why did I make the effort to attend?  Why indeed?

Because these people, including and especially my mother-in-love, insisted that they wanted me there.  Why?  I have no idea.

But I decided to honour and value her.  Together, my ever lovin' and long sufferin' spouse, also my constant comrade in my escapades, put together a "plan".  A plan of how I could cope.  How we would handle things if I started to fall apart either mentally of physically.  An escape plan if I got too tired or if I started not being able to think or talk.

Yet, these people, some closely and some distantly related, cared so much that they not only expressed verbally that they were glad that I had managed to come despite the disabilities - or "altered abilities" - that are not visible to the naked eye, but they enfolded me with love and concern.  As far as they're concerned, everyone has their challenges.  And if I'm related, even by marriage, I'm part of the motley crew.

The best part of the day - FOOD!  And lots of it!

To top things off, my ever lovin' and long sufferin' husband who walks with me and takes care of me when I can't take care of myself, came up with the idea of making pulled-pork in the crockpot as our contribution to the supper.  An easy, as in really easy, dish to make.  Especially when said husband goes with me to buy the meat, washes the crockpot and takes the fat off the piece of meat.  Anything that involved physical energy and labour, he did.  Anything that involved plugging in a crockpot and lying on the couch, I was able to do.  (And no, that part was not documented in pictures.)

It may not seem like much, but for me having been stripped (at least for a time in the workplace and immediately post workplace) of all value, to be warmly greeted, to be valued, to be wanted means a lot and helps immeasurably with the healing process. 

To be able to contribute something - even in a small way - adds an extra dollop of whipped cream to the experience.  To hear people say:  "Did you see the pulled pork?" and head back for seconds makes me aware that I not only have value but am still able to contribute something worthwhile to the overall experience for others.  They don't need to know who made the pulled pork.  Seeing them snarf it up was all the thanks I needed.

I tire easily, so we headed home shortly after the meal.  I fell into bed immediately.  And spent most of yesterday resting and regrouping.

Yet, despite the debilitations, despite having to constantly monitor my activities to ensure that I can keep on going in a semi vertical position, it was worth it.

A small piece in the mosaic of healing post workplace abuse.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Post Workplace Abuse - Life Can Still Be Good

Life post trauma and workplace abuse is not all sackcloth and ashes I've found.  It is hard work, to be sure, but although the work of recovery is hard kind of like climbing a mountain, once you get to where you're going the view is spectacular.  For me, life after workplace abuse is a lot of hard work punctuated by those spectacular moments that make it all worth while.

  To me, life after the door closes behind your back, after the workplace has done the worst it can do to you,is also complicated.  

It's not all about what was done to you, but how you, the target, the victim and ultimately the survivor, choose to work with what you have.  Or rather, what you have left.  What, although perhaps damaged, you can work with.

Warning:  some creativity may be needed.

Wo what do I have left?  What tools do I have in my toolbox?  What strengths, if any, can I utilize while I walk through this?

Hmmmm.....  Let's see.  (Strokes chin deep in thought.)

I still have my curiosity.  My interests in things.  My, sometimes irreverent and weird, sense of humour. After all, how many people seeing a seagull restting on the head of a statue would immediately burst out looking?  And taking pictures?  Not of the statue.  I don't even know who it's supposed to represent. But of what the bird apparently thought of it.

I love to travel.  To see new places, experience new things.  I love to take pictures.  Looking at them after the fact reminds me of good times, safe people, making me smile long after the trip has ended and I'm back home in my hidey-hole.  I like to write.  Combine the three and you have a huge tool for healing, for recovery, for going forward on this dual path called recovery and life.

I have my long-suffering best friend, husband and life-long companion.  A man who encourages me to get outside my comfort zone, accompanies me on my travels and looks the other way when I pull out the wallet.

  I love flowers.  Seeing things grow and bloom.  My mom died almost a year ago, plunging into a new phase of the recovery:  grief mixed in with everything else.  So I decided to create a garden in my yard in honour of my mom.  I call it "Mom's" garden and is a a glimpse of it in it's first year.

I have my love of bicycling.  One I've had and which has had to lie dormant.  I used to ride 5-10 miles a day.  I had a 10-speed Raleigh Grand Prix - a top of the line bicycle in its day.  I thought I could start to ride again and could ride like I used to.  However, the balance is gone.  So is the energy and endurance.  Also, arthritis has made inroads into the flexibility of my knees.  But I wanted to reclaim that part of my life.  Below is my answer to that challenge.  And right now, I have lowered (just a little) my goals and expectations.  Every km is something to be happy about.

I love to crochet and knit, watching things grow underneath my fingers.  It soothes me mind while at the same time sparking my creativity.  Fanning a flame while flickering and threatening to go out back into life.  I've given up, for the time being, on wanting things to be perfect.   Besides no one is perfect.  So I work with what I have.  I incorporate the mistakes into the fabric of the project.  I look on the wholeness and think of who it may comfort.

I could go on much longer about the good things.  The peaceful things.  The things that give me joy and encouragement in the journey.

But alack and alas!  my time to write it up for today.

So I will leave you with this and ask you the question:  what do you have in your hands that can help you on the journey back after workplace abuse?  What strengths and talents do you have?  What gives you joy?

