What a word… I’ve been thinking I need one, and sure enough, here it is. Today and tomorrow I’m OFF work (employment work, that is – I actually have a lot of chores I need to take care of).
All in all, it’s turning out to be a fairly active vacation. I’ve got guests coming from out of town, the same weekend that my spouse is going away on a business trip. I had originally planned to kick back for four whole days, maybe head to the beach, maybe hike some woods that I haven’t explored yet, maybe go for some long drives, maybe visit an old friend in the next state who I haven’t seen for 20+ years… lots of non-work-related activities to get my head back on straight. Oh, yeah – and get some rest, too.
But then I got a call from some family members who are traveling through on their way back home. They’re retired, so they have extra time. And guess what – they’re big into outdoors activities, exploring, etc., so they will actually make the perfect company for the weekend. They’ll arrive later today, after my spouse gets on the road, and then they’ll stay till Sunday morning, when they’ll head back. So, I’ll have three days with family members who frankly do not give a damn about work and working, who are into just enjoying their lives and seeing what all life has to offer. Things have been so intense at work, lately, it will be good to take a break from all that.
Honestly, folks, wouldn’t it be good to just ease off on the gas pedal, now and then?
Yeah, I think so. And it will be good to rest, too. These relatives of mine, being older, have slowed down a lot compared to how they were when they were younger, so they move at a much more deliberate pace — none of this high-powered frenzy sh*t that I have to deal with every day. My work situation is go-go-go, and that sucks-sucks-sucks sometimes. Maybe it’s fun for people who need to drown their cares in a steady flow of adrenaline, noradrenaline, ephinephrine, and norepinephrine, but I’ll pass on that heart attack cocktail, thank you very much.
It will also be nice to get out of my head for a few days. After my meeting with my neuropsych this past Monday, all sorts of emotional stuff got stirred up, which makes me very uncomfortable and uneasy. I hate to admit it, but I’ve been breaking down intermittently — in the car on the way to/from work, in bed before I go to sleep or before I get up, fortunately in private, out of the way of notice by people who would say, “Dude –WTF?” My NP wants more specific examples of the times when I’ve done the kinds of things I talked about on Monday, and man is it stirring up a lot of old memories that I’d rather put behind me. All the times I said and did things that pissed off and alienated people I really cared about… all the times I said and did things that got me in trouble and I couldn’t figure things out and/or speak up quickly enough to dig myself out of that hole… all the times I was accused of things I didn’t do (like stealing a co-worker’s leather jacket) because I couldn’t keep my mouth shut and had to blurt out something that sounded like I was admitting I did it. I couldn’t even remember what the jacket looked like — and I was certainly not going to steal it. But I couldn’t keep my mouth shut, no matter how much I kept telling myself to shut it… something in me just had to blurt out a lame comment about “not being attached to material possessions”. Geez. Smooth. And about 15 minutes after my little counseling session, I realized everyone was looking at me weirdly, and they kept looking at and talking to me suspiciously the rest of the time I worked at that place.
Nothing like having all eyes on you.
The worst part is, I didn’t steal that jacket, but when I was a kid, I used to steal from the other kids at school. I went through a period of about a year when I would steal lunch money and things they’d brought in for show and tell. If they had something really nice or something that they really needed (like lunch money), I was compelled to steal it. This was in first grade, when I was six. Fortunately, the compulsion didn’t last — the straw that broke that camel’s back was when I stole something and felt so much remorse that I vowed to never, ever do it again. I knew I caused my classmate tremendous pain and suffering because I took something they really loved — and I hated that feeling. I “got it” at that time, and although I’ve had a number of compulsions to steal over the years, I’ve managed to keep that at bay and not act on it.
But when that co-worker’s expensive leather jacket was stolen, even though I didn’t do it — and wouldn’t have, even if I’d had the chance — all the old guilt came up, and all the old feelings about “being a thief” took over. And I ended up taking the rap (even though they never pinned it on me, they were sure I’d done it) for something I did not do.
All those years of struggling with that old way. All those years of fighting it tooth and nail, but still feeling like I was carrying around a handful of hot coals that would never lose their heat. Those old ways, those old experiences just burn themselves into me, day in and day out, and I can’t seem to get them out of my hands.
And I wonder how many other people out there are walking around carrying those kinds of hot coals — especially people in prison or people who allow themselves to be trapped in a way of thinking and doing and living that reinforces their “worthlessness”. I think about all the folks out there with sketchy histories who can’t seem to shake those old habits, those old ways, and who have worked so very, very hard to overcome their past… only to have instances come up when they just can’t shake/fight/out-run it anymore… and it gets the best of them.
Or the worst of them.
All these things stay with me — the past words, the past deeds, the past mistakes and mis-steps and screw-ups… the glowing hot coals of past experiences that I cannot undo.They stay with me always, lurking under the surface, always waiting… waiting… for the instant when my guard is down or I’m not paying close enough attention, or things get tight and tough… and then they rise up again. I say things that peel back the veneer I’ve worked so hard to create, and once they’re said, there’s no un-saying them.
In a way, I wish I’d never brought up these issues with my NP. But I know that if I don’t deal with them, if I don’t find ways to manage them and work with them and better understand them, they will stay as hot and as burning as ever, and I will probably never get free. At least with my NP, I have a chance at understanding what makes this kind of experience “tick” — what causes it, and what can help me manage and/or prevent these kinds of outbursts, these kinds of experiences in verbal incontinence.
My strategy over the years has been to just shut the hell up as quickly as possible and move on, pretending I never said what I said. But sometimes there’s no denying it. And the cumulative results of these screw-ups have aggregated into a mass of intense discomfort. There’s only so long I can ignore and overlook the elephants stampeding through my proverbial living room. Gotta suck it up and deal with it.
But christalmighty does this take it out of me.
Well, it’s a beautiful day. I’ve got a bunch of stuff to do before my company gets here. Run some errands, clean up around the house, and get ready for an actual vacation.