The thing about life … and death

I lost a friend Sunday, probably my very closest and best friend. While he had been seriously sick and recovering for the better part of a year, he was improving. He was able to travel and come home. We had 5 glorious days of talking, laughing, arguing like siblings, just being. While there is no blood relation between us, whatever mysterious ingredients create the dynamic that begets family ties, it was us.

And now he’s gone.

As I finish this post, it has been a few days since that fateful Sunday. Whereas before I could not imagine a world without him somewhere in it, my new normal is painfully uncomfortable learning to cope with that reality. Our guest room still has the bed he slept in, his clothes neatly stacked where he left put them, the hamper with his clothing to be washed still has items in it. I see his shoes where he took them off, cherished books on the table by the bed. Only his laptop and phone have been disturbed so I could get the notifications done.

His final requests were simple, yet painstakingly described in a matter-of-fact, step-by-step descriptions including specific sources and contact information. In life he was an accountant, an auditor, and his sharp attention to small details defined his death and what came after in his same clear and direct manner. He wanted no funeral, no memorial service. His body was to be offered to a specific medical facility for research and if they declined, a local medical school. Failing that, he wished to be cremated and scattered somewhere peaceful. No public tributes on social media, which he abhorred and avoided.

He always enjoyed when I blogged about him, and I know he’d understand my methods to process my seemingly endless well of grief.

The list of people to contact was long, 38 people, and those 38 had similar lists of people they would be contacting to ensure his many friends and acquaintances would hear he was gone. It has been hard for me, because of those names I knew or have met less than a third. The rest – a bunch of awkward and uncomfortable and emotional conversations. But I got them done as quickly and efficiently as possible, then the follow-ups and the reaching out communications. It’s been overwhelming in primarily good and positive ways. But my compartmentalization has its limits.

Thankfully the initial shocking communications and halting, stilted conversation, the emotions are scaling back to manageable levels is fading now. There is still a lot of questions, few answers, and so much emotion attched. I admit – I am so mad at him for this circumstance, for leaving me with all this administrative paperwork and not being here to let me verbally rail on him about it. I have cried silently off and on through my solo practices at the gym and may continue to do so, the most unfettered time where thoughts and memories sneak in and take my breath away. I am not sleeping well.

It’s hard. Grief sucks.

The thing for me – life goes on. As much as I want the world to stop spinning to let me catch my breath and just be infinitely sad, the day-to-day business of living my life continues and persists. I have deadlines and commitments to clients, I am determined to continue with my better health quest, our fluffy-butted kit-cats would not understand why the food ceases to appear on schedule and treats are not dispersed at usual time periods. So I’m sucking it up much of the time, while being grateful for enough life to fill up the empty space and good reasons to push my sadness aside and keep plowing ahead.

Managing his possessions, his stuff, and specific bequests starts for me today and for M and I this weekend. There have been several generous offers from friends to assist, but until I get the very specific items and very specific bequests fulfilled, I am reluctant to accept their kind and generous offers. My reticience – for me, it feels like a sacred trust and will leave me with deep regret if I falter or fail. There are moments when I’m grateful for my hyper-responsible proclivities; I am not 100% certain now is one of them.

I know there is time. I know I am in good health and less likely, hopefully, to be maimed or injured or die myself before this portion of his requests are completed. But I want to get it done, off my own very long to-do list, and receive some respite from the shade that cloud of responsibility. While I know it is not all on me, a great deal of my sense of self is my reliability. In these final tasks and requests from my old friend, I know there is a great deal of comfort and joy and feeling good about myself in my ability to see them through.

So I’m sad. And I’m mad. Mostly I’m glad. A life well lived is to be celebrated, but the light and spirit that has left this world – it is hard to accept that I will not bask in it again.

OMG – Losing my shit with my bosses

The attorneys are all out today, doing CPE or something like it. It’s me and the rest of the non-JD staff. We all went out to lunch – on the firm – and have had a lovely day just cleaning up around here, purging files, clearing the deck in preparation for the takeover.