As I said earlier, because of "altered abilities" (sometimes called disabilities) some creativity may be required.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Trauma ... The Cancer of the Emotions

This posting was written months ago but never finished and posted.  I never found a place where it really fit.  However, it seems to fit in here as we begin the series on post workplace abuse.  How getting out of the workplace is not the end.  It is rather a new beginning.  For me it was the beginning of an eighteen month tour through the desert:  the wasteland of emotions; undiagnosed and untreated trauma, people who genuinely cared but had no knowledge of what was happening and therefore had trouble relating.  The trauma would not go away, it intensified as the days, weeks and months went on. A year passed.  No healing. Rather further trauma ensued. 

Travelling to Myrtle Beach in 2008 years after the first abusive workplace situation ended and recovery had finally begun, I saw a billboard about depression which said:  "you'll never hear anyone say:  You just have cancer, get over it."

So true.

At that point, I thought of it in vague, uninvolved, generic terms.

The workplace abuse in the second workplace, the exclusion, the isolation had already started but had yet to really impact me adversely.

I was in a relatively good place in my life at that time.

A place comprised of lots of emotions completely unrelated to trauma.  A place of recovery in the journey which began in childhood with an angry parent who lashed out continually.  A journey which wandered through the Riots of '70 on a university campus.  A roommate who would have attacked me - if I hadn't shut and locked the door in time.  Date rape.  Depression.  Breakdowns.  Depression.  Good times that didn't last.  Depression

And then I found an amazing counsellor in late 2006, and we entered on an amazing journey of recovery that is still on-going.

As in all journeys, the journey of recovery has many different phases, side trips.  The difference between the journey of recovery and a road trip is that there is no definite end destination.  We can never fully say that we have arrived.  And usually there are no photographs to mark the moment in our personal history.

In my journey, at the time I saw that sign, I was in a good place.  A place where I was finally feeling comfortable in my own body.  

I was naive, though.  I thought that all the past junk was ... well ... in the past.  And would stay that way.

What I didn't know is that new traumas, new challenges awaited ahead a me - a few turns around the bend.

Depression?  In my naivety I thought it was gone - for good.

I also thought that the comment about cancer was just an advertising tool.  A way to get the point across.

What I didn't realize was that some people actually feel that depression, trauma, etc. are not diseases.  They are not the same as cancer.  They are not fatal.  They don't kill.

Until ...

Until someone actually said to me last year as I was working through all the debilitating and challenging physical and emotional affects from the second abusive workplace situation:  "After all, you don't have cancer."

Which brought back from the recesses of my memory, that sign. 

Now I understood what it meant.

I understood the reality of how "other" people, non-traumatized people, perceive us.

Why they don't support us, walk with us.

Trauma is not a physical disease.  There are no cures for it.  No chemo.  No radiation.  No real diagnoses.

It is in the mind.

No matter that trauma can and does affect the body.

No matter that trauma can and does cause chaos in the brain - mimicking concussions or other brain injuries.

No matter that trauma leaves us alone in the midst of people.

Not because these people are not good people.

But because they simply do not understand.

Trauma is the cancer of the emotions.  Left untreated it does not go away.  It takes over more and more of the victim's thoughts and behaviours.

This was the situation I was thrust into when I was walked out the door from the first abusive workplace situation.  I was thrust into the world of trauma.  A world I had no idea that I had just entered.  A world no one around me understood.  We were all clueless.  And because we were all clueless, support - for the most part - wasn't there.  And the cancer of trauma metastasized until it almost destroyed my life. 

Although this post was written during a period several years after the first abusive workplace situation during the period of recovery, I feel it is important to include it as a foundational block on what trauma is and how things degenerated badly during this eighteen month period between being walked out the door and finding a competent therapist who understood trauma and was willing to walk with me and provide a safe place for me to work through all the emotions which were assaulting me.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Post Workplace Abuse: Confusion Reigns; Questions Abound

Before blogging came journalling.  Before the computer came pen and paper.  

After I was walked out of that job, I went home to Mama for a brief period of respite.  Healing from what I now know to be the acute phase of the injury.  The chronic phase, although not recognized for quite a while afterward, followed after I returned back to my "new" normal.

When I went to Mom's, I carried with me a variety of "resources":  pens of different colours, notebooks for writing things down, my discman (I don't think they had iPods and iPhones at that time), various CD's, my Bible, some books, etc.  I had a black paged notebook for spiritual insights (please remember that although I don't write much about it in this blog, I am a faith-based woman and have used that many a time in the healing process - and this is one of those times when it is going to come out), also a white-paged notebook for general musings.  I even had one notebook dedicated to prayers, the crying out of a broken heart to a God who she knew was there but appeared silent.)  I had a veritable "tool box" of helps with me as I sorted through different emotions - and the pain.  Always the pain.  Always the confusion.

I have been accused of being analytical - too much so.  Some people think it's a curse.  Others recognize it as a strength - a strength which has allowed me to work through different feelings as I walked through a situation I had been unwillingly thrust into.

