Thursday, May 30, 2013

The Fleas of a Thousand Camels

I was bullied at school.

Thankfully it wasn't the merciless type of bullying that you hear about in the tabloids and on the current affairs shows - and thank goodness that  in my day there wasn't facebook, email, mobile phones and social media. But being the overweight, strange kid in the home made skirts and the sensible shoes at thirteen, comments were made and teasing was to be had. Thankfully most of this stopped when I got to about Year Ten and studies took over from just having to be at school and coping with year nine morons who are now probably in prison or on the dole.

Looking back, I'm sure that this teasing didn't help with my low self-esteem, but I also see that at the time I just walked away, didn't react and after a while they left me alone. The strategy worked. It also made me a more resilient person.

I've also known one or two small periods where I've been bullied at work. There was one particularly heinous attack where my work pass photo was placed on some hard core pornography and distributed around the company. This was London in the nineties. It would be seen as criminal today, but the perpetrators got of with a mark on their personnel files. No apology to me, just don't do it again. Not right, but it stopped.

The other bullying incident happened soon after at the same company, One particularly fractious person was taken apart by Human Resources and was under strict instruction not to approach me after tearing strips off me in front of the whole office. An isolated incident and not ongoing. The person involved was up in front of HR annually for their attitude - as somebody who had a key role they were too important to fire - people just gave them a wide berth.

Both of these times were incredibly distressing, but were handled quickly - as there is no way I was going to let people treat me like this and get away with it. There was back up. It ended and I moved on.

The other thing about working environments, like school, is that you're not going to get on with everybody all the time. Working like I do, you work out who you need to keep clear of, who you have to treat with kid gloves and who you may need back up with. It's the job of the contractor to learn this quickly and get on with things.

This has been a very challenging contract on many levels. I wouldn't say that I'm that content at work at the moment - although the team I work with are great and I won't say a bad word against them.

Then you have days like today.

It got off to a bad start. An email from my old boss to tell me of the death of a much loved colleague at Sparks and Ladders. I gasped with shock in receiving the news - although admittedly the old guy, due for retirement in the next year or so, was a bit of a ticking time bomb.

From there, things went downhill with back to back meetings - a common feature of my Thursdays at this job.

The after lunch, I was called in to an office by my manager to answer some questions. Some back-stabbing rubbish which was sent to the upper echelons taken on the back of an earlier coffee meeting which went through the cycle of Chinese Whispers.

Like I'm 44-years-old, a professional player, trying to bring together a piece of work in a discordant, highly pressurised environment. And you're exposed to this passive-aggressive crap.

This was the second inflammatory happening for the week. The first, two days ago where I got an undeserved grilling which left me angry, but alright. The person involved is on my wide berth list, my manager had my back and the whole thing was diffused with a meeting and some reassurance.

What happened today was tantamount to bullying. Horrible, back stabbing, uncalled for shite.

Again, my manager and I diffused the situation, but not after some tears and more anger. Like we're supposed to be adults in a professional environment - having this sort of stuff occur twice in a week isn't reasonable and it isn't on.

And it's like you're back at high school with the cool kids whispering behind your back.

I'm considering my options at the moment. I know what I have to do - but I want to calm down first.

This contract was always going to be a hard one after loving my time at Sparks and Ladders. Also having a chat to the girl I work closely with, she's said that the area is known for it's discord and "colourful personalities".

But to be honest, it's not on. It's not on at all. You spend too much time at work to be unhappy there.

And to the passive aggressive, gutless, arse wipes who can't ask a direct question or talk to my face.

May a malevolent surgeon stitch up your arseholes, may all of Santa's reindeer get diarrhoea on your roof and may the fleas of a thousand camels nestle seductively in your fragrant armpits and pubes.

That feels a bit better.

I'm going to the gym to hit something now. The CV can wait for the weekend.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

The Expression of Need

The influence of the meditation last week continues to blight my existence as long veiled truths keep coming to bite me in the bum.