A couple of the bosses came back this afternoon and made beeline for my office. There was a communication issue with something they are planning and the feedback received from the staff today about the merger was very negative and hard for them to hear. I get it – I have been getting buckets of it tossed my direction all week as well. Always my conversations with staff have been considered off the record communications; they are blowing off steam and bitching about life and times as an attorney. I get it. We all get it. But for some reason today the honest dismay over the merger – they took it personally and got their boxers in a bunch with something akin to hurt feelings.

I regret to say voices were raised and doors were slammed – for once I was not the guilty party on the door slamming, a personal behavior at home that has taken me decades to break.

But they do not get to yell at me when they are mad, frustrated, or anything else about a situation I have zero control over and not sharing what is typically considered other employees confiding in me privately. I encourage them to take their concerns and feelings to the bosses, and sometimes – like today – they take the advice to heart and pour out their feelings. I think – I know – the week is getting to all of us. They yelled at me, I yelled back. Everyone in the office was cowering like children when parents and other family members get into a knock-down, drag-out verbal altercation.

I am not proud of my knee-jerk reaction; I am much better than this and my professional self should have better control of my temper. Where a week ago none of the critical comments would have mattered enough to take personally, today it was like betrayal of the first order, blown completely out of proportion.

It took a good 45 minutes for me to cool off enough to wonder what I should do about it. I shredded old files in my office and finally acknowledged that while they are being childish, I sank to that level and let them get to me. BUT, as their office doors were both still firmly shut, there was nothing for me to do except work.

Partners 3 and 4 came in while I was debating my next course of action. They stopped briefly to ask me how long I would be in the office and very nicely asked me to stay and talk with the 4 of them. Of course. I figured the worst that would happen is that I got fired today and burned a professional reference. It was upsetting to imagine, but entirely possible.

So 20 minutes later the 5 of us are sitting in the conference room like so many times before. I wasn’t sure if I was supposed to apologize, and if I was, could I fake it well enough to at least appear contrite? Nope, unlikely. So I didn’t say anything.

They spoke about the impact the merger is having on the staff, how they “probably” handled it poorly, and that the acquiring corporation being here this week was harder than they foresaw on everyone. Ya think? Part of the issue with these guys is that they are emotionally tone deaf when it comes to their employees. They think everyone thinks and feels and acts pretty much like they do, except it’s not true. I am living, breathing proof of that, and one of my functions within the firm is to be the sounding board and steering wheel for the morale and spirits of the staff. The news was hard for me – I characterize it like the ego-bruising heartbreak of a relationship ending when you still have strong feelings for the other party and do not want and are not ready for it to end – and I have been struggling with being able to listen to the staff as firm management and sort out my own feelings as their employee peer. It’s rendered me less effective in this role this week. Then I have the Hellbeast waltzing through what is still my territory and messing with my peeps almost immediately after finding out this change is going forward? So. Not. Cool. As M said to me, “territorial much?” to which I was completely unrepentant in my emphatic “oh FUCK YES!” reply.

I value relationships. I value my associates and the camaraderie and trust we have built over the past couple of years. I  prize that my bosses are men with whom I can speak directly and completely candidly without fear of retaliation or worse. I have never had anything like that in a corporate structure, and I dislike not trusting my peers or management. It does not make for a happy workplace wondering what direction I’ll be facing when the backstabbing happens.

So yeah, emotions are running high all over the place. I think we will all recover and regain our footing, but we need the stability of normal, business as usual for the next couple of weeks. There needs to be some time to adjust and get our footing with the change before the suits are in our midst and glad-handing us like professional politicians. They agreed.

And maybe some informal conversation and communications about what the future holds. Yesterday was the first new normal last of our present firm days and everyone was busy with various things related to the merger. Today the office was mostly empty and what they heard from the staff was to be expected.

Blaming me for not telling them what I was hearing was wrong. I received appropriate, unsolicited apologies. Accepted, let’s move on.