One heading:  Identified prayer needs after being laid off from **** - started the same day the end came so brutally.  I want to share this insert with you, dear reader, at this time.  My identified needs initially were:

  1. To heal emotionally
  2. to let go:  (a) of the job/customers etc.; (b) of any anger or bitterness; (c) of the stigma of being walked out.
  3.  to go forward:  need direction
  4. thought control -> need to think of the positive; remember the good; not dwell on the negative or play imagined conversations in my mind
  5. financial:  to not miss the pay checks  (sounds impossible but I wrote that "I know God can do this!")  Beside it I found the notation, "began new job at ******* April 20th."
  6. Social network/activities to replace "friendships" lost when job terminated
  7. breaking of any soul ties that exist
  8. to forgive those who engineered this (beside that entry I have a list of several names:  the 1-up; the 2-up; the mat leave replacement supervisor, etc.)
One thing that strikes me in hindsight is that I was working too hard, too soon, to be positive.  I wasn't taking the time to grieve my losses.

When I was walked out the door that day, I lost all of the relationships, all of the friendships, I'd forged with other co-workers.  I felt it was as though I'd died but there was no wake, no funeral, no grieving.  I was simply "gone".  I felt that keenly.

I desperately wanted the closure, the good-byes, the acknowledgement that I had been a positive part of my co-workers' working lives for two years.  I wanted that affirmation, that pat on the back to signify that I wasn't the horrible person one or two supervisors were purporting me to be.  That I didn't deserve what had happened to me.

While I was at my mom's, I broached to selected co-workers who I had worked with the most closely and knew the best the idea of my hosting a farewell barbecue for myself on a Saturday at my home.  The responses came back:  thank you but no thank you.  

Ever tried to give a party to which no one would come?  Try it.  You won't like it.

I was devastated.  I felt like I had just been walked out the door all over again.

I didn't understand it.

Somehow, I dimly perceived that management was behind this.  But why?

Even though it felt like and was treated like a firing with cause, it was supposed to be a contract end.  Nothing more.  Nothing less.

What made me different from others who had gone before me?

Why was I treated like this?

It made no sense.

Later, I discovered that management had gone to each one of these people and told them that "it was not in their best interests to come to my party as they still worked for the company and the company would not take it lightly if they badmouthed it."

Even after all these years, management's actions still make no sense.  They seem unusually intrusive.  Why should management be able to dictate what people did on their days off?  On their own time.  Off the company clock and company property?

Why was I such a perceived threat that people's jobs were threatened if they came to say good-bye?

I desperately wanted some positive acknowledgement, but there was none.  No cards.  Again, I was later informed that if anyone had dared to have others sign a card saying good-bye to me, they would have been fired.

Again, it makes no sense to me?  Why was I considered such a threat to this company that they would fire people for acting out of common decency?  What, if anything, were they trying to hide?

One incident immediately after the end became a huge issue in my mind for years afterward.  In the days leading up to what I can only call a dismissal, since I was in limbo not knowing for sure which way things were going to go, I had signed up and paid for daffodils for the annual cancer drive.  They came the day after I was walked out - which was the day my contract was officially to end.  I never saw them.  Apparently, they mysteriously disappeared. 

For some reason, my mind focussed on those missing flowers more than on the rest.  Maybe because it was something concrete I could focus on.  To me, it was stealing.  I had paid for those flowers.  They were mine.  Period.  It hurt that no one cared enough to give me a call and see what I wanted to do with them.  It was like I didn't exist anymore.

Did my contract end?  Or was I fired?  Technically, my contract ended.  Technically.

In reality ....

I'll let you draw your own conclusion.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

After the End: Rest

Everyone has a special place where they can go when things are bed.  This was my special place.  My childhood home.  The place where love, memories and my mom lived.  A place where, no matter how old I got, I could still go home to.  This was the place I went to immediately after the end of the first abusive workplace situation to heal.

After I was walked out the door that day, I immediately encountered difficulties I hadn't counted on.

First was "letting go".  Not of all the hurt, the pain and the confusion.  That would take months, years of therapy. It would take support.  Being allowed to tell my story.

All of that was in the future.

No, my immediate challenge was letting go of the job itself.  The duties.  The feeling of responsibility.  Even the caring.

You see, I was driven to get the job done.  I put 100% (if not more) not only into that job, but into every job I've ever had.  It was a matter of pride with me.

If I was going to do anything, it was going to be well.

Early on in this scenario, even with everything seeming to be stacked against me - and especially as it escalated and it became more and more apparent that I would not be staying - I determined to stick with it and do my best - do 100%, not slack off - until the end.

To that end, I even took upon myself the task of writing up and printing out a detailed document on how to do my job.  Customer requirements.  Special handling agreements forged with customers.  How to process orders, returns, etc.  Everything anyone would need to come in untrained and have a fighting chance of successfully doing the job.

In retrospect, I'm not sure giving 100% to the end was a good idea or not.

Because when the end did come - swiftly and brutally - I was still in 100% work mode.  Being walked out the door with no allowance to say goodbye gave me no space to change modes.  To get acclimated to my new normal.

As I was walked out the door that day, I don't think I totally realized just how final it was.  Nor did I realize that this was just the beginning of a whole new scenario.  One filled with pain.  Confusion.  And exhaustion.  Exhaustion that clung to me long after the job ended like diesel fumes in a truck yard.

