Archive for the ‘work’ Tag

3 Things

Just random thoughts to keep the streak alive.

  1. It is amazing what perspective relative comparison provides. Yesterday there was sunshine and temps rose to 25F. Last week we had three straight days of below zero and the rest in single digits. Compared with last week we’re having a heatwave! That’s something to be thankful for, I guess.
  2. Today I spent 5 hours in a room full of software engineers and architects, product managers and IT systems engineers. The goal of the workshop was to design changes to a governance process dealing with legal risks and regulatory compliance associated with use of third party content in the development of my company’s software products. I’m constantly fascinated by the complexity that engineers seem to feel morally compelled to introduce into straightforward problems, only to turn and point their fingers at the lawyers to explain why they do it. Never mind that this particular lawyer consistently urges simplicity and transparency, and never mind that they’d save themselves boatloads of time and heartache if they listened to their lawyer. Nope. Gotta build six layers of contingency management in for CYA and to cover mysteriously undefined risk of “audit repercussions”. <eye roll> Yet it’s lawyers who make everything harder than it has to be. Again, <eye roll>. Whatever.
  3. I’m closing in on completing the first draft of my first book-length writing project. 60K words, 128 pages written so far. I’m struggling with the ending – it’s just not quite right yet. But I think it’s close. I’m considering starting to edit/re-write as a means to solidify the story so the end organically materializes. Since I probably won’t ever seek to publish, it’s not essential that it be extra-shiny. But I want to be able to say I completed it. Ultimately, I want to feel like I have a complete, fully actualized story by the end of next month. Goal set.
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List…again

I’m having a bit of a writing challenge and can’t think of a substantive, let alone creative, topic to write about. Also, honestly… I’m having a bit of a hard time with negativity and motivation lately, too. But I am committed to keeping my posting streak alive. So I’m calling on the old stand-by: a list of a few positives to refocus away from the negatives. Here are a few good things:

1. It’s snowing. The light, airy kind of snow that looks pretty and doesn’t make too much of a mess. I like it.

2. My custom suits are finally finished and I picked them up yesterday. They feel amazing. Having something made to fit both my body and my identity is exhilarating. I can’t wait for an event to wear them!

3. Some of the tools/methods of dealing with anxiety that I learned in my coaching group have been helpful in recognizing my anxiety and in helping to tamp it down. I’m not always…or even mostly…successful at that, but it’s a start.

4. I succeeded in completely disconnecting from my job for an entire week — no emails, no phone calls, not even checking my calendar. While the week off was not nearly the restful restorative that I and everyone else had hoped it would be, I am at least proud of accomplishing the disconnect.

5. One of my internal clients, the head of our global sales organization, gave me a really nice bow tie as a thank you gift for my help over the very rough year last year. The gesture was a welcome show of support, not just for my work, but also an identity-affirming acknowledgement of who I am.

I’m clinging to the conviction that this focus on the positive and effort to reframe negatives to positives actually has practical benefits. It’s hard to remain convinced when the black sludge in my head seems more abundant than the light, but I’m not willing to give up on the program just yet. My hope for you is that the pros always outnumber the cons and that there is always a portal, even just a pinhole, for the light to shine in. Be well, friends.

Maintaining

I took this week off to rest and recover a little from a very long, trying time at work. The polar vortex…and, to be completely honest, inertia…have kept me at home, doing next to nothing. While that sounds restful, I can honestly say it’s really not.

My sleep has not improved; if anything, it’s worse. Long, sleepless nights, days full of lethargy. Distractions, like reading and tv only go so far. And even as I recognize that my self-imposed lassitude is not doing the job, I can’t seem to make myself do more. There are chores I should do. There are things I should write. There are likely even things to do in this city, if I put in some effort to suss them out. But I’m not; can’t seem to pull it together enough to do anything.

Feels like I’m just biding the time until I can go back to work without getting crap from my boss for not taking time off.

Maintaining.

It’s a pitiful use…or not…of my time, I know. As a would-be writer and creative, it’s kind of demoralizing to realize how impotent my imagination is that I could find nothing better to do with a free week than get a suit fitting and then become a recluse.

Ah, well. Monday will be here soon enough and I can go back to work where I know what to do with myself and my time. At least there I seem to have a purpose and know how to fulfill it. Left to my own devices, I don’t know what to do with myself. That’s just shameful. Ugh.

