Murder and Other Helpful Coping Strategies.

I have a weird fascination with murder and I’m not afraid to admit it.

I just stepped back to admire my first sentence there, and realized it reads all wrong. I want to make clear that I’m not a murderer, and that it’s true crime and the psychology and all of that that is interesting to me. Also, note that I did not say I “love” murder – I said I am fascinated by it.

So to be clear: I do not murder, and I do not condone murdering.

Murder is something I just cannot truly empathize with on any level. I’ve never been a murderer and I’ve never been murdered. Sure, I’m somewhat on the lookout for murderers and take the necessary steps to avoid being murdered, but in general? I can’t really get on the same level as anyone (real or fictional) involved in a murder. So it is something I can observe comfortably and find interesting, without feeling overly emotional about it.

If I watch a movie about Jeffrey Dahmer and I can sleep soundly that night. If instead I watch Marley and Me, I lose my shit and cry softly into my pillow all week. It’s not like I don’t feel horrible for the people Dahmer killed; I do sympathize with their families etc. Of course I do. But since it’s just not something I could conceive of, let alone have experienced, I find it incredibly captivating.

I think that to explain my fascination best would be to compare myself to the wonderful ladies who run the podcast My Favourite Murder. Immediately click here and listen to them if you’ve never heard of it. The podcast is run by who female comedians who share my fascination, and quickly discovered that over 100,000 other people share the interest. I guess their combination of comedy and murder is just fucked up enough to love.

I listen to murder podcasts in my car. I watch murder documentaries on Netflix (my most recent favourite: please go watch The Keepers right now). I love to watch horror movies by myself.

Just to give you an idea… 

You’d think that someone with depression, anxiety, and panic disorders would almost certainly not be interested in anything to do with murder. But for me, since I do not share any of the situational emotions portrayed in a horror flick, it actually is my favourite little escape from reality (aside from napping and Ativan).

When I’m watching a horror movie and the woman running back into the house and upstairs (idiot!!! you never run back into the house!!!) I don’t share any of the terrified feelings she has. I’ve never been chased by a knife-brandishing lunatic, and I’m comfy cozy on my couch in my warm house. My mind is running around and getting spooked and scared momentarily, but I don’t align with that real fear that’s on the TV.

If I’m depressed, I cannot watch a sad movie. Or even a happy movie, because there are always sad parts. Someone’s loved and lost? WHELP. NOW I AM REMINDED OF MY OWN LOST LOVES AND FEEL IT TOO. Feeling lonely in the big city? THANK YOU FOR MAKING ME RELIVE THOSE YEARS. Wedding planning gone hilariously wrong? I GET IT. I’M 33 AND UNMARRIED.

I find it very helpful to watch a group of dumb teenagers try to outwit and serial killer and make stupid survival mistakes that cost 70% of their lives. I am certainly not reminded of the time I successfully (or unsuccessfully) outran a crazed axe murderer. Therefore, I can watch it and not be affected in a lingering way.

It’s actually my go-to when I’m really stressed or upset. I flip on Netflix and find something with at least 2 stars (when it comes to horror, anything with more than a 2-star rating is considered decent) and indulge.

I listen to my podcasts in my car when I’m alone, because it helps me detach from the anxiety of going wherever I’m going (like, say, the grocery store. Where interaction with strangers is impending). I also listen when I’m cooking dinner or doing chores around the house. I get super drawn in an don’t even notice the lame tasks I’m doing.

The best part is that the fact that these podcasts exist mean I am not alone, and that I do not need to be (further) analyzed by a psychiatrist for it. It’s actually pretty normal and common. I mean, don’t tell me you’ve never been drawn into watching Forensic Files or went into a Wikipedia wormhole regarding Charles Manson. I think everyone is curious about it on some level.

….right?

…Now everything is awkward.

As my favourite MFM ladies would say: “stay sexy; don’t get murdered. Byeeee.”

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I Highly Recommend Not Having Dermatillomania.

When Jenny Lawson’s book Furiously Happy was released a couple years ago, I logged into my Kindle account and purchased it for my reading pleasure. I’ve always had a thing for ladies who blog-turn-author; it gives me hope.

Partway into the book, I learned a brand new word: dermatillomania.