When I woke up the next morning, my mind started to automatically go to what I needed to do at work that day ... UNTIL I realized that there was no work.  Not that day.  Not any day.  It was over.  Finito.  Done.

I had to manually rework my mind to encompass my new reality.

My husband gave me some tasks to accomplish while he was at work.  Keeping me occupied that first day on simple tasks which needed to be done helped.

In the weeks leading up to the end, I had determined that if the worst happened and I was out the door, I needed a break.  I needed to go away.  Yes, I would have to come back to my new reality.  But for the short term, I needed a safe place to hide out.  To rest.  To do nothing.

And what better place to have that space than to go home to Mama for a couple of weeks.  Back to the place where I grew up. Back to things that were familiar.  To old friends.  To Mom - who had known me all my life and still (amazingly) loved me.  To be taken care of instead of having to take care of others.

So I did.

It was a good decision.

I was exhausted.  No energy.  Usually, when I went home to Mom we would go shopping, do things.  Not this time.  This time was spent with vegging, napping, listening to music, napping, writing in a journal, napping, eating out since I was in no shape to cook and she was getting past cooking.

It was also the last trip I was to make to my childhood home and be cosseted as a child in that house as my mom decided to sell the house shortly after and move to an assisted living place near my older sister in another state.

In the early 70s, my dad, a true Southern gentleman, bought a little (and I do mean little) magnolia tree.  The first year, it had two little blooms - one on each side.  Mom and Dad took pictures of it each year as it grew.  My last visit was in early April, the time when the magnolia bloomed.  It had turned into a glorious tree.  That year it was full of blooms.  Sparrows flitted from branch to branch.  A flurry of activity and song.  One drizzly morning, I watched as the sparrows flitted about in the tree from blossom to blossom calling out to each other.  A memory which soothed my battered soul.

And that, in a nutshell, was the purpose of that trip:  to soothe my battered soul.  To regroup.  To put in place initial steps for ongoing healing.  To be able to return to my new reality and cope.

A place I would never be able to go to again.

The old house was sold.  New owners with young children occupy it now.  Mom moved away to spend her final years close to one of her children.  Never again would I be able to come back to that house and have Mom take care of me.  But the memories live on.  Her love for me lives on.  And my gratitude for having her there to help me out at that time in life lives on.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Trauma Doesn't End after the Job Does - It Just Begins

Ahhhh ... Monday mornings, how sweet the sound.  A new week is beginning in all its freshness, its anticipation.  Yet for me in that workplace - and even after the end came, Monday mornings did not bring with them a sense of freshness and newness.  I would wake up feeling like I was being dragged up from the depths of the netherworld.  Heavy.  Feeling like there was an elephant sitting on my chest.  A very heavy one.  I would feel like my breastbone was sinking all the way down into my spinal column.  I would wonder what day of the week it was.  Finally, feeling a lot of dismay I would realize that it was Monday morning and I not only had an entire work day to get through but an entire work week ahead of me.  I would feel unequal to the task.  I would get up wearily, exhausted even after a night's sleep, dragging myself into my clothes and down the stairs feeling like my bum was bumping along behind me on each stair.  Bump.  Bump.  Bump.  Bump.

Such is the life of a person who is going through workplace abuse.  The sense of isolation.  Heaviness. Weariness.  Dragging.  Dread.  Darkness.

No light.  No joy.  Just an overwhelming sense of doom and dispair.

These feelings were always with me.  Always present.  Never ending.

And then the end came.

There was nothing easy or compassionate about the ending.

I looked into the dispassionate  2-up's eyes.  No sympathy for me.  No empathy.  But then, from her point of view why should there be?

I was what?  A nuisance?  Or was I worse than that?  An insect to be dissected and destroyed perhaps? Not quite human.  Not deserving of common human decencies....

I've never really figured out exactly who was the cause of the abuse in that workplace.  I had always assumed - until after the end - that it was solely my 1-up supervisor.  Her perceptions.  Her assumptions.   Her personality.  Her read on life - and people.  She was an IT person.  And a very good one at that.  However, in my (rather limited) experience, I've noticed that IT people are generally lacking in people skills.  Strike one against an IT person being promoted into a supervisory role in a customer service department without adequate training.

Since at the end, our work stations (her's being a large cordoned off section with high walls and privacy, mine being a small cubicle) were positioned next to each other, I could hear many of her conversations.  I had overheard her talking about a sports league/team she had been on.  How they didn't really like one member so they simply disbanded the team for one year and then quietly restarted it the year after.

This gave me a rare glimpse into a side of her that was anathema to me.   Red flags should have been raised big time.  BUT....  I was unwilling to see these things.  Or maybe I was unwilling to consider how this would translate to her relationship with those she supervised.  What she was capable of.  That side of her that was capable of being sneaky and underhanded in her relationships.  After all, if this is the way she treats those who consider her a friend, what is she capable of in her other relationships.  Relationships with people like me?  People who are under her in a work setting?

Think about it.

