100 Days of Healing – Day 71

For the decade or so of my career before I started a company, I worked for companies that had abusive work cultures. I didn’t know it could be different, and I had been raised to not be a problem and not think my needs were important. I had a boss that would goof off all day, then make my work partner and I stay 2-3 hours late so that he felt like he was getting something done. We had already been working all day and had gotten our work done, so we were pretty resentful, and him taking us out to lunch once or twice a month did nothing to make up for his horrible management style and how hard I had to work to cover his mistakes.

I worked for two generations of ownership who all thought that as long as you were on salary you had to work as much as they wanted doing whatever they wanted. It was not out of the norm for me to miss lunch or to do something completely outside my job description, or to work 80-90 hours a week, once for three months straight. I missed holidays that I was owed per my position and HR refused to comp them when I could finally take the time off. My bosses were verbally abusive, more especially when I was trying to keep up out of legal trouble, and I was frequently given 4 hours to do a project that needed (and that most people would take) 2 weeks to do. The day I walked out of there on my own choice was one of the best moments of my life.

When I started a company, I brought all of the bad habits with me. I ignored my needs and a work style that fit me best and accommodated my business partner and my clients, not taking time to manage myself, my company and my work in a healthy and productive way. I felt like I was never doing enough, so I worked on projects and took very little time to work on the company.

That all stopped when I announced I was divorcing my business partner. That all stopped when I finally started doing what is best for me and the work that I love. I started taking more time to work on the company, getting template documents set up, getting my accounts the way they need to be set up and getting all of my files organized and cleaned up. I started putting down work when I was done for the day and not pushing myself to work more because I thought it (and I) wasn’t good enough or hadn’t done enough. I stopped answering my phone on weekends. I stopped saying I could do anything or that my clients could skirt all of the rules they didn’t like. I started building boundaries for the pro bono work I take on. I started setting boundaries for my schedule. I started acknowledging I have needs as a person that need to be met. I started investing in software training so that I can be better at my job.

I started doing my thing for me with my rules and my boundaries. And I’m so proud of myself when I look back at what I’ve overcome.

“I Can’t Hide Behind You”

I long ago discarded the narrative of a man providing for me, rescuing me or saving me from…whatever. I was raised to do those things for myself, and I do them. Including the saving from PTSD. No one has stepped in or stepped up for my recovery, I have done that myself without much support, except for the therapist I pay, and I sought her out myself too.

I didn’t mean to date anyone at this point in my life, because it’s hard enough to manage myself without also managing a relationship with someone else. I certainly didn’t mean to be in a serious relationship, but here we are. And I find myself having to dig into and rip out a lot of expectations that I didn’t know were there, expectations that, left unaddressed, would get in the way of my efforts to heal. Or maybe would if I hadn’t met just the right person.

Because of our current job/career positions, I’m the one with more financial bandwidth, so I pay for dates. I also give him gifts and buy him things. Because of our differences in personality, I do a lot of the planning and coordinating. Because I have anxiety, I ask a lot of the questions and do a lot of the checking in.

I can’t hide behind him. I can’t run for cover with someone who can provide for me and make a lot of my problems disappear so that I can ignore them. He’s working on a lot of changes right now too, and change is hard. I can’t hide behind his stability because it isn’t there. I can’t let up or slack off because he can’t catch me if I do.

And I don’t think that’s a bad thing. Because it keeps me pushing forward, for me.

I Just Failed My Homework?

I had intentions yesterday. I intended to practice pausing, taking a bit of calm time to process and not let my schedule contribute to a meltdown. That did not happen.

I woke up late, scrambled to get some work sent out, was mindful that this was not the way I had wanted things to go and hopped in the car for another 4-5 hours on the road for an evening meeting. I can get stressed about getting places on time, I was stressed about getting a document out that I realized as I worked on it was not what it needed to be because of some technical issues that were happening once I made a big format change at the request of the client, and I was stressed because my uncle’s wife was pushing me to let her sign my grandma up for Medicaid when that woman is not part of my grandma’s care team or recovery program. I was agreeable rather than making an argument out of it, because I just didn’t want to get into it with her. But it stressed me out.

I picked up my boyfriend on the way so that he could attend with me, and we got back to his house fairly late. We talked for a bit. We’re both sorting through a lot of past behaviors and baggage that need to go, and it’s tough. It’s good for both of us individually, but it’s tough for us as a couple. We have different personalities and communication styles, and we’re trying to manage growing new careers, difficult personal growth, family issues, distance and things that are pretty normal but feel like they’re in a pressure cooker for us. And we don’t fight or yell, we talk, and that’s hard sometimes too.

Hard enough that I tipped over the anxiety edge of a panic attack very suddenly. One minute we were talking, the next minute I started feeling really upset by everything, then next I disassociated and went off to wherever chaotic place my brain goes. It didn’t last very long, kind of came and went, but I was reeling a bit after, trying to sort out my jumbled brain and why that had just happened.

Too much stress earlier in the day that I didn’t deal with, too much stress to get somewhere on time, intense conversation and…BAM.

But hey, I learned something, I worked through it, I let someone be there for it (although telling someone you just had a panic attack and all they see is a quiet calm is ironic), and I know what I need to keep practicing.