This post contains TMI. Consider yourselves warned.
So, I had a complete breakdown yesterday. I don’t cry. Sure, I may shed a few tears here or there. I cry when we lose a beloved pet. But normally I do not full on cry. Years go by in between my hysterics. I am an ugly and loud crier. I ball. I wail. I make these horrible noises that hurt my throat and I cannot stop. When I try to stop it just comes on harder. Now here’s the thing about this kind of crying – there is snot.So. Much. Snot. If there was was a god, snot when you are hysterical would be my definition of hell. So, there I am sitting in my office chair, wailing, Deb is bent over holding me tight trying to console me with her body. I blow my nose and then take in a big breath with my mouthand I breathed in a mouthful of snot. Lovely. Now, not only am crying, rocking and wailing, I can’t fucking breathe.
From the time I was a child, I was told that crying was bad. In my house, my mother held us hostage with her labile mood swings. Mostly her emotion manifested as anger. I couldn’t deal with her anger and I would burst into tears and she would tell me I was weak. The same thing happened with my sister. If they both ganged up on me, I was a puddle on the floor. As an adopted child, I definitely did not fit into this family. As a young kid, I learned that crying only made my lot in life worse so I would avoid those confrontations or doing anything that would upset her. I suspect this was also when I learned to anticipate what people needed before they even knew. In essence, I became a stoic people pleaser.
Last night, I was trying to remember the last time I cried like I did yesterday. It was in about 2010/11 at THAT JOB that shall remain nameless. I had worked towards my goal of becoming an executive director for years. It was my 10-year plan that saw me go from working in welfare, to managing volunteers and then the leap. I was so proud of myself. I had finally done it. But then it all went sideways. I bullied by a group of women who gossiped and attacked every part of my being and character from my weight and clothes to my sexual orientation to the art work I hung in my house to the fact that it took me hours to eat 2 pieces of toast at lunch because I was so sick with ulcerative colitis. Nothing was off limits. When I learned the true scope of the bullying, I was devastated. I would cry on my drive home, in my car, by myself. I would wail and scream. Yet, I kept going back every day. Even when it was clear that not all of the bullying was going to stop,I pressed on ahead. Something inside of me was screaming so loudly for me to quit but I couldn’t hear it. I had been so sick my entire 5 years there yet I carried on, trying to hide my sick body.
So where am I going with all of this? What has occurred to me is that I am strong as fuck. I am stoic and I can take a lot. I am wondering if this is just another lesson in my life that I can’t be in control of all the things all of the time.Before we lost our GP in 2015, she sat us both down and told us it was time to stop powering through things and that we needed to listen to our bodies.We both agreed then that we would stop doing it. I have also promised myself that I would no longer stay in jobs that made me stressed and miserable. And, I am proud to say, I have not let myself down on this front.
Now wehave to deal with me having cancer. I know that I cannot due this stoically. I am already at a deficit. I have anemia of chronic disease, my thyroid went of whack and I have a whole host of other auto-immune diseases in addition to my ulcerative colitis. I am making it clear that if I have to do cancer I am doing it with pain meds and benzos. I feel sorry for the doctor who crosses my boundary. I may have lost the stoic but I have found the anger.
I already deal with too much snot given the insane levels of allergies I have. Post-nasal drip should have been my middle name.
I am sure you can all predict where there is going…
The bullying culture existed at THAT JOB long before I got there. Even though, I was able to clean it up in the office, it was still an issue at the board level.
I do want to say a couple of things before I leave this topic. There was one woman, who had been involved with bullying me. We had a conversation after the fact and she got it. She wrote me the most amazing 4-page apology. I know that she got it. Her apology meant so much to me and still does. This was really the only time anyone had apologized to me without it being requested or in any way coerced. We went on to work very well together. If the world ever ends, I want her by my side. Another women, who had been around the periphery of THAT JOB while the bullying was happening (she was not involved) later came on as a staff member. She supported me so much and she was my rock while I was there. I am proud to consider her a member of my family today.
Of course, I alternate believing that it all means nothing and the shit just happens.
This was right after Deb’s stint in the ICU on life support.
Me, my family and my inner circle.