Afterwards, though, I began to wonder how much of the scenario was caused by the 1-up and how much was caused by the 2-up? Did the 2-up have an agenda from the beginning?  Did she instruct the 1-up to find cause to either force me to get up and quit or, if I didn't get the hint - which I didn't - to get rid of me?

Again, I'll never know what went on behind closed doors.

This is a glimpse of my mind at work - even after eight years - logically trying to analyze the situation.  As I've been walking through - and working through - this series on workplace abuse - and my first instance of it, I see things differently.  More clearly in a way.  I realize more and more that it wasn't my fault.  I was, in all likelihood, a cog in a wheel.  Perhaps, I was just one person in a long line up of previous employees and/or co-workers both past and present who had been victimized in the workplace but either one or both of these people.

I realize now, after all these years, that I was truly abused at this workplace.

What about you, dear reader?  Where are you at in this spectrum?  Being presently abused in the workplace but wanting to deny it?  Still having hope that things will work out?  Out the door and into the desert?  Working through step by step on recovery?  Or are you the friend or relative of a person who is or has been abused in the workplace and trying to get a grasp on the situation?  Let me know.  I welcome any and all comments.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Immediately after Workplace Abuse - The Wasteland

Have you ever noticed how the same scene viewed from two different positions can look totally different?  On our first canoe camping trip, we got lost on our way back from the campsite to the outfitters.  Why?  Because we were travelling in the opposite direction and nothing looked familiar.  Not to mention, that on an interior lake in Algonquin Provincial Park, there are no sign posts sticking out of the water telling you which way to go.  (There are also no canoe through Tim Hortons.)   The canoeist is totally on their own.  Yes, they have a map, but maps can get turned around.  We found out the hard way that two people in the same canoe with the exact same map in front of them can read it totally differently.

Such is the situation I found myself suddenly thrust into when I was deposited on the back steps of that workplace that long ago day in 2005.  The door shut behind me with finality.  A door I was dimly aware through my confusion and tears that I could never re-enter.

The only path before me was "forward" in the sense of walking in the direction my feet were planted towards the car - and from there home - away from the workplace.

If I only knew then what I know now.

But I didn't.  I was walking, unwillingly to be sure, through totally uncharted territory.  Through something I had never gone through before.

Something I would never wish on my worst enemy, let alone my best friend.

From this side, I see it now as an 18 month long barren wasteland.

A year and a half with no healing.  No pretence of recovery.  Lost and adrift in a sea of emotions.  Emotions which I could not control.  Thoughts which were always in front of me.  From the first moment my eyes opened in the morning until well after I attempted to close them at night.

No matter what I tried, nothing seemed to help.  Those thoughts were always there, always a part of me.

From this side, I now know that what happened at that workplace was trauma - both the abuse and the ending.  That it became PTSD - or probably more accurately complex PTSD

The 2 up and HR could not have engineered a more traumatic or brutal ending to the contract.

To them, it may just have been another day at the office.  An unpleasant task to accomplish.

To me it was my life.

For the 2 up and the maternity leave supervisor, they were able to go back to their desks, back to the normality of their everyday work lives.

For me, that normalcy was abruptly seized from me.

I was given no time to adjust to my "new" normal.

All of the insight I have now, has come from being on the other side.  The side were healing eventually began to occur after 18 months.

This desert, this wasteland of confusion and emotions is what we're entering now in the series.

A place were undiagnosed and unrecognized trauma reigns.

This appears to be a good place to end on a Friday morning.  The work week - and my blogging week - are coming to an end and I'm gearing up for the weekend.

I imagine as the series progresses, there will be a backward and forward motion.  Going backward to certain things about the workplace.  Going forward into the emotional barrenness of that time.  

There will be times when I will need to take a break from the difficult work of recounting this phase.  But it has to be told.  Otherwise, what has taken place since makes no sense.

You, dear reader, need to know how dark things became - and why - before you can begin to understand what recovery looked like when it finally started to come.

I hope that this blog is helping someone, somewhere along their journey of either workplace abuse or post workplace abuse.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

My Contract May Have Ended: but it sure felt like I was fired

Continued from yesterday

As the door closed behind me that final time, I don't think I fully realized the extent of what had just happened to me.  The finality.  That while one phase had ended, abruptly and brutally, another phase was just beginning.  I worked out of the workplace - and into the world of trauma and PTSD.  A world I never knew existed.  A world that was to become my reality for years to come.  A world that many people, including myself as I entered it, do not understand.

I had determined that staying in that hellhole of a job was not in my best interests.  I needed a break.

I had had months to take a good hard look at the situation and although part of me was still, even at the last minute, hoping for a miracle, realistically I was aware of the huge toll this job and this situation were taking on me.

I no longer had time - or energy - for outside interests.  My world had shrunk significantly to that office.  To those people who inhabited it.  To those stresses and tensions.  The outside world, my husband, my family held little interest to me.

Looking back, I realize that I was in full survival mode.

However, even then, I realized that there was a greater life beyond the walls of the plant.  I realized that I had other interests that I wanted to pursue.  And I could not pursue them as long as I stayed in that job.  I wanted more from life than life inside those four walls.

