My leaving speech

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For those of you who don’t know me and are just here for the food, welcome! I’ve been here at Council for a while, almost exactly six years. Not as long as some of you; but to others I’m like the Oracle of Delphi. If I don’t know the answer, I’ll know someone who will. 

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As you all know, I am guaranteed to cry, so let’s just accept that now and I’ll muddle through this as best I can. If all else fails, I’ll do an interpretative dance.

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This is going to be hard for me to do, because as some of you know, working at Nillumbik nearly broke me and my marriage to Dan. So here are some memes to make you laugh through this bit.

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Working as an EA or PA, your life is dependent on the symbiotic relationship you have with your Manager.

Three weeks after I started working here, I met with CC and Mr T, lately of this parish, to ask WTF had I done? I’d left a job I loved, with colleagues I loved to work closer to home and was working for someone who did literally nothing and also had no idea how to mange anyone. When I asked ‘How are you today?’ his answer would govern my whole day.

Somehow, I muddled through, joining committees and starting up AdminChat, offering help across the organisation where I could so I had stuff to do to fill my days. My mental health and in turn marriage began to suffer. Several people along the way helped hold me up, not least J – whose opinion of me i valued over everybody’s else on the Management team, and still do. When R left, J was asked to step into the role; at our first meeting, he said ‘I’ve never had a PA before, what do I do?’

J’s life is compartmentalised into work and home; he’s cautious about letting life spill between the two. J is also not the most loquacious of people, so we worked our way out of how to work together through Doctor Who (I’ve met two of them) and working through issues logically and systematically as that is how our brains work.

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Officially I’ve lived in Greensborough for longer than I’ve lived anywhere else since I left home twenty five years ago, I’ve moved house over twenty times.

When you look at my CV, it can look like a shemozzle too, because I’ve done there, been that, living in a seaside town, being a chamber maid is a rite of passage; I’ve been a bar maid, worked in a warehouse; I’ve even done silver service, although not successfully. I’ve worked in retail, including a book shop (so – no I didn’t take home much money); memorably opening at midnight for the release of the Order of the Phoenix which may or may not have caused a sense of humour failure when I was still in the shop 18 solid hours later. At that same bookshop in Winchester, played it cool and chatted to Colin Firth about Rohinton Mistry’s books. I may or may not have photocopied his EFTPOS receipt for his signature. 

 

I worked for the Civil Service in the UK over three different training camps. Spending the longest time at Army Training Regiment, Winchester one of their basic training camps. I looked after A-Squadron; supporting a Major, Captain and two Warrant Officers in the office, and six other Captains with their staff as they trained the recruits. Across the camp, every two weeks, a new intake started for the twelve-week course, a sausage factory of people turning into lean, green, fighting machines.

[There is a point to all of this, I promise].

I sat in a little office with D, the payroll clerk for the unit, the two of us surrounded by paper, listening to Radio 2 all day. Recruits would arrive, followed by greats sheafs of paperwork. They’d either stay and create more paperwork that would continue to follow them through their careers: or leave and I’d have to generate and process their discharge paperwork, closing their files. This was also where I watched my signature get smaller and smaller as I signed my name hundreds of times a day.

D was painfully shy; he wouldn’t even blow his nose in front of me – he’d always excuse himself to the bathroom first. Can you imagine him being in a room with me for eight hours a dayThe poor boy.

Watching Pass-Out parades of recruits every other Friday was both joyous and heart-wrenching at the same time. It was a whole festival to celebrate the hard work they’d done, with the recruits doing various displays to show off their fitness, skills and confidence to family and friends. Just after 12pm, family and friends would sit down in bleachers, staff would appear from all over the camp, leaning over the back wall of the seating, listening to the excited murmurs underneath us. A full marching band would put on a display, assemble at the back of the square, then the Sergeant Major would shout, “By the riiiiight! Quick, March!” The drums would start and the recruits who’d changed into their second dress, all polished boots and brass buttons, would march on to the parade square.

I’ve worked here for longer than I’ve worked for anywhere else. The job I had the longest before now was at the Sovereign Centre; everything I learnt about team work stems from working in that busy leisure centre. 

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Staff training sessions were a hot mess of hangovers, running scenarios with casualties all over the building, most of us in hysterics and us practicing CPR until your arms were on fire and knees your have given way. I learnt more about customer service and tact and diplomacy by rebooking over a thousand children into swimming lessons, navigating the endless expectations of their parents and the children’s diary commitments, until (unbelievably obnoxious serial complainant residents) arrived in my inbox.