Well, this turned out to be a post full of sunshine…not. Oh, well. That happens occasionally. At least I’m keeping my posting goal alive – maintaining.

Seeing the good

Well, my last post was less positive than I had hoped for so early in the year. I had a wild aspiration of doing only positive, up-beat posts this year while keeping up the weekly posting goal. I knew, deep down in the unacknowledged corners of my psyche, that was unrealistic. Let’s face it, everything isn’t always butterflies and unicorns. Too, I am not very successful at posting fake positivity when I’m feeling down or frustrated. So only happy posts was a pipe dream from jump.

But that’s not to say I am giving up on looking for the positives, even on the bad days. Seeing the good, even if it’s only one small thing, when everywhere there is darkness and chaos, is the most important facet to my campaign toward self-improvement. Because, in my most secret, private self, I know that if there is ever a time when the tally board of positives hits absolute zero, that’s when my spirit will truly despair. I have to know, like Samwise Gamgee, that “there’s good in this world” so that I have “something worth fighting for”.

I’m blessed in that I have not yet lived a day – and there have been at least 6 days out of my 49, nearly 50, years in which the darkness was all-encompassing and nearly absolute – which was completely devoid of anything positive. On the days on which I lost each of my parents, for example, I took refuge in the positive, glowing comfort of the love of my brothers and their wives. On the darkest day of all, which I will not describe or force myself to relive, I at least had resources enough to get help to dispel the evil and eventually emerge back into the light. As my anxiety coach has said several times: I “have a 100% success rate so far” of overcoming the demons, the stress, the fear, the evil that threatens my peace. So, if nothing else, I have that.

Luckily, I’m not living through rock-bottom like that right now, and there is much to be thankful for. Although there is stress and drama and sleeplessness still to overcome, I have seen a lot that is good and hopeful.

Here are three good things from the past three days (all of which I posted on FB, too) that make me thankful for the good stuff:

  1. 52,901 words, 120 pages written on my fiction project. And today I worked myself out of the corner into which I’d written myself a week ago. I think I’ll end up with about 145 pages in this first draft. I’m really proud of how far I’ve come on this. I think I’m on target to checking off a major bucket list item before my 50th birthday in a little over a month: completed book (short though it may be). It may never be published or ever read by anyone else, but I will have conquered the self-doubt that has forever told me that I couldn’t do it, couldn’t be a writer, had no skill to say anything worthwhile. Hah! Take that, insecurities!
  2. I had an awesome dinner out with Supper Club friends Saturday night, despite the frigid temps. Gnocchi and grilled chicken with onion soup Normandy was a perfect, warming meal. Nice conversation and a good atmosphere made for a great evening.
  3. The litigation stuff that I’ve been dealing with sucks, but it’s not all bad. On Friday, I had the hugely gratifying experience of receiving and handing over to my CFO a high 6-figure check from a settlement of a matter that I managed to completion. Nice when your work pays off – literally.

Good night, my friends! May the week ahead be full of positives for which you can feel grateful.

Back to the grind

I took almost an entire week off from work, successfully avoiding doing any work-related stuff other than answering a handful of urgent emails in the first day or so. That felt great! I desperately needed the break. And while I did a lot of cool activities, including writing, and spending some quality time with my SIL, and getting the suit fitting I posted about before, I also spent a good deal of time just resting. I deeply needed the rest and am proud to say I got three separate nights during that week when I got 6 or more hours of actual sleep. That’s a marked improvement over most weeks since the first part of August.

But now I’m back at work and have already, in just two days, worked more than 25 hours on the same ol’ litigation junk that I thought I had put to rest for at least a few weeks when I filed, just as I headed out the door for vacation, the motions we’d worked on for over a month. In reality, we got just over 24 hours to savor having made those motions before receiving the other side’s latest salvo. Now we’re back to preparing response briefs and doing so much of the work for outside counsel.

Honestly, I’m over this crud. Totally. If I never read another pleading – or prepare one – again, it’ll be too soon. And there’s really no end in sight. Add to that my boss’ constant interruptions (seriously, more than 2 dozen since he got back from lunch today alone) to grouse and rant and curse and complain – so that I have to stop trying to get through reading the pleadings, stop making my own notes, stop getting anything productive done to listen – and I’m right back to the stressed-out wreck I was before taking last week off. Including back to sleeping only about 4 hours or less each of the last two nights.