Thankfully, the emotions have died down over Lachlan. Look at it, feel it, move on. It's just emotion, it's not going to kill me. Breathe and work through it.

It worked - and by the next day, things were back on track.

Yet the unveilings keep happening - each with very different perceptions. And very different pains.

It's made it interesting.

Compounding everything is my current work situation. Great team but a rather stressful role - with moving goalposts and plates to spin to keep in the air. I get in just before nine most mornings and leave around 5.30 pm, exhausted. I don't get out for lunch much, normally having to go to meetings around that time. It's a short term gig at the moment. I'm fine with this, but I've made a stand - Friday is the day I go out for lunch.

Meeting friends for lunch is important to me - it's how I maintain friendships, catch up on gossip and unwind during the day. At my last job I was known as Lady Lunchalot. In this job, not so much.

So Friday I met up with my old podmate, Pip. Pip and I have lunch at the same place once a month. He tells me about how the old company is going, how he takes his daughters to ballet on Saturday and how he wants to go sailing more. I tell him about my jobs, the cats I'm sitting and what I'm up to with running. Pip's great. We both like that we get each other out of the office  - even if it is once a month.

Friday's lunch was no different other than I kept running into people on the way to, during lunch and on the way back from the office. I ran into:

At our lunch spot, an old colleague who I chat with regularly
A girl who used to go to dream group
My favorite subject message expert from Sparks and Ladders
Another favorite developer from a few jobs back who reminds me of a Canadian Mountie
An old boss who I was surprised said hello
Another old boss who seemed just as frazzled as I was

This was all in the space of an hour. What is the universe telling me? That I should get out more?

The other eye opening time came when I sat and talked to a client this evening. Tarot can do this to you - open your eyes to things - normally when you'd rather stay blissfully unaware of things.

We talked about all sorts of things. My weekend in the Gold Coast with the girls came up.

"Weren't you scared? You, around eight other women - sounds like your hell" she asked.
"Yep, but it was a nurturing weekend. We talked and talked - I'm not used to talking like that."
"Were you surprised by anything?"
"Yes. What is it about us not being able to express need?" I asked her.
"How do you mean?"
"We don't know how to express what we need. We can talk about what we want, and what we dream about, but not what we really need."
"How so?"

I told her of the time I spent with one of the girls in the house. We talked a lot about her mother's passing - bonding in a way that you can only bond with somebody who knows what it feels like to lose a parent. There was a lot to talk about - not for me, but for my friend, who was still working out what loss is all about. I listened. And asked a lot of open questions, hoping that she would talk. Which she did. By the end of the weekend the light was beginning to creep back into her eyes.

"Didn't you find that exhausting?"
"No." I replied.
"Do you rescue everybody? You're sitting here rescuing me." said my client.
"I'm working with you." I told her. "This is a privilege."
"And as for your friend up at the Gold Coast?"
"Also a privilege. But there was something far more. I was just being the friend to her that I wish I had around when I was going through the same thing."

I kept my tears for after my client left.

Just as my friend is finding - expressing the need for comfort and support is sometimes impossible.

We can express the need for food or shelter easily enough - yet when it comes to say that you need comfort or support, we clam up. And in my case - I used to eat the emotions. Some people take drugs or drink. Others find other outlets.

But why is it so hard to express this basic human need?

I've been pondering this ever since. Why is it when it comes to asking for support and comfort I clam up? Why is it I loathe asking for help? I remember going in for surgery a few years ago and hating having to ask for help. My friends were marvelous, but there was something in me that felt defective, not having somebody around the house to look after me. I look after others and I look after myself. I don't need looking after.

Which was what I was discussing with my friend at the Gold Coast. We know how to provide support.

We're not instructed how to ask for it.

My aunt put something rather profound on her facebook page today. My aunt is going through a bit of a time at the moment as well.

“Fear distorts our perception of ourselves so that we seem weaker than we really are. It distorts the size of our problems so that they seem huge and undefeatable."