This is what I will miss about my great little firm experience. Business is business, family is family, but people get angry and lose their shit, sometimes inappropriately, but always understandably. Unless things are getting thrown across the room (my predecessor once had a tantrum where he pushed an entire desktop of work onto the floor in someone’s office becasue they had not gotten their paperwork in for a second straight month – the horror!), all is generally forgiven. People are people, and with the ruling body open to admitting their own mistakes and forgiving others when stuff happens, the workplace is a much healthier, secure place.

So I walked out tonight with same sort of grief over all that I am losing while at the same time feeling more comforted that I am not the only one who grieves. While this is an amazing opportunity for the partners, they are well aware that they are breaking up a really good firm filled with very loyal, dedicated people. It’s not personal; it is just business. But because we are loyal and dedicated employees, it is impossible for us to not take it somewhat personally. Intellectually we all understand it. Emotionally we are all still shell-shocked and saddened. The people we are, though – our emotions are on the clock to get sorted out and resolved before this change it fully implemented. Any expectation that we will be over our sad in a week is unrealistic.

The bosses all get it now. It only took a brawl with their “work wife” to slam the point home.

I do not look forward to the interactions with the Hellbeast the lie ahead, but I have big enough big girl pants to handle myself with a professional demeanor. She and I – we will never have the trust I share with my present partners; I cannot ever let my guard down enough to honestly express any of my emotions. And I genuinely suck at robotic impassivity.

Despite a rocky week, I will miss my firm in its present management and dynamic. I realize there are only 15 work days left for my job in this firm and work environment and it makes me sad. Best I can hope for is to rise above the rest of the corporate bullshit to savor each and every one of them.

Work-zilla has taken over the blog. Apologies in advance for reporting my day-to-day trauma drama.

Sadness

While I do not want my return to semi-regular blogging here to be all about work and it’s changes, for the moment I have to accept that it is for this weekend at least all about work and it’s changes. This too is temporary and will pass.

Thanks for all the kind and supportive comments. I very much appreciate you reading and taking a moment to share your thoughts.

An email announcement went out yesterday after the papers were signed and originals shipped out via FedEx. Typically I am consulted on communications of such weight with staff, but as in the way things are moving forward, I am now part of the staff. It is appropriate and as it should be; the partners are the owners and shareholders of the firm and made this decision after much discussion and thoughtful consideration. It is like we are children of divorce: definitely a consideration of the parents’ decisions, but not a party to the actual decision-making process. I’ll be honest – I feel hurt by that. The decision-making is 100% theirs, but the communication afterwards? I am the one whose telephone and text began blowing up immediately after staff received the news. It would have been nice to be forwarned, as I am probably the only person in the firm who does not have her work email pinging on her iPhone. But this is my choice to not stay in touch with work 24/7; I suppose this is one of those minor consequences of that choice.

To their credit, it was an incredibly nice, sensitive, thoughtful and caring email. Or it was the best example of those attributes when such life-altering news is delivered to the unsuspecting. It outlines the primary reasons and motivating factors behind the decision and describes next steps with regard to the transition, the severance that will be offered to anyone who is not offered a position with the new organization. It reinforces all the reasons I like and respect my bosses to such a high degree, yet at then same time and to a lesser degree demonstrates a key weakness in their ability to relate to the long-term, far-reaching impact this has upon their employees.

While they built this firm themselves and have poured countless amounts energy and sweat equity into building it into something so viable and successful, I know that I done a lot of work to breathe community into the staff who grew it into something really special. That’s hard for me to release my territorial protectiveness of them right now. My anxiety over the impacts on the rest of the staff is real. If the partners are the originators and rainmakers, I infused the heart, soul, and got-your-back team spirit of those who work so hard most days of the week to make it happen. As a firm, we are not all about billable hours 24/7, although yes, we all recognize the importance of staying profitable. The dog-eat-dog culture of most professional services firms is a distant echo in our hallways, and I know it is a direct result of my influence on the human policies governing salaries, bonuses, promotions, office space, even taking time off.

