I’m going to continue to moan about my work situation. Though it is the last bit of Ron’s holiday, so I’ll be getting back to therapy topics next week I hope.

Speaking of which, I’ve weathered this break better than any in the past. Not sure why exactly. In previous years, I’ve been depressed, lonely, and feeling as if something was badly wrong the whole time he was away. This year, I am not feeling any of those things in regards to his absence, though my life has not been happy. But the unhappiness is for other reasons.

What a relief. That is  a huge recurring source of pain that has evaporated it seems. Maybe it was the pre-break session, discussing how I’ve been abandoned in the past. Maybe connecting those feelings back to my past, instead of being convinced they are about him, has really worked at last. I hope so.

I’ve been reading a book on emotional flashbacks. Maybe most of my bad feelings are emotional flashbacks – feelings I felt as a child, abused or abandoned or whatever great combination of those was on tap at any particular time. Thinking about this, especially as I feel completely traumatized by my work situation, is helpful. Then it’s not so much that I’m once again in an awful place with work. It is not good, but it is not the complete nightmare it feels like to me either. Events there are triggering emotional states for me that are from the past.

I’ve also been craving alcohol – wine specifically. There is a wine/liquor store, a small one, right at the stairs of the building where I work. I find myself looking longingly at it time and again. Sometimes I just browse the shelves, looking for a particular wine I’ve read a recommendation for. Sometimes I just visualize the half empty bottle of chilled white I have sitting at home in the fridge, how I’ll pour myself a nice soothing glass as soon as I get home.

I’ve never had a problem with substances. I’m not used to craving anything like I am now. I do easily stop after a glass or two. I never want to get drunk, or keep drinking and drinking. I think I’m looking for something to take the edge off all the pain I’m constantly in. Wine works for me.

I only drink nice wine – wine I like. Never super cheap, never liquor in order to get drunk. But is that next on the horizon for me? I hope not. I grew up drinking wine with dinner, so for me, it’s not any kind of forbidden fruit, and I don’t have memories of getting drunk as a young person, partying, etc. I sometimes think that for people who did not grow up drinking wine as a natural part of a meal, any kind of drinking becomes this special forbidden thing…..and so irresistible? Maybe I am fooling myself, making excuses.

What else.

Last session in therapy, I talked about how I believe my mind was changed by the abuse I went through, because it happened when I was so very young. I think the structures of my mind were simply altered, and I will never really have the same kind of a mind as someone who didn’t have those experiences when they were as young as I was. Ron added that it was also an effect of the severity of what I went through. I’m not sure – what I remember outright was not that severe. However, I’ve obviously forgotten a lot of things.

The reason I talked about that, was I was noticing how fragmented my conversation with Ron tends to be. I compared it to how E, from the group I went to years ago, was able to tell her story. She’d go into great detail, linking all kinds of things together, and it all made sense. She could talk without stopping for ten – fifteen minutes at a time. While I’m stuck with talking about things in bits and pieces…..A little bit of this, and then I run out of things to say about that, then a little bit of something else. It’s as if my brain will not tell a coherent story.

And, to prove my point about fragmentation, now to my work situation. Which continues awful, but it does keep changing.

I took the Monday off to deal with the stress I was feeling about work. I kept bursting into tears all weekend, and felt generally that I was really seriously sliding downhill, so I took the day to try and ground myself. It helped a bit.

On returning Tuesday, I had some work come in, so I felt better, just having something to occupy me. I decided against trying to talk to my boss about anything. What really can I say to her? You are acting out, or, what am I doing wrong, or I feel like crap working for you….All of these are true, but none can really be said in a work context.

I also realized that there’s a sever triangle happening. My co-worker, B, my boss, J and me. J was constantly trying to show that she preferred B. She even gave her some work that is in my job description, while I had nothing to work on. She spent hours talking to B at her desk, discussing work, and would act put upon if I so much as asked her a question. And B kind of likes this. She is completely passive, and extremely accommodating and soothing. She is pretty much looking for any crumbs of love that may be available…and they really are crumbs. Yes, J rewards her somewhat for her compliance, but she is also apt to turn on her at any time.

I got somewhat mad that B got this work that falls under my umbrella (we have pretty separate job descriptions). I had been trying to be friendly with B – exchanging little comments in the morning or after lunch break. Now, I felt I’d had enough with her caretaking, passive behaviour. I could see she really really likes being the favorite. So, as she’s so very quiet and never speaks with anyone except for J, I stopped commenting on things. And she in turn never ventured to say anything to me first.

Surprisingly, the fact that B and I weren’t particularly friendly anymore was very soothing for J. I believe she was quite threatened by our striking up any kind of relationship. She let up on the blatant favoritism behaviour. She came over to B’s desk much less frequently, just kind of let up on whatever she was acting out. Weird. Unexpected for me. It was like I could kind of breathe again.

I dislike passive and passive aggressive behaviour, and super compliant behaviour designed to keep a superior calm. Echoes of my mother. So in a way, I don’t miss B. However, now work is echoingly lonely. No one talks to me all day. The culture there is very very introverted, where it seems unsafe to speak with anyone. Team work is a completely foreign concept – questions about work are seen as indicating you are incompetent or unintelligent.

So now I have pulled back, though I would respond if B ever wished to say anything to me, work is just so very lonely on every level.

Today J and I clashed again. Her boss basically insisted I do a small project, which she wanted to do herself, or give to B. She criticized how J did the first draft, while I was present. I get that this feels bad, and so she is angry. She took that out on me. I took two long breaks in the afternoon just to deal with the anger I felt in response.