She forgot to mention that when we feel weak and problem ridden we don't want to burden others with the journey. It doesn't matter how distorted the fear or the problems may be. Is it the fear of being rejected or the fear of seeming weak?

I've got some more pondering to do. I've never thought about this.

I don't know how to express a basic human need. If I want comfort, I cuddle a cat.

Don't they say that identifying a problem is the first step in solving it.

Watch this space.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

The Day of the Devil

I've been doing Kabbalah Meditation for many years now.

 Ever second Saturday morning I toddle over to Caulfield, make my way to Viv's place, take my place on the sofa - the same place I've been sitting in this circle since I started in 2005 or thereabouts and I let myself get taken away to all sorts of strange places as the group and I meditate in the cards of the Major Arcana of the tarot.

Over the years, I've learned that this type of meditation has it's perils. We're warned before we go under  (start meditating) that this can change the way you look at the world - and I've had some amazing epiphanies from doing this work. But after six years, I thought that there wasn't much left to surprise me.

I was wrong.

Yesterday morning I turned up to meditation. On time for a change. A smaller group than normal - lots of people were away, ill or just too lazy to turn up.

But this is normal when we work the path of the Devil.

Okay, it looks like a scary card. It is a bit of a scary card - until you find out what's behind it. The Devil is about blessings. See his had with the "Naanoo naanoo" sign and the Saturn glyph on it - a hidden blessing. The Devil is about the people in the front of the card, the naked ones. This card is about them removing the chains that are so obviously removed with ease and seeing the blessings.

We were warned that veils would be lifted - and we would be seeing truths that we wouldn't want to see.

I took no heed of the warning. I've done this path before. I know what to expect.


We all left meditation a little bit on the munged side and made our way to the our cafe for a much needed coffee. After half an hour, the others at the table had gone of to their tarot class and I was left chatting to a new guy in the group, Fabien about the joys of ritual.

Normal Saturday morning after meditation topics.

We also talked about the clarity that these meditations bring to us. The processes that we go to find enlightenment. I said that it appeared to get easier, the longer you do the work - just like peeling back the layers of an onion, you find a newer shinier onion underneath.

I neglected to tell Fabien that with peeling onions, there comes tears.

I wasn't quite ready for the fallout from this path working. It's normally so much more subtle.

The first I knew anything was happening was when I looked at the date. And I started to cry. It made driving back home interesting.

I battled the emotions for the afternoon. The treadmill gave me no solace. The local coffee shop didn't help. I tried reading - nope, the angst stayed. The cat got a cuddle while I watched a few episodes of Grey's Anatomy. Still - I was out of sorts.

It all came back to the date. And where my soul wanted to be. Where every fibre of my being wanted to be at that moment. And who I wanted to be with. There was no denying that fine silver thread that appears to link people across oceans no matter how many times you've tried to cut the cord.

You see, Lachlan turned 50 yesterday.

And the veil lifted.

And I had to admit to myself that despite all the work I've done on myself, and all the tears that I've shed, and the 5 am phone calls that wake me up occasionally, and the fact that he's on the other side of the world, and... and... and... and...

It finally dawned on me that there is a very small part of me that still loves this idiot.

The realisation hit like a sledgehammer some hours later as I was driving down Chapel Street on the way to meet Emm and Kitt at a screening of 2001: A Space Odyssey (I couldn't not believe the movie is 45 years old - it was only dated by the key pads and the shorts worn by the actors)


The full force of the Devil hit. The bargains that you make with yourself to avoid the truth. The actions you take to pacify yourself. The tactics you find yourself undertaking just to avoid the truth.

I was looking for the large, black structure in the middle of nowhere to take me where I needed to be.

The memories came back in an instant as I searched for a parking spot. For heaven's sake - it's been far too long. It's never, ever going to happen. I know this.

Yet, there is a still a small part that still loves the douche bag.

