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I’ve had an upsetting day and now I can’t sleep. A bad run in with the boss. He does seem to be working up to letting me go. The things he says are so irrational, so unreasonable – it’s hard to know how to respond. I get that he’s irritated with me, doesn’t like what I do, feels I’m holding up his project somehow. But when it gets to specifics, it all goes up in smoke. He’s so sure I’m at fault, but he doesn’t pin down how.

I don’t want to go into the boring specific ins and outs. You’ll just have to trust me that I’m an experienced writer, and that basically, I’m acting in reasonable ways. He, on the other hand, has basically no experience whatsoever with documentation, and so is trying to manage a project where all the predictable issues are brand new to him. He doesn’t even really know that they’re issues that occur all the time – to him, everything is someone’s fault.

Today, after my co-worker who shares my office had left for the day, this boss came storming in to ask how the project was going. I’d just received feedback a half hour ago, so I was fixing something up. He was furious that I’d had this particular issue. He left, and I swore pretty loudly. He’d been a complete AH. A few minutes later, he came back, shut the door, sat down, and asked, very aggressively, if he was being unclear. He went into a bit of a tirade about how he’d been coaching me, how long this project was taking, that everyone else was faster than me (not entirely true), that at this point, he didn’t see what else he could do, and did I even want to be here on this project?

I returned some of his fire. I was shaking I was so angry and upset. He actually calmed down quite a bit when he saw he’d upset me. I told him I’d just gotten the feedback half an hour ago, and so hadn’t had time yet to fix it. He said he hadn’t know that. Well then, why not find out before the accusations start flying?

He said he’d like it done by end of day. Which was about a half hour away by this time. So I stayed over two hours late to finish this up. I won’t charge for the extra time. There is a problem that I had that was perhaps my fault, and so I was fixing that. However it was an honest mistake. It wasn’t that I didn’t care. All the other accusations were completely untrue. So I stayed late. He left right on time, so wouldn’t have known if I hadn’t stayed.

The day before, he was angry about other QA feedback on my project. Yet there was nothing different about my feedback from anyone else’s. He just attacked me, without asking any questions at all. He’d completely misunderstood. So I explained, which I’m not sure if he even took in.

Anyway, it’s been a crappy time. I still don’t want to be let go.

I had therapy scheduled for seven thirty, so I had to drive straight there from work. I didn’t have a cheque book, or my notebook of dreams. And I was so tense, and so worked up, and so upset, it was hard to do any therapy. When I get that upset, I can’t calm down enough to do any useful work. I just vent for a while. Then Ron says a few things, which are sensible, but any friend could also say them.

The kid makes an appearance right at the end of the hour, where I have been adult and verbal but not emotional. And the kid starts sobbing as if she’ll never stop. And it’s time to go, so I sit on Ron’s couch, trying to switch back into the coping adult.

So it’s too bad this happened on therapy day. I need some degree of calm to be able to do much therapy. It’s contradictory, I know, but it’s true. If I’m right in the middle of the soup, it’s too stressful to have a conversation about anything but how hot it is and how I’m drowning. With a bit of time to decompress, I could make more headway with my feelings. It’s like I’m so busy coping, I can’t feel.

Yuck. One more day. Not sure how I’ll get up tomorrow, with not being able to sleep today.

I think without this job, I’ll miss my two co-workers. I haven’t felt lonely since I started the work. That chit chat and discussions about work does a lot for me. I don’t need deep relationships all the time. Just ordinary ones work fine for me. So I will miss them. Of course, the rest will be good riddance.

I wonder what will happen.

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The contract still sucks. Ugh.

Therapy is also not a lot of help right now. At least not specifically. Though I am getting a real handle on two parts. I notice when they pop up, and I’m not as scared of them. I noticed on the weekend on the phone with a longtime friend, that the kid part of me tends to pop out when I’m talking to her. Interesting. She is a very kind person, and she has never judged the kid, as people tend to do.

Of course, she doesn’t know she’s talking to a different part. It’s not a complete switch. I’d never noticed before that this particular friendship involves the kid.

I went to see Ron on Saturday, the day after he got back from his vacation. I was feeling irritable, put out by the previous client, who stayed a few minutes late, then walked out of Ron’s office making some kind of happy comment and smiling. Grrrr….Why was he so happy, while I am so miserable? I tell Ron how I’m feeling, as is my wont. So we explore my irritability, which I don’t think led anywhere much.