Dermatillomania, I learned, was the name of a disorder that I immediately self-diagnosed myself with. What the hell is dermatillomania? Ms. Lawson astutely notes that spell-check doesn’t even know what it is, and she’s right. I currently have three red, squiggly lines on my computer screen.

Also known as excoriation disorder, dermatillomania is the fancy name for the urge to repeatedly pick one’s skin. Face, head, hands, any body part you want to destroy – the illness does not discriminate!

I was really excited when I read the words, because there is nothing more encouraging to a crackpot than knowing there are other crackpots out there just like you. I quickly became 100% convinced that I had this disorder that I didn’t even realize was a disorder in the first place. Not only do I pick apart every life situation and scenario on a mental level, but I have a physical parallel that goes along with it. I’ve got all the bases covered.

I pick at my fingers and cuticles, and sometimes my feet. It is horrible, painful, and gross. I think it kind of stemmed from my childhood nail-biting habit. Nail-biting is typically thought of as a nervous habit, which makes a lot of sense considering that I am a habitually nervous person. I bit my nails right down to negative space for over 20 years (I have reason to believe that I started as soon as I had nails and teeth).

Casually holding my laptop. Not a great representation. They’re actually in really good shape right now….

I constantly had my fingers in my mouth, and my nails were also always ugly and short. Not like, trimmed-short short. But gnawed off. Jagged edges, messed-up nail beds, and what was left of my nails usually had layers peeled away. They looked like slabs of slate. Even as a stupid little kid, I knew enough to be embarrassed of my habit. I knew my nails were ugly, but my sister and dad also bit their nails so I thought it was a nice hereditary trait.

When I was in my 20s, the vain part of my brain decided that enough was enough. I just wanted pretty hands. I wish I had some deep advice for nail-biters out there hoping to stop, but I pretty much just kind of stopped. It wasn’t overnight, and years of biting meant that it took more than a year for my nails to grow out nicely (i.e. not bulgy and uneven and weird-looking).

But what’s super lame is that I replaced that nail-biting habit with skin-biting and picking. And in many ways, it is so much worse.

For me, picking at my cuticles goes so much further than just fixing a hang nail or getting rid of some dead skin. I create the problem. It is constant. I don’t know I’m doing it. There is no thought process involved. If there is even the slightest piece of dry skin, I completely mutilate myself until I am raw. I have to keep bandaids on me at all times because my fingers are always bleeding. I keep them in my purse and in my desk drawer.

I do it in my car, while I’m watching TV, and when I’m concentrating on anything. I do it while I’m shopping. In a box, with a fox, whatever. If my fingers hurt too much, I start on my feet. And if I have a scab anywhere on my body, it will sometimes take months to heal because I keep reopening it over and over. Sometimes I catch myself doing it, but I can’t stop it. I just think “I’ll just maim this one finger and I’m done FOREVER,” but twenty minutes later I’ll look down and realize I’ve eradicated every bit of skin my fingertips have to offer.

Since my fingertips are almost constantly bleeding, sore, and red, I’m not entirely sure they look a hell of a lot nicer than bitten-down nails. Not even my vanity is satisfied. There is literally no upside.

I’ve discovered a few things that sort of help. Keeping my fingers and toes manicured is one of them. Wearing socks, and applying lotion like I’m Buffalo Bill’s captive is also sort of helpful. Cooking, cleaning, gardening, or anything else that requires my hands is good. Unfortunately, the 8 hours per day that I spend working (alone in my office, at the computer, thinking, concentrating, talking on the phone, reading…..) are my worst hours and outnumber all the other hours I spend not mutilating myself.

I was getting a manicure done the other day, and got the question I always get: “What happened to your fingers?” It’s an uncomfortable situation. I always kind of brush it off, say something about how I had a really bad hangnail the other day. Classic avoidance. But this woman had a nice air about her, and for some reason I trusted her and actually answered honestly. I admitted that it was something I did and that it was a horrible habit. I’m glad that I did.

I am not the first one she’s seen with a disorder like this. I guess estheticians see a lot of nail-biters and skin excoriators. She asked me whether I’d ever tried any therapies for it; namely, meditation.

I said no, but was super interested. I am, after all, on this teetering road to self-discovery and getting more spiritual. Meditation is something I believe in and work at every day these days. I am not good at it, but I have found that listening to guided meditation on YouTube has been a good way to get my feet wet. My mind spins the hell out of control when left to its own (Ego) devices, but when there is a voice that tells me what to think, it’s something I can focus on and follow.

