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I’m still going to therapy every other week. This week was a no session week. I’m trying to remember a week back to our last session. What did we discuss?

I remember Ron did bring up this time that I’m cancelling a lot and wondered why. I just said I wanted some time where I wasn’t triggered, and that sometimes, therapy seems to trigger all kinds of emotions but doesn’t really resolve anything, so that I’m not sure how helpful it is.

Ron didn’t say much. I got the impression he doesn’t agree that we should have fewer sessions, but he didn’t say so.

I didn’t say this, but I also think I can commit to approaching difficult topics every second week, but not every week. I’m willing to sacrifice some days to therapy recovery if it’s not every single week.

I’ve been thinking about how alone I’ve been in my life, and how that’s especially evident now. I suspect one reason I can’t seem to recover from therapy is I have no one in my regular life to help me ‘regulate’. It sometimes is very helpful to have people around, not even to discuss issues with, but just people doing ordinary living. It helps me calm down.

I’ve noticed this at work. I now have the option of working with some other writers at a big table, instead of in my cubicle. I actually prefer the big table. I thought I would hate it and feel horribly exposed, but having little interactions with other writers makes my day feel so much better. Just being able to speak sometimes, or listen to someone else go on about something.

I spent one day in my cubicle at work, and was pretty much suicidal by the end of the day. No one spoke to me. It’s a bit of a bad atmosphere there at the moment as the contract is ending, although we haven’t been told that in any kind of an upfront way. As well, there’s renewed pressure to produce lots of work very quickly. And the PM is no longer friendly to me, maybe because I’m not that fast. I like to think about what I’m doing, and produce quality, and all he cares about is quantity, because that makes his project look good.

When I moved to the table the next day, I had a much much better day. Other people are in ordinary moods, and they are catching. If I want to grumble about something, I can, in a low voice. My mood was so much improved.

So generally I’ve concluded, although I do need some time to myself, in general I do better with people around.

Somehow I’ve ended up pretty much alone. My one friend and I seem to have had a bit of a falling out, unless I’m imagining it, so she hasn’t called in a few weeks. I know I could call her. I have my ex I suppose. He’s very misanthropic and unsociable however.

I feel that I am fairly well liked at work. Chance threw myself and my star co-worker, whom I disliked, together, and it turns out we do OK together. He’s pretty outgoing, and it’s helping me to practice being more outgoing also.

Having people around at work is cushioning some of the blows of work – the contract is not being extended as promised, the PM is asking for impossible quantities of work, and other things. I just think in the same way, if I had people in my life outside of work who were more reliably present, it would help me come out of the bad places therapy puts me into.

I’m not sure Ron can really conceive of my difficulties in sociability. His view is that we need to be authentic with people and have real relationships. But I think we first need to have any kind of relationships. If I have no ability to attract anyone, I need to work on that. I don’t mean attract as in sexually attract, but attract in terms of someone wants me around. And I will not be attractive to people if I’m completely depressed and unable to be social.

I just came back from a birthday tea for my sister at my parents’ house. I can see how my social anxiety developed by watching them. My mother basically doesn’t speak. My father has very set topics that he wants to talk about – his garden, his work when he worked. So everyone dances about him speaking in horrible detail about his garden, as if we were all fascinated by this, to appease him.

Some other guests came, and so the conversation veered to different topics. At that point both my parents stopped speaking at all.

I think the dynamic is that speaking puts you at risk. In my family it’s not safe to have your own life, your own experience and opinions. So no one risks speaking about anything. I do, and I get rejected quite a bit. For example, this afternoon my brother wasn’t veering far afield, but started to talk about how he wanted to plant a miniature rose for his front walk. I suggested a tea rose. Well. My father is obsessed with old fashioned once flowering varieties. My suggestion was completely unacceptable to my sister and my father. Because intelligent people only love the old style roses. It doesn’t seem to be OK to have your own opinion on what you like.

Anyway, I can see where I developed a fear of saying anything that dogged me for my first forty years. I experienced this as not being able to think of what to say, but it’s more that all topics were potentially humiliating, so I kept quiet. Even when keeping quiet was peculiar in the situation.