I don’t see what I can do. Talking to J – how would that help? It’s her personality that is the problem. Plus the issue of having almost nothing to do day after day is huge. But I’ve already met with her and asked her to give me more to do – what else can I say?

I know if I had some friendly relationships with co-workers, those would mitigate the stress of a bad boss. So not having that really adds to the awfulness. I get so paranoid, and have no reality checks whatsoever.

I have been wanting to quit. I was thinking perhaps I could talk to J’s boss and explain a bit of my situation. She’d told me to come talk to her next time things between me and J got out of hand, before I quit. If there is some way I could report to someone else, I could manage to stay until end of September.

J doesn’t like me, I don’t like her. It did hurt today, when I went over to her desk to discuss something she’d asked me to discuss, and she looked at me with such contempt. Before talking over me and not listening to anything I was saying about the work I’d been doing.

She is like a child. In her boss’ office, where her boss was explaining how she wanted the document different, she seemed to shrink and really looked like a young high-school student. Then of course, she took this out on me. I should have avoided her, but I was eager to work on this project her boss had given me.

Some of these intense feelings of despair and loneliness must be from my past, as per my book. I need to take care of the feelings, show myself compassion, without dwelling too much on the stories I’m spinning around it all. That’s what the book says.


  1. This.shaking said:

    Dear Ellen: What is the book you are reading about emotional flashbacks? Is it good? In the last year I seem to have progressed (!) from intense flashbacks about particular horrors to long drawn out weeks of being in some miserable state. Baby-On-Board. Seems (again!) that “the only way out is through.” Thank you (and Hugs on your progress.) TS

    • Ellen said:

      The book is Complex PTSD: From Surviving to Thriving, by Pete Walker. It’s not bad. I really resonated with this idea of the emotional flashbacks, and started wondering why no one had told me about this concept before. It’s a self-help book, and I have a love/hate relationship with those. Even though they seem good at the time, they tend to fade in my memory. But so far, this one is making a lot of sense and is a little deeper than most. And he doesn’t advise avoiding all triggers at all costs, which I agree with. He sees some value in going through the emotions at times.

      I read a book I loved, and am wondering if you recommended it? It’s Intensive Psychotherapy for Dissociative Process by Chefetz. This one is written for therapists, and the way it discusses dissociation has really helped me to try and get a handle on this concept for myself. It’s definitely not self-help though – there’s no attempt to provide steps to a ‘cure’.

      I’m sorry you have the EFs also. Thanks!

      • This.shaking said:

        Thanks, Ellen! Yeah, Chefetz was sitting on my T’s desk and I grabbed it – I went home that night and bought it on Amazon. I marked the hell up in it. Then I read The Body Keeps the Score (Bessel van der Kolk) – marked that one up too. Somehow I discovered My Bloggy Friends. Now I can’t read any more books – I have accepted that These Stories are my story .. and that’s how I spend my evenings. Gasps of recognition. Many tears. Sometimes, Bits of Hope. I want to clean up inside so that I can love and let someone get close. Somewhere … Over the Rainbow. Thanks – I will look up Walker. TS

        • Ellen said:

          Chefetz is my favorite. I like the way he writes about clients, and himself – unassuming. He puts himself on the same level. Thanks for recommending!

  2. You are doing so well and developing great insights. The book on emotional flashbacks must have really helped…i would also be interested to know which book it was.

    • Ellen said:

      Thanks Emerging. The book is Complex PTSD: From Surviving to Thriving, by Pete Walker. It’s pretty cheap on Kindle anyway. Cheers.

      • That is a fantastic book…he really explains flashbacks so well…living in a fragmented reality is only understood by those who experience and understand how trauma disorganises and dysregulates our complex nervous system. We just cannot compare ourselves to those who are not fragmented by trauma. And neurobiology now shows early trauma damages the brain and arrests development in certain areas of the brain.

        • Ellen said:

          Yes, I’m liking the book also. He’s walking the line between self-help and more discursive stuff, and I like that. I don’t trust pure self- help – too simplistic I find. This one seems solid. Cheers.

  3. I do think it affects the connectivity in your mind. I am not sure why, but it seems to be what other people say and it matches my experience. It makes so many things harder.

    • Ellen said:

      Yes it does. Luckily I can think about things later and pull a complete story together – it’s not as if there are real holes in my mind. But with other people, I can be so very fragmented, with only parts of things told, even non-threatening things from the present. Likely alone also, but then I don’t really notice.

      • Yes, that makes sense. I got stressed today and had a moment very much like that where I couldn’t connect all the things I needed to remember (instructions, my own thoughts on the topic, activities I had carried out in the past). It was very clear the stress was affecting those connections.

  4. Rachel said:

    When I found out about the framing of emotional flashbacks, it made so much sense to me. I still have a hard time remembering when I am really upset, but it does help. I’m glad the concept seems to be useful for you. To help give some context for your experiences that they aren’t that you suck at this job or anything or in relationships, there is a legitimate reason for why these experiences keep happening. Implicit learning is difficult to overcome.

    • Ellen said:

      I suspect I do suck at relationships, but thank you. A lot of emotional flashing back is likely happening, when I’m not even aware.

  5. e.Nice said:

    I am glad you didn’t have to deal with a therapy meltdown at the same time as the work crazieness. It seems thst this post and the next one shows how you are getting more in tune with what is happening around you and internally so you are better able to meet your needs (ie work situ as it is is not sustainable). It might be that the stress has depleted some of your resserves and so the wine doesn’t just take the edge off but is giving you some nutrients you need and that is why you are craving it… that’s more a phyical craving while the other is a mental craving but it’s difficult to separate the two. At least for me.

    • Ellen said:

      Wine is giving me nutrients…I like that explanation. 🙂

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