Tests

The new school term is upon us–or maybe just me. The kids went back to school yesterday. I go back to work on Thursday. That is when my test begins.

Thursday is our first training session. Unlike the sessions that occur during the term this one is not three hours. It is eight. The thought of eight hours in a room full of people I am expected to interact with is enough to get my anxiety to take note and prepare itself for action.

I have done pretty well this break. I took time during the term to pull back from people, to not allow myself to get involved to the point of considering anyone a close enough friend that I thought there was more to it than school. I’ve learned over the years that school is the point of connection. I am aware that this has a lot to do with me. I have a lot of issues. The people I meet at school are young and, well, if people my age can’t deal with my issues, I can’t expect people who are the age of my children to be able to do so.

The end of the term brought the end of my stress over my GPA. I ended up with a B in Chemistry which brings my GPA back up. I can relax now and start to get the other things in order that need to be done for graduation next year. Things like contact my previous college from over 30 years ago and get them to cancel my old grades. Yes, your grades follow you forever. If it had been 50 years ago, they would still count. It’s a disgusting system. But American culture loves punishment so it makes sense.

I accomplished a lot over break. I didn’t get everything done I planned, but my kitchen and bath are clean and organized for the most part. That is a huge improvement. The depression and anxiety generally freeze me up at the house. Since my breakdown last year, things have gone to sh*t around here.

There have been moments of anxiety, but nothing major (ominous ellipses … ) until last week when I went out with a friend. I thought I was going to have a heart attack. From about 30 minutes before we were to meet, my heart was racing so badly I thought I was going to have to go to the ER. But when I left her, my heart rate went back to normal. 

Let me spell it out clearly–that was just one person, a friend. On Thursday, I will be at work surrounded by nearly 100 people, and not many of them actual friends. Most of them will be complete strangers. Last term, I had to leave early because my anxiety was through the roof.

The peace of mind I’ve had for most of the break will be tested and I wonder how it will turn out. I feel as if I’ve made strides these past three weeks, but Saturday showed me that it’s likely that I only feel that way because I haven’t been challenged. It is one thing to face down my demons in private, it is quite another to have to face them down surrounded by a hundred people while a lot of emotional demands are being made on you.

I do not have a “normal” college job. Stands to reason, I suppose. I mean, I’m not a “normal” college student. Our work training is not like the training you get when you go to work for Target or Barnes & Noble or some other mall store. Our boss wants us to grow and that means a lot of emotional stuff. 

I do not hate it. I understand her vision and I appreciate it. I have been in the world long enough to know something most of my work peers do not, there are about zero bosses out there who care about their employees as much as ours does.

The trouble is that the subject matter triggers me. I have a few ideas why but I’m still trying to figure out the exact source, or sources, so I’m not going to make any specific accusations against the past yet. For now, I just need to figure out how to get through it.

Of course, there is a simple way. I could just email my boss and tell her that I will be stepping out any time it gets to be too much. For example, at the beginning when they have their 15-minute mediation. Meditation makes my anxiety worse. It is probably because in meditation you are just supposed to let the thoughts flow through you and leave, or some such mumbo-jumbo. When you have severe anxiety, that just is not possible.

If negative side effects of meditations are news to you, don’t feel bad. I once had a licensed psychologist force me to meditate in her office. That nearly broke me. I was barely able to drag my mind back into reality, and then only because it desperately reminded me that my kids would end up with their father and he would in turn give my parents access to them. When we finished, she told me to try it at home by myself.

My boss is not an ogre. She is a caring person. But in my mind is the constant thought that my boss doesn’t have time for me. She is a busy person. I am unimportant. Emailing her would be an act of selfishness.

I know exactly where that came from. That’s from my mother. My mother made sure I knew that people cared for her but no one cared about me. That is a stereo-typical abuser strategy, especially with children, but abused wives have told me their husbands have done it as well.

And so the test begins. Just how far have I progressed? Have I moved even a centimeter forward? Or have I just been deceiving myself during this time of seclusion?

I see now the problem with mountain top experiences. They are always in seclusion. Seclusion is more likely to produce a false answer to a problem than a good one because in seclusion our thoughts have no opposition. We easily fool ourselves into thinking that we know something, but our “aha” moments are often merely confirmation bias.

So, have I fooled myself into thinking things are better? The chances are damn good I have.

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