Even If

And often the result of daring greatly isn’t a victory march
as much as it is a quiet sense of freedom mixed with a little battle fatigue.”
Brené Brown

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When we last left our Heroine she had just Stood Up For Herself and sent a strongly worded e-mail to the Powers That Be at her job about a Situation that left her feel small and cornered. Writing about it made her Feel Better, but still she was nervous that her Words had made one too many Waves and although she couldn’t quite pinpoint any particular Bad Things that might happen as a result, she still spent a lot of time Worrying, because that is what she is good at.

She expected to hear Something the next day – anything really.  It wasn’t until the very end of the day, almost 5pm, that she got an e-mail from One of the Three supervisors.  The One told the Heroine that she Agreed with her points, said they were Well Stated and Appreciated.  The Heroine breathed a big sigh of relief.  Then Two of the Three supervisors sent her an e-mail saying pretty much the same thing, but also that the Heroine is Really and Truly Valued.

And then it was the weekend.  No supervisors physically at the job, however part of the Heroine’s job is that she must consult by phone and Two was the supervisor on duty.  The Heroine was nervous to consult with him on her case, but it had to be done.  And after the consulting, Two thanked her, again, for her Brave e-mail.  He said she gave him A Lot To Think About and promised they would talk about it Further.  The Heroine was bolstered, but still, Afraid.  This is all such new, Uncharted territory.

Monday came and went, They were very busy, there was no Conversation.  But on Wednesday, our Heroine was called to what always feels like The Principal’s Office.  There was a Conversation.  Two and Three of the supervisors were there.  They were very Appreciative of the Feedback.  Two expressed that He felt bad about the position the Heroine was put it, and very Bad when the Heroine made her point about not having Earned Time as a per diem and the Difficult Choice she had to make between earning money and self-care.  He said they were trying to be Transparent in their decision making.  While the Heroine appreciates the sentiment, the unintended Consequence is that the Heroine felt she was being asked to put herself first, or put others first.  This is a Very Hard Position for the Heroine to be in.  This is something the Heroine is working on. Her Magnum Opus, if you will.

Nothing can be changed.  The Position is still going to the Annoying and Less Qualified person.  However, they threw the Heroine a Bone.  The Full Time Position that the Annoying and Less Qualified person left, to take the Part Time Position that our Heroine wanted, is available.  The Supervisors told her it would be hers For The Taking.  No interview, no competing, Hers.  Free and Clear.

Now our Heroine must do a lot of Maths and place a value on her time with the Smallest of the Small Ones. Complex Algebra indeed.

While in The Meeting with Two and Three, Two first said “I agree with your e-mail, well, not everything, but I’m not going to debate points because that’s not what this is about”.  The Heroine was stuck there in that sentence.  She didn’t ask Two to elaborate.  She didn’t ask What He Meant.  In her head she Decided he was referring to the part where she called herself the Most Qualified person for the job.  In her head she Decided that he doesn’t think this is True.  In her head she decided This Matters.

Our Heroine was stuck There all the rest of the day Wednesday and most of yesterday.  She believed that it Mattered what Two thought, that it Mattered that he didn’t think she was the Most Qualified person for the job, that it Mattered that she might have been Wrong and made herself out to be Bigger than she really is.

But then a Question came to Her… does it really Matter at all?  So what if she was Wrong a little or even a lot?  The overall Sentiment they gave was Gratitude for her using her Voice.  She was the one they wanted to hire, Most Qualified or not.  To resolve personnel issues they hired a person who is decidedly Annoying and Less Qualified than our Heroine.  That’s it.

