"I'm standing at the edge of another precipice of life..."
A line from Paula Cole's song Pearl. By chance it came up on my iPod the other day. By chance I desperately needed to hear it.
"I will look for strength within
I will be a better woman
Hang in there baby, I'm the grain of sand
Becoming a pearl."
You see what I thought was stress management - well it clearly wasn't. How do I know? Well the indicator came straight to me through the form of shingles. Yes, shingles. The illness that 'old people' get. The one that I swore would never happen a) because I already had chicken pox and b) well, I'm handling life in the best possible way.
Wrong. And very Wrong.
When I stop to think about it, I can see the flaws in my belief system. Thinking that running was handling that work at stress and that I had my work load properly prioritized to avoid extraneous stress. Ha. Such a fool. And that's truly how I feel. Foolish.
Of course I felt all the myriad of other emotions too. Anger, guilt, resentment, frustration, confusion as to how this happened, etc. etc. etc. I allowed myself one day of feeling sorry for myself. The day that the doctor diagnosed me. That was it.
I am extremely lucky. It was a small breakout and I've responded very well to the medication. But. But there are two risk factors that frankly scared the shit out of me. 1) My chance for recurrence is markedly higher now. 2) There is a remote (albeit extremely remote) that I would have pain for the rest of my life. Again the latter seems unlikely in that my outbreak is minimal. But still. I can't ignore that - what if #1 happens, would #2 be more likely then?
The doctor and I discussed at length the chance of recurrence. Silly me thought it was like chicken pox - one and done. Au contraire. I am at risk for multiple outbreaks over the course of my life now. She explained that if I am trending toward that then I would be a candidate for the vaccine. I told her "well I guess my goal is to not have to call you up asking for that vaccine." She said, "that sounds like a perfectly good goal to me."
And thus now I'm here - at a precipice. My life has to change. Drastically. Immediately. Permanently. I attribute this outbreak to about 97.5% being work-related. As strange as it sounds, I don't want to quit Starbucks. I truly believe it is where I am meant to be - at least for the foreseeable future. But what I do for them, now that is what needs to change. I need to eliminate a very difficult portion of my workload. Difficult in that it continuously and constantly creates unnecessary work, extreme frustration and an overall sense of failure.
I am actively working on a plan with my manager. He and I will collaborate to address this particular area and move ahead into a healthier and more productive work environment. I do admit I have not exactly been the best at communicating needs or asking for help (gasp!) - not one of my strong points. Dammit, I can do it myself (ah yes, a familiar and favorite line of Ms. Heather Lee Cleary.)
Perhaps you are asking (or have been all along) just why would she publish something so personal and sort of embarrassing? I learned some time ago that it is best to share uncomfortable situations either to give someone else solace or possibly to prevent someone else from going down that same road.
I consider this a warning sign. It could have been far worse, right? I would normally say that it is a chance for me to right the course, but think about it. That course sent me into the doctor's office. This necessitates a change of direction. Perhaps not quite a 180 degree change, but a change nonetheless. I admit that from time to time I still shake my head and wonder how this could have happened. The 'how' doesn't matter - at all. It is the 'what' that is critical. What am I going to do? What am I going to change? What will no longer be part of my life? What will now be a part of my life?
Stay tuned... and for goodness sake, please make sure you evaluate your own method of stress management. I'm not and never will be the poster child for proper stress management. But I can be that beacon for you to change your direction as well.
I started with a Paula Cole song quote. I think it appropriate to end with one too.
"I am walking on the bridge
I am over the water and I'm scared as hell.
But I know there's something better.
Yes, I know there's something better.
Yes I know. Yes I know. Yes I know."