Monday, September 15, 2014
Surviving Working Abuse - A Day In The Life, continuing recovery on the journey
As you've probably noticed, I did not post a blog on Friday. I do apologize for that to you, my loyal readers.
I have been feeling emotionally paralyzed by so many different and conflicting emotions as I wrote last week's blog posts. So many directions in which I can take this blog. But not all at once. It has to be one blog post at a time. So do I write a series on one theme such as all the things that went wrong at my workplace? Do I take a side trail such as mobbing which is part and parcel of the issue? Or do I go off on other themes which are still interrelated to the theme of recovery from workplace bullying as a whole? Or do I hopscotch around to what seems important on any given day at any given time?
All of these trails have merits. But I can only follow each one one blog post at a time.
So Friday, I was grappling with the direction I wanted this blog to go in and had no concrete idea on which one to follow. They're all important. Such as the last blog post I wrote on Thursday, the one
about some of my coping techniques. Ones that I use when I am completely down for the count, unable to do much of anything constructive except just be. Yet there are other coping techniques I use, for the most part unconsciously, according to what my situation is on any given day.
Coping techniques are a huge part of my strategy for recovery and stability.
One coping technique which has been extremely valuable in my journey post trauma and post workplace abuse has become the importance of having a routine. We all have routines. My former routine involved getting up, getting ready for work, going to work, working, coming home and unwinding before going to sleep and doing it all again the next day. That was my former structure. Leaving the work situation, especially leaving it when I was so ill basically left me feeling adrift on a very large very stormy sea. Therefore, I have set up a basic daily routine which allows me structure in my daily life. Because it allows me structure in my daily life, it also allows me a bit of power and control.
Of course, there are sometimes disruptions in my daily routine. Sometimes it is intentionally upset as when we go away.
Sometimes it is unintentionally disrupted, as was the case on Friday.
My daily routine includes having coffee with hubby before he goes to work, writing my blog, checking my emails, checking out some news reports, writing an email to a good friend, posting a picture, etc.
Having coffee with hubby is as far as I got on Friday.
It all started innocently enough when hubby discovered something leaking from the car the night before. Just before he was about to leave, he suggested that I go with him to work, drop him off and drive the car to the mechanics. Which is what happened.
Now his workplace is all the way across town. I rarely drive anymore. This was way out of the ordinary, especially doing it on the fly. The mechanic, however, is way across on the other side of town - and our house is somewhere in the middle. Somewhere. The mechanic was aware that I was coming and had a loaner car for me to drive away in exchange. Bonus!
One deviance in my routine led to another deviance in my routine as the day progressed. I went to visit my daughter who lives very close to the mechanic and actually give her a ride to a meeting - which I haven't been able to do in years. It felt ... odd. Then I had to drop off a DVD to the library. That wasn't so odd as the library has become part of my list of "places that I feel safe in". Then, I decided since I was very close to a grocery store and had a vehicle so wouldn't have to pack any purchases home on the bus that I would visit the grocery store and pick up a few things.
Now, most people wouldn't give a second thought to any of these activities. And neither would I have ... before workplace abuse deprived me of a lot of who I used to be. I used to by a powerhouse of energy. A dynamo. When I moved, I moved quickly and got things done.
No longer. Each task, I find, needs to be thought out carefully in advance. I'm rarely spontaneous anymore. I don't have the energy. I don't have the skills. Even taking my meds is a challenge somedays.
So all of this was not just a victory on my journey to recovery, but a glimpse into how far I've come on the journey in the last year or so.
In 2011-2012, I couldn't do the grocery shopping alone, unaided. Cognitive skills and motor skills were both down. Hubby went went me. My balance was so bad that I used the grocery cart as a four-wheeled, very lumbering walker. I needed hubby to be my shield between people and myself.
Friday, I was ready to go alone. To use a basket, not a cart. People didn't look very scary. I made it through the store and out the check out line without any trauma. Yes!!!!!
It felt good.
Back home though, I realized I was tired and that I sorely needed my routine to get back on track.
That said, life - in the form of my mechanic - had a few other ideas for me.
Like being called back to the mechanics to pick up our car and drop off the loaner as they'd discovered the problem, ordered the parts and figured it was safe to drive until the parts came on.
I wanted to leave my house, get into their loaner vehicle and drive like I wanted another hole in my head - which I don't.
I also decided to detour and pick up daughter on the way there..
There is where fate - and road construction - intervened. Our twin cities seem to be a work - or rather works - in progress of unrelated construction activities. One end of a road blocked off here. Another end blocked off there. Making it - at least for me on Friday - a "you can't get there from here" kind of scenario. One top of that, the car informed me as I was pulling out of the driveway that it needed gas. Sigh. A trip to the gas station was not on my agenda. My head felt like it was filled with cotton batting instead of brains. Thinking, planning a route to get from here to there and get gas became problematic.
Finally I decided on a route - which would have worked had it not been for the road construction. I ended up taking a very long, circuitous route to pick up my daughter who by that time thought I was lost. She wasn't far wrong - but I wasn't going to admit it.
Eventually, I got back to my house, my safe place, my safe room after navigating road closures, returning the car, picking up mine, etc.
Time for a sigh of relief? Not yet.
Remember, I had dropped hubby off at work in the a.m. What gets dropped off, has to be picked up. For me, it meant another drive across town at night, after dark. Which is another problem in and of itself as I am having vision problems. Whether they're related to getting older, continuing stress affects of what happened in the workplace - or both, I don't know. The last time I tried it was not an experience I want to repeat.
So, hubby and I devised a plan. I would drive to the shopping mall on that edge of town while it was still light and wait for him to call me.
I felt exhilarated to have been able to drive there without any problems. It was a Friday night and lots of people were careening around. It felt good to be out. It felt good to be alive. It felt like I was finally re-entering life as I used to know it.
Looking back, my routine got thoroughly disrupted on Friday. Yet ... would I have it any other way? Would I want to miss out on those opportunities which show me how far I've come. Or those opportunities which show me what I have yet to do on the journey? I don't think so.
Either way, I realized after the fact, that while I missed writing and posting my blog, I did a lot of important work on the journey that day.
Where are you on your journey of recovery? Can you look back and see how far you've come - even if it's only a small space - from where you were to where you are now?
I sincerely hope you can.