At the end of all of this it really isn’t about who was Chosen and who was not.  It’s about the Heroine using her Voice and using it Again and Again, even if she is Wrong, even if she isn’t Quite Right, even if she is Emotional, even if she is Angry, even if her Voice shakes.  Even if.

~~~

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I See the Moon and the Moon Sees Me

Moon (Surf)

I just did something kind of huge.

Remember that situation at my work, the one where I was asked to basically give a job I was the strongest candidate for to another candidate?  I thought I had soul searched.  I thought I’d made the ‘right’ decision.

I realized I was wrong.

I sat on my couch on Saturday morning, my body aching, going from hot to cold and hot again in a matter of minutes, and I was faced with a decision.  I could stay where I was, take care of myself, rest, and heal or I could go to work.  For most people that’s a no brainer.  Just use a sick day.

Except, I work as a per diem.  I don’t get sick time.  I’ve worked for this agency for two years and I don’t have a minute of earned time.  Nada.

And I thought – what utter bullshit.  Not only should I have already been hired for a benefits eligible position two other times in the past, ones that were not made public and filled on the down low, I should be hired for one now.

They’ve offered the job to another candidate, they’re waiting on a start date (I assume she’s accepted).  I’ve worked out my ‘set’ per diem schedule.  It’s not been officially announced yet to the staff and my co-workers are asking.  They want to know what’s up – “did you get it?” – and lavishing me with their reasons they hope I get it.  It’s nice to hear.

Except, I’m not getting it.  I gave the position up.  And when I try to explain why, it gets caught in my throat.  It defies logic.  Even for the reasons I was given, it really doesn’t make much sense.

So tonight, after a lot of thought, I e-mailed the three supervisors and told them how I felt.  I told them I was very uncomfortable about how this all went down.  I told them the decision should never have been put in my hands.

I told them I made a mistake.

I told them that if they respected me and my work, if they thought I was the strongest candidate for the job, then they should hire me for it. Period.

Huge.

I don’t make waves.  I sit quietly and try to smooth the waves other people make.  It was one thing to stand up for and negotiate a schedule I wanted with my supervisor, it’s a whole other ballgame for me to stand tall and say “the way I was treated wasn’t okay and you need to do better”.

It was hard for me to avoid apologizing for using my voice.  It’s hard to think my words might make someone else uncomfortable.  I was respectful, I was clear, I was honest.  Their discomfort is not mine to own.  Their discomfort is their own lesson.

I don’t know what will happen.  I just sent the e-mail 10 minutes ago and came here to distract my fingers from shaking and obsessively checking my e-mail for a response that I know I won’t get right away.

It feels uncomfortable, but it feels a whole lot less uncomfortable than being put in a position to make a decision that shouldn’t have been mine in the first place; a position that backed me into a corner from which I could only see one way out of.

No matter what I tried to tell myself over the last two weeks, it didn’t feel right. The position I was in didn’t feel right and the decision I made didn’t feel right.  I sugar coated, I looked on the ‘bright side’.  But there was no real bright side for me, just more biding my time, waiting to be respected for a job well done.

If everything my co-workers and supervisors have said is true, if they truly value me as an asset to not only the agency, but our client’s, then I should be hired for the position.  Period.  The end.

I’ll keep you posted.

~~~

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Le Fin

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Today has sucked I’m too many ways to count. I’m tempted to analyze this sucktastic day and these 30 days of blogging, but I just ain’t got it in me, y’all.

I did this for one reason and that was simply to get in the habit of writing again. Mission accomplished. Now if I can keep it up that will be even better.

Thanks for being along for the ride.

~~~

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Recipe : Dairy-Free Spinach Artichoke Dip

One word: delicious.

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Dairy-Free Creamy Spinach Artichoke Dip

gluten-free. dairy-free, nut-free

Ingredients

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1 cup frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained

1 package Daiya Cream Cheese Spread, plain

1 8 oz package Daiya Mozzarella Style Cheese Shreds

1 can artichoke hearts, I used Trader Joe’s

1-3 tsp lemon juice or apple cider vinegar (or a mix)

1/2 medium onion chopped

2 med cloves garlic

Sauté onion and garlic until onion is clear.

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While that’s cooking, put cream cheese in a non-reactive bowl. Add lemon juice/acv, 1 tsp at a time, mix until smooth and tart to your liking. Although the Daiya Cream Cheese contains no sugar, it has a sweetness to it and the lemon juice/acv help counter balance that.

Add onion/garlic mixture.

Drain artichokes, chop. Add artichokes, spinach and cheese shreds to the cream cheese mixture. Fold in until combined well.

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Scrape into pie plate. Bake in oven 350 degrees for 25 minutes. When it comes out, take a fork and gently stir to combine the melted cheese shreds.

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Serve with rice crackers, gluten-free toast, or fresh vegetables.

If there are leftovers, they are amazing in an omelet with leftover ham.

You’re welcome.

Unwound

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I’m not well. In so many ways and for the past few days. It seems I have not yet learned how critical it is to put my needs at the top of the very long list.

When my body is screaming at me to stop and be still and take care, I need to listen very very closely. Today, I did not. Today devolved fast and hard and I had an epic unraveling the likes I haven’t subjected my family to in a long time.

It was ugly. Very very ugly.

I hate that this happens. With all the work I’ve been doing, especially lately, I thought I was in a good place. And I was. But I expect that good place to keep me there, to protect me from falling again.

It’s sort of like a relapse in a lot of ways; out of control, painful, and dripping with shame. Just without the dopamine euphoria of addiction.

I’m not addicted to melting down, though. When it happens I feel trapped, I feel powerless, I’m on the defensive and I feel stuck in this caustic, irrational mindset I can’t get out of. I feel like I’m circling the drain. I feel very much out of control. There is zero secondary gain.

I hate it so much.

I hate apologizing. I hate how it brings shame like bile up the back of my throat. I hate struggling so hard to keep myself together only to shatter into a million pieces throwing words like shrapnel.

I feel like I’m never going to be free, no matter how smooth the water seems, it can happen. So when, again, and how to I shield the people around me? How do I shield myself?

I know there are factors (germs, hormones, unrealistic expectations) that were dry brush and made this fire burn fast and hot. I know I deserve grace, too, but all I can seem to lay my hands on is more shame.