So now, I can speak, thank goodness. Just I haven’t peopled my life with people who want to hear me and speak back. Wanting people in my life doesn’t have much of anything to do with ‘authenticity’ though, as recommended in therapy. I don’t really want to pour my heart out at this point. I just want some people around who like me.

 

 

My work situation has calmed down somewhat, for which I am grateful. I was having hours of intense anxiety around being fired, and that’s mostly stopped now, though I relapsed for about an hour or two Friday. Friday is the traditional ‘firing day’. Well – could be I’m too harsh, I don’t know. The contracting company is looking for a specific product, and if the people they hire don’t already know how to produce that, they don’t have time to teach them.

I didn’t meet my quotas, but I assume what I did produce was fine. The project manager then reduced my quotas, but at the same time, my projects became much less complex, so in the end, I didn’t have enough to keep me busy. Yet, I’m still there. Earning the big bucks. I wish.

I’m working on sleeping without pills. It’s hard. I can fall asleep, but I can’t stay asleep, and then I can’t fall asleep again. But sometimes, I can. So that’s confusing.

I feel off balance trying to write again. My energy was going into surviving and coping with the practical side of life. I’ve never been good at the practical side. I don’t have much of a ‘game face’, where I present well to the world but am crumbling inside. That’s not really me. I think I look like I’m struggling often, and I struggle to do well. It’s not really lack of talent, more, so much internal turmoil to deal with, there’s not enough energy left over to deal with life.

Therapy is a bit of an after thought at the moment. I’ve been going in right after work, so I’m firmly in work mode. Which is a little too tightly wound to really dig into emotions much.

I have been pondering whether my therapy is helping much at this point. I’ve been going for years after all. There is no real plan, no goals as far as I can see. In a way, that’s fine. I’m not looking for someone to set concrete goals for me. In another way, I really do not know what I’m trying to do, mostly.

I feel too tired to really challenge the therapist or try and find out what I’m trying to do. Though I do ask, often towards the end of a session. Last time, I had discussed a troubling visit to my parents’. Ron said he thinks I need to try and speak some truth to my parents, or at least try to ask them what they mean by the various things they do. I’d gone over to pick up my son, who was not ready, so I had coffee with them and some neighbours who were visiting. I’d felt that my father had disliked me, but couldn’t really articulate what he had done.

I tell Ron that my father is a narcissist. The whole family has always revolved around him and his needs. Conversation is about his pet interests, or else he won’t take part. Everything is kind of tilted towards his approval. Then I acknowledge that Ron doesn’t believe in labels. Ron says he does informally, if you’re angry with someone, you can call them a narcissist, or self-absorbed, or whatever.

I hate this aspect of Ron. That he won’t call anything by name. Plus he doesn’t seem to get how my family is. You can try and say things, but nothing helps. Maybe I’m scared to try. But they’re unbelievably knit together. I just think it would be very hurtful to try and speak up. If you believe in narcissism, it helps you understand patterns of how people operate and the webs they weave. I just feel like I’m wading through pudding trying to describe it to Ron.

At the same time, I feel connection to Ron so am reluctant to leave. But what if someone out there could actually help me? Someone who could help me with dissociation and parts? How to find that person?

Last session also, I tried to feel into a trigger that happened, as I’d had to go to the dentist for a cleaning. Form me this is a trigger. It’s like a piece of blackness dislodges itself and floats around my system, making my life black and heavy.

I did feel some of it in session. The next day, I had such a severe headache I couldn’t make it into work. But then, that black feeling dissipated quite a bit, and it may be that trying to feel some of it in session helped.

My life lately has been all about work, surviving work, recovering from work. It’s a pressured situation and it’s really hard on me. Ron was on vacation last week, so there’s no therapy update.

I’m not sure what to say. My problem is how to calm down this PTSD body so I can have a life. In one of our sessions, Ron was saying I need to try and do whatever I can to have a life. Make decisions that support me having a life that I want.

I don’t know how to do that because I’m just. too. tired.

Another person was let go from my project at work. So I’m one of four survivors out of seven hired a month ago. Now they’ve actually ramped up the project and hired ten more writers, two of whom were also let go after four days.