Thankfully, unlike other Devil realisations, self-preservation kicked in. The phone was not touched. The thought of sending him an email was ignored. Nothing detrimental to my sane state was forfeited. I was not going to react to this in a way that would harm myself.

I could switch off the feelings, once identified and recognised. I didn't spend my time pining or wishing or hoping. I've not gone and put myself on internet dating websites like I did one other time I tried swallowing these feelings - much to my detriment.

Nope. I just have to learn to live with this.

And move on.

I did however buy him a card to send over. It will be a bit late. Never mind. I don't like that I still know his address and postcode without having to look it up. Just have to deal with it.

Still, he doesn't need to know what I'm feeling - no matter how often the occasional email comes saying lets meet up, or when are you coming back or you know we are supposed to be together.

This is the path of the Devil. It's about facing truths. My truths - however ugly.

The card is fine. I think he'll like it. Nothing mushy or frivolous. A card that I would give to any of my friends. A normal, safe, congratulatory note penned inside. Hope you had a lovely birthday, love Pand.

The veil is back in place.

Dammit. Dammit. Dammit.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

The Lost Weekend

Sartre once said the very true words, “Hell is other people.” Okay, he actually said, “L’enfer, c’est les autres”, but as much of my readership doesn’t speak French, I’ll use the translation.

Other people can be hell. Even more so when you are an introvert who tends to find having too many people akin to being stuck in a vat full of cat poo with a broken ladder with Andre Rieu playing over the tannoy.

Nothing scares a true introvert more than the thought of being around people for long periods of time without escape. Being a very defined introvert, who has lived alone for the best part of the last ten years, the thought of spending three days with eight other women was up there with contemplating root canal surgery without anaesthetic. However, because I'm now an adult I know that I can take time out when needed. It was going to be fine.

So somehow, six months ago, I was talked into taking a long weekend in Surfer's Paradise with a group of friends that I know from the internet. This may sound like a strange thing, a dangerous thing even, but of the nine of us who went along, I've known these women for around five years and I've met five in person (and see on a semi-regular basis in Melbourne), of the other three, others who I know have met them in person and we're in all regular contact. I knew I was going to be safe - end up sane, maybe not, but I had not problem in January committing to spending three days with them in a share rental house on the Gold Coast.

I refer to these women as my "Fat Club" girls.  This is a bit of a misnomer - as we're all freaking amazing, driven and inspiring women. Between the group of us we've lost something in the vicinity of 250 kilos between us.

We rock.

We truly rock.

But it didn't help the nerves I felt as I boarded the plane up to Queensland. Three days with eight other people - not something I normally do willingly - though I'd been assured that there would be plenty of space available to me - well, to everybody, if they needed it. See, I live alone. Sometimes a friend's cat comes and stays for a week or so - but that is the extent of my cohabiting for the last ten years. Spending longer periods of time with people is something that takes some psyching up.

The other thing that was rather irking me - what would I talk about with these women. Let me introduce you to the group - I've changed the names to protect the crew - some need protecting more than others - and I say this with love and affection (Squish, squish):

Tammy, from the NSW South Coast, works in a large hardware chain, loves her Staffy and V8s
Kitt, from Melbourne, is a landscape architect who's just bought a house with her partner
Kez, also from Melbourne, works in a youth care facility and is a mum of three
Tina, now living in Queensland, has lived all over the world and works in health and safety
Leah, a native Canberran, also a mother of three, works in IT at an Australian Landmark
Rae, who lives in Brisbane, is an oncology nurse who races triathlons most weekends
Suki, mother of two lives in regional Australia and works in a part time admin role
Melia, from regional NSW, also lives in regional Australia and works in Marketing and Design

Okay, so I don't have that much in common, other that the weight loss and exercise that brought us all together some five years ago - but at the time when the trip was booked, it felt like a good idea. I knew my contract was coming to an end, I booked the flights and footed for my part of the accommodation - and arrived late afternoon at the Gold Coast.

By chance, Suki and Kitt's plane had been delayed so they were waiting for me near the baggage carousels and Rae collected us from the airport.