Later in the weekend, I realize I can’t sleep without taking drugs, and that during the day, I’m feeling spacey, tired, and kind of shocked. And belatedly, I realize it’s the antihistamines I’ve started taking. They make me wired and extremely irritable! So no wonder therapy didn’t help much – drug induced irritability is best cured by stopping the drug. So I did. It took the conversation with my friend to realize I needed to try a different kind of antihistamine.

This is my first day on the new pill, which I’ve taken at half strength. I’m hoping I can sleep – I don’t feel irritable. More depressed – but that’s more normal for me.

At the end of the session with Ron, I’d ended up again in a bad place. We’d been discussing a dream, and then an image that came to me as we were discussing it. I got very upset. Then pulling myself together to leave. I don’t say goodbye to Ron, just stomp out of his office. I’m angry but also really sad, and it seems to be his fault.

Later I feel bad, and email that I appreciated that he came in to see me, and sorry I didn’t say goodbye. So now, four days later, he replies that he understands and no apologies needed. Why bother replying after four days?

Work is still scary. Though I’m interacting more smoothly with the manager. In a way, he’s quite helpful, but you have to ask the right things, in a calm way. Matters of fact, or where to find out specific facts, is what he wants to talk about. Otherwise, he thinks you’re not getting it.

I still feel young and stupid. Both co-workers have more IT knowledge than I do. My knowledge of IT could fit into a thimble with room left over. And I feel less than all day long. And they treat me as less than as a consequence. They’re in the know, I’m not. If they have questions, they’ll ask each other, never me.

I have two projects, they all have six. Their projects are due end of the week, my first one is due in three weeks. I’m the dunce of the group.

But. I’m keeping my head up. I’ll learn what I need to know. This is not brain surgery after all. What they’re asking writers to do is not that difficult. It’s just, the skills I have won’t be used here. So I’ll likely continue to feel like a dunce. And it’s a very male environment. It’s bad enough keeping up your end around mostly men if you know what they know. I know less, so it’s a double whammy.

At least I’m bringing lunch and cooking suppers. That’s really good.

And my allergies seem better this year, touch wood. If this continues to next week, that will be proof for me that my diet is really good for me in many respects. I’m hoping this will continue. I barely feel any symptoms while taking a low dose of antihistamine.

girlI see you are hurt and upset and in a dark black mood. How can I help? It affects me, that you are so sad. Can I provide a sunny grass field for you to play in? OK, let’s do that. You still feel sad but a bit better because at least I’m trying to help. OK. How about orange golden light, glowing all around you, healing the dark, making you feel warm and good?

Every time I try and do something, you broadcast your feelings of being choked, of crying with no one to hear. So I stop trying to do things. OK, I’m going to listen to you. You still feel sad and dark and confused and frightened. OK. We’ll try more orange yellow light, warm and good. How’s that?

Cake? I don’t have cake. It’s not that good for stomachs. But we can sit here as long as you like, and I’ll listen, and you can tell me how you feel. Sad? But a bit better? I’m glad it’s a bit better again.

orangeI’ve calmed down. Medically I am well, and as that news has slowly filtered down through all parts, I’ve settled down quite a bit. What a relief. The biopsy showed nothing unusual. Yay!

This last doctor’s visit, I noticed how afraid the kid was. I tuned into her while waiting in the small consulting room. She had the firm belief that people get sick from hospitals, that going to the hospital makes you sick and involves lots of pain and sickness. I spent time reassuring and explaining that actually, hospitals and doctors don’t make you sick. They try to help if you are sick, or stop you from becoming sick. Huh. My fear went down a lot after this little internal conversation. Interesting what you find out by paying attention internally.

My contract is still ending. I have come to terms with this more, and am no longer so overwhelmed. The boss is still acting quite erratically and is very changeable. Luckily I’m not longer trying to win him over, so I don’t much care what he does. The decision to not renew has been made, so that’s that. Last week, it was extremely hard to be there at work while knowing I was being let go. But this week, it’s been easier. I’ve relaxed a bit again. It’s life, going on. You never know what’s coming up.

I am worried about what my next contract will be like. But I figure, why imagine only the worst? It could be a contract where I enjoy the people, where the project is engaging, and where I make pots of money. He he. Just thought I’d add on that last possibility while I’m at it.

