Hello, Happiness. Hello, Sadness. Which of You Will I Feel Today?

On: moving through these two emotions as best as I can.

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Photo by DEVN via Unsplash

I am seated at my kitchen table in my breakfast nook — laptop propped up, my therapist’s voice in the background . . . We are meeting, but virtually. This has become — dare I say it, Our New Normal. I have adjusted my life in such a way that allows me an evening once per month with my therapist so I may stay on track in managing my emotions, dealing with personal breakdowns, and understanding the many changes happening in my life that have affected me more than I thought they would. For now, this plan is proving to be helpful and as soon as I transition to my new position, we will find a better time of day to conduct our sessions.

For those of you unaware, I will switch jobs soon. On November 06, 2020, I will say goodbye to the facility where I work and transfer to another department within our organization for a remote position. This will be good for me — it will keep me out of some intense situations with people who have proven to be more selfish than selfless. Screening for COVID-19 symptoms during what is now “Flu Season” is taxing. It was already a strenuous task hard on my body, but the level of exhaustion has increased in recent weeks.

I am open and honest when I say I would rather be at home during a global pandemic and I am overjoyed about this change, however, happiness is not the only emotion I feel as I count down to my last day.

I am leaving people I love

Although I will still work for the same organization, I will be in a different department — handling mostly different tasks. This moves me from a group of people I love — cherish as a family. My team is outstanding and walking away from them will leave me gutted in a way I had not prepared for.

I can already feel sadness settling in intermittently. It overwhelms me. It stifles me and drains my energy. It keeps me from being my best self at work.

When you learn and grow with an amazing group of people who go above and beyond in doing their jobs and have a mindset of providing remarkable care to patients, this is hard to forget or dismiss.

My team will be one person short until there is a replacement. I think about how that will impact them — how they will have to work doubly hard to keep up with our facility’s pace, and what that might do to them both mentally and physically. Ours is a fast-paced facility servicing a demographic that isn’t always responsive or respectful, so trying times come more often than not.

I can already feel sadness settling in intermittently. It overwhelms me. It stifles me and drains my energy. It keeps me from being my best self at work.

Making this decision to step down and away from my current position was hard because I am not leaving a place I hate . . . I am leaving a place I love — one filled with people who care, are concerned, and want to help others.

It was time I “chose” me first

I decided to do this for me — to put me first, and I will not back down from it. When I look at how what I do warps my emotions, pulls me away from others, and makes me want to retreat more than invite or welcome anyone in (be it virtually or while social-distancing), a work-from-home position could be the peace and safety I need to regain some semblance of my former self.

We are all quarantining or distancing ourselves from those we love — we’re all feeling the brunt of this global pandemic. My question to myself was, “How can you change one thing to make what you do better?” Given what I do, there is no way to change it to make it better. It’s a hands-on job with involvement and physical interaction with people who are seeing us for the care they wish to get. So, I then said to myself, “You can still be in the medical field, but be hands-off.” And therefore, I applied to remote positions within our organization.

I know where my heart is, and it’s in helping others — it always has been there. I feel strongly about this purpose. Moving towards this position to schedule invasive procedures and imaging scans for our patients while still being able to communicate with them (over-the-phone or via our chat/email options) relieves me. I will still do what I love doing.

What day will this be? A happy or sad one?

As I work down the last two weeks of my resignation, I am moving through two emotions rather wildly. My sense of self feels off-kilter and unbalanced. One day, I’m happy to count down to my last day. The next, I am sad. I am moved to tears. The hurt cuts deeply. I know what I am doing. I know why I am leaving. I want to feel as though it validates my reasons for doing so without the added baggage of enhanced emotions.

I am open and honest when I say I would rather be at home during a global pandemic and I am overjoyed about this change, however, happiness is not the only emotion I feel as I count down to my last day.

My therapist to me during our last session: “You will move through those emotions as they come, Tre. What did we discuss during our last session about feeling all of them?”

“Feel them, then move on from them.”

Moving on is the hard part. I feel them just fine. They welcome themselves into my daily routine unannounced, and I have to reassure myself that what I am feeling is sound — it is normal. I have a right to be both happy and sad about choosing to leave my job and the people I love, but why can’t I understand this?

Quietly, I belittle myself for moving from one emotion to the next as the days pass. I have to learn to be kinder — to acknowledge that this is monumental for me and to give myself a little more love. It took me months to crack down on a job hunt and a few more weeks after that, to pursue the jobs for which I had applied. This was a process — a well thought out process. I did not make the decision in haste.

It all boils down to my reluctance to adapt to change — this, I know. I am aware of this. It crushes me to shift a routine, to uproot my habitual status, to move with the wind . . . I am happier planted — a tree should be my spirit object. I made a mental note of this to discuss with my therapist during our next session. Perhaps this is another reason both happiness and sadness have become my bedfellows.