I’m not quite making my targets, but hanging on nonetheless. My work is of decent quality, so I guess they’ve decided to keep me for now. But I’m constantly dreading being let go, and it tires me out. It would be OK if I was. It’s just a contract, and I wouldn’t be alone in being fired.

I am always looking for some way to come back into my body after work, so I can feel things besides fear, and so I can sleep. This kind of situation is not that that good for me. Though there are good parts – I do like a challenge. There are no severe people problems at work. The work is challenging enough that I am fairly engaged. I don’t have the problem of too much downtime and low expectations.

It’s just very cut-throat. It’s how I’d heard business was, but never experienced personally.

I went to my 12 step group, and after a few weeks of feeling more connected, once again felt alone and misunderstood. I don’t connect well to people in this anxious state. I shared about it, but maybe came across badly.  Some people I knew pretended they didn’t see me after the meeting and it hurt my feelings.

Anyway. I’m glad to be working and don’t feel I can quit at the moment. If I could just calm the f down.

One thing that really is hitting home for me from this week’s evening session is the realization that I’m being triggered.

Work continues to be an enormous struggle for me. This has been a theme for me pretty much since I started in the workforce, basically seventeen years ago. The difficulties change, but it remains the case that I am struggling pretty hard nevertheless. Usually the trouble is not the work per se, but troubles with bosses, with co-workers, or sometimes with such low level work it bores me to tears.

This particular contract seems to be triggering massive anxiety for me. A second person was fired from our small team at the end of last week. They don’t even get their two weeks’ notice – they’re just gone. We’re told the person was being difficult with the client. Who knows what their side of it is.

And the fact is, I’m not meeting my metrics unfortunately. Last time I did, kind of by a fluke. But this week, I have to fix up last week’s documents, as it turned out I was writing in a different way than what is required. Would have been nice to get that feedback sooner, but oh well. The thing is, fixing up these ‘old’ docs is taking precious days away from the seven new docs I am to produce over the next two weeks.

Anyhoo. I had a real low Monday. I came home completely overwhelmed and convinced I too was about to be fired. I had the overwhelming urge to quit this job, both to avoid the stress of it and to forestall the humiliation of being let go. But – I knew I had just quit another job recently. What’s with all the quitting? In addition, ye olde bank account was crying for funds.

I decided to phone people to ask for advice. My friend J was home, and after I’d semi hysterically explained my situation to him, I started to feel better. He actually came over and brought me food, he was so concerned, which was kind. It was amazing how much more tolerable the situation became once I could discuss it. It was difficult to explain why I was so sure I too was about to be let go, and I realized the situation wasn’t that clear. Though I think the relief I felt had more to do with telling someone else what was going on than with re-jigging my thinking. Maybe it was both.

I went to therapy and explained about the job, about my fears, about my extreme need to quit and how I dealt with it the day before. Ron asked if I was anxious, and I told him I thought I was having massive anxiety, and did I seem anxious. He said he thought there was a layer of anxiety over top of a lot of other feelings. And that I am likely triggered by the work situation into past feelings.

There is a part, V, that has been loud and prominent. This is a young teen part of me. That part experienced so much pain, loneliness and rejection. I spoke a bit about that time of my life, how I more or less stopped speaking to anyone. How I was depressed all the time, and sure this was my fault and my failing, but not able to work out what I could do about it. I remember the heaviness and hopelessness of that time.

So lying there on Ron’s couch, I started to feel some of those feelings. They hurt to feel, but feeling them reduces the anxiety.

At work, my co-workers have been commenting, asking if I’m OK or doing better. I guess I’ve been giving out distress vibes. I’m trying not to do that – I want to be seen as capable as anyone else.

If my feelings at work are kinds of emotional flashbacks to my past, at least my extreme feelings make some sense. Those feelings of alienation and helplessness are feelings I had as a teenager.

Today we had a meeting at work with the big boss. I felt completely alienated, and he actually asked me if anything was wrong. I stood there, as the meeting progressed, and started to acknowledge to myself that a lot of these feelings were coming from that part, and from the past. And it helped a lot. I tried to focus on the here and now, where bad things are not currently happening to me. I was then able to engage a bit with the meeting, asking some questions not in a hostile way, but just in a normal conversational way, and the response was good. So then I again felt more a part of the meeting, and more a part of the team, and less under threat, and less angry.

