Tuesday, July 26, 2011

What It Took ~ Two Weeks Earlier

Thursday afternoon the news arrived abruptly without notice, an organizational meeting in the auditorium for some sort of announcement. Not uncommon for a fast growth industrial contractor, but there was an odd air through out the room as we waited for the news of the day. Nutshell: there was a 20% reduction in work force at this location and the people that are missing in this meeting were being escorted from the premises while we convened in the company auditorium.  I scanned the room quickly to see if co-workers that I worked closely with were in the room. There's Shirley, Jim and Wayne. Where's Cathie? My breath shortened as the realization hit me that she wasn't in the crowd gathered here. Oh, shit. I felt really bad for her. I recall thinking "and she just bought that new house." Somehow trading places with Cathie was what I thought I deserved. I certainly didn't feel like I should have made the cut. And the carefully worded speech about how to deal with the layoffs was predefined to include an uplifting phrase "you are the survivors". That just seemed extreme in its description to me, a very strange way to spin the loss of so many that needed jobs. The numbness set in.

The following day at work carried a sullen demeanor. Everyone that remained got a little guidance about how to deal with loss of the previous day. Little idioms that were supposed to uplift our spirits were passed via e-mail.

"We are the survivors" were words Sharon spoke that echoed in my ear as I placed the receiver back in the cradle, totally unaware of the subsequent regressive transition from business professional to victim one bright, fall afternoon. Thinking, "you have no idea what survivor means" briefly flashed in my brain.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Opening the Box ~ The Carnival Ride

Who knew I'd be 12 steppin' before the end of this carnival ride. He asked why I hadn't been to any meetings and I'm thinking, well, I seem to be attending a lot of group sessions... and they certainly didn't seem to be meetings as was his reference. Drawing sessions, group discussions and team building exercises splattered without pattern each week with daily regimes tied to tight schedules. Can you say being herded like cattle from place to place hourly from 6:30 am to 7:30 pm? I got aggravated with no real down time through the days during my stay. And if you didn't respond promptly, well, let's just say, I did what I always did, exactly what I thought everyone else wanted. Go to a session, talk about issues. Draw a picture, recall some epiphany. Take a Rorschach test, discover you lean toward the mystical, dreamy side of life. Not a surprise! But sitting on the little white bus being carted around to meetings and back, well, color me surprised. Jim made sure I made every possible 12 step meeting I could go to by the time I departed the hospital. He said, "I'll get your smile back for you" was all I could remember for a long time.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Opening The Box ~ First Glance Inside

From cardboard to file cabinet to plastic boxes, they moved with me: letters that recorded history, some unopened, many unread. Sitting down on the carpet and lifting the lid, feeling the heaviness of those years being too much to bear, I tossed the box lid to floor. It was done – I had opened the box of pain in pursuit of closure.

This is the journey.

I met Jim the first time while I was spending some quality time in a psychiatric hospital some years back. He was a yellow pages kind of attorney. Pure happenstance. Having not been in any trouble before; I figured “what could it hurt?” meeting with him here before I had to face the outside world again. His burly appearance only added to overwhelming height which intimidated me into silence. Speak only when spoken to seem to be the safest route at this point, so I waited for him to speak.