But I’ve been on poolside and fished people out. Knowing that if you have to go in for a rescue, your colleagues would have your back to clear the pool. 

I’ve done CPR and broken ribs to keep someone going long enough for an ambulance to get to them. 

I’ve taught ladies to swim, who thought they’d be the ones looking after handbags for the rest of their lives. 

People I worked with at the Sovereign Centre came to our wedding, I still email and message D and other people I worked with at the ATR. Also at our wedding were a couple who gave me a spare room rent free for a few months when my first marriage ended. I spoke with Furriner on her first day back at work after burying her father, I walked into the lunch room and unknowingly, I told her she looked like she needed a hug, so I gave her a hug. I reciprocated the love and care my best friend W gave to me in entrusting her two children to me after we met on poolside over twenty years ago, and made her Archie’s god-mother. His god-father is Hubs’ best friend, who joined the Australian Army on the same day as Dan, again over twenty years ago.

Here we come to the point of all this.

I share these memories of my life with you, because people you meet at work shape your lives in hundreds of ways, day in, day out. I lived in Winchester, working at Waterstones and the ATR for just a couple of years; can you imagine what I’m going to be able to tell people about working at Council for six years? What we’ve done, built, created, the people we’ve helped along the way?

At my interview, I said I wanted to work for Council because I firmly believe we provide services, opportunity, art, facilities for people who want to access them, but don’t have the money to. But I’m done with residents complaining because they think moving a car park would ruin the aesthetic of a playground; or residents complaining because we take time out to celebrate IDAHOBIT, health initiatives, prevention of violence and that is before we get to the Not In My Backyard NIMBYish attitude of people who want to subdivide their land to make money, but don’t want their new neighbours to build on it.

But, I still believe that and I’m proud to have worked here. But now I’m prouder of the friends I’ve made that will be with me for life.  

Hopeless aren’t I?

I am sorry for keeping you all hanging on waiting for another blog post.  People who are busier than I am get one up every day, so why can’t I?  Not sure I have the answer to that question really.  But here are some questions I do have the answers to:

What is my latest incarnation?  Well, I am officially a Mrs.  The marriage certificate arrived while we were away, so I’ve been changing my name here and there.

When sorting your iTunes music library what is the most played song? ‘Sorry’ Madonna, which was a bit of a surprise, I must admit.  So was discovering I had listened to one audio book no less than 45 times.  If it is any consolation, it is one of the set I play when I sleep.

How are you getting on being a vegetarian? Surprisingly well actually.  I haven’t had meat, alcohol or wheat for nearly a week now.  I know I am not supposed to eat wheat any way, but while away in QLD I had no option, and my stomach has nearly settled down now.  Thank you for asking.

What is your favourite iPhone app? Again a bit of a surprise entry for you, after Mahjong and Tetris, it is CarPool with Robert Llewellyn. 

How is the new job going?  Again, thank you for asking.  Very well.  Although this week I don’t know my arse from my elbow as we have a conference on Friday, and what with being away last week, we’ve all been running around like crazy getting ready for it.  It also doesn’t help when the stationery order appears with a vital bit missing…

What is the weather like?  Bluddy cold all of a sudden.  We got back from a week away, and noticed the weather had changed drastically in our absence.  I’ve dug out a blanket in addition to the duvet.  Also the t-shirt and socks ensemble isn’t really doing it for DG…

As you haven’t updated this in ages, what have you been up to lately?  Been up the furthest north since I’ve arrived in Australia.  We flew into Cairns, then spent most of the week in Wonga Beach, just north of Port Douglas, (I will be doing a blog on the week tomorrow).  This weekend we cleaned the house, DGs cold before we went away meant it was left in chaos, you’d think that someone would have cleaned in our absence, but he didn’t.  We went for a walk around Albert Park lake, the exercise freaks were in skimpy outfits as we were getting hot, but recreational walkers were in hats, gloves and scarves.

