Thinking Thinking Thinking

There’s so much to think about right now.

Robby’s been struggling, and it really reminds me of what I went through. I hate that he’s struggling. And I could see the struggle coming. I wonder if he could see it coming for me. I don’t know. I was practiced at hiding my emotions, but he’s always known my heart, so maybe he did. I’ll have to ask him.

But anyways, he’s really struggling, and I just want to help him get through it. But I don’t know how. I don’t know what he needs. I don’t think he knows what he needs. My biggest concern–well, my two biggest concerns–are that 1) he won’t actively pursue therapy and 2) he will need/have to leave his job.

Active therapy, to me, is when you dig into the tough issues. You go to therapy and pull up the things you’re struggling with instead of just brushing the surface. You have to be active in dredging these things up, you can’t just let the therapist lead the appointments. It’s hard, it’s scary but it is super effective.

And I am scared that he will have/need to leave his job. I needed to when I went through something like this. And I would completely understand if that is what he needed, I’m just not sure how we would make that work. And I’m scared that he will have to leave his job because of this struggle he is facing. I know that would be devastating to him. I know logically that most men define themselves  by their work, and part of what he is struggling with is self confidence, and I’m afraid that if the worst work situation happens, it will shatter him.

Also, I’ve been really thinking about my future career path. I’ve greatly enjoyed working with kids these past few years, and it touches my heart. I don’t want to move away from it completely, but I definitely want to move back toward nature, conservation, and the earth. And I think I have a sketch in my mind of what I want my path to be.

There is a Nature Center near here and they teach children about nature and conservation. They also rescue wildlife and rehabilitate them before releasing them into the wild.

How cool is that?!?!

I want to volunteer there. I also want to take classes in order to be a certified wildlife rehabilitator. By volunteering at the nature center I will get to work with kids and teach them about nature and animals, and I will get hands on experience learning how to rehabilitate animals. From the research I’ve done, I’ll need 3 years of experience to get my 2nd level of certification for rehabilitation. The first level just requires an 8 hour class and that you care for the animal at a facility with proper equipment. My hope is that I can become a certified wildlife rehabilitator as well as teach at the nature center, and maybe (someday) become certified to be a rehabilitator for marine wildlife.

It makes me happy to feel like I’m finally seeing the right path for my life, but I feel so conflicted because I see Robby struggling so much. I feel like I shouldn’t feel so excited. I think I need to balance being excited for my future and being supportive in the present.

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Adjusting

Well, Robby made the switch to 3rd. He goes in for his first shift in just a few hours. Other than being tired from staying up all night Friday in order to switch his sleep schedule and being nervous for his first 3rd shift, he seems to be doing really well, which is great.

I, on the other hand, am very anxious.

I actually have been since Friday night when I went to bed by myself. I was lying there, trying to be calm while telling myself that I didn’t need Robby to sleep, and that I could take care of myself, when it hit me: The last time I told myself those things while trying to sleep alone was when I had left.

I know that this isn’t then. We aren’t sleeping apart because we are broken. We are sleeping apart because our schedules require it.

But it’s still hard.

It’s only been a few days and we are still adjusting, but it is hard. I know our relationship is in a good place. I know that I’m not running from him because the PTSD is twisting my reality. But when I was filling the bed with stuffed animals, trying to forget that he should be lying next to me, some of the old wires started to cross and I started to feel alone. I have never felt more alone than those 3 days in that hotel.

And I never want to feel that way again.

I want our relationship to stay good. I don’t want us to become roommates who never see each other. I know we are going to have to work harder than we have the last few months, but I also know that we have been through much harder things.

But I’m still scared. I know how easy it is to still into bad patterns. I know how easy it is to drift apart. To become lonely. But I have to keep telling myself that we are prepared for this. We know what to watch out for and we know how to invest in and build up our relationship. We just have to do those things, and I have to have faith that we can do this. And as long as we both stay alert and proactive, I know we can.

But maybe that’s the other thing that worries me. Robby has a very hard time with follow through. He’s much better about follow through when it comes to our relationship than when it comes to taking care of himself, but it’s still something he struggles with. So I guess that I worry that we will say that we will be diligent, but when things start to strain, his struggles with follow through will make things harder. So I guess that’s where we start. Talking about my worries.

