Day 5 – Friday: Is it just me?

Today, I let myself sleep in and decided not push myself. I needed to do laundry and I wanted to go through something – some box or bag – to get rid of some things. In and of itself, going through stuff doesn’t necessarily feel scary. But that’s the tricky part – I don’t always know what will trigger fear or simply lead to my feeling overwhelmed by life again. Sometimes the clearing out of some box becomes exhilarating. It’s a toss up and I’m never certain which side of the coin will be face up once I throw it in the air.

This evening, I found myself wrestling with fear again (and not necessarily winning). I did a bit of throwing things out earlier in the day, once again enjoying tossing some things I used to think I needed to hold onto. Once I was done with the one small plastic tub, though, I didn’t quite know what to do. I’ve been thinking more about the need to again start looking for employment opportunities, but couldn’t quite seem to get there. My uncle’s frequent presence in his office (did I mention he’s 91?) inhibits the freedom I have in hopping online to see what’s out there. It can be a convenient excuse. I vaguely thought of rewriting my recent cover letter – the one that didn’t get me an interview – to see how I might improve it, as practice for future letters. I just couldn’t seem to get there.

When I was later enjoying a long phone conversation with one of my best friends, something about looking for work came up. I was soon in tears, feeling completely overwhelmed by the whole process. Was it really so simple to look for work back in 1998 when I landed my last full-time job? Is it actually harder now? Or is it just me?

I keep hearing that things truly are different, that with the economy the way it is there are simply more people looking for work and employers are overloaded by the sheer volume of applications. If your application isn’t dazzling, it quickly gets tossed in the reject pile. Yet even in hard economic times there are people finding work and people making money.  There are opportunities out there.

So, how do I stay afloat, buoying up my courage and confidence (make that developing the confidence) to learn the things I need to learn to find the work I need to find to be able to provide myself with such mundane things as a roof over my head?

My friend tells me I’m doing a lot of hard work right now. She means the deep inner work I’m doing. Sometimes it feels like I am; sometimes it feels like I’m just avoiding doing what seems like the “hard” stuff – like looking for work. I’m not a “pavement pounder” and the thought of “knocking on doors” to see if people are hiring scares the peewaddlin’ out of me. I don’t see that happening anytime soon, if ever. But I can put one foot in front of the other. I can take tiny, baby steps in that direction. The tiny steps feel manageable, especially when I don’t think too far ahead.

Maybe the real work is to resist the temptation to turn tail and run when I feel scared and overwhelmed and completely intimidated by the daunting task of stepping into unfamiliar territory, learning to “network” and “present” myself well in an interview (should I be fortunate enough to reach this stage of the hiring process). It’s much easier to go through a box and dwindle its contents down to the things I truly want to keep than to think about looking for work. Of course, I’ll have to remind myself of that the next time going through the “stuff” feels overwhelming. Then again, it usually feels overwhelming because it’s all connected – the too-much stuff, the skinny finances, the stepping out into the “job search” arena, and so on. I’m not sure, but I think it’s called “life.”

So when and why did life become so dang scary?

Day 4 – Thursday: Bumpy beginning – gentler ending

Here’s the challenge I’m discovering about this blogging process – at least in my present circumstances. I am what might technically be called “homeless.” Although I have a roof over my head (thanks to the generosity of my aunt and uncle), I do not have a place I can actually call “mine.” My stay here is temporary and the room I am using is partially occupied by my aunt’s things. My uncle has a computer I can use when he is not in his office (and he enjoys doing things in there often), but I have no internet access on my own computer. Thus, I end up doing my posts at odd hours – most often while my aunt and uncle are enjoying their dinner after eight-something at night. (And I thought only people in books and movies ate that late!) Then, in part because of the neuron-activating nature of being on a computer and in part because of the mental activity of writing the blog, I end up getting to sleep much later than my norm, which makes getting up in the morning that much harder. (I prefer the 5:00-6:00 window for arising – preferably closer to 5:00 than 6:00.)

That said, I may end up writing my blogs on my computer – as I did with this one, then transferring them and/or writing them a day late. Of course, writing them a day late challenges my memory! 😉

Today, my day became about self-care. I began my morning with a most interesting event at work. I leaned on a shelf, apparently with too much weight. The shelf broke, I smashed my nose on a glass-sphere paper weight (I realized later) and hit my head on I-don’t-know-what. Fortunately, no one was around to see or hear the ridiculous chaos, including my shriek of pain as I clutched my nose.

After grabbing some paper towels to apply to my battered nose, I made my way downstairs to the bathroom to apply a cold compress (i.e., a wet paper towel) and to clean up a bit. (Thank goodness, my hands and the paper towels had kept my clothing safe!) I then went upstairs, cleaned the few small drips of blood from the carpet, and wondered when someone would arrive to be properly sympathetic to my ordeal. Naturally, it was a late day for everyone but me.

It actually wasn’t an ordeal at all, though it was startling and startlingly painful for a short bit. I took a few ibuprofen and approached the rest of my day with due caution. It was odd to discover how battered I felt.

To be quite honest, I’m not the least bit certain I tackled any fears this day. In a peculiar kind of way, the painful experience with my nose (which, fortunately, barely evidences the earlier trauma) freed me from feeling overly anxious about breaking the shelf. I’m still puzzling how exactly it all happened in the first place. I know I have leaned on that shelf before. Perhaps this was simply the straw on the camel’s back. (I don’t think I’ve gained upper body weight…)

Something interesting is happening though. I am noticing small ways in which my journey out of the fear is manifesting at work. I find myself tossing things into the recycle bin more easily, rather than hanging onto them “in case.” And today, after the morning’s excitement, I found myself willing to set a healthy boundary. I was concerned about getting certain parts of my work done today, especially after having missed all of last week while I moved out of my apartment. Yet I knew I needed to go home earlier, rather than later. So, I did all of one type of correspondence (the more urgent kind) and organized the remaining correspondence to be done next week. The truth is, there is no end to the tasks at work – too little time to do too much work tends to work that way.

After heading the wrong way on the freeway when I finally headed “home,” I ended up buying some foods my body needed and giving myself permission to treat myself gently for the rest of the evening. That has included a long phone conversation with a friend, watching a movie that makes me both laugh and cry, writing these blogs, and letting go the obligation to “work” on this project. Is that a letting go of the fear of not performing the “obligatory” fear releasing activities? Could be…

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