Did you all remember your towels on 25th May?  I hope so, but when I mentioned Hitchhikers to two people at work, they stared at me blankly.  tut

Back in the saddle again

While unable to blog, I had loads of ideas.  Now I can blog, I am staring into space wondering what they were.  I wouldn’t mind but I carry a notebook around with me wherever I go.  When a half sentence wafts into my head, I should write it down there and then.  Call me a PA?  My life is one oxymoron.  I am so organised in some areas, yet so chaotic in others.  I am so disciplined, yet so lazy.  I am proud, yet prejudiced.  I know that it is a learning curve, some days will be better than others, I have a-ha! moments where I see so clearly, but then get paralysed with the fear of letting go and letting life carry me.  Must try harder. 

It’s raining in Melbourne today, which means crazy drivers, more yummy mummies driving their children door to door to school, people without lights on, horns blaring as people get carved up and people arriving at work frazzled, frustrated and probably carrying that mood throughout the day.

Getting ready this morning, I knew I was going to get stuck in traffic, so I just accepted it.  I got ready at far less than the warp speed I do normally, got my lunch out the fridge and listened to Take That all the way to work, singing along, not worrying about how silly I looked to other drivers.  I am feeling calm, placid and as the majority of the people are out the office today, know I will get a lot done with minimum interruptions.  I am also looking forward to my first rostered day off on Monday, so I have a long weekend to boot!  I am going to update my vision board, cull the magazines that have been stored over the past month or so, and drive out to the country for a walk.  Because I can.  I will also have a bath, read a bit and use it as a day off.  I accrue them through the month, so I get 12 extra days holiday a year.  I’ve decided that every single one of them will be MY days.  I am not going to use them on anything other than me.

This gives me a four-day week next week, ready for a week off in Port Douglas.  Our reef trip is booked, I wish I could tell you how excited I am to be seeing it, up close and personal.  We’re going to be swimming with turtles in the Low Isles.  I’ll look out for Nemo for you all.  I’ll leave you with this, which is what I am going to endeavour to do daily:

Leave Life alone.  Let it be.  Eckhart Tolle

Lazy days and Sundays

Apologies for the lack of updates this week, I wanted to let y’all know how I was doing at my new role, but the past few days have been busy so I didn’t get a chance to.  Not good enough, and I apologise.

Wednesday was a good day, information overload as to be expected, Catherine the lady who has been temping there part-time is lovely and showing me the ropes.  The biggest hurdle was taking minutes for a committee meeting, an hour and a half after I started the job.  I took copious notes as I had no idea what they were talking about, but when I’d typed them up over the afternoon and Thursday and sent them off to be approved, I was complimented on what I had delivered – hurrah!

Thursday was another busy day, I drove a different route in as I needed to check the post box (empty, so waste of time), and drove past the gym I’d stopped going to as it was miles out of my way from where we now live!  In between tidying and cleaning my desk, (the cleaners evidently have a loose idea of the definition of clean, and not one that matches mine), taking notes and nodding ‘yes’ a lot, the day again, passed quickly.  On the way home, I had to go to the supermarkdo, by the time I’d done shopping, unpacked it and we’d cooked dinner, it was nearly time to pack a lunch, lay some clothes out and go to bed.

Friday, again busy, we didn’t cover as much as we’d planned as work got in the way of handover, but we’ve kicked a lot of goals.  I whizzed home, had a bird bath, reapplied some make-up and we whizzed into the city to meet Andrew’s parents who are over from NZ.  We had a great evening, despite me having verbal diarrhea in the car as I was so excited about life.

Lachy came over with Hurricane Piper and Cyclone Oakley, Ney is on nights at the moment, to let her get some sleep they were taken out the house, they’d been to the park and fed the ducks by the time they got to us.  Piper peered at the fish tank and announced that Jess (her fish) and Bullseye (Oakley’s fish) we still at the hospital.  Guilty looks by Aunt and Uncle who have flushed Bullseye 1 & 2, and several orange comets that should have passed for Jess down the porcelain express.  The three that we have left seem to be fairly sturdy, and piggy, they barge each other out the way to get to the food, and stare out the tank at us hopefully if one of us walks past.  They also like watching sport on TV, which is just as well as The Masters is on, followed by AFL, followed by whatever else is on at the moment.

We went back into the city late on Saturday to watch Carlton v Essendon at the MCG, which was preceded by a cricket presentation, free bar and canapes for a couple of hours.  I proceeded to get squiffy on champagne, and became Sir-Text-A-Lot, the game passed in a blur, Dan ended up having to buy me a coffee to sober me up a little, but we had a good time. 