And the fun began.

So did the healing and the recuperation.

The other thing I have failed to tell you is that I started a new contract on the Wednesday. It's a challenging role in may ways - and after two and a half days of back to back meetings and unknown acronyms, my brain was fried. I was happy to spend some time on the plane reading my book.

Arriving at the house in which we were staying, we found the rest of the crew had already settled in. A four bedroom house, we worked out where we were sleeping. Suki and I were put in the "snorer's room" - two sets of bunk beds - I took one of the top bunks - which was something of a novelty, as I don't think I've slept in the top bunk since I was back packing around Europe fifteen years ago. I knew I'd suck up the snorning. I'm told I have a "cute snore". I also know that I can normally sleep through snoring. Normally. There were moments that I thought I was sharing a room with Thomas the Tank Engine and his friend - and the bunk needed  shaking on the last night, such was the noise coming from Tammy who was sleeping below me.

The weekend, despite my initial reservations, turned out to be a godsend. There was enough room in the house to get away if you needed to - or if you wanted to be with people, you could do that too.

Somehow I was charged with being the barbeque chef for the trip - cooking my first, second and third barbeques of my life. Seriously, I've never cooked a barby - I've watched a barby plenty of times, but never cooked one. Seems I'm not too bad at it.

The other thing that surprised me is how well you can get on with people you've never met in person before.

In all, it was three days of relaxing, sleeping, eating good food, swimming in the pool, looking out over the canals on the Gold Coast and talking. Lots and lots of healing talking.

It made me realise how little I talk to other people - really talk to other people. Somebody else mentioned this to me as well. We spend our days responding, ordering, getting on with things, surviving. It's not often you get the opportunity to talk - with truth and honesty - which is what I love about these women.

I just have to be myself. That is all that was required of any of us on the weekend. It doesn't happen that often you meet a group like this. How good it is to be among a group of like minded, but very different people who take me on face value.

I came back rejuvenated, refreshed and ready to be thrown back in the deep end at work the following day.

But that is another story for another blog. For this blog, I'm just grateful that these women are a part of my life in a small way.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Povo Mode

I started a new job today. I've also started a major economy drive - or what I call "Povo" mode.

One of the great things about being a contractor is that you get to move about - and I appear to have found a   wonderful new, challenging job that will once again let me step up again.

There is one problem, however. Every new consultancy you go to has different pay cycles. In my last job I was paid weekly, two weeks in arrears. Another job paid me fortnightly the week after the timesheet was signed off.

This consultancy, staffed with some of the nicest people I've met in a long time, pay monthly - a month in arrears.

Which means I don't get anything in my bank account until middle-late June.

Okay, there are good things about this - like when you finish up you're in far better stead, but still - I have no income for nearly two months. Which means I'm in "povo" mode.

This is not as bad as it sounds. All my bills are paid up. I do have money in the bank. I've got lots of movie vouchers on hand to use up. I'll be bringing my lunch into work most days and not buying coffees. My trip to the Gold Coast this weekend is already paid for (along with lunch at the Qantas Business Lounge on the way up - yes!) So it's not that I'm on the bones of my bum - it's just that I have to have a couple of leaner months to ensure that I don't go too far into the red.

This is a good thing.

I've just signed up for an eight week challenge at the gym - more to get my health and fitness back on track. Being on an economy drive will help the diet as I'll be restricted in my eating out times. I've also enlisted a new trainer for the journey - thankfully at the same price as Pinochet used to be. I've only had one session with the new guy, taking a double slot with Jay.

I've called him Slap. It's not his real name, but he's egg bald and you want to hit him, so Slap it is. He put both of us through the wringer the other night - and it was fantastic.

But for the moment, it's home made salad lunches and plunger coffee in the office (which is good, as they only have Nescafe Gold in the kitchen - one up from International Roast, but not that far up), enjoying the plays I paid for a few months ago and lots of exercise.

Nice and lean in more ways than one.