Also, my supervisor would return after her maternity leave was over, and I knew that I could not work under her.  So it was best to leave - and to leave then.  Even if another contract had magically been offered, I had realized that it was not in my bests interests to take it.  Still, I wanted validation.  Vindication.  I wanted that contract to be offered.  Better yet, a permanent job.  I wanted to know that it had all been a mistake - on their part.

Wishful dreaming.

So yes, staying for me was not an option.  Even if a miracle happened.

I was also prepared to ask to leave after the meeting, so being told to clear out and get out was not in contention either.

So since we were in agreement on the major points, why did they feel they had to end things as cruelly and abruptly as they did?  Why didn't they simply tell me a month in advance, as had been their standard practice with me up to that time, that they were going in a different direction?  Why didn't they hire someone in that interim to be trained so that they could make a seamless transition.


The whys are what boggles the mind.  They defy logic.

To me, none of this made logical sense.

And yet, looking back as I've been writing this series, researching, analyzing, I see that maybe in some strange, twisted way it does make sense.

One of the earliest articles I read on the net, some three or four years ago, when I started looking into the possibility (which I thought was remote at that time) that I was being bullied in workplace situation #2 was that a supervisor targets one extremely good individual knowing that that person's leaving will create chaos in the office.  Now, a logical, reasonable person would say that deliberately creating chaos in the office is something that should be avoided at all costs.  However, this kind of supervisor will apparently deliberately create chaos in the office so that everyone - especially his or her superiors - are consumed with the chaos in the office and are not looking into major decisions the supervisor is making and implement.  It's like having everyone focus on a small, brush fire while a few miles away an entire town is up in flames.

At that time, the 2 up supervisor was making major changes.  Ending long-standing contracts with third-party warehouses and centralizing Western operations into one centrally-located warehouse.  On paper, it sounded reasonable - and logical.  On paper, it worked.  In reality?  That apparently was something else entirely.

Aside from the tremendous challenge of minimizing leftover stock in the existing warehouses - while (hopefully) at the same time meeting customer orders - and fully stocking the new warehouse, apparently there were major issues with the management of the new warehouse.  The 2 up made other decisions that apparently didn't work out well.  As a result, she was fired give or take a year or so after I was walked out.  Not because of what happened to me, but because of her own mistakes.

Was I a real life, flesh and blood human being to my 2 up?  Or was I simply a pawn in her chess game of management?   I've always wondered.  I'll never know for sure.

I walked to my car and pulled out my cell phone.  I attempted to dial my daughter's number.  I couldn't remember it.  I was shaking.  Crying.  Distraught.  My body and mind on auto pilot.  I needed to get home.  Was I safe to drive?  I didn't know but knew but I would soon find out.  I don't think I have ever felt so alone and so worthless as I did at that moment, freshly dumped outside the back door of the plant.  Walking out of one life into another.  One I was not prepared for.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Did My Contract End or Was I Fired?

This is a pictureless blog today.  The incident I'm relating is so traumatic that there are no photos in my collection that would work.  I haven't taken pictures of a disaster as it was happening.  Nor have I taken pictures of the ruins of blackened buildings.

So today, let you mind provide the pictures.  Let yourself walk with me in those final hours at that place.  Let yourself feel my pain and hurt.  Cry with me.

To those who have been vicariously walking with me through abusive workplace situation #1, it is clear, very clear, that I've been procrastinating.

Big time.

Because I know the end is not only near but unavoidable.

And this time around, I know all too painfully well how it ended - and what the aftermath was.

I haven't known how to approach the situation.  How to build up to it.  How to let the narrative flow.

Maybe that's been the problem.

Maybe I should just begin with the brutality of the end - and then go backwards from there.

Did my contract end or was I fired?

I'll never know.

On March 30th, 2005 at 1:15 in the afternoon, I met with my supervisor 2 up to "review" my situation. This was in response to a formal complaint against my supervisor who was on maternity leave.  I had forwarded the 2up a copy of the complaint as a courtesy before sending it on to HR.  Big mistake.

I thought she had integrity - because she said she did.  But really what is integrity?  It is simply the following of a standard.  Which standard is not clear.   In retrospect, definitely not the one I adhere to.

I went into this meeting thinking there was still a chance.  Thinking the air would be cleared.

Still hopeful.  Ever hopeful.

First clue that something was amiss:  the maternity leave replacement supervisor was there.  I protested.  In vain.

It turned out this meeting was not to talk about anything, not to clear the air, but to give me the ax.  I was told that my contract would not be renewed because they wanted to convert my job to being bilingual.  They also wanted me to clear out my desk and leave immediately because of "emotional".  I asked if I would be allowed to say good-bye to my colleagues and was told I would.  Naively, I believed her.

After the 2up left, I got my first inclination that things were not as they seemed.  First, I was not allowed to go to the washroom and wash my face to erase the tears.  I was not allowed to move freely - or even not so freely - around the workplace.  I was led into my cubicle by the mat leave supervisor and was told to give her all my written instructions and tell her what was left to do.  I was not allowed to touch the keyboard or the phone.  I was not even allowed to call my daughter to tell her I was coming home.  I was not allowed to talk with anyone.  She watched me like a hawk while I opened the desk drawers and pulled out the few personal items it held.  

While my co-workers in the office cowered behind their desks.

