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Sunday, 26 October 2014

A wedding and a funeral

Goodness me, where to even start. More than three months since my last post and most of that was trivial, surface stuff with very little that seems real or authentic. What is real and authentic you may ask? It is being in touch with your feelings and your true nature or essence. In order to do this we need to cultivate the practise of mindfulness, to go within and become aware of the depth of our being. This is easier said than done, especially when one becomes embroiled in the hustle and bustle of life - going to work, picking up the kids, housework and the drama of family life and relationships. This is nevertheless something that we all need to do in order to feel whole and to reconnect with who we are. It is something that I have done in various forms and under various names for much (maybe half) of my adult life but have lost touch with of late. I need now to reconnect.
Various things have forced me to acknowledge this and brought this realisation to the surface, most of which as always when it comes to me are connected to relationships at work. Before I start to write about this though, I need to write about our wedding and some of the events perhaps that led up that day and to that event. Let me then back up.
A few days before I wrote my last post, I attended a course at work called Mental Health First Aid. This was a 2 day course, designed to give Managers and other attendees the tools in which to deal with a mental health crisis and indeed to recognise the signs and offer first aid before it even gets to that point. The course which was pioneered in Australia, starts from the premise that many attend physical first aid courses to know what to do for example if someone has a heart attack in the street, but no one knows what to do for the mental health equivalent, what to do for example if someone has a panic attack or is experiencing anxiety. This course then gives you the tools in order to do this.
I have perhaps more experience that many of those who attended due to my family background. My sister you see experiences schizophrenia and my father experienced depression with sometimes suicidal thoughts for much of his life. My partner and now husband is also no stranger to mental health, being transgendered, which of course throws up all sorts of issues and has and continues to be challenging for both of us. This course was for me a life changing moment and something that I participated in fully, sharing many of my experiences as openly and honestly as I could, which in retrospect may have pressed a few buttons, buttons which as always needed to be pressed in order that others may look at and clear their stuff, assuming they are ready and willing to do so and recognise that they need to.
I had been aware of issues bubbling beneath the surface with certain of the Managers who attended this course for a while, and so sensing an opportunity, on the second day chose to sit next to these individuals in order to foster the opportunity to bond through shared experiences. I cannot say one way or the other if what happened later on was anything to do with this course, but I am aware that my relationship with these individuals, one of them in particular seems to have worsened since. It did not become obvious until later on, shortly before my wedding, when one of the clients passed away. This lady, who was in her 80's and disabled with no legs, had been in the care home in which I work for all of her adult life, so when she did pass, it left a huge gap which was felt by staff and residents alike. It was a difficult time for all, for the staff who in their own grief had to tell the residents, and for the residents themselves who struggled through their disabilities to make sense of it all and to express their own grief.
The lady had been hospitalised two days prior to her death, and I had the sense that she would not return, so I made an excuse when I knew she was ill to clean outside her room so that I could see one last time. I am glad that I did. The morning after she died, I was cleaning in the home when the Manager came along, and I asked her if there was any news. She replied "not yet" before scuttling off. Five minutes later, one of the residents came out of her room for breakfast and asked me whether I had heard the news, that the lady in question had passed away. Of course I was shocked, but continued to do my work.
. Shortly afterwards the residents started to come across from the other side of the house seeking support. One of these was a man with Downs syndrome who was ushered into the staff room with one of the staff. When another resident came along who was deaf, I was unable to communicate with her, so I knocked on the door to let them know she was there and was shouted at in front of both of these residents and the staff that were waiting outside. Shocked and upset I did not know what to do or how to react and so found a safe place in which to cry and deal with my own feelings and my own grief.
The following Monday I was shouted at again, this time for interrupting what I was informed was a private conversation, which confusingly took place in a communal area that was and is open to all and not behind closed doors. This was to the effect that a member of staff had been seriously injured in a car accident. I naturally wanted to know who this was as I am a compassionate person who wants to feel involved in the goings on at work. I later found out that this was the same carer who had shouted at me after I had knocked on that door.
The Manager though who had shouted at me re this so-called private conversation, reported this latest incident to my Manager, at which point the whole story came tumbling out, and he in his wisdom decided to involve HR, who arranged a meeting with me in order to hear my side. I then had to wait for the person who was injured to return to work, as it could not of course be dealt with while she was not there.
As if weddings are not stressful enough, all of this took place a mere week and a half before my big day. You can imagine the stress. The wedding though despite these issues went as planned, and it was a beautiful and memorable day that we both treasure After a brief honeymoon I returned to work to await this person's own return, which finally happened some three weeks ago. The HR Manager's mother then also died, resulting in yet more delays until we go to the point last week, two and half months after these incidents took place, that they still had not been dealt with. This brings us to last week, October 20th when I had a week off.
When I returned to work on the Friday I was told that there had been yet more complaints, about me entering rooms I had been asked not to among other things. All of these things are fabricated, as my Manager knows full well. In my absence he has reported this once again to HR, but until the first issue is dealt with, they cannot deal with another. What a convoluted affair ... .
I though have got to the point where I am fed up with this whole thing and this while scenario which seems to be a repeating pattern everywhere and in every job that I have. It seems that I deal with similar issues each time at each different place, and I get to the point where I think I have dealt with them and can move into a different and better space somewhere else, but it just keeps coming round. The thing is, although I know that some of this must be my stuff, I also know and feel that a lot of this is not. This is other people projecting their stuff onto to me. In the same way that I do not want to deal with my stuff, they do not want to deal with theirs. Most of it is probably nothing to do with me at all, but simply reminding them of things that have happened to them in their past. Rather than deal with and acknowledge that pain and where it is coming from, they try to eradicate what they feel is the source - i.e. me, by complaining about these issues that do not exist. This is controlling behaviour designed to distract their attention away from their own stuff and I have had enough. I am ready for change like I have never been ready before.
While this has been going on in my life, Coran my legal partner has been experiencing issues of her own. All of her rage from the past to do with issues of being controlled by others is coming to the surface, but none of the tools that she has used in the past are working. Corans doctor suggested that she undertake a course in Mindfulness, which by coincidence, starts this week just a few miles from where we live, and I have decided to enrol too. I intend to use this practise combined with the energy of compassion to resolve these issues, by asking for a meeting between the parties concerned in which I will ask one simple question: "What hurts you so much that you have to hurt me in order to feel better about yourself". This is a tremendously powerful and empowering statement as it leaves the person being addressed with nowhere to hide and opens the door to real honesty and vulnerability where healing can begin. The letter requesting this meeting shall be delivered tomorrow, and after that, we can only wait, breath deeply and see what transpires.