Loss

Getting Back To It

So, it’s been over a year and a half since I posted anything. My father experienced a significant decline in his health in the beginning of 2018. He was diagnosed with heart disease when I was a small child and given a prognosis of 3-5 years. He outlived that prognosis by decades. When I was young, he explained to me that he didn’t have the kind of heart disease that would kill him quickly with a heart attack. Instead he had the kind of disease that would slowly take away his ability to function until he no longer had the energy or ability to move far from his bed. In late spring 2018 he died after a long, painful deterioration. It was the type of death that, when it finally came, was a relief to all involved.

Shortly after my father’s death, my employer lost the other main supervisor when that person found a job with better career advancement opportunities. Amid fresh grief, I was expected to advise and support staff working with clients I didn’t know who were in programs I only vaguely understood. As often happens with leadership change, some direct-care staff also exited the organization. This left the organization understaffed and remaining staff overworked. All this occurred at a time when I could barely concentrate long enough to finish reading a paragraph. My brain is an unfocused, forgetful, barely-able-to-process-information mess when it is grieving. It was not pretty.

For various reasons, it took quite some time to hire a replacement supervisor. While my supervisor was unfailingly kind, understanding, and verbally thankful for my additional work, the lack of financial acknowledgement that I was going above and beyond was disappointing. I have a friend who advised me to tell my supervisor how I felt and ask for additional compensation for my expanded duties. Perhaps in a future post I’ll delve into all of the reasons my social anxiety kept me from that course of action. The whole experience left me disillusioned. Overall, I still think my organization is a good place to work and compared to past jobs it remains one of the best. However, I no longer see myself working there for the long-term.

So, where does that leave me in this moment? For starters I’m finally starting to get a little bit of energy back. The first year was particularly difficult and looking back, it feels like those months went by in a chaotic daze as I binge watched TV shows, ate everything in sight, and felt guilty about not working on my dissertation. Going to work and dealing with the fallout of my father’s death took every ounce of energy I had. I felt like I was merely going through the motions of living my life. Thankfully, that is slowly starting to change. Grief is funny that way – sometimes it hits me like a tidal wave and other times it ebbs and flows so subtly that I almost don’t notice when it is gone. Of course, as soon as I notice its absence, it comes flooding back as I feel guilty for not feeling it. I always heard that it takes 3 years to grieve a close loss and fully integrate that loss into one’s life. I suppose I should take solace that I’m over 1/3 of the way there.

All of this is to say – I’m doing my best to get back to this blog. Supervising others while experiencing social anxiety did not, unsurprisingly, get any easier when I was grieving. I wish I had documented those times but, frankly, I didn’t have it in me. Hopefully now that has changed and this will become a regular thing moving forward.

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