And nobody knows what it means… yet

Well, they’ve shuffled the deck chairs on the Titanic at work, and now my group, which is responsible for making things happen, is smaller than it was before.

Who knows what that means? Two people I depended on a fair amount — one of them more than the other — have moved to a different “level”, so now I don’t have the same access to them that I did before.

Sigh.

The whole thing just makes me tired — at least, it would, if I had the time and energy to be tired. But I have to keep going, get my work done, and just keep at it.

If there was a plot, I’d say I’d lost it. But there doesn’t seem to be a plot, no particular direction that people are choosing to go in. They just flail around for 6-12 months, then shuffle the deck chairs again… flail around… shuffle… flail… shuffle… you get the idea.

I’ve been looking around for another job, but to be honest, my current situation is pretty sweet, since I can work from home anytime I need to, and that’s freed up a whole lot of extra energy and time for things like… oh, having a life. I can’t ever go back to commuting 5 days a week, dealing with office politics, etc. But that’s what everybody else wants me to do.

No thanks.

Plus, then I’d have to start all over again with a new bunch of people and figure that out. Maybe they like me, maybe they don’t. Maybe we get along, maybe we don’t. In my experience, it takes 6-12 months for people to just get used to me and my quirks, and I don’t have the energy for a year’s worth of uncertainty.

Well, anyway… Eventually all this will shake out (as it always does), and I’ll be able to make some sense of things. Then they’ll change them up again.

Whatever. In another couple of years, I’ll be in the age range for early retirement. Till then, I just need to bank as much money as I can, doing what I can. I need to get my house in order — literally. Clean up. Do repairs. Rearrange my home office and different parts of my house. Get my financial books in order and get that accounting software I’ve been meaning to. Just tend to the day-to-day, and not worry about what the workday is going to bring.

The job will bring what the job brings. Whatever.

I just need to take care of my own house, my own life, my own path. Let them do what they like. As long as I’m covered, on my side, it’s fine. Eventually, it will become apparent, just what’s going on… most likely, after things have finished going on, and I have some perspective from looking in the rear-view mirror of my life.

So it goes.

Onward.

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Winding down the week

Friday is here, and I’m happy to say, I wish it weren’t.

It has literally been over a decade, since I last felt this way, and the time when I felt this way in the past was short-lived. That was partly because my job changed, and partly from immaturity, and partly from TBIs messing up my head and making me a million times more stressed than I should have been.

People used to tell me, “Relax!” But I thought they were crazy. Who could relax under such stressful conditions?

The stressful conditions were created in my biochemistry, as well as my neurology by things I could not detect – things that people told me were no big deal. But they were a big deal.

A very big deal.

Well, anyway, now I understand. And I can do something about it. I’m trying to pace myself, because I’ve been held back for so long by organizations that were actually behind the times, and now I have the chance to really stand out. Take the lead. That’s my job, and it’s good.

What a waste… all those years, people were telling me there was nothing wrong, and I believed them. I took them at their word, because I trusted them. As it turns out, they were just trying to make themselves feel better, because they were invested in me being a certain person in their lives. And if I stopped being the person they thought I was, then they might be wrong about the persons they thought they were.

Funny how that works…

Anyway, it’s Friday. And my old friend actually DID write back to me… They remember our parting in a very different way, I believe. Or the just did a better job of coming to terms with it. In any case, we’re back in touch, now, and there’s the chance for us to interact as adults, with the full benefit of 50 years of living to make sense of it all. And we are actually in similar lines of work, so we can compare notes.

It’s fascinating. They sound so much more mature in their emails than I feel – or hear myself being in my emails. There is something a little stunted about them, though. Like they are reading from an “adult script” that shows how they should talk and think and relate. Still, their own personality shows through. It might also be due to them speaking about 4 different languages (English is not their first), and their expressions come out differently. I know that when I lived in Europe, many years ago, my expressions were different from the norm.

Then again, it doesn’t take living in a foreign country for that to happen. Oh, heck, I usually feel like I’m living in another land, speaking another language, anyway…

Ha. Funny how that goes.

And on that note… it’s off to my day. Onward!

Wow. Blast from the past…

I remember…

A week or so ago, I got a message from someone I have not seen in nearly 30 years. The last time I saw them, we were like siblings – so close, almost like lovers (except that we were each romantically involved with others in our small circle of friends). We were each others’ protectors and confidantes, through all the relationship drama that happens when you’re 22 years old.

I haven’t had that kind of a friendship with anyone, since – even my spouse.

