here we go again

Panic attacks.

I’ve begun the slide back into yet another round of depression and anxiety, likely triggered by the continuing stress at my current place of employment. Rumours of 50% staff layoffs abound. Management assures us that layoffs aren’t on the table. They also assure us that we aren’t going to be sold again.

What they don’t say is that if they were going to sell us, they would be able to say so. It’s so obvious that they are trying to sugar-coat the entire situation.

I can see where this is going, not so much for the company but for me. The roller coaster ride that is my emotional life continues. And I am resistant. I don’t want to go for this ride yet again. I don’t want to spend tomorrow and the next day feeling this aching hole in my chest, this inability to breathe, this ongoing panic and anxiety. This is just not worth it and I don’t want to go down this road, yet again.

I don’t want my brain to be broken. But it is. And now I don’t know how to proceed.

It occurs to me that I cannot wait for a full-blown meltdown to occur. I have a four-year-old child in the house, that is simply not an option. I don’t want to just up and quit my job, but no job is worth going through this.

I wish I knew how to proceed. I just want to make these feelings stop.

What feelings? Just let it go, zen girl, you may say. Yeah, that’s good. And when your leg is broken and I tell you to just let it go, whatcha gonna do? This is a disorder of the brain that expresses itself through thought and emotion, but the underlying brokenness is indeed a physical/chemical disconnect in my grey matter. I can’t stop thinking these thoughts no matter how much I want to. I’ll try to express what it’s like:

broken heart pain open gaping wound chest blown open too much too much get a knife cut it out peel away the flesh and expose the source pull it out make it stop make it stop make it stop not again oh god not again can’t breathe can’t breathe please god not again it feels like someone’s squeezing my heart please please please make it stop

Welcome to my world. I can’t stop crying.

Clarity, or the lack thereof

The mayhem of the last few weeks has really thrown me for a loop. It’s so easy to forget who I am, really who I am, deep inside when the winds of change start kicking up a storm. Old habits reassert themselves and I tend to do things to try and relieve my stress that aren’t really helpful at all.

What helps? Sitting still. No, really. Just plunking down and breathing allows me to see where I have bought into the tale of woe that is spinning out of control in my brain. It’s not a quick or instant fix and much of the time I start spinning again as soon as I stand up, but even brief glimpses of another way of being serves as a beacon or a guidepost.

I may have been angry, upset, out of control but I don’t have to stay that way. And beating myself up for the stumbles doesn’t help either.

I keep getting a mental picture of something my Zen teacher once spoke about: feeling like one of those people at the carnival whose act consists of spinning a bunch of plates on top of a bunch of poles. When it’s only a couple, it’s easy to keep them going. But what happens when there are a lot of them and they start falling and breaking? This isn’t a carnival act, it’s my life, and I can’t stop right now to berate myself for breaking one or two of them. I have to concentrate on the really important ones: my family, my spirit. It’s like realizing that all of the plates I’m spinning are not equal—there are a couple that are irreplaceable. Those are the ones I need to focus on. Getting distracted by the ones that fall (I lost my temper or work is a major source of stress) isn’t productive.

I guess it’s the same thing as saying “Don’t get caught up in the story you tell yourself.” So simple really. And so not easy.

How does one practice “never falter” when one’s existence feels like nothing more than a series of stumbles? Spin, spin, juggle, juggle, sit. Lather, rinse, repeat.

That, and plug in my iPod at work and listen to some wonderful tunes that make me feel good inside. :^)

The latest rumour going round is that the next round of layoffs at $work will occur next week. Next week, I am travelling, with Bryan and Brianna, to New York to do sesshin. No calls, no email, no outside distractions. I don’t know if I’ll have a job when I get back. But I can’t wait to go. I want to sit, to let go, to just be and I so want to do it in the context of my family. Never before have I been able to bring together the two most important elements of my life. Words cannot express how fundamentally important this is to me, this coming together of my two worlds. I am so profoundly grateful for the opportunity to practice my life in this way.

Perspective yields clarity. Zazen yields perspective, clarity, and so much more. Nine bows to the universe and this glorious spring day.

The Times They Are A-Changing

It’s been a while since I’ve posted and lots has been going on.

First of all, I can report that our trial separation has accomplished what it was supposed to: it gave both Bryan and I time to gain some perspective on our relationship and see where we were each responsible for creating the situation. Communication is critical, but if we are not clear on our own wants, needs, and responsibilities, we can communicate until the cows come home and still not address the real problems.

I’m deeply grateful that we both got clear on a few critical things. It gives our relationship new hope. It’s a good thing.

Work, on the other hand, is giving me fits. In the latest round of alignment with our new American overlords, “title mapping” was addressed. In short, because I am neither an engineer or a senior-level employee, I am no longer eligible for either bonus or stock options. Note that I was previously eligible for both and that my compensation reduction is purely policy driven. It’s yet another example of the cult of the engineer and I am fucking pissed off about it. I don’t know what to do. I am aware that there will always be something that bugs me about my job—I’ve been alive too long not to notice that one. But getting my compensation cut simply because my title does not map properly has seriously demotivated me. Why should I give a shit about them when, quite obviously, the corporation really doesn’t give a shit about me? In a way, it’s a very good reminder that I do work for a corporation and corporations don’t give a shit about anyone. They are not entities capable of caring. Humans care, and my immediate manager has been very supportive, but neither one of us are going to change the corporate mindset.

So, just as the corporation I work for has to keep its bottom line in mind when it makes decisions, so do I. Is my current position the best option currently available to me, for the good of my own career and my family? Just as the corporation has a fiduciary duty to its shareholders, so do I have a fiduciary duty to my family. Apparently, it took this slap in the face to remind me of this fact.

I guess, in a way, I can be grateful for that. Deluding myself that my company really cares about me is not good for me or my family. And they are my number one priority.