While my girl worked away at my fingers and toes, she told me that you can actually look up guided meditations that specifically help target habits and disorders like this. She was referencing nail-biting ones in general, but told me that she was sure there were other ones out there that might help me.

She was right. There are tons of guided meditations for skin picking out there! I guess that if there are enough people suffering from a disorder that even has a name, that there is a market for it.

I listened to one as I fell asleep the other night. It wasn’t 100% meditation-y, but close enough. The man in the video had me relax deeply, and then had me go through the motion of starting to go at my skin, but think the word ‘stop’ and stop before actually doing anything. I am not totally sure what else he had me ‘do’ because I think I fell asleep before it was over.

That same night, when I got up in the middle of the night to go to the washroom, my hand automatically went to my mouth to bite at it. But something funny happened. I also automatically knee-jerked my hand back down and mouthed the word “stop.” I didn’t even think about it – I just did it. My eyes snapped opened and I grinned ear to ear. I’ve never, never had a reaction like that.

I’m going to try it a few more times, and do it consistently for a while. I was out of town and forgot my headphones, otherwise I’d have done it all weekend, too. I actually am convinced that this could actually be a huge help in my life.

Has anyone else ever tried guided meditation like this before? How did you find it? Did it work for you?

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Let’s Chat.

My boss never did text me back. But that’s okay.

Yes! Really! I’m okay with it.

I’ve done a lot of thinking about it – but it’s been good, constructive thinking. Open-hearted thinking.

I trust myself. I’ve made choices to tend to my own well-being, and to deepen my understanding of myself in this past month. It’s not happening quickly, but it’s happening. I’m a work in progress (always will be), and feel confident that I am making steady strides in reworking the way I think.

It’s actually quite exciting, when I consider this. It makes me smile.

PS my front yard is also making me smile.

I admit that when I’m in the midst of uncomfortable emotions, I don’t immediately think properly. I need to groom myself to take a breath and not act until I have a clear perspective on things. A true perspective.

Other people’s opinions are based on their own experiences, their own worlds. Not mine. They will never see things exactly as I do. That’s impossible. It’s a standard we often put people to – craving and requiring empathy of others. Sometimes we get it, but it needs to come naturally from that person. In a work situation, there are so many other factors also at play that it adds another layer of complexity to situations.

I cannot rely on other people’s opinions in order to move forward with my own decision making. I can’t serve myself that way.

So, my boss didn’t text me back.

But it’s not so simple. One, I know he is out of town. Two, he gets hundreds of communications every day. I am not the centre of his universe. And third, probably most importantly, I could have worded my text much differently.

I wrote my text when I wasn’t feeling sound in my decision. I gave him a huge burden in my text message: I said I wasn’t about to make a decision without his insight. I put so much weight on his shoulders, and didn’t even offer up what I was considering.

That’s a lot to deal with, and could even get someone on the defensive. Maybe it did, maybe it didn’t – but I think that my text was too much for him to deal with when he didn’t receive it. I added so much emotion – a ‘whoa is me’ aspect that could be interpreted as manipulative. Like I was only adding it to get his sympathy, and to get my way. While I wasn’t trying to be manipulative, I don’t think it was that far off.  That’s why he (undoubtedly) set it aside to consider another day.

Today (two days later), I wrote him again. This time, I actually came 50%. I explained my plan for my return to work, and asked him for his thoughts. I didn’t cloud it with my reasons or make him feel like he’d be responsible for my emotional well-being. Yes, I want to come across as human, and not a robot, but guess who is the only person who is able to tend my well-being? Me. No one else.

He response was immediate.

He apologized for not replying right away, and asked if we could have a call tomorrow. Compromise.

That’s fine – it’s what I was open to and what I communicated to him. It’s not surprising, and it’s not the end of the world that he didn’t immediately agree to my suggestion.

I feel really good right now. I feel open, I feel at peace, and I feel in control of my own thoughts and emotions.

Tomorrow, I will likely seize up for a moment when my phone rings. I know I will (I mean, that happens when anyone calls me – even a loved one). But I will take a deep breath, set my shoulders back, smile, and exhale the fear that might show up.

Then I will have a chat with my boss.

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Mid-November.

