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.

To My Unborn Daughter: You Would Have Hated it Here

I’m relieved I missed my chance at having you

Today I thought about your dimpled cheeks, the swollen paunch of a full belly from too much milk, and the midnight coos that morph into wailing demands to be held. I yearn for you sometimes. This . . . this right now moment, is one of those times.

I want to hold you, to feel your tiny fingers sweep over my eyelids, and search for the peace that lives just behind my eyes. I carry you in my dreams — to term — you are brought into this world smiling instead of crying.

“Such a happy baby. It’s a girl!” The doctor shouts. His nursing team whisks you away in the middle of my trying to digest I managed to bring another Black girl into a world that hates her before it even knows her.

I hear hurried voices stretched to their highest octaves as they seek out your weight. You are tossed and turned under luminescence and bound in cloths, swaddled to perfection. They lay you over my lactating breasts.

I am expected to feed you, to pour sustenance into your minutes-old body from a worn-out one and as hard as I try, I cannot.

I wake up from this dream. I lift my shaking body from my bed. I pat my way to the bathroom in the pitch darkness of my room. I find solace in a place that echoes and I cry. I leave my memories of you there.

To my unborn daughter: I am glad you are not here to see the shrinking in parts of this world — to feel constant pain when you don’t want to. I am relieved I did not lay claim to terror for you; an inheritance of depression — a gift you shouldn’t have to unwrap. I know you wouldn’t have liked it here. In fact, you would have hated it.

And I would layer myself in guilt.

Why would I give you red-inked skies, viruses that mutate into unstoppable killers, bigotry at every corner of the world, and poverty nestled under the beds of Have-not families waiting for their moments to have? I knew better. I know better.

But, I still want you.

I am not strong enough to settle into the reality of what this world would have done to you. I am not brave enough to say, “I did it! I gave birth during a pandemic!” or “I’m raising my child in the middle of the apocalypse!” I would steep in blame — fully saturated; bitter to the taste. No one would want me then.

So, did I do this for you or for me? I had a choice. I could have taken the chance of getting pregnant and not succeeding, at least, not naturally or I could have allowed fate to bring you here through tools of misuse sharper than the Devil’s tongue.

They said my body would fight me and I believed them.

It is normal for me to harbor some form of regret — natural to be reflective, but I will admit, I feel this deeply: I did what I thought I needed to and I ignored all urges to try for you. I ignored giving you a chance at life and seeing what my body could really do.

But when I watch the screaming mothers of murdered boys, men, women — all of them wrapped in our skin or hear the violent cries of sisters and brothers demanding justice or smell the lies that drip from the slits of our leaders’ mouths or learn of those believing a price is sufficient for a life, I am thankful I was too scared to take a chance on you.

You deserve better, much better. And this place . . . this world I call home would wolf you down in its fanged mouth and tear your flesh from your bones in five bites. Morsel-of-a-human-little thing: you’d be the perfect dinner. No one’s serving you up on a platter. No one.

My beautiful, unborn daughter. I love you and I am sorry I was too afraid to try.

But you would have hated it here. This, I know.


Originally published in P. S. I Love You via Medium.

My Body: The Temple I’m Afraid to Touch

Beginning a journey with my hands

Photo by nappy via Pexels

In the past, I had been one with my body — I connected with it intimately in a way many others could not. I knew the softest spots, the places that led me to a peaceful night’s sleep, and the best way to cure unwanted fidgeting. I never feared what moved me — invigorated me — consumed me entirely. My body was a place that knew my touch — it knew what to expect from me. Of late, I have lost my way to the path of me and the treasure is nowhere in sight.

Can I get back to that place?

I’m sure I can, but I lack motivation. I don’t have the time. I’m not interested. My body is now the temple I’m afraid to touch and during a global pandemic, one in which being single is still my reality, touching myself should be high on the list of to-dos. It is not.

How can I get back to that place of consistent pleasure and the relief of tension courtesy of me?

Rachel Otis explains in her article, 3 Ways to Support Your Mental Health with Self-Touch:

Often a sense of release and even relaxation arises when we intentionally tend to our discomfort, even with the simplest gestures.

I hope it is obvious, the focus here is on non-sexual self-touch as opposed to sexual self-touch. A soft caress of one’s neck, a gentle massage of your legs, or even the smooth press of your palm can send small doses of healing to problematic areas of the body — relieving tension and pain. She further explains:

Self-massage can be a powerful way to release tension. After noticing tension in the body, I often direct my clients to use self-massage.

I used to be big on managing the pain in my body with self-touch. I focused on it significantly after a rough day by providing peace and comfort with a warm bath and gentle massages to different body parts while I soaked my cares away.

Now, I sprint home from work, walk my dog, hop in the shower, and do more work — work that stimulates the mind, but does nothing for my body. And then my day ends.

I feel myself fading into black.

What I can sense happening is a fear hovering over me as I’ve forgotten how to gain a sense of comfort by my own hands.

Are you familiar with the saying, “Use it or lose it?” Well, I feel as though my it is lost. I want to fight to get it back, but I lack the energy. I lack passion. The daily grind of my primary job is draining me of everything familiar that required a little more of my time and I am reluctant to divvy out any more of it to something as simple as touch.

Touch is our first language. Long before we can see an image, smell an odor, taste a flavor, or hear a sound, we experience others and ourselves through touch, our only reciprocal sense. — Ofer Zur, Ph.D. & Nola Nordmarken, MFT, To Touch or Not to Touch.