And because we have to get these responses filed next week, I have to cancel my business trip that I was supposed to do next week. It was going to be an opportunity to get together with some of my staff from other countries and participate in some critical executive planning sessions. But court deadlines trump. It’s just frustrating that my “day job”, the work I’m supposed to do as the leader of a functional business unit, has to take a backseat to what are truly specious claims by a bunch of money-grubbers trying to get a free payday.

Ah, well. I keep telling myself that at least I’m doing substantive lawyering, not rote grunt-work. That’s something, I guess.

A Case for Vulnerability

If you’ve read much of my substantive posts on this blog you’ll already know that vulnerability – specifically risking personal mental/emotional/social/physical safety for the sake of frank, open, transparent disclosure – is a huge struggle for me. While I always try to be honest and authentic, I don’t always have the courage to be as open and vulnerable in IRL discourse as I have been in some of my posts on this blog. Sometimes that’s intentional self-care, protecting myself from known risk. But often it’s habit, reticence borne of fear and practiced over years; an automatic response instead of a consciously reasoned decision.

Still, that habit was formed with a certain amount of logic, as a response to real-world circumstances and events, not merely the irrational response of the primal mind. I’ve experienced a fair bit of trolling, baiting, gaslighting, and other intentionally humiliating behavior in my life. Fear and a reticence to be exposed to that kind of abuse again is a logical, rational, healthy reaction to being called on to make oneself vulnerable. But that reaction, to be most effective, should be actively managed and consciously controlled so that opportunities for growth aren’t missed due to the automatic dismissal caused by fear.

For me, that’s much easier said than done.

However, being a thinker, I have thought a lot about how to make my experience in various circumstances better, more comfortable, more likely to meet my needs and desires than the current situation in any given scenario. In most cases, changing things for the better means a certain amount of (hopefully) short-term disruption, discomfort, and, yes, vulnerability. I don’t like that that’s the case, but it certainly seems to be the truth for my life.

So, what’s a logical, rational, risk-averse, sensitive thinker to do to reconcile the dissonance? For me, it’s just a matter of resigning myself to the necessary evil of risk in order to benefit from it. “Bite the bullet”, “grin and bear it”, and “just do it” are the hackneyed, yet apropos, expressions that spring to mind.

That’s exactly what I did earlier this week and – spoiler alert – it worked out fairly well. I admit I’m surprised at the outcome, which isn’t a great commentary on the state of my faith in this “just do it” philosophy, or in the generosity and compassion of the people I work with. But I’m counting it a win, anyway.

Here’s what happened:

As I’ve said a lot over the last few months, I’m struggling with stress- and anxiety-induced sleep deprivation. It’s been particularly bad over the last week, impacting my focus and precision at work. Wednesday was an especially rough day, with a ton of project work that required me to be ‘on’ and participate actively in substantive debates on the merits of our case, concentrate for prolonged periods of time and analyze lots of data and synthesize cogent legal arguments from that analysis – all on less than 4 hours sleep.

It was brutal. I yawned my head off, was slow speaking to particularly complex ideas, and generally felt slow-witted and sluggish all morning. By 2:30 in the afternoon I was running on fumes and about as stressed as I’ve been in ages. Making it through the afternoon without collapsing and without committing homicide was all I could hope for.

Then, about 6:30, my boss stopped into my office to chat on his way home for the evening. What I expected to be a momentary check-in, a “good job, have a great evening ” kind of thing, turned into a deeply supportive, substantive conversation in which my boss acknowledged not only that he recognized the burden and stress I’ve been bearing, but also that he’s been contributing to it by his venting to me his frustrations and his sudden changes in direction with the strategy on some of our matters that adds a lot of work for me.

Given his genuine contrition and sincerity, I chose to respond in kind, though it cost me a lot of vulnerability. I confessed to a high level of anxiety and the fear that I would let him and the company down because my ability to cope with the effects of the anxiety and stress is beginning to falter. I also shared with him that I am taking the matter seriously and have sought help to get the anxiety under control so that I can sleep again, including my unsuccessful attempt at counseling and my so-far successful engagement with an anti-anxiety coaching group.

