Hey, you know what? It’s the 27th of March today. And, like, I knew it was the 27th of March today because I know I’m working on the 27th, but I didn’t realize it was MARCH 27.
As in traumaversary March 27th. (Warning: not a happy post in that link.)
As in PTSD issues March 27th.
Until I thought of the date and then did a mental double-take when I realized what day it was.
Normally I am hyper-aware of when this date is about to arrive. I have many sleepless nights, nightmares when I DO sleep, random panic attacks, and more leading up to the end of March. It’s been the norm for the past 3 years.
And yet, I really have not thought about this at all. And today, when I realized what day it was… I have had no reaction.
Maybe tonight, now that I am thinking about it (but not obsessively thinking about it!) I might have a nightmare or something. But to be honest, I feel so calm, and NORMAL that I don’t feel like that will happen at all.
Because I removed myself from so much that reminded me of the trauma. I am no longer downtown. I am no longer walking to the office I was walking to when it happened. I am in a job that keeps my brain busy, my body busy, and my mood HAPPY. So, so happy.
The trauma was always in the back of my mind for so long. Even outside of the last week of March. It was always there. I was always looking up. I’m still very cautious about my surroundings, but I’m not thinking about being cautious all the time. I know it’s become part of my every day routine and reactions, but I am not thinking about WHY.
Because this job has healed so much of what was broken within me. This job has brought me back so much joy. And I no longer feel lost. I no longer feel like I don’t know who I am anymore.
I have found myself again, and it’s not all because of working at the bookstore, but that’s been a huge part of the reason. Quitting my job, starting back in retail (books!), was such a terrifying change to make, but the more I think about it, the more I confirm that this was one of the best decisions I have ever made.
Because today is March 27, and I am not afraid of it.
Woah. Hey, there internet! How have you been? Long time no speak. Goodness. It wasn’t my intention to vanish into thin air for two full months. Yikes. Unlike the past few blog-lags, this time wasn’t due to any sort of sadness/depression/anxiety. I was away mostly because I am busy all the time, and offline much more than I used to be. (Granted, it doesn’t seem that way if you look at my Instagram feed, but you don’t have to browse the net in order to post photos on it!)
So, what’s new?
My job: still loving every second of it. To the point that I was sad I could not work two days one week because I had a fever with my horrible head cold. As of starting to write this post, I still can’t taste anything. Or breathe through my nose. Ugh. I do love working part-time, though financially full-time is what I need to be doing. I didn’t realize how much I missed shift work. I like having time during different parts of the day to do stuff. I especially love having mornings free to wake up, lounge about, and get stuff done. I have worked on a few events with the Kid’s team at work and those events made me SO happy.
Me: I turned 41 in January. I didn’t even blog about it. WHAT?! But it’s true. I am a little annoyed at myself for not posting something because I know I will eventually look back on my blog to find the post I didn’t write. But… I have cautious optimism about my 40s. I celebrated my birthday at a trampoline park with some of my best friends and their families. That was so much fun! I feel like I have my life together on an upswing. The changes I have made in my life in the last year have been for the better and are making me ME again. And happy. And healthy(er). (Ignoring the cold I got from playing with children. heh) If anything, I now want to do TOO much, I have all this energy that I want to channel into so many things – crafting, exercising, reading, cleaning, working. I need to find a decent balance so I can do all of the things I want to do and still have time to regenerate. I am anxious for the warmer weather so I can open up the windows and sit outside on my deck swing again.
FLOOFS: In February the humans in this house officially became outnumbered by the furry, four-legged creatures who live with us. We were adopted by a cat. It’s a long story, but the short version is: Yoshi loved her, he protected her when she was being sexually assaulted by a feral tom cat, and one day she just followed Yoshi into the house when I let the dogs in. She’s been with us for 3 1/2 weeks now, and she’s wonderful. Welcome, Abigail. We now live in a FLOOFmenagerie.
So, I’m here. I’m happy. I’m busy. And I need to remember to blog more!
The above photo accurately depicts how I am feeling these days. Rainbows, and stars, and magical, sparkly happiness. Me. Who I am. Who I have always been, but lost.
I have completed 7 full shifts at the bookstore and aside from sore feet (and lower back), I have never felt better. I feel like I am floating through the aisles as I wander the store and help customers, or tidy up books on the shelves. I can’t stop smiling. I am so genuinely happy that I feel like sunshine and rainbows.
