Friday, April 13, 2012

Friday the 13th

So far, a very pleasant day for me.

The calm pace of this day stands in contrast to most of the last two weeks. I'm not sure what's different. Perhaps it's the intensely rainy weather, washing my stress away. Perhaps I'm simply relieved that it's Friday, and the weekend is opening before me with a promise of rest. [After last weekend's holiday events and social visits, the only thing I plan to do this weekend is sleep in, light housekeeping, and our taxes for 2011. The fact that I find the prospect of completing our year's taxes rewarding, engaging, and fun probably tells you a lot more about me than I should be giving away! :) ]

I often get tense when my daughters go back to school after a vacation, and I have to start interacting with a "System" again. I didn't enjoy the whole afternoon of parent conferences for my older girl -- even though her teachers' comments were uniformly positive and appreciative. That has to do with the storytelling that goes on in my own mind -- and I'm well aware of the potential falseness of my fearful stories -- but awareness didnt' stop it from happening!

I've spent the last 10 days or so rushed and impatient and pushing myself hard to get more and more work done. I've been feeling our family's financial need as a huge, cumbersome burden that I drag with me from hour to hour in the day, and long into the night.

And then I've been quarrelsome with S. And that doesn't help matters. Not surprisingly, he hasn't responded to my anxiety, irritability, and general criticalness in an open-armed way.

Yesterday was one of those grueling days. S and I argued the night before, well past when we could have been asleep. I felt out of sorts and unappreciated and inefficient. And I had to go to lunch with my boss.

For reasons of my own insecurity, that very pleasant lunch filled me with dread. I've worked with M for an entire year now, and our working relationship is only getting better and better. We are becoming more specialized; she handles the client relations and the financial paperwork; I do the descriptive writing and begin the applications. We both do research.

But yesterday was the first time we would be alone together face-to-face in a whole year of phone calls, and emails, and infrequent social occasions. We needed to discuss the unsavory history of a client organization, just recently come to light. And, in that spirit of disclosure and ethical business, I needed to confide to her my own background as well.

See, I'm a criminal. Well, I was a criminal, long ago, very briefly. But I've got the label now and fear the stigma and rejection. My poor judgment stopped my teaching position and forced my life down the path I'm now on. In general, I prefer to tell people this before I interact with them beyond a casual basis. Most of my friends and employers know this about me and don't care a bit. But with a new friend, or a new business partner, the moment of the reveal is fraught with anxiety and fear. Will they reject me outright? Will they pretend it's okay then go behind my back? Even talking about this situation - decades old now - in that heightened atmosphere brings back the pain of losing my career, the wound ripped freshly open. I want to be calm and matter-of-fact; instead my voice trembles and tears pool in my eyes. I hate that. I hate caring so much what other people think of me, and I hate feeling so vulnerable.

And this was my boss, the one in charge of my main source of income that my family so badly needs. I thought about not taking the risk. But instead, I told her anyway. It is just the right thing to do. And if she, or anyone, is going to reject me, I might as well get it over with sooner rather than later so I can start re-building anew.

So that was yesterday. My grueling task over muffins and salad. My head ached, my stomach churned, my hands shook. Like so many other difficult and terrifying moments in my life, I got through it. Of course, she was wonderful. Said it didn't matter a bit, that everybody makes mistakes, and that she loves my work. Even more reassuring, she sent me more work today.

So, I think everything is fine. Once again. Whew.

Now, I feel much better. I sit at my green desk, sipping a glass of chilled white wine and watching the weather. I write this, even though it's deeply personal, as I know I must express myself and process through it all.

Next, I will finish the text for a proposal to Weingart Foundation. I have four of those proposals to complete in the next few days. Like doing taxes, they seem like a fun break. Weingart is everybody's favorite funder, I think. Their form is super-easy and straightforward, and they are extremely kind and approachable. I'm looking forward to a much better evening and a renewed week.

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