Anticipating that this would indeed be my last day, I had not only brought in donuts and a card for the distribution workers whom I had grown close to, but also had cards for my co-workers in the office.  Since I put the first card and the donuts on a table in the break room at the beginning of my work day, there wasn't anything the supervisors could do about that, but I was not allowed to give out the cards I had made for my co-workers.  I was not even allowed to put them in their mail slots.  I was not allowed to talk to anyone.

I felt so embarrassed.  So humiliated.  So worthless.

I had seen several contracts end over my two year plus tenure in that office, but never had I witnessed one ending like mine did.  For some, there had been parties.  For others, at least the opportunity to freely walk around and say good-bye.

What happened to me was not their normal procedure.

Why was I treated so differently?

Again, I'll never know.  I have my suspicions, but I'll never know for sure.

At one point, I again attempted to protest by saying to the mat leave supervisor:  "You don't have to do it like this" to which she replied that in another work situation she'd been in they had an employee who was being terminated and started uttering threats and they called the police.  She said, "and that took care of that."  I took that as a very thinly veiled threat.  Shut up.  Don't protest.  Or I'll call the police.  And that will be that.   Having the police involved was the last thing I needed or wanted that day.  I was already mortified enough.

I just wanted ... well ... to be honest I'm not sure what I wanted.  To be treated with dignity and respect?  To be allowed to leave without a cloud over my head?  To be given the honour and value I deserved?

Instead, my supervisor walked me out dumping me like yesterday's refuge at the back door of the plant.

So I picked myself up (figuratively speaking) off the asphalt and walked off into my "new" life.  Still not completely aware of what had just happened.  The finality.  The cruelty.  Not aware, that although the situation was "over" in one sense, that it would never really be over for me.  That this would leave scars and injury I'm still working through years later.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Last week was a surprisingly hard week - in some ways.  Good in other ways.

It was both the firsts of the firsts and the last of the firsts - if that makes any sense.

My mom, born on the 4th of july, was as independent as they come.  A virtual firecracker.  She passed away last August, six weeks after celebrating her 97th birthday.

I am Canadian by choice and marriage; American by birth and heritage.

Proudly Canadian.  Unashamedly American.  Having both holidays in the same week this year constituted a challenge.

A chance to initiate new traditions.  For both holidays.

Problem is.  I've been just touching the surface emotionally on a lot of levels since Mom died - actually even before that.

My mom's last birthday was not the happiest or healthiest (emotionally) of times for me because of some unexpected family dynamics.

Venting.  Unexpected explosions of anger (not by my mom) left me with a lot of unexpected further injury.  Injury that went deeper than what I was already healing from.  Caused more symptoms.  Symptoms which I still cope with on a daily basis - on top of everything else.

That's when the symptoms of brain damage (chaos in the brain) started.  I began to lose my ability to speak, to form words.  My speaking became very tentative.  I began to lose my ability to form thoughts in my mind.  My once superb cognitive skills went downhill.  The extreme fatigue intensified (if that's possible).  My life became a living hell - even after I extracted myself from that situation.  Even after I was back home with my support system comprised of my counsellor, my physician, my long-sufferin', ever-lovin' husband, my children and others who know me and love me anyway.

Already working through major issues post workplace abuse, I was thrust into a whole set of other issues to work on concurrently.  Issues I wasn't prepared for.

To make things worse, my doctor (with my consent) had just weaned me off an antidepressant because we had cause to believe that it was causing some of my physical and emotional symptoms.

Not a good time to incur further abuse.  Depression hung on my like a thick cloud.  Unabating.

I came home from that week with my mom thoroughly confused and depressed.  There was too much to process.  Too much I just simply could not understand.

The first verbal attack had been because I proudly wore my bright red Canada t-shirt with Canada emblazoned across my chest in big white block letters.  I was out and about (as we Canadians would say) and was not able to change.  I felt like I had committed the unpardonable sin by wearing this t-shirt on my national holiday in the good old USA.  I felt exposed.  I felt like I had the "scarlet letter" emblazoned across my chest (which in a manner of speaking, I did.)  Never mind that I had several American t-shirts to wear on my other national holiday.  Never mind that it was Canada's national holiday.  Never mind that it was my grandson's birthday.  Never mind that this is my normal July 1st attired.

That was at the very beginning of that week.  It went downhill from there.  I was accused of turning everything into something about me (which by the way isn't that abnormal - especially when you're working through all the former abuse in the workplace(s).  Healing is all about us.)  Forced into what amounted to silence for an hour because I was mandated not to use the words "I', "me" or "my" while on a shopping trip.  Try it.  It's not exactly possible.  Or pleasant.  I noticed though that the other party was not following the same rules.  Hmmmmm.  I was told:  "after all you don't have cancer."  Hmmmm.  Maybe it would be easier if I did.

By Mom's birthday in the middle of the week, I was a basket case. Crying all the time.  Desperately wanting out.  Problem was, I had no transportation, no car, limited means of communication with the outside world.  I felt trapped.

By the end of the week, I was a wreck.  My husband came and rescued me as soon as he was able to.  I remember standing in the large foyer of a restaurant on the way home bawling my eyes out, crying:  "Will I ever see my mother again?" as I felt I was not welcome to visit.  I was afraid of that one family member.  Hurting badly.  Emotionally bleeding all over the floor.