I have been lucky enough to be scheduled for 40 hours a week, and during weekdays only. It’s nice to have my weekends off to see Shawn since I have been working afternoon-into-evening, and getting home way past my bed time. This coming week I’ll be working until 10pm or 11pm. I am slightly worried about exhaustion and driving in the winter, but I have been managing so far. I sleep well at night. I think I’ve only had one headache in the past 2 weeks, instead of one every day.
Even with the exhaustion of relearning how to be on my feet for 8 hours a day (and having to talk to people!), I feel as though I have so much energy to want to do things again. I read a 400+ page book from cover to cover in a day this weekend. I have shovelled snow. I feel bright and light.
I know this is a seasonal contract, and I can only hope to be offered part-time work after it’s over, if they ever need more help. But I am such a happier creature once more. I knew I wanted to do this, but it’s been like night and day the changes I feel and see in myself. I love the store. I love the books. I love the customers. Even when you get the occasional grumpy, negative client, I still take it all in with a smile. I am there because I WANT to be, not because I have to be. I am there to talk books (and other cool stuff) to people and share my joy and enjoyment of books with them. I love recommending titles to people looking for YA or MG books. I love sharing my thoughts about mysteries and fantasy novels. I am just loving every single second of this job and I am so happy to finally feel happy again. To finally feel like MYSELF again.
For the four or five of you who still read this (ha), you know how much I have been struggling the past three years. You know how lost and broken I was after the stupid jumper trauma. I just wasn’t me. I didn’t love anything about anything or myself. I was lost, I was apathetic, I was sad and scared.
But now I am feeling so much joy. So much…just right. Like things are clicking back into place. I am seeing colours and sparkles everywhere, and not only grey, colour-draining monochromatic surroundings. I feel as though the above amazing rainbow, star, unicorn onesie (the best gift ever from Monkey!) is a reflection of my soul right now. So cheesy and pathetic, yes, but true.
The decision to leave my old job was so difficult because of how it was a safety net for health benefits and money, and leaving my friends there was the hardest part. Leaving the job itself wasn’t difficult. I haven’t looked back yet, and not once have I thought I made the wrong choice. Retail isn’t easy, it’s not for everyone, and many think I am going backwards and not doing something important. To that I say – titles, and positions are just labels. Why focus on what your title is when you’re not happy with what you’re doing? Pay cuts are terrifying and difficult to work around, but not impossible, and I am so lucky to be able to choose what I want to do even though it will be a bit of a challenge to re-budget things.
I have the most patient, and supportive husband in the world. He might not get why I would want to go back to retail, but he gets that I want to be (and need to be) happy. And he knows I am happy. And we will make this work. And because of how fulfilled this bookstore job makes me feel, I feel as though we can make anything work. Always.
I’m still slightly lost in some ways, but I have found the right form of healing I needed to follow. Happy. I am so very happy. I love my new (but old) job, and I am so thankful that I found the courage to make this change.
It has been an unusually mild November so far. Granted, looking back at my blog posts, or at my Facebook Memories, the past five or so years have been all over the weather map in November. Yesterday though, was gorgeous.
I’ve only been off work for two weeks, though I am finding myself a little lost already. I am lonely for one. As much as I say I don’t like people, I miss people. I miss the social element to being out in the working world. I have applied to a couple of jobs, one being seasonal work at the bookstore near me (and I am really hoping they call me, because I MISS that job!), but I haven’t heard anything from anywhere yet. I’m enjoying being on the south shore. I am enjoying being able to focus on my school work and not have to cram discussions or assignments into the limited hours I am awake between working hours. So that’s been lovely. I have more time to be creative, and crafty. I am trying very hard to keep that sort of thing up because I know it makes me feel better, and keeps me motivated.
But I am also getting stuck in the “hide-in-the-house-and-live-on-the-couch-in-my-sweats” rut. I don’t want this to happen at all. But it’s so easy to get swallowed up by laziness and agoraphobia. It’s also a bad, bad, BAD idea for me to be stuck in this rut when I am so easily prone to depression and anxiety.
Yesterday I followed the dogs outside, and sat on the deck. Still in my sweatpants and baggy sweater. The dogs bounded around me playfully, and gave me kisses. I took a deep breath.
It. Was. Gorgeous. Outside.
“I should really be outside, walking.” I said to myself. “It’s too nice out to just hide indoors all day.”
You have no idea how difficult it was for me to get up, go upstairs, and change into jeans so I could take the dogs on a walk. It should not have been that difficult but it was.
But I did it.
And holy cow was it nice outside. I let the dogs take their time sniffing everything. I sat on a bench in the nearby green space and just enjoyed the colours around me. The sunshine. The leaves. The warmth. The happy dogs. The squirrels. The breeze. The sounds. Nature. Everything.