I suppose if I am freaked out over anything, it’s how to help the staff manage their own emotions in this tumultuous time. I have known about this outcome was a possibility for more than 6 months, yet even I was blindsided by it actually coming to fruition under cloak of secrecy and cover of darkness. While I understand business is business and family is family, the attorneys, paralegals, and my receptionist/admin – I genuinely care about their long-term well being. And accepting things will change so dramatically in less than a month is difficult. I console myself it has been less than 24 hours, and tomorrow there will be an office full of people waiting for more information and hoping for some reassurance about the future. I am presently scheduled on my work-from-home day, because Tuesday we have several things going on that require my presence.

My own codependency is starting to bubble, in that I feel the need to go in and get started taking care of everyone. Today was a struggle to manage my emotions as the realization that the job I love is fading away and my role in this firm is already being eradicated. The phase out began yesterday with the blanket announcement to the staff and continued with small group meeting invitations/announcement for the various hierarchies, something I would have once sat in on as well and now only know about because the associates are telling me and asking if I will be present. No, apparently not.

Much of the Saturday I anticipated being spent working on self-employment matters was instead devoted to text and phone conversations with the staff about what it all means and list-making for things I need to attend to in the next 20 days before we officially merge. There are many questions to ask, plans to be made, training to commence, hand-off of responsibilities. My sense is the merger of systems and administrative tasks will happen quickly. Fortunately for me I have good practices in place and can efficiently hand them off when the time arrives. The way announcement and shutdown of the firm is being handled also leads me to the conclusion that I will be made redundant from day 1, so this could be my final month of having to report for duty with this firm in this office. I am a good and loyal employee, though, and I will do as I am asked to for as long as they need me to continue. I am prepared for that to not extend beyond June 30.

The thought should scare me, yet it doesn’t, not at all. As I said, mostly it hurts my feelings. I want to help with the transition, but instead it feels like I am already just part of the furniture to be transferred to the new entity.

I stopped in the office today to complete a few things minor tasks and bring home some personal files and records I might forget when the time comes to clean out my desk. While I was there a couple of the bosses came in and of course stopped in to talk with me.

There are rare moments when I wish I were not quite so honest about what I think and how I feel. It’s barely been 24 hours and I have already got a bad case of the sads. Staff are blowing up my text and my phone with question for which I have no answers and that’s hard. I feel as if my hours are numbered and not sure how I feel about any of it. And I am mad at them for doing what is in their best interests as owners and shareholders of the firm. While intellectually I understand it, emotionally I know they are ending a job I love. It’s just business, it’s not personal – and I know that, but admit I am still taking it personally because I care, probably too much. I know I will get over it, put on my business manager clothes and game face and push through this. As I said to my bosses, I am just a little heartbroken that it is ending before I am ready to let go.

Which is a big, defining difference between me and them, I think. I may be capable of being professional and fulfilling my responsibilities with autonomous precision, but I am not able to completely compartmentalize in the purest business is business type of ways. I see the human beings behind the job titles and social security numbers in ways a large corporation will never replicate. I don’t know that I want to separate myself so completely that it doesn’t sting when change of this magnitude happens, even when I know the changes are the best things possible for the decision makers.

Knowing I will get over it, that this emotional storm is transitory and come Tuesday (I am off tomorrow doing a Monday self-employment work from day) I will have my business manager cape on and efficiently carrying out the directives to make the transition a smooth one, right now I am sad and unhappy about the direction of my career. I barely slept last night thinking about things. In the gym this morning I found myself blindly pushing forward to burn off some of this fierce emotion, to the point that my shoulder started a slow to furious blink of ouch, Ouch!, OUCH!!!!! before I realized that I was pushing hard and doing something wrong and ignoring it. Thankfully no permanent damage done, but it’s been awhile since my inner angry/hurt girl got loose with 20 lb. dumbbells in her hands.