When I emailed my boss last week, I told him I was planning on returning to work half-way into November. That date comes closer and closer, every day.

I’m still not 100% sure about whether this is my plan yet. Today, I visited my doctor (a three-week follow-up visit), but I realized right away that there wasn’t much point to the appointment.

My doctor is great. He’s funny and lighthearted about things, so I don’t feel like the appointments are daunting or too heavy. But regardless, I found myself just plain sad as I provided him with an update. I didn’t have much to say, and we mulled over some of the things that happened that had me feeling shittier than I had hoped to in three weeks’ time.

As a refresher for anyone who needs it, a few key low points:

  1. Not hearing from my boss at all. Not hearing “hope you’re doing alright” or “we can’t wait to have you back” or something… some empathy. Some suggestion that my fears (of not being wanted back) are not real.
  2. Finding that my job, which I am entitled to return to, was being advertised online.
  3. After reaching out to my boss, not receiving a reply that responded to the vulnerability I showed. His email was stoic and felt like an automated response.

So it’s been tough to figure out a game plan. I woke up this morning feeling like my doctor could help me figure my shit out, but it was such an uneventful appointment and I felt sort of lost afterward. It’s too early to bother having him write me off for longer (I have another follow-up with him before my 6 weeks is up), but since we’re not changing up my meds and he’s not a counsellor, he couldn’t offer me much help.

I guess that it did help me realize that not much has changed, and that I haven’t made much progress on myself. That’s not really the best feeling, and I kind of feel like I’m back to square one.

I texted Work BFF afterward, and tried to decipher whether my boss had given her any guess about what he’s thinking. I guess he hasn’t really. She says he wants me to come back, but she didn’t really have any actual evidence of that. She says everyone wants me back, but that doesn’t really matter to me in terms of making a decision. I already know I have a wonderful work family, and I know that most of them are supportive of me no matter what.

But she couldn’t give me what I really needed – that that’s some evidence that my boss wants me back.

I’ve kind of realized that I can’t keep going over my decision without that key piece of information. Am I wanted?

After stepping away from my conversation with Work BFF, I realized that her response wouldn’t have even mattered. Aside from her saying “I overheard Boss saying “oh man I wish she were here, we really need her and I hope she’s doing okay,” I probably would question whether she was right. Any information she knows would be something he says to her in confidence, and would probably be crafted in such a way that takes into consideration that she’d relay that information to me. Maybe it would even be planted information – something to evoke a certain response or action on my part. That’s not the kind of information I want. I want the truth.

I decided that as terrifying as it may be, I need to speak with him. In person. I need to be able to use my own judgment, hear things with my own ears, and get the full picture. I need to read his body language, his tone of voice. See whether he makes eye contact, and when. I need to assess those subtleties. If I want a human response, I need to see the human.

Maybe it’s all just as simple as he said in his email – he hasn’t approached me on purpose, and is waiting for me to connect when I am ready. Maybe not. But I can’t truly know what is going on until I hear it from him, and see it from him.

Apparently his schedule this week is very full; no surprise there. Work BFF wasn’t able to look too far in his schedule since she wasn’t in the office, but I decided to leave it alone and just text him directly.

[Next day update: I haven’t heard back yet.]

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Fear is here. Again.

 

The other night, I was at home reflecting on a conversation I’d had earlier that day with a friend. She is also on medical leave (for vastly different reasons), but what we do have in common is the fact that we both feel guilty when we are enjoying ourselves during this break.

I mean, if someone is off work because they’re laid up in the hospital with some kind of illness, they’re supposed to be miserable, right? They look miserable. Maybe they’ve got a physical injury like a broken bone – that’s easy enough to see and immediately sympathize with. Or if someone has cancer and has just gone through chemotherapy, it’s possible that they do not look like there is anything physically wrong with them, but we sure as hell wouldn’t blame them for staying in bed all day. And if that someone is on a leave of absence, no one will ask questions. It’s obvious and universally agreed to.

But when you’re dealing with an invisible illness, it’s just not the same. I feel like I have to constantly convince everyone that I’m “sick” enough to be away from work. And honestly? Sometimes I feel like I have to convince myself of that, too. It’s a really sucky double whammy of frustration.