I was out for almost an hour. It was warm when I was home. Sophie was in a panic because she had to suffer through both NATURE and EXERCISE. It was good for her.
It was good for ME.
I get into this gloomy headspace. I don’t want to do anything, or talk to anyone. I don’t want to go anywhere, and I feel like there’s absolutely no meaning to my life. It’s all pretty Emo and melodramatic, but it’s a downward spirally whirlwind of negative thoughts that is difficult to pull up from.
It wasn’t fair to the dogs to be cooped up inside on such a beautiful day. It was good for them, it was good for me.
The sunshine yesterday made me feel better. Watching Yoshi play-bow, and then try to bound after a squirrel in the park, made me feel better. The exercise made me feel better.
I even put reminders in my phone to prompt me to do little exercises during the day, so that I get off the couch and channel something else other than gloom into my body.
And I was outside, in a t-shirt, on November 15, 2016. It was that warm. I had the windows opened. I cleaned some of the house. I got outside and walked. I enjoyed how happy my dogs were as they sniffed every single blasted leaf on the ground. I smiled through the entire walk.
And I got out of my head for a while. And yes, I felt as though someone should give me a bloody trophy by the time I got back inside. Just for getting dressed and walking around with the dogs for 50 minutes. A freaking trophy of accomplishment! I didn’t get a trophy, but I am happy with myself TODAY that I did that. So, yay me!
It’s been a week since my final day at work. I have noticed a change in myself both physically and mentally because of this decision. I feel lighter. Though I have my “WTF DID I DO?!” moments. Those seem to happen in the middle of the night. And last Friday I was pretty lonely and sad out of the blue, so I know that it was just me coming down from the adrenaline of my last day in the office, and making this huge decision.
So now what?
Who am I when I am not “Cat, the girl who works at McGill, and assists the Dean and Dean’s office”? How did I become my job? When did I become my job? What do I do now?
I like the idea of being a student right now. Only school work to worry about, and some free time to do things I enjoy, like crafting and reading. But I can’t just be a student. I need to find another job. We need the income. It is not feasible for me to not be working.
But I’m not quite ready yet, and to be honest, I don’t know what I want to do. I have ideas, but nothing feels right.
And I don’t want to be an administrative assistant again. I know I could kick butt at that type of job, because I do (did?) my job well. But I don’t like that kind of job. But I have been Me in That Job for so long, I’m not sure who Me in A New Job is yet.
I was my job for such a long time. I identify as a McGill employee. I identify as a Schulich School of Music employee.
I’m not sure what my identity is right now. It’s a work-in-progress I suppose.
If my dogs have any say in my identity, it’s pretty obvious that I am destined to be Yoshi’s pillow for the rest of our lives. He’s been quite pleased that I have been home the past week. I was out for six hours today and you’d think I’d left him for years. Whether I am on the couch, in bed, or even in the chair at my desk in my craft room, Yoshi has to have his head against me. He’s like a security blanket that follows me around. If I could get someone to pay me to stay home so I could be Yoshi’s pillow, I think it would work well for many of us in this household.
Meanwhile, I went back into the office today to return my keys, sign my termination papers and clear the rest of my stuff out of my space. It was way more real today. Last Monday was fun, all costumes, candy, and parties. But today was… strange. Surreal. Sort of like watching a dream unfold. I no longer have 5lbs of keys at the end of my lanyard. What even is that? I don’t understand this.
I don’t want to stay home and not work. It took a while for me to figure that out. (Hi, 6-month medical leave for PTSD.) But working from home would be nice, or something part-time, and most importantly working at something I enjoy and makes me happy. I’m just not sure what that is right now. I’m all for applying for work at the local Indigo (I miss that a lot), but I… I don’t know. Something is stopping me. I think it’s the fear of the unknown, and the fact that I have been my job for such a long time, trying to see myself anywhere else is like trying to look through a foggy window.
So I’m having this odd existential crisis about myself and my future and it’s pretty annoying. I know it will all sort itself out and I’ll be able to see Me in so many other things than just the job I had. But it’s kind of scary to have this huge blank canvas in front of you waiting for you to choose the right colour to begin filling it in with.
That’s what I’m trying to sort out! (Random epiphany as I type.) My colours! I feel them all returning, the grey is dissipating, but right now the colours are just out of reach. An entire Crayola box of possibilities (the one with the sharpener in the back of course), and I just need to reach out and choose one.