His response was overwhelmingly supportive. He praised my efforts with the coaching group, calling it both smart and brave. Then he turned practical, saying that we needed to take action to fix it. He offered some good suggestions for things he and the company can do to relieve some of the stress that’s beyond the ordinary pressure that just comes with my role. We settled on getting me some administrative/process-oriented help – a gatekeeper, he called it – to give me some relief from so many operational and sales personnel having direct access to me and my brain.

And when I expressed what is, perhaps, my greatest fear of asking for help (no longer having value for the company because someone else has to do some of my work), he was quick to reassure that not only would he not feel that way about me, but that he has plenty of substantive, high-value lawyering work for me to do once some of the stressful, lower-value procedural work is handed off to someone else. He then committed to do whatever is necessary to get me that help, including lobbying with the CEO and board for the necessary exception to add headcount and finding the budget to pay for it.

It’s not a silver-bullet solution to my sleep problem and it will take time to implement. But just hearing him admit to, and apologize for, the extraordinary stress and offer to help fix it was a huge relief. It validates what I’ve been experiencing and lets me know that I’m not crazy for feeling as I do.

And all it took was the courage to be vulnerable about an aspect of my professional identity that I’ve always held internally out of fear it would be derided or exploited: fear of being useless. It’s good to know my contribution is seen and my value as an employee is secure. It’s also nice to think that soon I’ll get some relief and have new and different responsibilities with opportunities to add value in new ways. That’s a really great thing.

Happy holidays, friends! I hope you all receive validation, support and opportunities to shine in your every endeavor.

What if…

I’m weary. The kind of bone-deep tired from lack of sleep that makes me feel like I’m walking around with only half a brain through a dark fog that blurs everything into a grainy, indistinct mess. But also so the kind of impatient fatigue that makes me want to give up fighting against everything, capitulate to the sloppy, lazy, incompetence of the people around me and leave them to suffer the consequences of their own ineptitude without the heroic efforts I and my team put in to save them from themselves.

I’m genuinely striving to reframe my experience, get into a more positive, patient, tolerant mind-set. That’s my commitment to myself, my goal, and the core of my personal growth work. But I’m in a trough in the up-down rhythm of life, I guess, because it seems I have made no progress despite concerted effort every day.

Today, chatting with my boss about some of the hard work we’ve been doing together for weeks on end, he acknowledged that he was in a really negative place and regretted that his comments and attitude have added to my stress. My reaction, not as guarded or carefully phrased as it could have been, was to acknowledge that I was feeling the same way and that I hate it and hate not being able to control my reactions to stress and frustration the way I usually do. I told him I was putting a lot of faith in my upcoming time off for the Thanksgiving holiday giving me the distance, perspective and rest I need to get my head right.

But what if it doesn’t?

I’ve noticed how irritable, quick to snap, and more prone to profanity I’ve become over the last few months. It coincides, in my mind, with the start of my insomnia in the summer. Even though work stress and frustration was already high – this has been a really hard year at work – none of that was out of control when I was still sleeping. It’s only been since my sleep fell into the ditch that I’ve been biting salespeople’s heads off, telling sales operations leaders to figure out how to do things themselves, telling people to use their own brains and not rely on mine, and letting swear words creep into my language in delivering these biting diatribes. In short, I have witnessed a marked decline in the civility and politeness that has been my professional and personal habit for decades.

I don’t like this version of me very much.

And what’s so frustrating and galling is that I work really hard to not let this not-so-pleasant version of me get loose or stay loose when it does, but I don’t seem to have any success controlling it anymore. I just don’t have it in me to be charitable to the stupid, or to compensate for the inept. And I don’t seem to really care if my weariness-induced withdrawal causes them to suffer where they wouldn’t have if I’d made that effort.

What if a week’s vacation and visit with family doesn’t restore that charity and energy and will to help? What if I can’t get it back now that I’ve let it go?

What if this is who I am now, this burnt-out curmudgeon that nobody, not even me, likes or wants to be around?

Lessons in Self-Talk

I’ve written a fair bit on this blog about my efforts at personal growth and self discovery. Some of what I’ve covered deals with the insecurities with which I still struggle, despite all of the hard, intentional work I’ve done to be the best version of myself. I call the source of those insecurities my internal critic, because it’s my own voice that’s raging at me.