Other people’s thoughts are entirely out of our control. I struggle with letting go of what other people think all of the time, but this time it’s more personal than ever. I worry constantly about when I return to work. What will people think? I’m sure they all know that I have not lost a family member, I haven’t been in an accident, and I haven’t fallen gravely ill. I once told someone that I hoped everyone was assuming that I had a miscarriage (please, please forgive me for saying that. I do not wish to say that in a way that offends anyone. I said it only because it’s the only ‘invisible’ thing that came to mind that would happen to a young woman who doesn’t have kids yet, that does not linger nor show any visible symptoms, and likely would not be talked about openly in the workplace). How sad is it that I’d rather they assume it was something physical because it would guarantee sympathy?

And battling these feelings with myself? That’s another story. It almost causes me to do things like wallow in bed, not shower, and indulge in endless Netflix streaming. I feel like I should not be outside, smiling, or enjoying myself. I shouldn’t have any reason to put on makeup, so I don’t. I shouldn’t have anywhere to go and no one to impress, so I have no excuse to be showering and choosing a nice outfit.

I’ve basically sentenced myself to becoming a sweats-wearing hermit who prefers sleep to showers.

I’m terrified of the unknown. What people are thinking, and what my actions may or may not cause them to conclude.

I know my Ego is the one who comes to these harsh conclusions. The Ego is who makes uncertainty scary.

I am learning more and more that I need to cultivate a friendly relationship with the unknown and uncertainty. Because when you think about it, there is no certainty.

The sun could explode tomorrow, and none of this would exist anymore – that possibility in and of itself, though very slim, proves that nothing is certain. In order to truly be comfortable in life, we need to be comfortable with uncertainty.

So if I try to think about all of this from this place, the place of being comfortable with the unknown, what would I be thinking?

I’d be thinking that Fear is here, and that’s not me. Fear is just fear, it’s just an emotion. A bunch of feelings that I am experiencing. Fear is a pretty mouthy guy, but he’s not here forever and he doesn’t know the truth about anything any more than I do.

This makes me feel relaxed, and my safety and wellbeing are not affected by Fear, by the illusion of control in life.

Things change, people think thoughts, and life goes on. My life will go on, too.

Right now, being at home feels more comfortable for me. And when I can laugh, I feel good. When I go out in the sun, I feel good. When I shower, do my hair, and put on makeup, I feel like I’m part of society and I belong. When I’m in that state, I am better at seeing all of the feelings I experience as clouds that pass by. I don’t feel like I’m stewing in my feelings the way I do when I’m closed off from the world.

I need to keep my heart open and just… chill.

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Do Not Insta-Stalk.

It’s 5:30a and I have been wide awake for a couple of hours now.

This isn’t too unusual for me these days. When my head is spinning and I can’t sleep, I usually read for a while, and if I still can’t turn my head off, I will venture into the living room (so Boyfriend can sleep) and watch TV until I fall asleep on the couch.

Tonight, though, I did something really really stupid instead.

I Instagram-staked an ex.

Let’s back up a little bit. Back in March, I realized I hated social media. I realized that it did nothing but rob me of the joy I should feel when I think about my life and all I have. I can’t fathom how many hours I’ve spent looking at photos of other people’s lives and felt that my own was inadequate. Every day, every photo, it was like I was chasing a new dream that I had never even known I wanted. I’d see some beautiful girl who seemed to run around Europe in beautiful clothing for a living, not a care in the world, and feel horrible, wondering why that wasn’t me. Or I’d see the gorgeous, perfect homes with flawlessly designed rooms and perfectly tidy kitchens, and suddenly find that my own home and furniture was totally wrong. Perfect families. Perfect meals. Perfect pets. Perfect trips.

When I was dating (before I met Boyfriend), I would obsessively check and re-check my dude-du-jour’s profile, searching for hints that he was seeing someone else. Hoping he would allude to my existence in his life so I could feel confident in solidifying things. Looking up beautiful ex-girlfriends and comparing myself to them.

I started to post more and more of my own life’s moments. I posted gorgeous photos of my own travels, hiding the fact that I was actually sunburnt and had suffered from heat exhaustion that day. I didn’t post anything about the cost of the trips, and the incredible backload of emails and work I returned to. And I didn’t share the fact that I spent more time hoping people would feel envious of my trip rather than enjoying it in real life as much as I should have.