The time is nearing and my team members and some patients who are knowledgeable are telling me how much they will miss me and sending me my roses while I am still alive. I appreciate them. I look forward to them. I am blessed to be a person so loved and accepted. I am happy they are allowing me to smell them before I leave — to embrace their compassion before I say “Goodbye.”

It crushes me to shift a routine, to uproot my habitual status, to move with the wind . . . I am happier planted — a tree should be my spirit object.

And as the days continue to dwindle down to the final one, I will continue to acknowledge what I am feeling and why.

Regardless of when happiness or sadness greets me, I will be ready to stare each down fearlessly.


Originally published on Medium.

New News

Effective, Friday, March 27, 2020, we will be on Shelter-In-Place, however, they’re still keeping our center open. As of Monday, March 30, 2020, I will not be working a full week every week for however long this thing goes on. *Ahem* I will have to use my PTO to fill in my lost hours and can do so until I get to -80 hours. That’s our best offer from my company, and we’ll have our new schedule by the end of the day on Friday and the schedule will be done each week.

If our volume continues to drop, they’ll reassess keeping the center open. If they close, then we do not get any pay at all.

This my friends–is my reality and the reality for many others across the globe. These are scary times in which we live–quite scary, indeed. But, I look at it this way, this lessens my exposure to the virus as I’ll be able to stay home on my days off and away from the facility and I’ll also finish up some projects that need a little love.

This could be a blessing in disguise.

Non-fiction Saturdays

Grief

It Comes When You Don’t Want It

Photo by Ksenia Makagonova via Unsplash

When you’re shopping. When you’re on an important phone call. When you’re at your youngest child’s soccer game. When you’re cleaning up the house . . . It strikes without warning and all you can do is succumb to it. All you can do is let it grab you and swallow you whole and try to breathe in breaks, counting to ten, and allow yourself the chance to be overcome by a force much stronger than you. This is what happened to a patient I was registering for a particular scan on Wednesday, March 04, 2020. A certain phrase triggered her and she shook her head quickly, held up a hand to me as if to say, “Please, just give me a moment,” and then the tears flooded her face.

I respect life. I honor death. I give grief the space it needs. I directed her to the box of Kleenex to her left and advised her to “Please, take your time, ma’am.” She wiped her face, huffed out a regretful sigh, and began to explain to me that her husband died three weeks ago. It’s still fresh, you see. She isn’t used to the frequent interruptions that her heart issues to her because life is still trying to go on, however, she is feeling stuck.

She took the tissue and dabbed at her eyes. She talked while I listened. I went over her medical information, the purpose for her scan, verified her demographics, then gave her a little more time to be in that space. That space was comforting. It was necessary for the moment. And me — this stranger she met at an imaging center preparing her for what’s to come is now apart of her growth.

She apologized profusely and I looked at her with a clear intent to demonstrate that there was no need for an apology. I asked her if she needed more time before we pressed on and she told me that she was okay — we could continue. I finished the registration process, slipped a wristband on her left wrist, and directed her to the waiting room where she would be called for her scan. I asked her before saying goodbye if I could hug her. She nodded yes, and I lifted myself up from my chair, walked around to the patient lobby, and pulled her in for a long, tight hug.

The tears came quicker then, but this time, she did not apologize. I told her that I wished her well — I wanted peace to be something she could gain and soon. She thanked me and we ended our time together. I have never been married. I cannot tell you what it feels like to lose a spouse, but I have lost a grandmother, two-great-grandmothers, a grandfather, an aunt, a few cousins, and a couple of close friends. I know that this type of pain — this death pain comes and goes. It never truly ceases.

We cannot time it. We do not have a map for it. We cannot direct it. It comes when it wants and usually when you do not want it to. It sneaks up on you when all you want to do is find sweet rest, but you cannot and eerily enough, it’s almost like grief knows this. It’s as if it knows you want to move on, you want to be lifted up from the belly of the infected beast, but no matter what you do, you are pulled back into its sweaty grip.

The next few people I registered happened to be in line waiting while I interacted with this particular patient and each of them thanked me for what I did. It must have been the look on my face because I thought and I assumed, most would think this way too, that this is how we are to react when someone needs a moment — to give them the time to step back, lose it a bit, and come back to life. There’s still humanity, people — some of us are truly humane.

Grief does not wait for you to get it together. It does not care who is watching. It does not think about the life you have to live after your loved one dies and will never come back. It moves and shakes and hits you when you least expect it. I hugged a patient today. We embraced until she stopped crying and nothing else mattered to me at that moment. Nothing else could have pulled me from what I thought mattered most.

All that mattered is that she knew I cared and I had to show her — I did.


Originally published in Other Doors via Medium.

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