~~~

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Thankful

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for the beautiful, but destructive, snowfall overnight

for my mothers foresight to cook a majority of the food yesterday so the lack of power today didn’t prevent us from eating a warm, fully cooked meal

oh, and for generators that have the power to run crock pots and microwaves

for my sister and her relationship with my kids; however poorly she’s chosen to treat me, she loves them and they love her 

for the awkward of having to be in the same space with someone who hates me turning out to be not that awkward at all

for the people who have come into my life via the internet and/or who I’ve come to know better via social media; my handful of readers, my little NaBloPoMo group, my partner and a few special friends

for making it 27 days in a row on writing on this little blog; 3 more to go

for Paul Gilmartin and The Mental Illness Happy Hour; for so many reasons

for finding the strength to do the deep, meaningful work I’ve been doing especially this year and

for having a therapist who holds space for me and helps me navigate when I get stuck

for my partner and everything he puts up with (primarily, me); you have no idea

for Hopper and her joy

for Pip and his quick, complex, creative brain 

for Mack and his unbridled enthusiasm for the outdoors – you do not, in fact, need snow pants to roll around in snow, just the promise of a dry pair of pants when your dad finally drags you inside

for my step-father; he is a good soul on a difficult journey through cancer treatment that he is handling with such grace and openness 

for my roof, my walls, the clothing on my body, the food in my cupboards and the pillow on my bed, which I am going to get intimately acquainted with right now

I hope your day was beautiful, your travels safe and your hearts and bellies full

“Hello, how can I help you?”

“I’m going to kill myself, right now”

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It’s not often I answer a call at work and this is what I hear right out of the gate.  25% of the people that call are actually having a crisis, the other 25% are regulars for whom we are their primary support network and the other 50% of calls are business (hospitals, workers in the field calling in, etc). A very small percent are actually at the point where they have a plan and intent to follow through.

“Who am I talking to?” I ask, immediately trying to spread the callers attention out a little. The caller tells me first and last name, readily.  The caller also tells me where they are living (with very specific detail).  I have a feeling this is a serious cry for help with no real intent to die, but you never really know.

I ask the caller if they have a plan.  They tell me they have a knife in their hand and plan to eviscerate themselves.

“Can you put the knife somewhere else while we talk?” I ask calmly, my voice has dropped into the low calm tone I get when the caller is especially upset.  It just happens, a dial turns down, unconsciously, my voice even and smooth.

“No, I’m going to do it, I’m going to stab myself”

“Don’t do that,” I say calmly, “let’s talk about this.”

“No one cares about me, they want me to kill myself” the caller says, as I search the phone number in our database.  The caller is familiar, not to me, but to our agency.

“That’s not true, it might feel that way, but it’s not true.  It gets better.  If you kill yourself you take away the option of things ever getting better.”

“No it won’t.”

“A lot of people feel the way you feel now, especially at the holidays.  It can get better, but if you kill yourself, you guarentee it will never get better. You stop having choices.”

“I just want to take away the pain.” the caller says, more angry than sad.

“I’m going to be honest, eviscerating yourself is a terribly painful way to die.  And it takes a long time.” Sometimes honesty can deter them, make them rethink their plan, realize that it’s not the easy out they thought it would be.

The caller distracts easily, but just as easily slips right back into their intent to harm themselves.  I pull the phone away from my ear and cover the mouth piece, I call out to my co-workers to call the police, give them the name, address, situation.

They jump into action, one person calls PD, one person sends the necessary fax, another calls the hospital to let them know they’re going to have an incoming.

Meanwhile, the caller’s voice pitches and they say:

“I’m going to do it, I’m going to do it right now”

“STOP! STOP! Wait.” I yell.  “Please, put the knife down and lets talk about this.” My co-workers later tell me I used my ‘mom’ voice.  I also learn, later, that this person is cognitively limited, something I must have picked up on unconciously when my brain decided to go into ‘mom tone’ in that moment.

I say the callers name 2 or 3 times, finally they respond.  I exhale. I offer the caller an opportunity to meet with one of us in person.  The caller refuses, keeps escalating, threatening to stab themselves.

I say the callers name firmly, “just put the knife down until we can figure this out.”

“I did it”

“You did what?” I hear a thud.

“I threw the knife across the room.”

I exhale again.  My brain downshifts and things blur, my adrenaline starts to disipate. I don’t remember what we talked about while I tried to fill the space until the police arrive on scene.  My co-worker on the line with the police asks me to have the caller open the door.

“Can you open your door, the police are there to get you some help.”

“It’s unlocked” the caller says.

“It’s unlocked” I call across the room. I hear, through the phone, the voices of the officers that are now with the caller.

“I’m going to go now,” I say, “We’ll see you soon.”

The caller says nothing.  The line goes dead.

~~~

If you or someone you know is in crisis or is suicidal, please call 1-800-273-8255. Military Veterans press 1 to be directed to services specific to the needs of the military.  

Your national and local crisis hotlines are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and 365 days a year.  There is always someone there ready to listen.

~~~

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