Today we’ve pottered about the house, Dan has put his shorts away, summer is officially over – we’ve had the heating on today!  It has been windy and rainy for most of the day, so washing is draped over any available surface, I will start ironing when I’ve finished this.  I’ve been burning some new CDs for the car, we’ve rearranged the study as we’re going to take ownership of Ross & Leonie’s single bed and Dan has caught up on some filing.  (Which was so old, it’s nearly all been filed in file 13!)  His cold is still hanging round him, I am still snuffly too, although my throat is better, and the pair of us would quite like whatever we’ve got to either appear with a vengence so we can get over it, or clear off altogether.

Matt is coming over for dinner tonight, so I’ve cooked a chicken, we’ve been to The Glen to collect the post, interesting National Geographic on water this month, I’ve flicked through the papers and am now going to have a quick sandwich for lunch.

Consider yourself updated!

Moving on…

I woke up this morning in a strange mood.  I am employed, but I am between jobs.  I’ve signed on the dotted line, but I haven’t arranged my desk how I like it.  I know where I am working, but I don’t know where the kitchen is.

Yesterday I cleared my desk of a few things, emptied my drawers of a few more, and after being given a lovely arrangement of flowers, left the building.  One person in the office was absent at the ‘goodbyes’, the one that has caused all the problems.  Another has also been conspicuously quiet about the whole thing, at least towards me: the boss.  I have had no email, no text, no phone call to acknowledge my resignation.  When I know he has been in and out of his inbox, as I was on his out of office alert on Monday, and saw yesterday that I had been taken off.

The clues were there: 

  • Before I left, I had a desk full of things from home; text books, photos, pens, tea bags, dried fruit and nuts.  When I came back to work, I travelled light.  Bringing things back and forth with me in a pencil case and tote bag;
  • I didn’t ask for replacement trays for me to store my in-progress work;
  • I was out at appointments;
  • As I met people who were talking to me about other jobs, my confidence grew.  My shoulders went back, I stood tall again;
  • I was clear with him, I need to work full time.  You won’t give it to me, I will find it elsewhere.

I know he is probably upset and angry that I have left.  I know he is probably frustrated that after trying to resolve a situation, I only played lip service to come back, until I left – on my terms.  But put yourself in my shoes.  When I asked for support, you failed me.  Did you really expect me to stay?

Today marks the end of a chapter in my life.  I will never write on here again about the toxic environment I have left.  While I will offer my support to the people who are still there, biding time, waiting until they can get out, but I don’t want to be dragged under again by the sheer hatred and vitriol that permeate that office. 

This door is now closed behind me.  I have five days off over Easter before I walk with my head held high into a new office.  A new job.  A new start.   The biggest event on the Christian calendar, funny how life works isn’t it?  Last night I googled ‘What does the Bible have to say about bullying’ and found this hilarious and frankly, pathetic response:

Find a counselor or mentor to help you look at the situation from God’s perspective. God says we are to acknowledge Him, put Him first, in all our ways and He will direct our paths. The action and responsibility falls on us but He is faithful as we obey. He works it out.

Funny, I thought ‘Do unto others as you would have them do to you’ would just be enough.

Goodness me – the perils of daytime television

I couldn’t help it your honour, I got sucked in.  I only sat down to catch up on Gavin & Stacey (he’s just found out she’s been engaged 5 times before him) I watched one Oprah, then another and before I knew it… I found myself watching Channel 7, which unless the football is on, is normally NEVER on in this house as it is so shite, I was watching Extreme Skinny Celebrity Mums from the Living Channel in the UK.  Which as you can see by my recent tweets, was heavily ‘researched’ by using the Daily Mail, the absolute pinnacle of journalism (read BS) over there.

Apparently, like, ‘slebs in Hollywood have hired wet nurses, but it’s like, really top secret.  They don’t want to eat the calories they need to like, feed their children, because they need to be really, really skinny, so there’s this like, super-secret agency.  And apparently, Liz Hurley gives diet advice, and like, Cate Blanchette is choosing between, like, clothes and her children.  Then Vanessa Feltz got in on the action, telling us that when you have a caeserian section, everyone famous is, like, having tummy tucks AT THE SAME TIME!  Then they started in on Anna Friel apparently using the suction diving suit and Heidi Klum being on the catwalk in seven weeks in a bikini.  Then my brain, like, atrophied and slid out my ear.