I have been at this job for four years, longer than I’ve ever worked anywhere. I’ve become interested in the various processes, products, regulatory issues, and a few of the people there. But I didn’t make any strong connections. I’m enjoying working with one of the men on my projects – he’s so enthusiastic and also quite open, and we’ve talked a bit. At least he’s talked, I’ve listened. I appreciate him talking to me, and having at least that small bit of friendliness in my day.

And the weather is cool, which I always like. And I still want to plant out my balcony, which hopefully will happen in the next day or two, now I’m more myself again.

I also got a pedicure for the first time ever, and am the proud possessor of shiny cantaloupe coloured toes. Today I wore an (old) pair of strappy gold sandals, and the orange and gold combo made the kid very happy.

I don’t feel good I feel bad.

alone2I wish. I wish there was someone to talk to.

I feel lonely and I am by myself and there is no one else here.

Sometimes it feels sad.

Because I like to talk but there’s no one to talk to.

Because I’m not supposed to talk to people because then it’s embarrassing.

Bur I can talk to Ron but that’s not too often and there’s not much time.

But we will see him tomorrow anyway.

I have a shell I have to give it back though. Ron has a basket of like rocks and like shells and stuff like that.

You can be alone and brave also.

I would like a dog because dogs are good friends.

Your friend Ellen.

Art: Children’s Illustrator Taeeun Yu

crystalToday therapy was difficult, but then, my life is difficult, I need to remember, I don’t pick this stuff up from therapy.

I’ve been having trouble sleeping, waking up several times at night, sometimes frightened and lonely. And I’ve been struggling a bit at work. Nothing is going wrong there, in fact, last time I was in my client came and told me what a great job I’m doing. So that’s good I suppose. Just I have a hard time staying there all day, and I’m exhausted at night.

Today I was feeling pretty tired. I went in, and talked about my sleep issues. And work. Work had actually improved somewhat since last week. Last week we’d discussed a bit how meetings were freaking me out – I panic when I want to stay calm. The kid pops out when I need to stay adult. Talking about it last week seemed to help improve the situation. It wasn’t so much what Ron said, just the chance to air it out and consider it, mostly. So I told Ron that had helped.

I keep starting and stopping, not knowing what to talk about to make things better.

Ron comments that I seemed to be coming from quite a young place, when I came in. I’m not sure what he means. We talked a bit about hockey (this is Canada, you can’t avoid hockey at the moment, even in the wine store, the cashier chatted about hockey). And it was a different day than usual, I mentioned that. I try to think how I was young, but really, that may just be me when I don’t feel great, with the kid kind of flickering through.

I have forgotten several things I meant to talk about, and fall silent. I feel a bunch of parts wanting time, or being agitated, and I don’t know what to do. I suspect it’s parts that are waking up scared at night, so I want to let that part speak, because that will help with sleeping.

First I feel like there is a wall. It is transparent. I’m on one side, where the air is clear. On the other side is a whole bunch of confusion, an avalanche. Ron asks which side the parts are on. I tell him I suppose it’s the other side of the wall.

We go back and forth a bit more. We talk about the inner critic that just hammers me constantly. It’s a part, it’s like a child part but it’s furious with me all the time. I’ll talk about that another time.

Then in the last fifteen minutes – why is it always the last fifteen minutes? the kid takes over. She starts listing all the difficulties she has. The kid is interesting, because she is oriented to the present, in a way the other parts I’ve met aren’t. She talks about things that happen in our daily life.

First I feel lonely, just stabs of loneliness, so I mention that. Ron wonders if we are not connecting, if I’m feeling alone even though we’re there together. I don’t really think that’s it. My feelings towards you haven’t changed in the last few minutes, I say. Maybe it’s more of a memory of loneliness.

And then I think the kid starts talking. She wrote Ron an email but we didn’t send it. It was about how tired she was from work. And how at work, we sit in a cubicle, and we have to sit there all day. She doesn’t know if anyone likes her or doesn’t like her. But we can go buy tea, and we can walk around, and we can buy sweets, and we can buy lunch and pretty much anything, we can buy it. (According to the kid. For her, it’s excellent that we have money, unlike when we were actually five years old.)

The kid cries a lot, about how difficult working is for her. And other things which I now can’t remember. It’s amazing how much emotion this part of me has – sadness, longing for connection, loneliness. She talks in a childish way, and I just let it happen. I’m tired of it all going on and hanging on to it by myself.

