Thursday, August 14, 2014

Post Workplace Abuse: A significant discovery


This picture taken in early June at the World Wide Knit in Public Day at my local yarn store is the me, the Cassie, that is emerging from the darkness of the world of workplace abuse.

I say emerging because while this picture, this one moment in time caught on the camera, would pretty well say that I am well!  I have arrived!  I have made it!  The truth, the reality, is somewhat different.

True.  I have more good days than bad.

True.  The sparkle has returned.

False.  All the affects have not completely disappeared.  There are still challenges to be faced.  Lessons to be learned.  Progress to be made.  Take my birthday trip to the CN Tower in Toronto with my immediate family in attendance for example.


*******

Taken from the Skywalk on the way back to Union Station from the CN Tower.  Another angle, another perspective.  Note the dirty windows and how they impact the clarity - or rather lack of - in the picture.

I learned more about myself, my progress from last year to this year and areas I still need to work on, to conquer, during that outing on my birthday.

Interestingly, the most important piece of the puzzle came to me when we were in a small, fast food, take out, Mexican place near the CN Tower.  It was small.  It was crowded.  It was noisy.  Which is not a good combination for me.

I started to stutter.  Stuttering has been part and parcel of the affects since the very beginning of the first stress break down while I was still employed.  At times, it was so bad that I could not communicate at all.  At one point, early on I went to visit my best friend in the U.S..  I had identified her as a safe person.  I was right.  I stayed with her for nine days.  Nine days in which incredible healing occurred.  In that nine days, the stutter left.  I could talk clearly.  My cognitive skills started to return.  However, recovery I've learned is an up and down, backwards and forwards progress.  Never static.  Always moving and changing.  Affects come and go.  Usually, though, when they reappear they reappear at a lesser level of both intensity and duration.  That is part and parcel of what I mean when I talk about milestones.

Yes, the stuttering reoccurs from time to time in moments of great stress yet it doesn't stay around as long.  Plus I'm learning what causes it and how to cope with it when it does rear its ugly head.

I see the return of stuttering - and other affects as well - as a marker:  a marker that I'm feeling stressed and overwhelmed.

So it was that day in that fast food place.  I realized that I was totally overwhelmed.  I was way outside of my comfort zone.  I was encountering a lot of firsts that day:  my first subway ride, my first time in Union Station in Toronto, my first time on foot in Toronto, my first trip to the CN Tower.  A lot of firsts for one day, eh?  Especially for a person recovering from trauma.

I realized for the first time that many times I'm actually processing in my brain what I want to say at the same time I'm trying to say it.  In other words, there is a lot of mental energy going into the simple act of conversing with someone - even someone I consider a safe person.

That piece of the puzzle which fell into place in that Mexican fast food place is a valuable nugget in my process of recovery.

The block of fast food restaurants where ate at in Toronto.  Note all the Blue Jays shirts.  There was a Jays game in the Rogers Centre right next to the CN Tower that day.

It explains why when I go out for a bit, I often come home exhausted and ready for a nap.

It explains why when I talked with my new neighbour for 10-15 minutes one day, I got so exhausted I ended up taking a two hour nap.

It explains why talking on the phone is so hard for me and why it is easier for my to type i.e. text or message, than it is for me to talk to someone face to face - or phone to phone.

It also explains why when the words don't come, that I start to get overwhelmed and tired.

In short, talking, conversing, making sense is hard work.

So hard, that it overwhelms me - and when I feel overwhelmed I get tired and irritable.  A bad combination as the barriers start to break down.

That one bit of insight explains a lot of things.  Puts things into perspective.  More into focus.

Much as I would like to go out and explore new places on my own, I'm not ready yet.  I need safe people around me.  I could never have navigated the subway system on my own.  I needed the support of those close to me.  I needed to realize that they were stronger than I was and to rely on them and rest in their strength.  I learned to give up control, stop trying to lead all the time and simply follow.

In order to do that, I needed to be able to trust these people.  Trust them with my life - or at least my recovery - if need be.

What one thing made that possible?  Understanding.

They understood. 

I don't know if a regular, normal, "healthy" person can understand the wealth of power there is in that one word:  understood.

My family - even the grands young as they are - understand which is a priceless gift.

Same block, different angle, different perspective

 *******

I feel I've said enough for today.  It's time to stop.  To rest.  To continue on the road to recovery.

As I've said before, recovery is hard work.  Yet, at the same time it is not all gloom and despair.  Life can still be good.

I've learned to look at any given day as always having the potential to be a good day even if/when there are bad spots in it.

I've learned not to focus on one bad incident and let it ruin a perfectly good day.

Similarly, I need now to learn not to focus on one horrible work situation which is over and done with and allow it to ruin a perfectly good life.

Until tomorrow ....




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