It is clear I miss the touch from another human being and I recognize and understand its power, however; I can provide what I miss most. Where, when, and how I will do this still hangs in the balance. I want to center the importance of rekindling my connection with self-touch around positive occurrences, but those are hard to find now. I have a myriad of stressful events taking place in my life, but I do not want to only turn to self-touch when my life is in total disarray. I want it to be neutral — to use it overall and indefinitely.

Beginning again is only an act of consent (on my part) away. If I am to build a positive relationship with my self and my body in the near future, I must not be afraid to get started. You may think, “What are you waiting for?” and you’d be well within your right to pose that question and I’d say, “I don’t know . . . Maybe a head-start?”

There’s no need of waiting any longer. I will get back to touching myself.

It’s time I give my body the gift it has been missing — my hands.


Originally published in P. S. I Love You via Medium.

 

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Quintessence

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Issue #1, Spring 2020|Photo Credit: Tremaine L. Loadholt

 

QUINTESSENCE: A Literary Magazine of Featured Medium Writers

Non-fiction Saturdays

It Won’t Always Be Like This

And I Take Comfort In That

Photo by Engin Akyurt via Pexels

“It Won’t Always Be Like This.”

I take comfort in that phrase because I have to. There are many changes being implemented at my job. We are not urgent care or an emergency facility and most of our imaging services are elective procedures. However, the great powers that be over our organization will have the facility open to help with the overflow of patients who need certain scans done, who wish not to go to any PUI (Patient Under Investigation for the COVID-19 virus) facilities. As long as we have some volume and patients on the schedule, we will remain open. The moment that volume drops to a number they do not want to see, we will close imaging operations until further notice.

We will close imaging operations until further notice.

That has a pulsating ring to it, doesn’t it? Try saying that phrase five times fast. Trust me, it is not easy to do. I have tried it. I have broken down, fought an invisible enemy with my fists, combatted a wave of depression shortly after, and am doing all of this without the direct aid of my therapist. I cannot see her at this time but have been notified that virtual and email options are available. I will have the time to take advantage of those options during the coming weeks.

Quickly going from a 40-hour per week employee to a “whatever-we-have-available-hour” per week employee is a blow to the gut that will linger. This week, I was on the schedule for 24 hours only. Next week, I am on the schedule for 16 hours only — subject to change at any given time. I will have to use PTO (paid time off) to assist me in gaining my full-time status each week until my PTO dwindles. That will not take long. When my PTO is depleted, the company will allow me to go into a negative PTO bank, but up to 80 hours only. And when that negative 80-hour bank has been depleted and there are no patients on the schedule, I will not get paid.

I have broken down, fought an invisible enemy with my fists, combatted a wave of depression shortly after, and am doing all of this without the direct aid of my therapist.

Knowing all of this, living alone, being alone, and having to rely on myself only for income, has been overwhelming. I am positive, though. I am also grateful to still say that I am working, even if my change in hours is significant. Many are not in my shoes — the hammer came down on them and it came down hard — switching them from gainfully employed to unemployed in a matter of days.

On my days off, I am also given the opportunity to fully participate in the Stay-At-Home order implemented by our Governor so as to flatten the curve for the spread of the virus. I would rather continue to do my part in combatting this thing rather than be a part of contracting it and spreading it to others. This news — the reduction of my hours, is also happy news for The Powerhouse, my mom, and many of my family members and friends. They have been worried about me since the virus touched down in the United States.

I have direct contact with our patients on a daily basis and although, I now wear a mask and gloves too, the percentage of me contracting the virus while at work is higher versus if I were to simply stay at home. I see this as two things: a welcome break that I have needed for years and the opportunity to finish up many of my projects while taking on a few collaborative ventures as well. I am open to every potential lead to being more creative that is thrown my way. I am ready and I am willing.

Many are not in my shoes — the hammer came down on them and it came down hard — switching them from gainfully employed to unemployed in a matter of days.


Far too tired at work, masked photo. “You wear the mask well.” — Aura Wilming

A patient, one whom I delight in greatly, brought a gift to my job for me. He and his wife are patients I register regularly and she thought to give me a little something that would provide us with luck. She sanitized the item and placed it in a tiny plastic bag and ordered her husband to give it to me when he had his next appointment with us. I was at lunch while he was registering with one of my co-workers, however, I came out of our breakroom to get something from my desk, and immediately lit up when I saw him and waved.

He called me to my co-worker’s desk and said with joy, “Tre, get over here! You gotta get this. My wife said I gotta give this to you!” I walked over to him and he was careful in taking the item out of his pocket and handing it over to me. He said sweetly to both my co-worker and I, “It’s for good luck! We need y’all here. We just do. Thank you, girls, for what you are doing. God bless y’all.”

I nearly teared up right then and there, but I smiled. I told him had we not been moved to practice social-distancing, I would come out to the waiting area and give him a hug. I asked him to please thank his wife for me and to let her know that I am most appreciative. I thanked him too before heading back to the breakroom. I am blessed to be able to do what I do. I love the connections I have made and the connections that are probably awaiting me in the future. But, it is deep in my spirit that when this is all said and done, that I may not continue at my facility for the rest of the year.

I am playing things by ear and being mindful of “taking life fifteen minutes at a time,” but my heart wants to move. My mind wants to move. My body aches and everything within me says, “Get out of this field.” That is now. Who knows what my mind may drum up two weeks from today or a month from today.

“It Won’t Always Be Like This.”

No. No, it truly won’t.


Originally published in A Cornered Gurl via Medium.

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