Saturday, December 22, 2012

Crossed Wires

I'm not exactly a stranger to my emotional reaction being completely inappropriate or not what one would expect, but it often still surprises me. I'm getting a better handle on it, but nothing exemplifies it like the last couple of days.

I guess I should go back and first talk about what my DBT educational group is working on right now is Wise Mind (a place that is not ruled by your emotional mind or your reasonable mind, but uses both sides) and the how and what skills. The How Skills are Observe, Describe, and Participate and the What Skills are One-Mindfully, Non-judgmentally, and Effectively. Last week, our homework for group was to observe what frame of mind you were in. This week, it's to observe and describe how you are feeling and to participate as fully as possible in your daily life. Though this can be a problem for anyone, BPD people, who have a particularly difficult time with emotional regulation, often just get taken on a ride by our emotions without ever observing exactly what those emotions are or what spurred it. Sometimes you are feeling what is actually a secondary emotion, without ever realizing the primary emotion behind it or the instigating incident. (For example: you might be feeling and expressing extreme anger but it might actually be propelled by a deep fear.) I'll come back to how this is applicable in a minute.

So you all know that I love my job, right? I have complaints, like everyone does, but I really do find it rewarding and I feel like I'm good at it. I have some evidence to back that up as well. But sometimes I still dread going to work. I have a main client and then one that I help out with. With the other client, at least half of my shifts are 5pm to 8pm, most often on Sundays. Usually I putter around the house all day and I feel generally Sunday-y. By the time 3pm rolls around and I have to start getting ready, I am filled with dread about the coming shift, sure that something will go wrong, wanting more than anything to go back to bed. Until recently, I often had the same feelings about hanging out with friends most of the time, which is why most of my friends have been cancelled on multiple times. But with work, as with hanging out with my friends, it was never as bad as I had made it out to be in my head. If I just did it, I usually had a good time. While I think that working evening shifts when I've been up all day and just want to relax makes it more difficult to get going, I have no idea where all that dread comes from. Maybe I need to start observing it more or better, so that I can describe it more fully.

So back in November, I agreed to fill in for that client's regular caregiver over the holiday, starting today (Saturday) til Wednesday morning. It is split shifts, 8am-11am and then 5pm-8pm. My parents can't leave town because my step-dad is on call at his job, so it wasn't like we were going out of town. They agreed to work our festivities around when I was working. Then, Friday the regular caregiver called me around 2pm, just as I was going to settle in at home to do nothing for the rest of the day, and asked if I'd work his evening shift. He sounded really upset about something that he was going through and I wasn't really doing anything, so I agreed. As soon as I hung up, I regretted it. I just wanted to lay down and veg out. Then I just wanted to cry. But I sucked it up, listened to some funny Christmas songs on the way there, and it was fine. Not just "fine, I made it through the shift" but I actually enjoyed it.

One of the only things I can cook well is lasagna. Originally this client and his wife were going to have Christmas together, not with the rest of their larger family, who they spent Thanksgiving with. I decided I'd make them a lasagna on my own time, as a little Christmas gift, so they'd have food and leftovers. Of course, their plans changed and they'll be having their traditional family Christmas dinner. Of course, I'd already promised them a lasagna. We decided that they'd have it tonight. Their son and his wife came in town today and had dinner with them, my lasagna. Despite my worries that they might not think I'm doing a good job or that they wouldn't like my lasagna, everything went well. Actually, it went great. They are so nice and they really seemed to appreciate what I was doing, thought I was doing a good job at it. Even better, they really liked my lasagna.

Because dinner lasted longer than usual, I was there an hour later than normal, getting him into bed. His daughter-in-law hugged me before I left, thanking me so much. I got in my car smiling. Then, thinking about how thankful they seemed and about how good of a job I'd obviously done, I felt the tears welling up in my eyes.

What the fuck is going on? Why am I crying? I'm happy. Not just I should be happy, but I actually am happy. I not only do I have a job that I'm good at, but I have one that matters, that adds a great deal to these people's lives, lets my clients live with as much dignity and comfort as possible. And it's not just that I feel like I am doing a good job, but they think I'm doing a good job. I am happy. Why the fuck am I crying?!?

These are happy tears.

I know that I'm supposed to be observing and describing, but this all feels so weird and not like it is what is supposed to be happening at all that I am just throwing up my hands at the moment. Plus, if I'm actually sad about something, I don't actually want to participate in that sadness at all right now. I just want to try to enjoy my holiday. Fuck sadness, fuck crying. I'm going to be happy this year. Or at least tonight. 

No comments: