Thursday, March 12, 2015

On the road to recovery post workplace abuse: The place of Analysis in the Process

My current therapist says that my ability to analyse is one of my greatest strengths.  My former therapist said that I analyse things to death -which was a scathing criticism.  A close relative criticized my analytical side brutally as well.

Two sides of the same coin.

Which is the right side?  The right way to look at things?

I guess it depends on the bystander who is observing.

For me, I use my analyzation skills to think through a situation, figure out what went wrong and what would work better.

I've used this ability for decades.

Let me give you an example from decades ago - close to the beginning our my marriage adventure.

Many years ago, as a newlywed, hubby and I went on our first camping trip.  It can best be described in two words:  unmitigated disaster.

It would be easier to say what went right than what went wrong:  we set up camp in a leaky pup tent in a rain storm at a provincial camp ground - which is pretty well camping in the rough - or at that time back in the early '80s it was.  Way out in the middle of nowhere.  No services.  Not even any park personnel as they were on strike.  It was on the honour system.  You signed a form for how many nights you were going to stay, left the money in a sealed envelope and chose a site.  Oh, did I mention that I'd never, ever been camping before?  I'd never ever been camping before.  This was my "maiden voyage", my first trip down the bunny hill.  Problem is a provincial park is one step below the black diamond - back country camping.  Arduous camping for the experienced, the motivated.  Those who don't think that roughing it is a high class hotel.

At that time, provincial campgrounds for the most part were cheap and unserviced.  No showers.  No washrooms.  Outhouses, smelly outhouses, for bathrooms.  Things have changed a lot since those days.  Most campgrounds come with well maintained washrooms - including showers.

We were living more on love at the time than money, so we'd done this trip as on the cheap as possible.  A three-man pup tent.  Two cheap vinyl floatation mattresses which we pushed together.  A camping stove someone had picked up at a garage sale and gave to us.  We splurged on a fly - which turned out not to be waterproof.  So much for that "luxury".

Anyway, as we drove to the provincial campground, it became more and more obvious the further along we got that I was getting sick.  By the time we got there, I was in the middle of a rip roaring case of a high fever.  Poor, long sufferin' hubby, the man who stood at the alter with me and promised to love, honour and set up my tent in the rain etc., manfully started putting up the tent.  Once the tent was up, he inflated the two cheap vinyl air mattresses, pushed them together, put sleeping bags on them and carried me to one.  He also set up the stove to make a quick supper - in the doorway of the tent.  Bad idea.  We discovered quickly why the stove had been sold at a garage sale so cheaply.  The flame flared up - and almost set the tent on fire.  Not a good idea to cremate your bride on her first caping trip.  It just does not set a good example for thins to come.

Things went from bad to worse during the night.  It continued raining all night - actually downpour is the better word.  The tent leaked.  The air matresses floated in opposite directions with a pool of water between them.  I was feverish by that time.  Hubby was cold.  He turned over to get to the source of the heat - me - and ended up in - you guessed it! - the puddle of water.  He was not a happy camper.

Daylight couldn't come soon enough.  As soon as possible, he put me in the car, packed up and we headed south towards civilization.  Civilization in this case being a mobile home which a relative had in a KOA campground which is where we finished out our holiday.

This could easily have been the end of the story - and my career as a camper.  But it wasn't.

The campground was very busy.  It also was not out in the middle of nowhere.  It had a small camp store, a pool and other amenities such as washrooms with showers.  And here is where my analytical abilities stepped in.

I would walk around the camp.  I talked to other campers.  I observed how they did things, what gear they had.  Looking to see what worked for other people.   When we got back home, I thought about how we could go camping again without experiencing all the difficulties we'd experienced the first time.

We did keep the pup tent for a few more adventures but as we added kids to the adventure, we purchased a much larger dome tent - which was to me the height of luxury.

The two cheap vinyl air mattresses were replaced with a good quality, double air mattress designed for camping - not swimming pools.  Ditto, a double sleeping bag.  The stove we did keep for a few more years.  Hubby was the sole one who could manage it.  And it was always used on a picnic table.  It was replaced with a propane camp stove (from Sears which we still use 30 years later) when we took our then four year old on her first camping expedition and she ran to the tent crying out to her dad:  "Come quickly!  Mom's trying to light the stove!"

Weather and illness are not controllable.  But we did buy a cheap plastic sheet to cover the tent in the advent of bad weather.  Crude but effective.  It worked.

The most important thing we did though, was to avoid the "black diamond" i.e. provincial parks for a bit and did what I called "civilized" camping.  The campgrounds like the KOAs with pools, camp stores, bathrooms. etc.  We went to provincial campgrounds for only a day or two at first, sandwiching that adventure in between stays at commercial campgrounds until we all became comfortable.

When people hear about the misadventures of our first camping trip, they're always amazed that I ever went a second time.  Totally astonished that I enjoyed camping and that it became a way of life for us as a family.

This is the approach I use in all of life's difficult situations:  what went wrong?  what went right?  what can I do to make it better another time?

It works.  For me, that is.

Until next time.

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