It Was A Bad Day (But I’m Grateful)


Today was a bad day. It still is – I can see all the hallmarks of spiralling downwards. I can’t find the pen in my bag and I get immediately, deeply frustrated, so I tip the bag upside down, scattering the contents everywhere. I couldn’t find the words to say goodbye to my colleagues, and I accomplished nothing all day, because I was simultaneously floating outside myself and feeling panicked, and wanting the pain of a cigarette lighter to ground me. I feel completely exhausted and tearful, but I know I’ve had more than enough sleep. I’m just overwhelmed.

R is going to see Jen tomorrow. I was in the office with his assistant while she made the appointment. They’ll talk about me – they always talk about me. Either outcome of their session is going to be bad – if she hears again that I’m struggling and still doesn’t reach out, or if she does contact me and all those messy painful emotions get triggered again. But imagining their conversation is the worst.

“Yeah, apparently she expected me to call her after Anna quit, and she got pretty upset and told me I wasn’t being supportive enough, so I just went ‘okay, I need to take a step back from this’.”

“I’m so sorry you’ve had to deal with that, Jen – she’s being really unreasonable.  That’s unfair after everything you’ve done for her. She’s just pushing everyone away at the moment. If she doesn’t want help there’s nothing we can do about it.”

I hate being in limbo. I hate that I won’t know what he’s told her, and I hate that I’ll be back to waiting and wondering about an email that’ll probably never come.

Kind of the way I was waiting today. I was so desperate to hear about the new psychiatrist, just so I know. Can she see me? Do I have to go back to searching, again? But, nothing.

And then I found out that one of the managers at work, one of my two “Jewish mamas”, is leaving in June, on bad terms with R. Obviously this time it has nothing to do with me, but still. Everybody is leaving. She’s been such an important maternal presence in my life. When I had surgery last year, she was one of only 3 people who knew. After I was discharged, she helped me dress, drove me two hours to my first follow-up appointment, came in to sit with me while the dressings were changed, never once flinching at the wounds, then took me home and put me to bed. I can always go to her with anything, and she’s never afraid to talk to me. She hugs me, close, holds my face in her hands while she kisses my forehead, touches my arm and rubs my back. She tells me I’m funny as hell, smart, gorgeous, and she cares about me. And she’s going.

But all of this is still in my head. I say the words – she’s going – and my brain knows this is a bad thing, that it hurts, but I don’t feel it hurting. I feel empty, and flat.

At lunch, I went to the park with Everest. Normally a friend or two would come along, but today I was by myself. Everest was scared, and I was sitting cross-legged holding her, trying to comfort her, when a little Russian boy came and sat down, cross-legged, in front of me. And we talked.

He was very mature and self-possessed, with an amazing ability to hold a conversation and ask appropriate questions, but he had that beautiful innocence, too, with a touch of little-boy bashfulness. I felt very connected and grounded, sitting on the grass in the sunshine, looking into the eyes of this little stranger and talking about pets and loss, love and family. He called his babushka over to us, and we moved into a little semi-circle. She took Everest onto her lap and tucked her completely underneath her shirt, against her skin, and Everest calmed.

You must have the magic touch,” I told her.

I have it, the magic. Children and dogs. They never cry when they are in my arms.”

He made me a bracelet out of small yellow rubber bands and slipped it on my wrist, then decided we should put it on my key chain. He told me solemnly that I could never take it off, and equally solemnly, I promised him that I wouldn’t. He was so disappointed when I eventually told him I had to leave, half an hour after my lunch break was finished. He reached out as if to shake my hand, but when I took it, he just held it.

You are very pretty,” he told me.

I’m grateful to them both. The rest of my day was bad, but my time with them was simple, and good.

It Was A Bad Day (But I’m Grateful)

12 thoughts on “It Was A Bad Day (But I’m Grateful)

  1. Children can be so grounding, can’t that? I think most children– the ones untouched by trauma— live so much in the moment, in the present, and are so connected to their bodies and their feelings it is very grounding to be around them. I’m glad you had this experience, I think you needed a moment of rest.

    I’m sorry that your Jewish mama is leaving work. It is so hard when it feels like everyone is leaving. Bea would tell me to reframe it, to name the people who are still here, but when I am in that everyone is leaving mindset, it’s impossible to do. I’m so sorry this is where you are right now. I hope it passes. Maybe you can find a way to stay connected with her? Preplan some lunch dates, or if she is moving far away, you child become snail mail pals and send each other fun mail?

    I know that feeling of immediate frustration all too well. You described it so well, how not being able to find a pen means you are frustrated and dumping out your whole bag. I spilled some smoothie cubess I was making (I mix up fruit and yogurt in the blender and freeze in ice cube trays to make smoothies for Kat) and right away I was screaming and stomping my foot. And then I was finding a way to make it not my fault. Ugh. I’m telling you this so you know you aren’t alone. That feeling sucks.

    I know the feeling of wanting to hurt yourself, too, to be more grounded, or somehow more numb but less floaty and panicked. It’s hard to fight it. I know you have had a lot of therapies and done a lot of work on this, but I wanted to suggest the CARES protocol. Bea swears by it. I think it might be on one of my coping skills pages, but if it’s not, I’d be happy to send it to you. I’m stubborn, so I usually won’t use it, but I think I’m going to start trying. It makes sense to me, from a scientific standpoint.,

    I think this comment has gotten long enough! Sorry! I hope this bad feeling passes, and that you are being gentle with yourself and using all the self care and self soothing you can. And I hope the shrink calls back soon, so you know and don’t have to keep waiting. That’s hard. Sending you hugs and lots of support. Xx💟

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I think you’re right – there was something very authentic about the way he expressed his thoughts and feelings that made me more grounded in myself, and more genuine instead of throwing up my usual facade.