I posted selfies that had been perfected by apps that cleared the bags under my eyes and wrinkles that had been beginning to show around my eyes. I hid the imperfections of my body or the parts of my outfit that didn’t match the way I’d hoped. I didn’t post the 10 test photos that didn’t make the cut.

I posted a sting of ‘amazing’ events I was attending that suggested that my life was something everyone would want. I hoped to evoke thoughts from people… “Oh look, she’s at a gala! Oh, now she’s on a boat! Oooh, a golf tournament! Wow, that tiny corner of her house with the perfectly staged chair must mean the rest of her home is just as perfect!” I didn’t post the reality that 90% of my time is spent cleaning, working, watching TV, and grocery shopping like everyone else.

I posted photos of my work trips overseas, glamourizing my job and hoping to impress everyone. I didn’t showcase the fact that I was deeply homesick. There are no photos of the fact that I had the flu during a good portion of one of the trips, and spent hours in a hotel bed suffering. There was nothing there to suggest that the work itself involved long hours, stress about the events’ success and the impact it would have on my job, or the fact that some of it was incredibly boring and no better than being strapped to my desk in my home town.

I began to realize that I was doing what everyone else was doing: posting the perfected snippets of my life that suggest it is something more extraordinary than it is. Even though the other reality is that my life is wonderful, and that I don’t need to post stupid photos about it to prove that to myself.

Most importantly, I started to realize that I was hoping that people would feel horrible feelings when they saw my profile: I wanted them to feel jealous.

That was not a good feeling, and it made me feel deeply ashamed.

Without thinking about it for more than a moment, I deleted my Facebook and Instagram (I don’t have other accounts).

I thought I would miss it, and I thought I would eventually creep back. Perhaps I’d log into Facebook for a few minutes one day (since I know it’s actually impossible to actually delete Facebook). Or figure out how to reactivate Instagram to catch up.

But I never did. Since I wasn’t posting, I didn’t care much. And since I wasn’t dating, there was no one I cared enough about to check up on – everyone in my life now is actually present in my life.

Ever since I began this blog, I have had an Instagram account. I feel like it’s a good way to connect with others in the same position I am in. 100% of my @hashtagpanic account has to do with anxiety and depression. I don’t look up celebrity accounts, I don’t have anyone from my personal life on there, and I certainly don’t go looking for trouble.

Until tonight.

Since I couldn’t sleep, I began to scroll through Instagram, and liked some relevant photos. I peered into a couple accounts who’d begun to follow me, and looked up hashtags that aligned with my own interests on there.

I don’t know what it was that made my type in his handle. I wasn’t even thinking about him. I don’t even like him.

But I did it. I stalked an ex. And it did me nothing but harm.

I began to feel all of the horrible feelings I had felt when we were dating. Feeling inadequate, not good enough, lied to. Trying and trying to make a relationship work. God knows I’d had enough of them at that point – I was desperate to make something work, even if, in hindsight, the relationship was terrible.

It led me to see he had a large number of “likes” on one of his photos, and I wanted to see who was paying so much attention to him. I saw links to accounts of girls I recognized but didn’t actually know in high school. They present themselves as having perfect, beautiful lives now. The feelings began to pop up: inadequacy, envy, dissatisfaction.

Then I saw the girl the ex might be dating (who I actually know), and saw that he commented red hearts on a few of her pictures. He never did that for me. I began to feel more jealousy, shame (since she knows I used to date him), and I started to feel like I could never show my face anywhere near this girl again. Anxiety was bubbling up.

I began to think about how this link to him was something I needed to sever – and that the link was through her and only her. I immediately started thinking about all of the things I’d have to change in my life: find a new ladies’ golf group for next year, not attend a mutual friend’s baby shower, steer clear of any event in his industry (it’s a big, trendy industry in my city) so that I’d never have to see them together.

I wasn’t thinking clearly. I tried to calm myself, and think of all these feelings as passing clouds, detach from all of the conclusions I was coming to: they’re dating, he loves her, other people have perfect lives, my life isn’t good enough.

It was just too much. I couldn’t stop the overwhelming overflow of emotions. There were too many, and I was too alone. I nudged Boyfriend, and he hugged me, saying “you having a rough one?” (which is what he typically says when I’m panicking), but he was just too sleepy to really soothe me like he usually does.

So now I am here, on my computer. Getting my thoughts out, trying to see things for what they really are.

Jealousy, Fear, Shame, Inadequacy. They’re all here this morning. Those guys are keeping me company.

But those are just feelings – they’re floating by, and they don’t make up part of my essence. They have nothing to do with my soul. With Me.

I’m trying to take comfort in that, this morning. I’m trying to ignore the tightness in my chest and just quietly observe the crazy thoughts of needing to overhaul my life because of all of these conclusions my Ego has come to.

Because really, all I did was see a couple of pictures. All I did was feel a few feels.

I belong here, in my cozy house. I can feel my cuddly, purring cat curled up next to me and feel needed and important. I feel love when I think about Boyfriend snoozing away blissfully down the hall, and that he’ll still be there for in the morning, not judging, loving me just the way I am.

Love is here. And it’s so much stronger than the other guys.

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Communication.

I am a very good writer.

At work, that is. And please, don’t start picking apart my blog. I write very differently here, and often don’t fully proof-read stuff.

I mentioned in a past post that my Work BFF had encouraged me to connect with my boss. Key word – connect. Not just touch base or email him, but connect with him. Like a human. Composing an email full of feeling isn’t exactly my forte.

When I’m writing an email at work, it is something I perfect. It’s not that I am dispassionate. My essays and papers in university were the same. I learned over the years that it’s necessary to eliminate all emotion wherever possible, and convey only the facts.

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Yes, this is how perfect my desk looks. In case you were wondering.

I do this for two reasons. One, because my job isn’t typically an emotional one to begin with. Everything is legal, business, policy. I’m conversing with clients, government bodies, professional agencies, and of course, my superiors.

Second, I am a young woman working in a man’s world. This post is not about to get into the politics and feminism (although, for the record, I am proudly feminist). But the reality is, I need to be a little on the aggressive side in order to get the respect I need (and deserve) in order to do my job.

In short, my emails are cold, clinical. Objective.

So, as you could imagine, when I needed to switch gears and write in a subjective voice, it was difficult for me.

Not physically difficult. I mean, I once I began to write with emotion, it just poured out. I actually had to go back and delete some of the superfluous parts so I didn’t come across as any more unstable than I actually am (ha). But the idea of using that tone with my boss? A man whom I want to take me seriously, view me as professional? Someone who’s in charge of my future and my financial wellbeing? My career fulfillment? That was difficult.

I had to be vulnerable.

It took me two days to hit send. I read and re-read that email so many times before I felt it was ready to go. This wasn’t something I could accomplish just by going through the motions. I had to make sure he interpreted it the way I wanted him to.

But I did hit send, and left it up to the universe. I had to let go of what his reaction might be, because it was out of my hands either way. I knew that if I let myself think about it, it would evoke nothing but panic and anxiety.

I napped after I hit send, because I also knew that I wasn’t exactly capable of shutting my thoughts off. I wish I could say that I took this as an opportunity to rework my thinking, shut off my Ego and look at the situation from a place of Trust. But I wasn’t up for it that morning. And that’s okay, because sometimes you just need to call a spade a spade and skip the inevitable.

I can’t say I was thrilled with his response, but I can’t say I was surprised either.

The email was not full of bad news, and he did not say I was being replaced. He accepted a return date I suggested (although I told him it was too early to make any promises).

But he used words and phrases like mitigate, accordingly, by design, undue stress, continuity, efficiency, growth and success.

In other words, he wrote the email the way I used to.

I have to admit that it cut deep, given how personal of a subject it was, and what I revealed to him. How out of my element I was. I was really hoping that if I changed, my vulnerability would be recognized and that he’d dance the same dance with me. I thought he’d meet me at the same level. But he didn’t.

So now I have to accept the fact that I tried, and it didn’t work. I could not draw a human out of my CEO – he is still just presenting as the boss.

I can’t blame him – he needs to be professional and be careful with me. The last thing he needs is to say the wrong thing and end up with some kind of employment lawsuit. I mean really… if I were him, would I be dealing with an unpredictable employee the same way?

I’ve had to deal with ex-employees and employees who have been contemplating quitting. I’ve dealt with coworkers who I considered friends, who were let go, and I had to flip a switch. I get it. I know where he’s coming from, and I feel it too. I feel empathy.

I guess I’ll just need to take that information and plan accordingly.

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