A Blessing For Us, A Trial For Her

Recently, I wrote how I was facing the possibility that I would have to say goodbye to the kids at my job because it was only temporary. Then a few days later, my boss approached me about staying on “as long as I want to stay”. What a blessing!

But then I found out why.

The woman I am filling in for, April, has been on medical leave recovering from a surgery. It turns out the surgery was a double mastectomy. Thankfully, the breast cancer was contained. However, when the doctors were running labs on the tissue they found a second type of cancer that is very aggressive. And it has already spread. So she is going to be starting two types of chemo simultaneously in an effort to fight both cancers.

So she’s probably not going to be back for a long time. And if we are completely honest, she might never be back.

And I don’t know how to process that.

I am grateful beyond belief to have a job that I love and (I hope) I am good at, but it breaks my heart that it comes at such a cost to her.

I have been through awful things in my life, I know awful things happen. I am just so used to them happening to my family, that I guess I never thought about others going through horrible things. And I would never wish this on her, but I am still benefiting from her pain, and that breaks my heart. I know logically that when I quit my bookstore job due to the PTSD getting too severe (not sure if I’ve written about that yet, if not, I will eventually) that someone benefited by getting my job, but I’ve never been in the positive position in this kind of situation. We’ve always been the ones struggling.

I guess the key is to remember that even though we are in a time of blessings, there are still people going through trials. We can’t say ‘oh, it’s their time’ or even ‘it’s not my problem’ because life happens to all of us and we only get through those times with the support of others. So I will try not to feel guilty, but instead grateful for the blessings we have, and try and pour those blessings into others.

I actually love my job

I never expected that.

Now I’m starting to wonder about my future. Do I want to stay on at T*** after the summer program ends? Can I stay on after the summer program ends? If I can’t, then what?

I’ve finally found something that I enjoy doing and I would be happy doing long-term. The thing is, I don’t know if I will be able to.  And that kind of scares me. I don’t know what I will do when I don’t have T*** in my life. I don’t want to go back to having nothing to fill my days. Having no purpose. I love getting to be a part of those children’s lives and I don’t want to give that up.

But if they can’t hire me me for the school year, I will have to. And I will just have to face that when the time comes. I don’t know how I will, but I will.

Lots of Changes

Boy do we have a lot of changes coming up. And I’m just trying to figure out how I feel about them all. They’re all good changes, they’re just a lot of changes.

Rob got offered a job (yay) with a little bit of a raise (double yay), and he is really looking forward to it. I am so happy for him, but it’s 3rd shift and that’s going to take some getting used to.

So we got that news around the 23rd and then on the 29th T*** called, and they decided not to fill the position I had 2 interviews for. I called and spoke to the Director, and she was really nice about it. Basically, the board decided to do away with the position over the objections of the Director (Melissa), but Melissa hopes that they will reinstate the position in January, and she will keep me in mind.

And then yesterday, Melissa (T***) called and asked if I could fill in for one of her teachers this summer, so now I have a job too (yay). But now I’m very overwhelmed with the thought that all these changes are happening in the next few weeks (although technically Rob will be training on 1st shift, but the hours will be different than what he works now) and I’m trying to sort my head out and keep myself calm.

So I guess that I will just have to Lawyer myself, so here goes.

Fear: I’m afraid of starting a new job.

Lawyer: I know how to do this job. It’s basically what I’ve been doing all along at church (childcare and enrichment) but this time I’m going to get paid. It will be different kids and different hours, but I get to spend my time hanging around with kids. I even get to go on fieldtrips! That’s freaking awesome!!!

Fear: Adjusting to new hours

Lawyer: This isn’t the first time my schedule has changed. In college it changed all the time. Yes, it has been a while since we have gone through a big shift like this. But our relationship is stronger than it has ever been, and I know we can do this. It will take some adjusting and we will have to figure things out as we go, but having a strong relationship can only help.

Fear: Our relationship weakening due to lack of time together

Lawyer: Well, at first we will be working roughly the same hours. Laura: 6am-noon, Robby:7am-3pm so we won’t really be losing any time. Then, once Robby goes to 3rd shift, we will lose the morning hours, but we will still have the evening and weekends. Plus, with 2 incomes we should be able to actually afford to have Date Nights. Also, Melissa wants to keep me on once the lady I’m replacing comes back, and she said she would put me on slightly later hours, so maybe we could get our mornings back.

