Am I really doing this again? Yup, fifth time I’ve been laid off. #ValleyLife A title is just a title, it turns out, but this one hit home for me. I am sad to have to let it go, but perhaps I’ll just continue to refer to myself as the “Director of Happiness” just the same. In the end it’s all I’ve wanted to do, all I’ve ever done in my own weird way. It’s bittersweet but a bit of a relief now that the axe has finally fallen.
I’ve known for awhile that my boss hates me. I made no bones about it. I know I’m not paid to make friends. It just so happens that most people do like me and most of the people I support adore me. I have made a couple of friends, too. It’s just the lies and manipulation that keeps our entire team questioning everything and each other that’s made work incredibly difficult. When I woke up on the morning I was told, I had a gut feeling I couldn’t ignore, I knew she would be letting me go. I had no signs or signals outside of that and I nearly chuckled when she finally told me because of it. Listen to your gut!
So much of my life is once again up in the air. I have been thinking a lot about where I was this same time last year. It’s nearly exactly the same only I have my puggo now. Facing unemployment again at the end of this month, but this time my rent is going up $150 on the 1st and I’m not sure if I’ll be able to afford it with unemployment alone. Then yesterday I got a call from my insurance regarding an accident I was in two years ago. Things just don’t seem to be looking up for me, and yet…
I have this wonderful man in my life that never hesitates, never doubts and always thinks I’m made of rainbows and sunshine. I have some incredible friends who have my back no matter what. My life may be slightly simpler than in previous years, but it sure seems like the only constant is change. I just hate feeling as though I have no say or choice in my life. I have only told a select few people about my being “let go” due to a “business decision” and each and every one has been far more shocked than I was.
The truth is that I sort of didn’t let it sink in, I guess. I mean, I felt it and semi anticipated it, but it wasn’t until I finally told my fella last Thursday night that it finally seemed real. I cried. I hadn’t done that yet and I was surprised by how sad I felt/feel about it. “Sarah, I promise you that soon you will look back on this and laugh because something so awesome is going to come for you that you won’t even believe it!” my boyfriend said when I told him my news. He’s always insisted they don’t deserve me there and that they treat me terribly, even my mentor said he’d never have been able to stick it out with what I’ve had to deal with. It makes me feel good that I have stuck it out this long, but I have also been wronged and lied to enough by my managers for so long that it’s hard for me to believe anything anymore.
Saturday I got to meet the wonderful and amazing Amanda of FatBodyPolitics for lunch in San Francisco. I had explained to her in advance that I’ve been struggling with my social anxiety more and more lately and she understood. Still, I pushed myself too far. While we had a lovely brunch, the place was small and very crowded. It was a bit hard to hear each other but still the meal was good and getting to talk with Amanda was awesome. Then we headed to Fisherman’s Warf, a large tourist area on a Saturday. I was feeling fine at this point though and just glad to be outside and walking about with Amanda. We had some great conversation and even found a postcard with some fat hate on it. She kept insisting that if I needed to leave it was okay, but I didn’t want to leave. In the end I dropped her off at Pier 39 and headed home. I thought I was okay, just thirsty and a bit overwhelmed, perhaps.
Except I got stuck in traffic when a baseball game let out and I found myself quite suddenly surrounded by thousands of people in orange and cops, lots of cops. I started to panic. I drank all of my water and then just tried to keep breathing. But it was too late, I was heading for a severe panic attack and I didn’t realize it. I felt trapped and afraid. I started to cry and text my boyfriend (I couldn’t move my car). I wasn’t communicating effectively and he didn’t understand what I was trying to tell him. I got to the freeway and soon found myself in traffic once again, this time due to an accident. It was then that I began hysterically crying and couldn’t stop. I made it home (I was supposed to go to my bf’s place) and just ran to my room and cried and cried. I was hyperventilating and truly felt like I was dying. I was hot and cold and lights were too much. I text him that I couldn’t stop crying and that I was afraid. He didn’t understand what was going on and I couldn’t, in that state, explain it.
I ended up curling into a ball on my bed sobbing loudly in the dark for a total of 4.5 hours straight. Exhausting! Truthfully, in the moment and that whole night, I didn’t know what was happening to me. I thought my brain was broken. I thought I was actually crazy. I even googled “How to tell if you’re having a breakdown” and the first article that came up I clicked on. When the page loaded it required that I “sign up” before allowing me to read it. Thanks internet. *Sigh* It was only a bit later that I calmed down enough to sleep.
The next morning I was still afraid to leave my house. My boyfriend came and comforted me and I explained what had happened. I don’t think he fully understood but gosh he is so kind and comforting when I need him to be. He asked me what I wanted to do and I said, entangled in his arms, “I just want to stay like this, right here, and never have to leave.” and he said, “Absolutely” but in the end he did coax me out of my hidey hole like no one else could. I was still feeling very fearful and quiet and shaken up and so we had a quiet day together before our work week began.
Today I’m feeling fragile and having to force every smile somehow hurts deeply. I can’t tell people what’s going on and yet some (those who know me) can tell. I told two people whom I know I can trust and it was a bit of a shock when I first arrived this morning and my beloved coworker Patricia said, “Are you okay? I’m worried about you.” *Sigh* She’s amazing. How she can know something is so wrong before I’ve even spoken a word to her is incredible. She and another coworker have given me nothing but love and compassion. I am truly grateful to have them in my life. My boss’s boss, back from two weeks of travel, has not even said a word to me. While my boss will only give feedback/criticism of the things I do or have done/organized.
I cannot wait to be home and feeling safe again but I don’t know that the safe part will come back so soon. It feels like I still have the weight of the world on my shoulders and mind and I’m struggling to maintain composure at work. It’s really hard to explain to someone who’s never had a panic attack, but it almost feels like you’re literally falling and falling into a bottomless pit except you’re sitting or laying on your bed and you know it but somehow your brain can’t make heads or tails of anything in that moment. It’s been just shy of two years since I’ve had a full blown attack like this. Usually I can feel the signs and can calm myself or get to another venue before it escalates, but I was alone and stuck in traffic when it did this time. Knowing my triggers helps, but it’s not a failsafe. *Sigh*
My courage, creativity, strength, confidence, all of it is gone right now. I am having a very hard time focusing on anything for more than a few seconds. Just writing this has taken me 7 hours. Luckily my job is so sporadic and multi task oriented anyway that most haven’t noticed a thing. I am having to train my lovely coworker on how to do all of the things I do in a given day, week, etc and that’s been tough on both of us. She keeps wishing things weren’t happening the way that they are and I swing from near-tears to numb. So far I’ve only cried once today and have staved off more tears by drinking lots of iced green tea and keeping busy. I keep saying, “I’m ok” to myself and to others and each time it gets a little easier. I really wish I could take a sick day but I don’t have them to take and if I miss a day of work I won’t have money for rent. All I want to do is go back to my room, curl into a ball and block out the world, but I can’t. That’s not reality and I can’t hide from it forever anyway.
I share this experience and what I’m going through not to gain sympathy or pity (gawd I hate pity so much), but to hopefully relieve myself and others of some of the shame associated with panic attacks and social anxiety. I have been afraid to tell folks before and when I have I’ve been very nearly called a liar by my nearest and dearest. *Shrugs* I can’t make people see the real me if they choose to keep me in the “Sarah box” they’ve created for me in their own minds. That’s been really hard. I have to just keep on keepin’ on somehow and I’m figuring out new ways to do just that every moment. I have to remind myself to be gentle and kind to/with myself. It’s not been easy. It seems some of my old self deprecating ways have begun to seep back in.
Hugs & <3