Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Post Workplace Abuse: My "Stratford" days

Today we take a wee break from the theme of perceptions, assumptions, and their role in workplace abuse.  Today is what I call my "Stratford" day.  It used to be a bi-weekly occurrence.  Now it is every four weeks.  Soon, if recovery continues as well as it has been lately, it will be every six weeks as we gradually taper off - much like a mother weans her child.  

Until about three years ago, my counselling day used to be my "Milverton" day.  (I wrote a post about Milverton back in the very early days of this blog.)  Back then, every two weeks like clockwork.  I was still working then - afternoons.  I would book a morning appointment, drive in leaving extra time to walk around a bit.  Put my own personal touch on this journey.  Make it my own adventure.  I got to know the thrift store there, the little convenience store which had a great, though somewhat unreliable, coffee machine with English Toffee.  Wonderful staff who got to know me and welcome me on my bi-weekly visits.

A town with a strong Old Order Mennonite presence, the thrift store reflected the community in which it was located.  Yarns, crafts, buttons, etc.  Christian CDs.  I loved to go in, walk around and browse a bit. Sometimes buy.  I got some of my favorite CDs from that store.

After my appointment, I would boot it back into town, have a hurried lunch somewhere and go straight into work for the next eight hours.  That is why I began to call it my "Milverton" day in the beginning as when I had a counselling appointment, it basically wiped out the entire day.

Mama swan and babies in the Avon River in Stratford a few weeks ago.

But time passes on and things change.  My job ended.  My therapist felt a pull to move.  She located approximately 45 km from my house.  There was basically no difference in my driving time.  Just a different direction.  That change in location - and direction - makes a huge difference in scenery and experience though.  Gone now is the Old Order presence I enjoyed in my previous trips.  Passing buggies on my drive in.  Gone now, my visits to the tiny town with just a few shops.

Stratford is also a small town located in southwestern Ontario.  Just not as small as Milverton.  Stratford is where the Stratford Shakespeare Festival is held.  A small town, yet it has a strong tourist pull. The streets crusted with touristy shops and places to eat most with a Shakespearian theme.  The Shakespeare theme runs through the town with the river that runs through it being called the Avon.

I still meet with my counsellor in the mornings, even though I'm no longer working and haven't been for more than three years.  I guess old habits die hard.  We now meet in a large church on the outskirts of town.  If I'm well enough, I drive into the town proper, park the car and walk around.  Maybe even enjoy a gourmet poutine at Boomers - a very tiny eatery known for it's poutine varieties.

Sometimes, we really make it an adventure when my daughter comes with me.  During the time of the broken wrist when I could not drive, she became my chauffeur.  It was during this period that we discovered Boomers.

Although I am usually well enough to drive myself these days, it is still a treat when my daughter - and sometimes even the grands - come with me.  They explore the town with it's one-of-a-kind toy store (Friends & Co.), cheese shop (The Milky Whey), etc. while I continue working on the road to recovery with my counsellor.  Smoothing out the wrinkles life has thrown at me during the time period between appointments.

As with Milverton, if energy permits which it does more often these days, I try to make the day "my" day.  A special treat for me to congratulate myself on all the work I've done on the road to recovery.

Gone now too as the days when I left my former counsellor's office in tears, more confused than when I began the appointment.  Feeling like I needed an appointment to discuss the appointment.

"Dessert" is located right next door to Boomer's
We may have done some tough work in the session, but I come out knowing that I am valued.  Knowing that despite my challenges, I'm still an OK person.  Instead of being angry with me, my counsellor keeps reaffirming that I'm amazing.  Because she contends that most people would have given up after the first counselling situation and never tried again.

Why did I try again?  Why did I choose someone so far away from my home town when I absolutely hated to drive long distances?

Perhaps the answer is simple.  At that time, I had nowhere to go but up.  I felt I had nothing left to lose.   I simply had to find someone who would reach out a hand and help me get my feet unstuck from all the muck they were mired in.  I needed someone who believed in me.

That is what I found.  First in the tiny, sleepy town of Milverton and now in Stratford.  Unconditional acceptance.  A place to safely explore the boundaries.  A place to grow.  A place I feel comfortable in.

Both in my counselling relationship and in the larger environment of the town itself.

I feel safe.

Stratford town hall
Someday, maybe someday in the near future, these visits will be winding down to a close as recovery occurs, and I'm more and more able to stand on my own two feet - both physically and emotionally.

Until then, I will continue to make my Stratford days an adventure.

Until then, I will continue to enjoy these outings.

See you tomorrow as we continue on the road to recovery post workplace abuse.

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