Other than that, the only things I’m slightly worried about are within my control. I can buy clothes so that I stay cool and ask for help when I have questions. We are already going shopping on Friday for new work clothes for Robby, so I can get some things for me as well so I feel prepared for my new job.

Lawyering myself really does help. I would highly suggest it to anyone who is struggling with anxiety.

Keeping My Head On

My anxiety is through the roof.

I’ve had what seemed like wonderful job opportunities come up in the last month, and one by one they aren’t working out.

I talked to Missy and Melissa at church a few weeks ago and let them know that we are really struggling financially, and that I would most likely have to get a typical job in order for us to make ends meet. That would mean that I would probably have to take a step back from the serving that I have been doing in the Children’s Ministry at church, which completely sucks because that is where I truly feel called. They suggested that I talk to our associate pastor and see if there was any way the church could hire me at least part time. I did speak to her, but there is no money in the budget, so that’s a no-go.

I’ve also been occasionally babysitting for a family (who originally wanted me several hours a week until summer, and then wanted me practically every day, but then they were incommunicado for WEEKS before finally booking me for a few hours every few weeks) and was supposed to be getting a schedule for the summer sometime soon. Unfortunately, today the mom contacted me and they aren’t going to need me at all this summer. Instead, they are going to coordinate childcare through someone in Cincinnati, where the mom’s business is located. Which totally sucks for me. Not only financially, but I was really bonding with the kids.

So now I’m waiting to hear from two more jobs. One is very occasional contract work, but I think I have a pretty good shot at it, plus it looks like tons of fun. The other job is full time (but probably won’t start until August) designing fun and educational programs for kids, which sounds amazing, but I’m nervous about it because it’s a brand new situation for me with people I don’t know. Sheila pointed out, though, that being new is a good thing because you can ask people for help, which makes me feel a little better, but I’m still nervous. Plus, I don’t even know if I’ll get the job. And I really need the job. And I want the job too. They said I should hear by the end of the month, so here’s hoping.

I know that God is closing doors that need to be closed, and that He will open windows that are supposed to be open, but it is very hard to wait and be patient. And to trust in His plan. I just need to keep my head on, and it will be okay.

 

Thinking about Work

One thing I’ve been thinking a lot about lately is work. I left my last job in October of 2011 because my PTSD had gotten so severe (now that I think of it, I think I was in a ‘self-neglect’ phase) that I was almost suicidal.

My job had started off really well. I was a bookseller at Half-Price Books and I was really loving it for the first few months. For the first time I had a full time job that I was enjoying and I was even making friends. My boss really seemed to like me and she and the other managers had been giving me good reviews. I was highly optimistic about my future there.

I’m not exactly sure what went wrong or when. We were dealing with a ton during that time. Rob had just been diagnosed with bi-polar disorder and we were adjusting to the new life that comes with that diagnosis. In addition to having to learn to manage the bi-polar, Rob was also taking full-time classes AND working full time. I was trying to help Rob as best as I could adjust and was helping him with his classes to lighten his load. With both of us working full time we hardly ever saw each other, especially because we often ended up working opposite shifts or having different days off. Also, we moved in July and in August my parents said they couldn’t take care of my dog anymore so he needed to come live with us, but a few days after him getting here the apartment people told us he wasn’t allowed so I had to make hurried arrangements to move him back to my parents house and pay for them to care for him. Oh, and also sometime during all that we had to battle fleas.

So I slowly started slipping into my ‘self-neglect’ phase, but I was trying so hard to fight it. I started seeing Sheila every week and that seemed to help for a while, but I guess not enough. My boss-Ginny- started treating me oddly. She switched my schedule, along with a few other workers, around to shifts that she knew we didn’t want. She stopped talking to me in the break room. Anytime I spoke to her she was curt and seemed irritated with me. I had no idea what was going on. I tried to give her space and just do my work. Then she started criticizing everything I did. When a customer was rude she scolded me for not being a better employee, even when the same customer had given several other employees problems just moments before. Things like that just kept happening. And I had no idea why.

I asked some of my co-workers who I was (am) friends with, and they said that Ginny just did that sometimes. She just seemed to go through stages where she tried to get rid of people and to just hang in there, she would stop eventually. That it had happened to them.

