Counseling

Through my job’s Employee Assistance Program I’m able to have 6 free sessions with a counselor. I just had my 3rd session this morning. I actually took it upon myself in late June to inquire about setting up an appointment and around that time when getting coffee with a trusted colleague (and having a complete breakdown) he also suggested I meet with her. I’m glad I have. 

I haven’t gone to much counseling the last 10 years or so. I saw 1 or 2 therapists in high school around the time my parents separated and my Dad moved out. I also saw a school counselor in high school when I was going through some friend drama and after a car accident I was in as a new driver.  

In college, I didn’t see anyone and really didn’t feel like I needed to. In grad school I had a faculty member who was a “confidant” of sorts and given her sociology background I would argue she was a pseudo-counselor. We mostly talked about me grappling with the fact that my Dad quietly came out of the closet as a gay man (have I ever shared that here before? I’m not sure – it’s still something I struggle to talk about since he died before I could fully embrace and understand) and how he was not out to my Mom and many other people back in NY (at this time he was living in Florida). 

6 months after grad school my Dad unexpectedly died of complications of gastric bypass surgery. I had just started a new job in Texas only 2.5 hours from my Dad who was also now in Texas. So I went back to counseling for about 6 months before I moved to Alabama, that was 2008.

I’ve had loving and wonderful friendships and found community here, but since 2008 I haven’t sought professional help. This summer was a wake up call for self-care and not letting negative patterns repeat themselves. So my plan is to meet monthly with the work counselor for the remainder of the year and then I’ll likely find a counselor to see outside of this short-term work benefit. I am also planning to continue my ACA (Adult Children of Alcoholics) meetings every other week. These meetings conflict with my FAVORITE Body Pump class and going to this class will also bring me joy, so the plan is to rotate between the two every week.

My lesson from today’s counseling session is: I’m ENOUGH

WIW

Home Scale (naked first thing in the morning)

  • 2 weeks ago: 195.5
  • Today: 189.8
  • Change: -5.7

Weight Watchers Weigh In (dressed at noon)

  • 2 weeks ago: 194.2
  • Last week: 196.8
  • This week: tomorrow

I’d say my actual weigh in somewhere in the low 190s. August was off the rails with vacation and more free food at work events than usual. I  think I partook more because I knew I was getting back on the WW wagon. Also my period always dramatically screws with my weight.

I am just excited to be back in track and the true test will be what my numbers look like 2, 3, 4 weeks from now. 

My Summer of Shit

What this doesn’t full capture are the 80+ hour work weeks, that really started in March and didn’t let up until this week. Some of it was expected, some of it was an anomaly, some of it was a series of unfortunate events. This also doesn’t capture all the tears – I don’t think I’ve cried this much in my whole collective life as I’ve cried these past few months. 

TL;DR version: This summer fucking sucked. I tried too hard once again to be a superstar. I did a hellava job, but at all cost. I think I finally learned that the end does not justify the means and that following the motto “whatever it takes” which has been drilled into me for years is bad advice. Also, home renovations suck to live through and pay for, now I just further feel like the things I own, own me – but at least unlike my job, I’m being owned by something pretty, useful, and designed by me!

Oh and we’ve made zero actual wedding plans and if one more person asks me I’m going to flip my shit because when could I have possibly found the time between the 80+ work weeks, crushing work stress, insomnia, home renovations, dog health scares, and working on my G-D own well-being.

Full scoop after the break

May: Mid-May is basically where I left you (and Weight Watchers tracking). During the second half of May I welcomed and on-boarded 1 new full-time staff member and 3 graduate interns (each on seperate days because, of course). Also, it was the final rush towards preparing for our 20 person student staff training and summer large scale programming. I secured a loan for home improvements and we started bathroom demo and remodeling with a contractor (I researched and met with many the 6 weeks prior to the project beginning). Attended wedding 1 of 3 of the summer. Oh and my car died like 2 miles from home in the rain, but it was revived for like $1500. 

June: Full sprint of summer student staff retreat and training for 2 weeks, along with making sure all my summer program ducks were in a row for our first of 6 sessions which kicked off 6/19. Some major personal life drama I don’t want to get into (yes even here, I can’t). I was in a Friday wedding which required 2 days off work, but it was lovely and then had another wedding the following Friday (yeesh these Friday weddings are killing me, I had to skip one this month and have another in October). Ran 4 our of 6 summer sessions, while dealing some a lot of team dynamics and a very immature student staff – probably the worst I’ve had in all my 16 years doing what I do. Bathroom remodel wrapped in early followed by kitchen demo and remodel (and allllllll the choices that come with it, project got delayed 2 weeks because I had a last minute change of heart for the backsplash which required ordering new materials, but it was ultimately worth it), however living without a kitchen and in a construction zone was hard. 

July: I was in BAD shape at this point, I was even down to the high 180s due to stress and lack of appetite. We skipped a 4th of July trip to NYC in order to have a brief staycation. Made an appointment with a counselor at work to help me begin to manage all the stress and emotions (I never put myself first). I ran my last 2 summer events. I went to my first Adult Children of Alcoholics meeting (and have continued to go weekly so far). I tried to get on top of the workload and somewhat ahead since I had my vacation planned. my dog Fred has some MAJOR health issues which cost me a lot of money, stress, and tears. He’s okay now, but he’s going to be 10 so it’s just managing meds, diet, behavior, etc. Left for a week at the Outer Banks, Duck specifically, on 7/30 and stayed the week. 

August: The beach was perfection. We had a cute house a 5-minute walk from the beach, I could still hear and smell the ocean from the porches/decks. The house I picked (way back in Feb) was pet-friendly and the plan was to bring Fred all along, thank goodness because I wouldn’t have been able to leave him given his health scare. I limited my screen times, never checked work email, did yoga a few times and week and tried to relax. Oh and I rang in my 34th birthday was I was there – with little to no fanfare, but I wasn’t in the mood this year. I gave myself an extra day off after the beach before returning to work. The kitchen got finished right before we left so we got to put everything away and start to settle into it. Jumped back into a lot of work stress, but the finish line was in sight. Last week was non-stop events and programs, but it all went well. I even got an email of recognition from my new university President’s private email account which I will treasure. My programs directly served almost 1,900 students and 1,400 parents/family members. My staff included 20 students, 3 head students, 3 grad interns, 1 assistant director and me. I was leading everyone and I’ve only been here just over a year, so it was the blind leading the blind at times which also was very stressful. 

In summary

I had to face some of my inner demons and scars – some of which I didn’t even know we there until recently. I need to make myself and my happiness a priority because no matter how hard I work at something outside of myself, I’m not going to be truly happy unless I do the internal work. There is always going to be to-do lists, there is always going to be pressure, there is always going to be unanswered emails, and trying to conquer it all to prove I’m  a “good little employee” is not going to make me feel any of the self-worth I’ve apparently been chasing my whole life (this was a recent a-ha moment too and one I share with other Adult Children of Alcoholics).

So I need to set work boundaries –  not work more than the 35 hours I’m getting paid for, I need to not check e-mail when I’m off the clock, I need to take my lunch hour. I need to go to fitness classes and write both here and in my paper journal. I need to dig into the parts of myself that I’ve pushed down for years and face some stuff head on in hopes to get past it. 

This summer almost broke me on many levels and I certainly feel broken, but to quote John Mayer “I’m in repair, I’m not together, but I’m getting there…”