That was back when I was drinking myself silly, most days. I was also still struggling with the after-effects of at least 5 mild TBIs, during my high school years. Plus, I was a falling-down drunk, so I may have hit my head during one of my forays, too.

Long story short, we parted ways under very bad circumstances. I was an ass.  And I split without an explanation. Just picked up and left and never responded to the letters they sent.

I was so lost, so confused, so messed-up and furious with the world. And when I started to get clearer and cleaned up my act, I tried looking for them online. But I found nothing, other than a single picture of them at a holiday party with an organization they worked for.

Then nothing. I searched again, but the picture was taken down. I can find pretty much anyone or anything online, so the fact that they were nowhere to be found made me think they were dead. It was crushing. I had wrecked things so badly with us, because of so much I had not figured out… and I believed I’d lost my chance to apologize and make amends.

Fast forward a few years. Doing a search, I found them again – just a single mention of their name at an organization where they worked, in the town where they had lived when I’d known them. No picture, no telephone, but I knew it was them.  I toyed with the idea of getting back in touch, but I couldn’t figure out how to do it as well as I wanted.

Fast forward a few more years, and another search shows them at a different organization in their town. Again, no telephone number or email. Again, I couldn’t figure out what to do.

So, I gave up. And I downloaded one of the songs we used to sing along to, back in the day. I listened to it, now and then, while driving around.

Then I stopped. That was over. It was done. Let it go.

Fast forward again… to last month. All of a sudden, a message from them shows up. They reached out to me. They found me. And they wanted to make contact.

It was something I thought would never, ever happen. But there it was.There they were.

I wrote a note back, and then wrote another. They responded. Then I wrote an extended apology and explanation for why I disappeared. I left out the TBI stuff. Why blame that? I was just an ass, is all. And young.

I haven’t heard back from them. It was a very honest, heartfelt note, and I can imagine they have some catching up to do with their own perspective. We’d had one one of those epic friendships, like soldiers do. Or castaways on a desert island, building a raft together, to head for the open sea and look for more help.

It’s been an emotional bunch of days. I’ve gone through over 25 years worth of upheaval, since last week, but now things are calming down, and it feels good. Like I’ve finally put that one missing piece of the puzzle in place. I don’t know if they’ll ever get back to me again, but the fact is, I finally finally got the chance to say, “I’m sorry. I did wrong.”

And that’s all I’ve really ever wanted.

When it all pays off

Just a quick note before I head out to work… I had dinner last night with some colleagues whom I’ve been working closely with for several years now. They are not located at my office, but we talk on the phone frequently and we see each other in person once or twice a year.

This is the part of my job that I love — meeting new people from everywhere, learning about their lives, and helping them do a better job. On the surface, I am employed in a technology field, but the real place that I do my best work is really with people.

And I have to say that the difficulties I experience on a daily basis actually make me better at dealing with lots of different kinds of people. I know I have to work a little harder for myself, so I go that extra mile for others as well, and I don’t just take a lot of things for granted, when I work with them. I give them room to mess up and make things right, and I try my best to be there to help them when they need it.

We all need help, every now and then. That is for sure. And to be able to offer others help without making them feel stupid or foolish, really helps us all to get the job done.

Last night, I saw again what a big difference this makes with people. We had a great dinner, we laughed and laughed and had a wonderful time. I will be sorry to see these folks go back to their offices, but it’s been great seeing them in person.

So yeah – all the work, all the struggle, all the effort… it’s really paying off. And for that I am most grateful.

Now, off to work…

Stopping the bad stuff before it starts

A storm was brewing…

Signs of progress… Yesterday, I was pretty worn out after a long day of work. I was supposed to leave for my vacation in the afternoon, but I had too much to do, so I ended up working through the evening to at least make a dent in what was happening with work.

After that, I got into the beginnings of a very familiar argument with someone over a topic that’s very touchy for me. Things have been tense for over a week, since the Boston Marathon bombing, which injured some friends of friends and had everybody at work talking and stressing… talking and stressing…

No matter where you are, these kinds of events can really take a toll on your mental health, and I was a little worse for wear yesterday — between not getting to leave for vacation on time, having to rush to fix all kinds of stupid sh*t that got screwed up because somebody at work didn’t want to do their job, and feeling pressured by my family to spend time that I don’t have, visiting them… and (had I mentioned?) working like a crazy person all day.