It is all our fault apparently, because it’s, like, the public, right?  As we buy the magazines, so we are, like, directly responsible for Victoria Beckham being skinny.  Sorry VB, I didn’t realise.  In fact, I realised years ago if you buy them, you only fan the flames, so I refuse to buy magazines that have pap shots in them.  I don’t even flick through them while waiting at the supermarket, or at the hairdressers.  The last time I looked at one, was over a year ago.  I was working at Hoban and read an ancient Grazia on my lunchbreak.  I’d finished my book, it was piddling it down with rain and I only had 5 minutes left, so flicked through it.  It was full of complete and utter BS.  Sources telling us, an insider says.  The only problem was, the six month time lapse showed that the majority of stories were completely fabricated, just made up around photos that had landed on someones desk, and they needed something to go with them.  But people believe them, people (girls mainly) sit on public transport over here discussing Now and OK and other glossy shite, like it is the National Geographic. 

Solange Knowles, Beyonce’s sister, cut all her hair off, when the pap photo was published, she was the 3rd trending topic on Twitter, so she hopped on and told everyone off, berating the USA for putting her haircut, yes a haircut, over the Iran Elections.  Then she told them all to find Iran on a map for good measure.  You go girl!  Admittedly I found this out when I watched Oprah, but Solange has a point.  One of things I love doing is reading the FAQs on IMDB.  Talk about dumb people.  Take this shining example on ‘The Shawshank Redemption’: Why did the warden kill…?  Or this one from ‘Hot Fuzz’: On whose grave did they put flowers at the end of the movie?  Sometimes I wonder if they watch the same film, or do they need a set of Cliffs Notes to get them through, because God help them that they follow a plot for a whole 2 hours!  I am sick and tired of shitty programmes being constantly interrupted by adverts, documentaries that tell you to stay tuned because this is coming up, cutting to a break, then recapping what’s just happened, because moronic people can’t retain a thought in their heads while McDonalds advertise salads and The Biggest Loser is trailed.

Anyway, I am supposed to be working from home today.  So I am showered, but not powdered and made up, I’ve brushed my hair, but I am in schlumpadinka trousers and a comfy t-shirt.  I am supposed to be tidying up loose ends before I leave.  But you know what, I will tidy them up tomorrow.  When I am going to get paid for tidying them up, as oppose to me doing them now, when I won’t.  Did I tell you they short-changed me by $900 for when I was out ill, by the eejit in bullying question starting my part-time hours at the beginning of the month, instead of when they actually started on the 15th March?  And that although they were quick enough to take it away, I will have to wait until the 21st April before it will be rectified?  Did I tell you that they left me with less than $600 for the month, because I had used up all my accrued holiday and personal leave?  So I had to take unpaid leave, with no discussion on how it will impact me?

And they wonder why I went looking for another job?  Take out the bullying and harassment, take out the piss-poor management of this situation, you do not mess around with people’s wages.  Period.  It is a shame I won’t be there when WorkSafe visit.  It is a shame I am leaving some good people behind me, I had a brief interview with one guy yesterday, seriously one of the nicest, funniest and cleverest people I’ve worked with.  He’s going to ask me back for a formal exit interview in a couple of weeks.  He told me to be clear on everything, as it is important they hear exactly why I am leaving.  Damn right.  It won’t save my job.  But it might save someone elses.

News!

I am pleased to tell y’all I have a new job!  But I canNOT tell you how pleased I am to be moving on.  I started looking half-heartedly while I was off, completely in the wrong frame of mind as I was thinking no-one would want me.  Then ranked up the search when I was dropped down to part-time hours, sheer red rage fuelling it somewhat.  I applied hither and thither; then when I had a couple of days thinking space and lined all my ducks up, the phone started ringing.

I had 5 interviews in less than a week, 2 second interviews in 3 days, got offered the one I really wanted this morning and took it.  I sent a short, polite email of resignation in, and I am out the door on Wednesday.  I told you when I think to myself, ‘Stuff this!’ life takes care of me, here it is again. 

I will be the one doing the conga down the street in Boronia on Wednesday afternoon.  I will also be the one wiggling her toes against the duvet on Thursday morning as I switch the alarm off and go back to sleep, knowing I never have to prostitute myself or my values again.

Cut and paste

I have had another good day today.  As you know I am working part-time at the moment, so am scheduling my counselling sessions around my days off, when I can.  Occasionally I get thrown a curve ball, but as long as I am there for the 2.5 days a week and get what I need to done…  I am meant to work till 1pm on Fridays, last week I had to work on Tuesday as I couldn’t work on Wednesday, this week I had to finish early on Monday so will be working all day Wednesday and Friday.  Are you with me so far?

