by Spirochicks Contributor
Well, all right. Not “better.” How about “more focused?”
A few days ago, I woke up clear-headed for the first time in nineteen days. I reveled in the lack of rubber cement in my brain. And then I was really mad. It’s hard to untangle the thoughts in a linear progression-- they all arrived more or less together, like email after a long server malfunction. The upshot was that two of the most important things for me to focus on right now are my health and my career, and that I’d sacrificed one in a misguided effort to protect the other.
Six years ago, when I started my current job, a woman senior to me, we’ll call her Dana, took an instant dislike to me. I’m not unique in this regard--she is verbally abusive, to some degree, to a lot of people. I can take constructive criticism and I don’t shy away from confrontation, but I can be bullied, and Dana had my number. Eventually, she was in a quasi-supervisory position, reviewing some of my work. Her feedback was sometimes truly helpful, but it was laced with vitriol. Sometimes her language was frankly abusive (unless in your world “lazy” and “stupid” pass for constructive). I did everything I could think of to placate and please her. None of it worked. It’s been awful, but I’ve never thought of saying anything to my boss other than “Okay, it’s still bad now I’m going to try this...” Not a fan of confrontation, he’s been okay with letting me muddle through on my own.
Dana was the source of a tremendous amount of stress for me before Lyme came into my world. My very first herx started on June 3. It’s been bad. My doctor ordered me to work from home, half days, if I worked at all, while I weathered the worst of it. Afraid working from home would draw Dana’s wrath, though, I opted to go in every day. I’ve been sitting at my desk clocking in my four hours, utterly unable to do meaningful work and so exhausted I wanted to cry. The morning my brain de-fogged, the stupidity of this hit me. What Dana thinks of me has no effect on my career, really. What I’m doing to my health in the name of appeasing her...well, that’s extremely unproductive. So I went straight to my boss and told him I couldn’t take it anymore. And an hour later, my work was being funneled to two other seniors for review. A source of agonizing stress for years gone just like that--poof.
I’ll give you that doesn’t sound very exciting, or brave. It would be a more exciting story if I’d gone to Dana directly, defending myself and my fellow abused colleagues in a barrage of verbal glory. But this, I’m learning, is part of how I have to move forward, separating the things that are worth my energy from the things that aren’t. I’ve spent more than enough energy on Dana...it was time for someone else to have a turn.
Since my Lyme adventure started, I’ve thought about parallel-universe me, the one who doesn’t have Lyme. I imagine all the things she is doing that I am not, that I can not do right now. No, this is not a soothing exercise. When I jettisoned Dana, though, for the first time, I did something I’m pretty sure parallel-me is not, was not, strong enough to do. I’m not saying I’m grateful for the Lyme. It’s making me take my SUV-sized life and cram it into a Civic. I’ve just started packing the Civic, and there are a lot of things I want to put in there. Not loading Dana leaves more room. Getting the blasted spirochetes to let me load the stuff I want is part of the challenge, but learning what to leave on the curb is a good lesson in coping too.