So, when this argument started, I could feel the familiar rush of indignation, getting upset because I “know better” than the person I was getting into an argument with. They were making unwise choices about their health, not taking care of themself, and then getting all tweaked because they have health issues. Uh, d’uh — you eat crap, you don’t exercise, you have no apparent regimen in your daily life, and then you complain about not being able to do things you used to do, and you’re freaked out about illness and getting sick and coming down with diabetes or a heart attack… without ever doing anything about it. I get so frustrated with this individual, whose behavior seems to have no connection with what they actually want to have happen in their life. It’s maddening.

And of course, I know better.

I started to get really tweaked over it, getting angrier and angrier with them over what they were doing and saying and how they were acting. Then it occurred to me — I’ve had this exact same argument with this person for years and years, and it never gets resolved. We just get pissed off at each other, go our separate ways for a bit to cool off, then get back in touch as though the whole thing never happened. There’s never any resolution, because they think they’re doing things right, making choices that make them feel good in the moment but which have been shown by tons of medical evidence, to do them harm in the long run. All they know is “the now” and all they really strive for in their personal life is to be “present in the moment”.

Yes, it sounds insane to me — trading your future for the sake of the now — but that is their perspective, and in all the decades that I’ve known them (they’re one of my longest friends), they have never felt or acted or believed any other way. And the times when they did have little health scares, they were back to their old ways, as though they’d never had the scares.

But as I sat listening to them, I could feel myself getting more and more tense, feeling myself really stressing over it… while they just carried on talking about things as happy as a clam. And when I said something about being concerned for them, they snapped at me… and I could feel that old argument coming on again. I noticed that in my own body, my head was starting to feel tight and pressurized. And my heart was starting to pound. I was starting to sweat, and my thoughts were starting to repeat over and over the same arguments and concerns I’ve had for years — like they were a dog chasing its own tail. I was getting really uptight, really stressed, and I was on the verge of flipping out at them — as I have often done in the past.

But I stopped. I stopped the downward spiral, I stopped the dog chasing its tail. I knew I was tired from a long day of working. I knew I was upset about not being able to leave on time for my vacation. I knew my patience had been running thin since about 10:00 that morning. I knew that where I was going was NOT a good place to be.

I also remembered what I’ve heard and read in a number of places — the average emotion lasts about 90 seconds. Its biochemical “recipe” gets into our blood — and then can get flushed out in less than two minutes. If left to its own devices without any kind of intervention on my part, it will dissipate and disappear. I don’t have to do anything, if I don’t much care for the experience — just breathe and let it go its own way. On the other hand, I can choose to feel something different and let that get into my system for a longer period of time.

So, if I’ve got 90 seconds to work with, that gives me a choice — I can either dive into whatever I’m feeling and get all worked up and bent out of shape, like I have countless times. Or I can distract myself (I’m very good at that), breathe, let my system chill out, and NOT have the same shouting match that has been the buggaboo of this friendship since almost the beginning.

So, last night I chose the latter. I distracted myself. I just sat there quietly while they talked, and I didn’t get into it. I was upset at first, but after a little while that feeling dissipated and I started to feel sane again. The dog stopped chasing its tail. The tension and pressure in my head relaxed. And even though I was still irked by what they were saying and doing in their day-to-day, that feeling didn’t “own” me the same way it usually does. I was able to tell them what I felt and how I was feeling, in a sane person’s gone of voice… and then let it go. I didn’t get into the blame, the fear, the anxiety, the frustration. I “went there” for a little bit, last night. But then I let it go and did something else with my attention. I stopped the flash flood of emotions before it got started.

And you know what? When I didn’t fly off the handle and yell and criticize and attack, the person on the other side of the discussion could actually hear what I was saying. They could actually get that I was concerned about their health, that I was worried about how much money they were spending on junk food, and that my frustration and anger came out of concern for their health. It wasn’t about me trying to shame them. It was about me caring about their well-being and wanting to see them have a better life and do better with themself.

And it helped. Last night could have kicked off a really shitty vacation for me, starting me off on a foot that started with a blow-out, me not being able to sleep from being so friggin’ tired, having my chemistry out of whack, and having yet another instance of an impossible argument that never gets resolved.

I can’t say I’m that encouraged by my friend’s choices. And I can’t say I’m that optimistic about their long-term health and happiness. But for me, at least I didn’t drown in a flood of emotion that just swamps me and makes me feel really, really terrible. When I get that upset and blow up, the biochemical residue stays with me for days and drags me down, making me depressed and wiping out my self-confidence.

Today I don’t have that problem. And my friend doesn’t have to go through their day with the memory of yet another one of my blow-ups. Today I get to start fresh. Everybody does.

Onward.