Anyhoo, today I have been busy with my inspiration book.  Started at the prompt of F’lerika when I was living with her and her Bear, for the past (stops to think) 5 and a bit years I have been cutting articles out of magazines, newspapers; printing things from websites; finding pictures I like; postcards I like; all sorts of things, but anything that speaks to me.  For the past 2 years (I know it is that long as my subscription is due), I have been culling my Oprah magazines; for 18 months the magazines that come with the weekend newspapers here and had piles of paperwork to prove it.  I had collated it all in a concertina folder, handily arranged in subject order.  I had plastic wallets of other articles.  For someone so organised, it was in a bit of a muddle.  I kept adding to it, but not sorting it out.  Over the past month or so, I have had 2 or 3 sessions where I have sat with my guillotine, scissors and glue cutting out, trimming off and sticking in for hours, and can now proudly announce that I am up-to-date.  Everything is stuck in, and not in subject as I liked the randomness of flicking through and reading things in no particular order of the first book.  At least, until I pull apart the Oprah magazine that arrived this morning, and buy the papers at the weekend.  I have 3 A4 books, chock full of goodies.  From columns by Martha Beck, to pictures of beaches, from an article on Dame Judi Dench  (isn’t she glorious?) to blessays by Stephen Fry, you name it, I’ve got it stuck in them somewhere.

One thing I hadn’t added is anything I’ve written.  Until now, when I will type up all the notes I’ve taken from seeing my counsellor and add them to the mix.  Every time I see her, I have an a-ha! moment, like this session where she retested me on my depression and anxiety levels and proudly announced that I had pushed through to the other side of my wibble.  But I knew that already, that wasn’t the a-ha! moment.  I knew that when I slept for 12 hours on Saturday, I knew that when I was able to line all my ducks up, shoot them off in sequence and close the door on the carcases.  I knew that when I was the strong person on a phone call this morning.

My a-ha! was when I visualised this week that what I thought initially was a small problem, but one that got progressively bigger as nearly every day another layer was painted on.  A bit like the rubber band balls you see on desks, they start from one band at the core, but you keep winding bands on, they’re gonna get bigger.  Eventually, this problem squashed me into a corner, with nowhere to go.  So I shut down, I had to.   As anyone would had you put pressure on them for that long, stress is a good thing, but bad stress is a bad thing.  Sustained bad stress is an impossible thing to cope with, you will go phut.  I have gone phut, but now the pieces are coming back together again.

I will be weaned off my antidepressants when I am settled, but they are doing their job, they are holding me up while I continue to get my head around some things that are happening now.  The things that have happened, have gone, they are in the past and have been put away.  While some things were disappointing, “When you know better, you do better”.  And for another Maya Angelou quote: “When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time”.  If I had believed the first time what I didn’t want to see, I wouldn’t have gone phut.  I would have gone.  Period.  Because “What you do speaks so loudly, what you say I cannot hear.”

I’ve learnt, again, who my friends are.  They come from unexpected places, but they are the people who do not deplete me.  They encourage, cheer me on, support me, even from miles away, they are the people that raise me up, not bring me down.  They are in my corner, and when they say they are fighting in my corner – they stay there. 

So I will carry on cutting and pasting the things that are important to me; I will carry on reading and re-reading the articles and books that have helped me through this: I will carry on learning what I am here for, what my purpose is; but sometimes you need a little help to show you the way.  The past month has been invaluable.  It reminded me what is, was and will always remain important.  And that something cannot be cut out and stuck in a book.  It is something I carry with me every day.  Me.

T’internet (or severe lack of it)

Bluddy Optus, normally we use 50% of our internet allowance each month.  This month, because someone downloaded 3 feature films to his iPod (you can either blame me for buying the iTunes vouchers for his birthday, or DG for using them) we’ve gone over it.  Consequently, our broadband is at dial up speed.   Literally as soon as we went one nanobit over, there is a switch that sets speed from super fast to treacle.  Quick enough to take away, slow to give back.  We’ve made 3 phone calls so far, all to people in India who can’t speak English.  ARGH!