Perhaps it is better we had the honest conversation today, rather than next week. They know this is particularly hard on me, because of my unique standing in our little firm and likely not even a position to be had after the merger. They were frank with me that my role may possibly be shrinking even during the transition. While they tried to tell me that my exclusion from group staff meetings was because I would not be in the office, the disbelief on my face made them come clean that yeah, it was a decision they made because I am unlikely to be around for the the staff into the future. Weak, but okay.

This is all still brand new and very raw. I have an extra day to pull myself together emotionally and get my game face on. Right now I’m just not sure what that looks like at this point in my career.

Pause, reset, trust

I had a meeting scheduled with my bosses yesterday to discuss our recruiting efforts. After what happened on Friday with two hand-picked candidates asked us to meet with (and turned out to be kind of awful people), I was bewildered and confused by the process. Their reaction when I tried to discuss it muddied the waters further as well as left me feeling completely disrespected and on the path to demoralized.

Sunday the scheduled meeting was moved into the afternoon and a management meeting scheduled instead – which is just me and the partners, versus the 5 of us, 2 supervisors, 3 seniors.

The situation was unfortunate, because it made me wonder who these men were and what had happened to the cooperative, creative bosses I had earlier in the week. While I am not a shareholder in this firm, I am typically included and consulted with regard to management of the firm. To be shut out and shut down so completely is awful; had they physically reached out and slapped me I would not have been more shocked and surprised.

And as if they had physically assaulted me, it gave me enough pause to stop and really consider my options and alternatives if this is the way things are going to be moving forward.

My ways of processing things is partly analysis of the situation, it’s possible reasonable (and unreasonable) explanations, and figure out what must happen to make restore peace in my fiefdom that is my day job. While I really love the staff and the role itself, if I wanted to work in a compartmentalized corporate conglomerate where I am a mere cog in the big giant wheel I would have chosen another type of firm. If it took 18 months for the partners’ Dr. Jeckyll to transform in Mr. Hyde, experience tells me the time span between future transformations will evolve into a briefer and briefer pattern.

After leaving my prior employee-based position, I swore not to put myself into another position where I am cleaning up the messes resulting from lack of communication and poor decision making. If I am in a role where I am supposed to be managing something to manage firm resources and personnel, I need to either be part of the solution or my job becomes a cancer that takes over my life.

This weekend, I decided we would resolve this issue or I would be turning in my notice. Sounds extreme, I know, but in truth I have a thriving part-time self-employment business and am routinely having to turn away referrals from existing clients because I don’t have time to take on a lot more new work. While making money is really nice – I am a capitalist at heart and do appreciate my opportunities to make lots of bucks – it is not worth sacrificing my self-respect or feeling undervalued and unappreciated. That said, I am not someone with an over-inflated ego; I so nor believe myself indispensable and beyond reproach for my skills and work habits. I am well aware that everyone is replaceable and there are literally dozens of equally to more qualified candidates out there. But whether those other candidates bring the same level of care and compassion to the work, I have no idea. I do think my empathy coupled with practicality, skill set, and willingness to be fair and balanced in dealing with people – maybe it’s less common.

M and I had discussed this extensively over the weekend, and I had a few in-depth conversations with other friends who are in similar lines of work. I needed a gut-check to ensure I was not massively overreacting. But at the end of the conversations, I would probably still be inclined to walk away if this was the new world order at my firm. Love the people, actually really like and respect the partners as well, but I cannot and will not work with my role and priorities being altered without any discussion or notice.

With this all settled for me, I went into the meeting with a clear head and an open mind. I had my hopes – an explanation at the very least – and was not completely disappointed by the outcome.

There was a genuine apology for their brush off. There was opportunity for me to vent my feelings – primarily anger, disappointment, and betrayal. I felt set-up, walking in blind with a couple of candidates they already knew or were at least familiar enough with to invite to meet with us. No debrief? No advance warning? Or was it the candidate set-up with extended hopes and expectations?

Uncomfortable silence around the table when I laid it out for them in black and white, and I was dimly reminded of reprimanding my kids in their youth. Unanimous agreement all around the process had been botched and that the candidates were unlikely to be a good fit with the type of firm they have created and the professional atmosphere they want to foster.