The last blog I wrote in 2012 was on Mom's birthday. After that, I was too damaged, too insecure to write anything more.

So I came to last week - the last of the firsts - with a lot of pent-up emotions.  Emotions I'd stuffed way down deep.  I was surprised at the depth of my feelings.  Animosity over this one person's bigotry.  I was surprised at how deep the hurt was even a year later.  I was surprised at the anger still residing within me waiting to get out.

Yet somehow, I made it through.  The first of July, my adopted country's national holiday, was actually easier.  My neighbours invited us over for a bonfire and fireworks.  What they never told us was that they traditionally set off the fireworks in our yard!  A great time of togetherness, hilarity and acceptance.  (Not to mention, a great private fireworks display.)

Followed by discovering that Stratford, Ontario (which is by the way on #6 on a list of the best places to visit in Ontario during the summer) which I am very familiar with as I go there every two weeks for my counselling appointments had a family-oriented celebration in the afternoon.  Followed in the evening by visiting with members of hubby's family.  Nothing terribly exciting.  Nothing out of the ordinary.  Just unconditional acceptance.  What we all need.

The 4th, though, took me by surprise.  I hadn't thought to preplan anything and was blindsided by a headache that neither Advil, Alleve, naps or food would touch.  Alone as my husband was unexpectedly working a 12-hour shift.  In a country which had already had it's national holiday and celebration so the 4th, normally the highlight of my year, was just another working day to those around me.  Nothing special.  I hadn't realized just how much I would be affected by being in Canada on the 4th.  Alone with my unhappy memories of the year prior, my thoughts, and yes my grief.

What caused the damage last year?  Feelings of rejection caused by the outbursts of anger.  What helps with the healing?  Unconditional acceptance.

We who are on the journey of healing post abuse whether it's in the workplace, the family or a combination of both, need acceptance in order to heal.

We are fragile, yes.  Yet, there is a huge, unacknowledged strength within more of us.

Because we are Survivors.

We have survived the worst of what the workplace has to offer and we still get up in the morning, put on our clothes and make it through another day.

I salute us.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Guest Blog #2 from The Sparrow

This has been an emotionally challenging (and exhausting) week for me.  The last of the "firsts" - my mother's birthday and the American Independence Day which fall on the same day and which we celebrated together in the U.S. for many years - the ongoing affects and injury from the two abusive workplace situations and the challenge of starting new traditions have laid me low at the moment.

So today, I let the Sparrow take over.  A completely different writing style and viewpoint from my own.

I hope you enjoy the change of scenery for today.  

(And yes, I know the bird pictured below is a seagull not a sparrow.)
Notes from the Sparrow

 Are you happy?

If you answered, “Meh” or “Well, I’m not unhappy” --- you actually aren’t happy.

Happiness is like bad B.O. – you can’t hide it. It seeps through your pores, shines through your eyes and makes your smile radiate like a nuclear reactor in meltdown.

It’s being stopped in the middle of a downpour in Scotland because you are smiling like a loon -- just to be asked, why you are happy?

Even once caught this elusive quality is difficult to keep. Crashing upon us, stress and worries are the waves that pull us further from it. Recently, I was reminded of a note I wrote 2 years ago. Today, it seems apropos to share.

Peace in a Time of Chaos (originally posted Aug 27, 2011)

Lately, it seems as if nothing is ever certain. And certainly, life has more than its measure of unpredictability.  Economic kingdoms rise and fall, political leaders make history and then fade away, and personal job security is a thing of the past.

But tonight something I knew became so much more clearer to me.
Maybe you believe in God, perhaps you dont. Perhaps you believe someone or something great is out there just beyond your reach...but lets start from where I am.

Believing that God exists and cares for you is great, but it is sometimes difficult to believe that he takes an active and personal interest in your life. Oftentimes, when things are tough it is challenging to believe this. Tonight, I was reminded that if God knows the exact number of hairs we have he must take somewhat of a personal interest in me (Matt 10:29-31). Let's face it: I don't know anyone who would really care to count someone else's hair -- even their spouse.

But the thing I really needed to hear was this: God can make us prosper, even in the most ridiculous circumstances. A friend reminded me of this, when she brought up Gen 26.

Isaac planted [during the famine] and harvested 100 times what he planted, BECAUSE the Lord blessed him. Gen 26:12.

Apparently he prospered because he was thinking of moving (someplace he liked better) and God asked him to live "in the land where [God] wanted him to live".

Famine, whether due to economic times, personal struggles or professional conflicts, is an ever constant companion these days.

Lately, I have been struggling with 'job famine' and wanting to move. For a girl who thrives on adventure and change, and has moved approximately twice yearly for 8 years, staying in one place is a challenge -- even when you feel divinely lead to be right where you are.

But for now, it is something that brings peace in the midst of chaos, playing musical houses and applying for EI.

And likely, the reminder that I needed to hear tonight -- and feel compelled to share, is likely something someone else needs to hear.

Not knowing where I will be in three months time definitely has its challenges, but I shall endeavour to remember that the best is yet to come.

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