Ron said that the task is to separate the present from those past feelings. And I knew that before, really. But for some reason this thought is really meaningful to me right now. There is nothing so terrible happening right now. I have a job with some challenges, but also some good points. The boss/PM continues pleasant and seems actually good at his job. He seems to see his job as helping the team get things done rather than harass us or whip us into shape. My co-workers also are fairly decent and we all rub along. And I’m earning good money.

Anyway, it doesn’t make sense that I keep falling into despair or fear because of this contract. It makes a lot more sense if I see it as flashbacks to my past.

A post on work and on my therapy session. I’m on a bit of a high from work, kind of overlaying all the exhaustion. Because, ladies and gents, yours truly finished five procedures for the end of our two week ‘sprint’ (today). I didn’t think it was going to happen, but due to circumstances I was able to pull this off. An advantage of having a big challenge is that it does feel good when things come together and I meet the goal.

Work is still exhausting me very much. I suspect it’s the massive anxiety that I am dealing with throughout the day. I’m constantly worried I’m not going to measure up, that I’m falling behind (which I was), that people perhaps don’t like me and are avoiding me, etc. etc. This would wear anyone out.

Another bad thing happened, which is that the only other woman writer on the project was let go yesterday. So I wasn’t wrong that this organization is sizing us up and pretty much ruthless in getting rid of someone who they don’t feel is measuring up. She was dismissed after six days on the job. This included her working many unpaid hours at home trying to catch up and learn the project.

I was the only one on the team to express any dismay about this at all. I felt bad for her, I felt she was judged too fast, and I also feared for my own position on the project. At that point I was behind in documents delivered and had so many fears of not measuring up. Mixed in with anger at organizations who treat people unfairly and expect the impossible.

So that happened. I found it hard to believe the five men on the team had no response to this whatsoever. I know it’s politic to CYA….and I guess they might have been disturbed by this but wanted to show positivity to the bosses. My impression though was no one cared one bit. They didn’t identify with this woman, felt they in no way resembled her, and that what happened to her had nothing to do with them. An attitude I found disturbing.

I am lucky in the PM on this job. He’s a young guy and seems to have a cheerful optimistic temper. He has never been short with me, or even pushed me much, let alone yelled at me. He is all about ‘metrics’, which I find off putting but I realize that’s what PMs do. His job is to care about the quantity of work produced, not the quality.

Now my session. It’s been moved to Tuesday evenings, a day I’ve never yet been to sessions on previously.

Therapy was helpful. I’ll have to discuss later because I’m too tired to type further!

Well, one week down for a ten week contract. I am extremely tired. I feel like I’ve burned out – just have that heavy exhausted feeling all the time. I’m not depressed. It’s as if my cells are not getting the oxygen they need from my breath.

The contract is a mixed bags in terms of positives/negatives. The people are nice. I’m with fellow writers who are pretty independent, like me, but also fairly friendly. The Project Manager is acting as boss, and he is younger and fairly soft spoken – I can’t imagine him yelling. The quality assurance person is an older woman, very chatty and seems bright and competent.

The down side to this one is the sheer volume and speed of work required. The company I’m with has committed to completing and enormous amount of procedures in very little time. I’ve already fallen behind, delivering only two procedures when they wanted five. I don’t think anyone actually was able to complete five either, but I suspect I delivered the fewest.

I guess they need volume as opposed to quality. Somehow, I have to be able to produce enough for the right number of check marks on the PM’s spreadsheet, regardless if there is any quality there or not. Not how I like to work.

I feel it is harsh to ask so much from the first week at work. We didn’t get connectivity until end of day Wednesday, or email. First two days then we did more training exercises, though it wasn’t clear that’s what they were at the time.

I am intending to make some kind of plan for myself so I can conform to what’s being asked. It’s just taking me a few days to acclimatize and even figure out what they want and how to give it to them. It’s only ten weeks. I do need to keep this contract if I possibly can, to replenish the storehouses.