The why of it all still eludes me, other than the concern of adding more female professional staff looms large in their minds. I point out that yours truly is female and a manager, even if I am not an attorney and even if my male bosses dis me from time to time. However, I agree that another female hires would be beneficial. Alas, finding the most qualified female for the jobs we are seeking to fill has been a challenge as well. In addition to that, our willingness and ability to accommodate the time and schedule requests of the lady lawyers we have extended offers to have been rejected. Not our fault.

But before we dug too deeply into the actual recruiting part of our meeting, I wanted to wrap-up the communication aspect of our discussion.

Bosses agreed they botched this introduction and also agreed it might have been partly an unconscious and on purpose choice to test our mettle. Nope, I did not like that, at all, and we were very nearly back to square one.

Of the 4, all have been married and divorced at some point, although all are presently single right now. I am older by more than a decade and have been with M for more than a quarter century and know quite a bit about trust, betraying trust, and what it takes to rebuild once broken. Just in case you’re curious – it was not infidelity on either side, so much as my child victimization and M sharing it with our counselor without my permission or even telling me first. That lack of communication nearly ended our marriage, and it took a long time and therapy to recover and rebuild.

While their behavior is small-ball in comparison, it is serious enough that I did figure out my options and whether resignation was a viable one. I do not threaten ever, and I did not give them a “my way or the highway” ultimatum speech. What I did say – I am a professional in my own right and in my own field, and I am always straightforward and honest with them about my thoughts, ideas, opinions. This is their firm; they can run it however they see fit. However, if my role in it is as they have described and up to this incident acted like it was what they wanted, the game playing and mettle-testing must cease. Immediately. Tell me it is none of my business. Decide to alter my job description and explain to me that they are implementing changes to my duties and role. But do not treat me like an unknown quantity they cannot or will not trust enough to use her best judgement. Because despite what they thought they were doing or what they intended, this is the ultimate outcome of their misstep.

They are smart men; they got the message loud and clear. There is no double-secret probation, no hoops they must jump through to make it up to me. But my expectation of being treated like a professional was crystal clear.

After a rough day with all that yesterday, it was good to have some space from them and focus on my self-employment workload today.

Life is long and relationships of all stripes complicate everything. But we will sort it out, work it out. Our first big fight; time will tell how it shapes our future.

Communication follow-up and life imbalance

I had lunch today with my client who allowed his anger to overwhelm his common sense (posted here). Once the anger and frustration faded, he recognized the error of his ways and reached out to apologize. While I accepted it on the phone and in text, I did state we needed to have another conversation about it when he returned to town. Hence our lunch today.

Ours is typically a good and productive partnership, and I am actually quite fond of  him. However, he was both professionally insulting and personally rude and offensive. It is not something I can let go of easily, and without actually talking it out, I would likely have had to terminate the alliance completely.

I am no one’s whipping girl. If he had a problem with me or the work product I have produced, it was not the forum to express it and absolutely the wrong way to discuss it. While there is a childish side of me that wanted to have my own temper tantrum and lash out, I took the higher road and wrote it all down instead. It was my only hope of remaining calm and professional.

The conversation went well, the air is a bit chilly but clear and will warm back up with some time and settling of his current problem. At the end of our meal he presented me with a couple of restaurant gift cards, equivalent to about 5 hours of my time. He knows I probably lost more sleep over his behavior than that, and he is genuinely remorseful. Not exactly sure how I feel about it, but accepted the token at face value and with polite thanks. I will give one to G and K and the other to trainer J. While M loves sushi,  he is not eating it at the present time, and I eat there frequently enough for business that I regularly get plenty of teriyaki chicken. Better to give to those who will appreciate and enjoy it.