Ron says that this part of myself was abandoned in my family, so now we need to listen and care about it. It’s easier to do that with someone else, rather than trying to do it alone.

Then another part of me is angry at myself for letting all this stuff out. Ron wants to speak with this part also, but she won’t speak with him.

At the end of the session, I’m having some trouble switching out again. I wish I had my grounding crystal with me, but I forgot it at home. Turns out Ron has a basket with crystals in it – much larger and nicer than the ones I have. He hands me the basket. There are shells also. I pick out a pink one, then one with some black in it also. Wow. I never knew he had this basket in his office, after several years! I feel a bit better holding the crystal, then quickly put it back and scoot out of his office.

So – I had adult stuff to talk about – a situation with my ex and my son, and one with a friend I saw on the weekend – everything whooshed out of my mind, and just the kid stuff stayed. We don’t have careful insightful discussions, that’s for sure. We do these child talks. But they are what I need. When we talk with ‘insight’, mostly it feels very distant and unreal to me. I seem to need the let the kid speak. So that’s what I’m going to keep doing. Though it feels crazy, when I think about it, I guess that’s my path.

Art: Russel Leng: Landscape Painting 2

Last time in therapy.

Talk about the book Ron lent me. Doesn’t go anywhere much. I tell him I identified the most with the man who suffers from catatonia, and is afraid he’s going to go into that state again. I’m not very articulate and don’t get to why this moved me.

I tell him I had a difficult dance class. I was super tired, because I’d had to work all day on site, and I’ve been sleeping very badly.

My main problem that week was the sleeping. I wake up every night after a few hours, feeling scared, blank, and so lonely I think I’ll die of it. Then if I do get back to sleep, I just float instead of sinking into sleep. I think of it as traumatic sleep – I don’t dream, I wake up blank and super alert, I’m awake really early and don’t feel tired at that point, but it hits me later. It’s like being super tense all the time, then suddenly not being able to cope with the stress of it.

So I force myself out to dance class, and my friend, who is the reason I’m taking the stupid class in the first place, tells me I look very tired. And I forget to take any meds to calm down, I’m so out of it. So I’m scared the whole class.

I tell Ron about this. I forget to tell the part that bothers me the most – I end up switched into the kid for parts of the lesson. Not a traumatized kid, but the sociable kid. It makes some sense, because the kid likes dancing. Theoretically, a five year old can do this stuff. And any chat required is basic, which the kid loves. So the things I say are all in this kid voice. I’m not that aware at the time, but when I get home I’m embarrassed. I suppose I switch when I’m exhausted – I lack the energy to hold things together.

I think the sleep problem is due to a traumatized part. So we work on the parts. One part says over and over that she doesn’t want to go home. I tell Ron about this. I sit there on his couch and try to find that part, let her speak. So she says her piece, she doesn’t want to go home. Why not, Ron says. What happens there? You know you don’t have to go there anymore. Do you like Ellen’s home?

But she has nothing further to say. She, or I, find Ron’s words reassuring somehow.

I do feel though that something is happening to me, sitting there and allowing this part to come forward. I feel scared, and I feel my legs tingling, which happens when a new part emerges sometimes. I remember things from our apartment in European country – the carpet, the toys.

I remember being punished one time. This is me remembering, I tell Ron, not the part. I remember I was outside, playing with my friends, very happy and excited. My mother calls me and my sister in for dinner. My sister goes in, but I don’t want to go. I’m having too much fun. Finally, our game ends and I rush home. My mother sends me to my room without dinner as punishment. I remember furiously kicking at the door of my room, crying. I am so angry. It was a favorite dinner of mine – potato pancakes.

That was a severe punishment, Ron says.

Yeah? I don’t know….

Can you imagine treating a child like that, who is five?

Maybe. Not now, but in the past. Well….I never withheld food from my child.

It was severe punishment, Ron insists.

Perhaps. It wasn’t abuse. For those times, I think it was pretty average actually.

I think about this afterwards for a long time. It disturbs me. What I find really troubling is that I’m remembering this angry child, kicking at the door of her room, from the outside only. I can’t remember being her. I can remember being the child who played outside, who was excited and happily rushing around. By the time I was punished though, I seem to be hovering outside of myself somehow.