      I’m not able to reframe it in a positive way at the moment – of the 5 mother figures I had, 4 have left or are leaving. Rationally, I know you’re right and that leaving the office doesn’t mean she has to leave me completely – I won’t see her every day any more but we could still have coffee dates, send emails etc. I’m stuck in the shame space of ‘why would she even want to keep in touch with me, I’m just a younger fucked-up colleague she took pity on, I can’t add any value to her life’ and feeling scared and petulant about not wanting to ruin everything if it’s not the same anymore so it’s better not to even try.

      The shrink is another no-go, so I would love it if you could send me the CARES protocol. Looks like I may be in charge of my own therapy for a while! I couldn’t find it on your page. I have tried lots of things, but the more tools in my toolkit the better.

      By the way, no comment is ever too long! I felt so much better just from knowing that you took the time to write out your thoughts and ideas and suggestions – thanks Alice.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. CARES protocol: “Before I Self Harm”(courtesy Lisa Ferentz, LCSW-C, DAPA) CARES Box – decorate & fill a box with items used in CARES protocol
        1. Set Timer 10-15 min for each
        2. Communicate Alternatively.
        Journal, draw, collage, poetry, tape recorder
        3. Release Endorphins
        Physical activity, hugging, laughter
        4. Self-Soothe
        Warm bath, singing, meditation, music, butterfly
        hug, tapping, self-talk

        You aren’t fucked up. You were in fucked up situations and had fucked up things happen to you, and you are dealing with it. But you aren’t fucked up. Bea once told me that I am as normal for what has happened to me. The same is true for you.

        It’s okay that you can’t reframe it. I usually can’t reframe things for myself, and when people try to make me, I feel unseen, like my feelings don’t matter. I want you to know I do hear you, and I so know what it feels like to think “why would someone want to keep me in their life?” It’s so hard to believe we add any value to anyone else’s life. I believe you do add value. You have a very kind and caring heart. The comments you leave for me, and for others, aren’t just fill in the blank form comments, they are from your heart. You mean them.

        I hope the CARES helps. The idea is that self harm, or ED behaviors, (or any addiction) does 3 things for us– it is a way to communicate, it releases endorphins– so it feels good to do– and it is a way to self soothe (to cope). That is why replacing the behavior with journaling or a walk, or talking doesn’t typically work. It doesn’t cover all the bases. CARES does. Scientifically, it makes sense. I read her book– the one for therapists– and she explains more in depth. But that is the gist of it.

        I hope you are being gentle with yourself. I’m sorry the shrink was a no go. I hope you keep looking. Don’t give up. You deserve help. Xx

        Liked by 1 person

      2. This does make a lot of sense. I actually have a box with things for my DBT skills, but I like the structure of this (having a timer) and I like that it combines the three different types of skills. When I was distressed last night I thought of this and made an attempt at it – blogging, vigorous cleaning and a puzzle. Thank you for hearing me.


      3. I’m glad it made sense and that the idea of using all 3 types of skills seems helpful to you. I’m glad you were able to use coping skills last night when you were distressed. I hope today you are feeling more grounded. Xx


  2. I really understand and relate to a lot of what you wrote. I’m sorry you’re going through this, I can feel how overwhelmed you are and how terrible and out of control and endless being in limbo feels. And I’m sorry that the woman at work is leaving, that is so painful.

    The little boy sounds very sweet. I’m glad you had a brief respite from the pain and that you had that time with him. I like that he gave you a bracelet – sometimes it’s hard for me to remember that people exist or something happened unless I have something tangible.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I love having the bracelet too – I’m a real collection of mementos of happy moments. It’s helpful to have tangible reminders because otherwise (and sometimes still) I doubt whether anything good has ever happened. At the moment it just feels like everything is going wrong, but I know that’s because my mind is focusing on the negative and because I’m already in a bad space, the bad things seem worse.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh I really like how you phrased that. Yes, exactly – I really like tangible reminders because they help remind me that something good has ever happened, because when I’m suffering, there is no other mood, ever, in the whole world forever, and nothing good has ever happened or will happen again.


  3. I’m also sorry she is leaving, that is really painful. And I am impressed that you were able to take in the gratitude, while feeling so upset. I like that he told you you are pretty, because I imagine you are, and I imagine you have a hard time hearing that or believing it. But children are so honest and innocent in their proclamations, so I hope his sentiment made its way into your heart a little bit.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Can’t get anything past you! Yeah, that is a hard thing to take in, and usually something I deflect and feel intensely uncomfortable with if it comes from an adult. I almost left it out of the retelling because it felt like I was being misleading about my supposed attractiveness. But it did find its way into my heart, and somehow it means more coming from a little boy who just sees me, instead of an adult who sees me as I compare to a fashion magazine.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I’m sorry about the bad day. It is hard when we lose people. Glad you were able to be present and take all those things in, that you were open to having that experience at the park says a lot.

    Liked by 1 person

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