Anger is a challenging emotion for me, in that I do not know have to relearn every time how to express it in a healthy, non-destructive manner. If I try to suppress it for too long or allow it to build layer by layer, it leaks out in snark in unguarded moments and usually with my nearest and dearest. Poor M – some of our biggest fights have been because I’m an emotional time bomb from something completely unrelated. This time, I handled it pretty well for the most part. I was clear, direct, and did not try my level best use my words to beat him into a bloody pulp for offending me so fiercely. Lest you think too kindly toward me, I really wanted to use my words to beat him into a bloody pulp and then fire his ass. M has been coaching me about how not to do that every time I bled off some steam about it since it happened.

The silver lining in all this? It magnifies that there is some work to be done to help me cope better.

It’s February 12, and I made it almost 6 weeks longer than last year before reaching out to TM for our annual appointment. While we are in touch socially and talk books and about life in general, we have not had a Professional Consultation in more than 10 months.

I am perhaps overdue.

Last year, it was all about confidence. The better health quest had officially launched a few months earlier, close friends were dropping me like I had some unpleasant contagious disease that spread via social contact, and I was struggling to simultaneously manage negative girl and cling to the insecure, fear-based lifestyle that had been part of my life for most of my life. Growing up is hard, especially when it seems to really start at 54.

This year, it seems to be more about managing emotions and stress and expressing both in a healthier manner.

Everyone has problems, issues, negative baggage and shit in their life they wish would magically resolve itself and dissipate. Work, relationships, family, friends, lifestyle, or all of the above, I don’t know a single soul that is happy about the state of their lives all of the time. Or even much of the time.

A truly crippling side effect of keeping secrets much of my adult life has been managing my emotions. Being angry – I have LOTS of anger – but how to expel it from my system without using the nuclear option on every single bridge is an ongoing life lesson. In prior work TM has taught me a lot of ways to cope with negative emotions, but I know it has been impossible for me to absorb enough of those lessons to fit every possible scenario.

So back to his office I will go, to obtain the next chapter in adultier adulting. Hopefully it will be as productive as last year’s work.

Work, illness, irrational reactions and feelings, but still, a really good day

Busy, busy day today. It is an all-hands type of weekend, and I spent the majority of my Saturday transcribing. Honestly, it’s probably been 15 years since I have done this kind of straightforward word processing, and just like riding a bike, it comes back to you. I had to set an alarm to remind myself to get up and walk around every hour, and I am really glad to have gone to the yoga workshop this morning.

My gym closed at 9 tonight, and by the time I got home it seemed too late to go there and run through a List. Kind of a bummer, but then I realized that the cardio List we did on Thursday requires a single pair of 5 lb. dumbbells and a stool or chair or place to sit. Sometimes I feel too stupid to live – I have both items at home. So that’s what I did. I went through a couple of sets and feel better.

All good things.

Seems to me that as soon as I write and post about an issue, the emotional fog that shrouds me starts to clear. Negative girl is still bleating inside my head, but I can live with that. I have gotten this far and improving every single day.

M was out and about today as well, running with friends. He came home with all sorts of goodies and another pulled muscle. *sigh* The man is nearing 60. He should probably think about slowing down just a bit.

Then I open Facebook and do a quick scan and find trainer J has liked a comment from Scott Abel, a truly down-to-earth, plain-speaking, and direct kind of fitness expert and coach. Of late Coach Abel has been expressing his views about how a sedentary lifestyle and poor nutrition does catch up with you, typically in your 50s. I was an early adopter and started on the diabetes meds in my 40s. Even now I am suffering from a lack of discipline when it comes to food. It’s evolving, slowly, and I’m working at it. Trying. It’s damn hard.

In my back burner brain processing, I have been wondering and thinking about intuition and instinct, whether or not I believe in such things. Not really. When the kids were young I had a “mother’s ear” and could hear a sniffle or a cough in the deepest sleep in the middle of the night. When B fell ill there was no premonition or feelings about what was about to happen. Yet friend J has been ill for over a week and while I have not heard from him, I thought it was  him just lying low and recovering. But I’ve been mildly uneasy about it. He’s such a bad patient a quick text or email or phone call bemoaning how crappy he feels would not be surprising; it has happened before with a head cold or a sinus infection. His utter silence and not replying was kind of unnerving.

Today I found out he was far, far worse than he told me. Like hospitalized for a few weeks kind of ill. And I’m beyond upset about it. I’m furious. I’m terrified. I’m furious all over again. And I was at work when he called. Burst into tears, both angry and scared at the same time kind of tears. And now I’m just so mad!

The most important thing is that he is going to be fine. I know this. But I have an incredibly contradictory urge to kill him myself. For what, I’m not sure. Despite our lack of intersecting bloodlines, we’re family. Terrifying me by being half a world away and getting seriously sick. Then not telling me. Not planning to give me an opportunity to say goodbye if it came to that. Thinking about it coming to that. Then getting pissed at him for making those decisions without consulting me.

Vicious cycle, that rabbit hole.

At the end of this very good day, the best part is he is on the mend, will fully recover and be fine again really soon. Right now he’s weak but recuperating. He’s in a pissy mood and the whiney-ass bad patient I know and love is starting to rear his ugly head. But he’s going to be fine. He will regain his strength and he will come home.

Where I will not fuss over him or cater to him. I will not even bother to ask him how he managed during his period as an invalid. And at the rate we’re both going, I will crush his fucking ass in the gym and strongly suggest he hire trainer J for a few sessions to whip his ass back into shape.

And that makes me feel infinitely better and more upbeat about the situation. Balance in all things is so important.

Boundaries

I was minding my own business tonight and immersed in my book, relaxing. Just. Relaxing. This is what I need, what I deserve, and I should not have to explain myself to anyone. M has been busy the last several days getting a very loud air compressor dialed in for his next house project (replacing baseboard), shopping for materials, planning and getting ready. It’s wonderful. Anyway, he was occupied doing his thing, I was on the couch with my book …

and the phone rang.

I checked to see who was calling and chose not to answer it. Honestly, the last couple of weeks have been a compendium of other peoples stuff piling on with my own stuff. And if that stuff were truly critical and necessary, I would attend to it; I am not a completely insensitive friend. But this friend was calling me for the third night in a row to cry about her soon-to-be-former husband. He cheated, decided he wanted out of the marriage, and she’s destroyed by it. I do understand that, and while I feel a great deal of sympathy, I am actually rather tired of being her listening post. It’s been almost 8 months of at least weekly conversations about it, she’s been in therapy for it, and she calls her phone tree nightly to cry and be sad for as long as we will listen.

I hate to sound like this, but it feels more like a habit than anything else. I had to tell her last night when I got home from the gym (after 3 phone calls and 3 tearful voice mails while I was there) that I myself am having a very tough time and am probably not at my best right now. She took that as me tired of listening to her, and I was honest and said as gently as I could that she might want to explore more with her therapist or contemplate medication at this point because it has been this long and she does not seem to be making much progress after 8 months. I, not being a professional, do not know how to help her as she rehashes everything every time we speak or get together. It seems unhealthy.

Tonight was something new. Tonight she is desperate and feeling like harming herself she says in the voicemail. I am torn about what to do – what if I do nothing and it turns out to be something? I consult with M, he says call her back. I call another close mutual friend first, who got the same message and already called, could not reach her, and called a mental health agency to ask for advice.

Long story short, one of our other friends called 911 and reported a potential suicide attempt and actually went over to her home … to find her sitting on her couch eating ice cream and then very upset to find the police at her door doing a welfare check with our other friend waiting anxiously at the curb.

I talked it over with M and he feels some distance at this point is appropriate and I agree. But it’s hard. I really wish she should start a blog so she can vent all that stuff and get support from others who have actually been in the same type of situation.

I am so angry right now I am literally shaking. I want to write her an email and explain how I feel, how upset I am with her, and how her actions are impacting me. But I cannot. It comes off too harsh and too unkind and too influenced by my anger. So I am venting here before going back to my reading and soothing my brain that way.

Ugh. I so hate this kind of shit. Makes me want to crawl away and be a hermit.