I feared I would be let go Friday, after not getting in enough documents, and the PM and QA who had been friendly, suddenly becoming frosty and in the case of the QA, who is nice, worried looking.

Anyway. After becoming enormously afraid and tearful Friday afternoon, going for a walk and coffee to try and compose myself, I made it back to work and at least handed in my two measly documents. I almost quit actually, because the task seemed so impossible. However, I didn’t, and I’ll go back and try to make it work somehow.

I wonder what really causes this exhaustion. This is a challenging contract, but I have this reaction for any new job I take on. I think it’s maybe the stress of clamping down so much on my reactions and triggered feelings. I end up being unable to sleep, I’m so tense. Then I drug myself to sleep, though I also try and do meditation/self-expression/prayer/reading. I am likely not getting proper sleep.

It is so easy for bosses to start seeing me as a problem child. I think it must be something I give off, some vulnerability, some essence of not being competent. I don’t know. It’s hard. Writing about it is bringing all these feelings up. Just being seen as not good enough. That echoes my place in my family – simply not as good as my siblings. Defective. A squashed and hopeless feeling.

 

I made it. I’m home from my last day at work. I’d had this idea I would leave at noon, having little to occupy me there. However my co-worker said that would be unusual, people usually put in a full day. So I compromised and stayed until three, which was hard enough. Just before, I did the rounds of the department, saying goodbye to everyone. It was a bit hard to do that, because I was so stressed out after waiting all day to leave, but it was OK. Some people were nice. I actually had a longish discussion with one long-time worker there just as I was leaving. He said the whole department is stressed out  and lacking ‘civility’. I wondered if maybe he could have become a friend, because at least he liked to talk. I didn’t have to pry anything out of him – he had lots to say, but also listened if I spoke. Kind of an unusual person though – very intense. So who knows.

I was very scared to say good-bye to one of the directors there. At first I’d really admired him, because he seemed so articulate, then realized he’s pretty controlling. I never had much to do with him directly actually. He is very important to the department. Anyway, I decided to say goodbye, and felt all emotional for no good reason except that I was stressed out. He didn’t actually seem to know why I was saying goodbye to him anyway. Sigh. He’s very good pals with my boss anyway. Well, who cares. That life is behind me now, and I no longer need to care about these personalities.

C, who was the director who was so nice to me when I worked with him, totally withdrew once I resigned. He was nice and smiled when I came to say goodbye, but again I felt emotional and so forgot to thank him for being so kind, and just said goodbye. A few people, including C, said they’d miss me, and I said truthfully I’d miss them also. There is one co-worker, N, who clasped my hand warmly and said he’d miss me. He’s a complete numbers guy, but he was always nice and never felt threatened by my questions or suggestions. He seemed so emotionally open somehow. I don’t know how to describe it. Like he brought his whole self to wishing me goodbye, standing up and clasping my hand, gazing at me with large open eyes. He’s from a middle eastern culture – I wonder if that’s a warmer culture than my own chilly Canadian one.

And interestingly, I had this whole whispered conversation with B in the morning before boss arrived, on how we could have avoided accepting these jobs with J as the bad boss. I was wondering how I could improve my interviewing, to be alerted to bad situations before I take the job. Two of the red flags B told me about when she interviewed with J were also there for me, but mostly after the interview. I honestly didn’t see in my interview with her, I didn’t see issues or warning signs. I really don’t probe at all, I guess, and am so eager to be hired I don’t evaluate properly perhaps.

I am so relieved to be done with this. It is fairly possible I won’t be employed now until spring though. The time leading to the holidays tends to be dead for hiring, even for contracts, and ditto for January, where people are just recovering.

I hope I don’t fall back into depression. Right now I’m OK, just wishing I had someone to talk to about all this. Maybe I’ve done my grieving and now get a break?

I’ve booked another longer therapy session for tomorrow. I’ve remembered that just before I took this job, Ron and I had decided on twice a week sessions, and I’m thinking maybe I should try that during this work hiatus, even though funds are not coming in at the moment. I’d never be able to do that when working, because I need evening appointments, and Ron only offers those three times a week, so taking two of them would be difficult. If I want to do this, I have to ask right away though, otherwise the time will just go and boom, I’ll be employed again.