I can’t get emails as Outlook has a diva tantrum it is going so s  l  o  w  l  y.  I log on through gmail and it takes forever, we keep getting the IE screen of death and ‘click here for diagnosis’ button.  All will be sorted on Monday, (according to the IT guru that popped in to check it for us last night, our billing period starts again then), so for those who are waiting with bated breath for an update on how I got on back at work, hang on.  I will let you know later today, if I can.  As it is, I am typing this with fingers crossed that it won’t fall over.

Please don’t try and skype either, we have enough problems with that, so if you must, call us.  I am at home all day tomorrow, although a roving reporter today.  At the minute, two cans with string will probably work better than the technology.

Friends are the family we choose for ourselves

I have been overwhelmed by the amount of love and good wishes that have come my way over the past couple of weeks.  Not only because of the work thing, but also the parent thing.  Friends who I know are crazy-busy have emailed me, great long sweeping emails that I re-read.  The tweets, the texts, the cards, the comments on here.  All remind me that I am blessed.

Last night I had a massive ‘a-ha!’ moment.  I mean HUGE.  One that took my breath away, made me stare in silence at the wall and rethink my whole life.  Funnily enough, it came from a book that I have read before, will read again and recommend to anyone who struggles with depression.  Richard Carlson’s Stop Thinking Start Living.  I found the book one day in Waterstones, I was walking around Camberley town lost, changing my address with the opticians, the bank etc. after my ex-husband had left me.  I was in a right muddle, kept crying and thought ‘I need help with this’.  I walked in, stood in front of the self-help section and saw this book.  At £8.99, I could barely afford it, but I certainly couldn’t afford the £12, £15 or £20 books, so I brought it.  Within a couple of chapters, I could feel the pain leaving me.  It was the first book I turned to this time when I was signed off work, and slowly worked my way through, highlighting passages in blue biro.  When I first read it, I used a pencil, little faint lines show what spoke to me then, bold blue lines show what shouted to me now.

Last night I read this:  Unhappiness is your curriculum. …You can think of your central issue or issues as your ‘curriculum’, an education that you must go through to make your life feel complete. …The name of the game is learning how to deal effectively with, and eventually conquer, the central issues in your life.  Sometimes conquering your curriculum means making the symptom go away. …. When you understand where your depression is coming from, and when you view it from a distance, the ‘game’ begins to change.  Depression is no longer an emergency, something that is destroying your life, but rather a part of your ‘course work’, a necessary part of your education in life, something that you must learn to conquer.  You can conquer it. … While every curriculum is unique, every solution is identical. … I must acknowledge my struggle yet choose my healthy functioning instead of my destructive urge.  I must remind myself I have a choice.  I must have faith that my inner strength is more powerful than my helpless feeling of struggle.  Each time I choose peace instead of fear, love instead of hate, happiness instead of struggle, I solidify my faith in my healthy functioning and it gets easier.

I realised that all my life I have been searching for approval.  Searching for validation from my actions.  I have to be told, I am good enough, I have to be told that I am ok.  Because inside me, there is a voice telling me that no matter I do, it isn’t good enough.  How long has this been going on for?  I came home from a junior school fete, with a butterfly face painted on me, I showed it to my Mum, then washed it off before Dad came home, in case he didn’t like it.  I would have been 7 or 8 – I am now 35 years old.

It is a long time to search for approval, it is a long time to wait for praise, it is a long time to have that spectre hang over you.  I am good enough, and I am going to show up in my life as myself, not as an imitation of myself or what you think I should be. 

This constant need for approval leapt from my father to the man who has been bullying me, because no matter what I did, it wasn’t good enough.  If it was close, he’d change his mind.  Constantly making me work harder, try harder to anticipate and achieve what he wanted me to do, then constantly setting me up to fail.  And like an idiot, for months I kept trying to work it out, kept thinking it was a communication problem.  It wasn’t a communication problem, he is insecure so uses his position to enhance his power.  I am insecure, so let him.  Then came the line in the sand.  Where my body and my mind said ‘Enough’. 

It is just a shame I had to fall apart to be rebuilt for me to learn this.  People out there, learn from me, learn that what you are struggling with needs to be addressed and tackled, not thought over and over until you collapse.  Learn that when you stop, be still and quiet your mind, answers will come.  Learn to listen to your gut and your body, they will guide you where you need to go.  If something doesn’t feel right, it isn’t right.  Don’t put up with it.  Be strong and stand up for yourself.  No-one else will.  If people get hurt along the way, remember, you teach people how to treat you.  If you make yourself a door-mat, people will wipe their feet on you.