But it hurt, I felt like I was being singled out for no reason. I felt bullied. One day she called me into her office and said that my attendance had been poor and if I called in again I would be put on probation (oh, I forgot to mention that during this time my migraines were changing and I was being heavily monitored by my doctor, and my grandmother had been suddenly admitted to the hospital for heart failure and was not expected to make it through the night so I rushed to see her. Surprisingly she is still alive today.) I really think that conversation was the final straw for me. I went on my lunch break and cried hysterically in my car for the entire hour. I felt awful. I knew that my attendance wasn’t exemplary and I needed to do better, but the PTSD immediately made me feel trapped. I just wanted to do my job, but every second was a struggle.

I fought through the next week, minute to minute, crying most of the day even while working. Trying desperately to hide it from my co-workers and the customers. Trying desperately to shove my feelings down. But they just got worse. Every day I walked into the store I felt more like a caged animal, starting to go insane, wanting to scream and tear at the bars. One night I talked to Rob and told him how bad it had gotten. I had been keeping a lot from him, especially about Ginny’s treatment of me, because I didn’t want to say it out loud. I didn’t want to admit how bad it was. But I couldn’t handle it anymore. So I told him I needed to quit. I didn’t want to, but I needed to. I finally got my courage up to tell Rob how broken I was and that I had let it get too bad. So bad that I needed to leave my job. That I was sorry, that I wanted to fix it, but I felt the only course of action was to quit and regroup.

He listened to me. He asked if he could do anything to help. He was supportive but I could tell he was antsy about me quitting. Later that night I came downstairs to see him crying. It felt like I had been stabbed. I felt like I had let him down. I knew that I had made a mistake. I knew I shouldn’t have let things get as bad as they had, that I should have said something sooner, but it was too late and I had to deal with things as they were. And I knew he was worried about money. But I couldn’t go back. But I couldn’t hurt him either.

I hugged him and told him I was sorry. That I would make it work. To forget what I had said. And I tried to bury it. To push it down.

And the next day I went to work.

I cried most of the day in the back room while working with the stock. I had to take a Lorazepam just to walk into the store, then another one at lunch. I think I took another 1 or maybe 2 during the day too. I know it was a ridiculous amount of medicine. And I was still on the verge of a panic attack the entire day.

After work I dropped something off to Rob at his work and I mentioned to him again that I needed to quit my job. I told him my day was awful and I couldn’t do it anymore. I don’t remember what he said but the gist was that we couldn’t swing it. I nodded and as I started to drive away I burst into tears. When I got home I took off my work clothes and threw them on the floor by the door. I wanted to be as far from my job as possible. In my underwear, I went upstairs and crawled into bed where I sobbed, literally sobbed, until I got a text. And then another.

They were from Sheila and my mom. I guess Rob had seen my face as I drove away, because he immediately got in touch with them, letting them know he was worried about me and that they should contact me. It was good he did. I wasn’t planning anything, but I felt so trapped. I didn’t feel as if I had a way out of my life. I texted with Sheila and talked to my mom, and when Rob got home we decided that quitting Half-Price was the right thing. I called the next morning and quit. My mom came up and returned my name badge so I didn’t have to go to the store, and I spent the day crying and trying to pull myself together.

That was my last job. I had thought that it would be impossible to keep a job with the PTSD, that eventually they would all make me feel trapped. But now I have the possibility of a future without PTSD. I could have a job. But I’m still scared. I know that some (most?) of that is residual from Half-Price.

Sheila and Lori have suggested taking the job thing in little steps. One step that I thought of is to make a list of things that I want from a job. Here is what I have so far.

My Job Should

  1. have a greater purpose than money
  2. not fill more time than my time with Robby
  3. still allow me to go to church

Basically, I want a job that means something. I don’t want a job just to have a job. I’ve worked at Kroger and Walmart just to earn money and it didn’t work out. I want to go to work each day and feel that what I do is important and makes a positive impact on the world. I would love to teach somewhere.

The second requirement is harder to explain. I don’t mind working. Rob already works 40hrs a week, so I don’t see him then anyways. I just don’t want to work opposite hours of him all the time because then we would never see each other and our relationship would suffer. Ideally, I would only work 1-2 shifts opposite him.

Finally, I want to be able to attend church. If not every week, then at least most weeks. Church is very important to me and I love not only going, but teaching there as well. I don’t want to lose that from my life. I think it is something I really need.

I don’t think my list should be too hard to fulfil, and I hope that it helps me find the right job. Because I do want to work. I just want to find the right work.