That internal critic isn’t easy to slay. It rears its poisonous head and spews the most shocking invective into my tender, impressionable psyche when I’m at my most vulnerable. Stress, sleep deprivation, nervousness, performing in unfamiliar circumstances, exercising new skills — these are some of the things that leave me exposed to the inner jerk’s most insidious evil. And when I’m in that state, I have very little ability to overcome, silence, and escape that internal saboteur.

A perfect storm of those conditions formed this week. It was the culmination of weeks of hard, frenetic, hugely significant executive lawyering, in preparation for depositions in a litigation matter for my company, all while battling my first real experience with insomnia. I’ve been working 11-15+ hour days for weeks on end on the shaky, unsustainable foundation of an average of 5 hours or less sleep per night. And everything I’ve been doing at work has required intensely critical thinking and application of new and old legal skills to meet the challenge of this unfamiliar litigation activity. So my defenses were kind of low by the time I showed up for my 30(b)(6) deposition – where I was testifying on behalf of my company, rather than in my individual capacity – yesterday.

I expected, and had prepared for, a very challenging experience. Litigation isn’t a joke and the stakes in this matter are high for both parties. I fully expected to be pressed hard and to have to be on top of my game. But even as prepared as I was, I had underestimated how hard it would really be.  Here was my raw, unedited reaction that I posted to a different platform last night:

So here I am, just getting home after my third consecutive 15+ hour day this week (4th consecutive 11+ hour work day) more than 10 of which were spent giving sworn testimony in a deposition conducted by a class-A asshat of the most egregious kind. I’m mentally, physically, emotionally, and intellectually exhausted. I know I did an incredible job in this depo – another day of undeniable Butch Boss Badasserry. Still my traitorous brain only lets me see the one momentary slip when, after over 9 hours of grueling questioning and countless repetition of futile questions, I lost my composure and was forced to go off the record and leave the room before I dissolved into tears of angry frustration on camera and in front of that jackass. Suddenly weeks of work and two long days of testimony are reduced to: “yeah, but he made you cry” by my overly critical brain. Damn.

So, yeah. The internal critic got me hard and sharp. That whole reductive reasoning trick is dirty and underhanded and has a really devastating bite to it. All the true, positive, celebratory thoughts get rendered ineffectual in a single blow: it doesn’t matter that I knew more than anyone in the room, including the other side’s attorneys and my own counsel, about this case and had a smart, cogent, legally significant answer for every question and didn’t fall into any of the verbal traps the deposing attorney lay in front of me, it only matters that he was able to break my composure and made me cry.

But, thankfully, a wonderful friend, who also happens to be a rock star Butch lawyer, too, reminded me of something important: the nature of depositions, the rules that apply to their conduct, create an environmental pressure-cooker that often results in the witness being reduced to tears and I did well, in spite of the tears. In other words, I need to give myself a break.

Not only is that timely, supportive reminder a deeply kind gift at a critical point, it has the virtue of truth. After a few hours of sleep and a short work day this morning, I was able to put a bit of distance between my wounded pride and the critic’s barbs. That let me have room to think about the overall problem of the internal voice. Here’s what it comes down to, for me:

Self talk is a dangerous thing.  Like a blade, it can be both a tool and a weapon, and both functions can have both beneficial and damaging effects. Balancing the utility of such a volatile thing is a critical skill that requires constant attention to detail. When one aspect gets the better of the other, whether weapon or tool, damage results; too much of either yields an internal voice with a skewed world view< The imbalanced voice will be either irrationally confident and blind to flaws, or overweeningly negative, drowning out all accomplishment and confidence. Without the confident self-discipline to manage the internal critic, spiraling negativity takes over.  But falling too much in love with your own voice, logic, skill, position on any issue – self delusion of even mild degree – and you get a big head and lose sight of your biggest opportunities for growth.

Ultimately, it comes down to mental discipline, being kind, yet firm, with myself, taking care to feed my mind the right mix of messages that can build healthy confidence while starving the internal critic so that it can’t have strength enough to sabotage the positive with unwarranted negativity.  Simple enough to say, Exceedingly difficult to maintain.

It certainly would help if I could sleep more…

Smart, Fresh & Sneaky

So here’s a quick, fun little plus after such a long stretch of gloom and rough days.

I’ve been hitting it hard, hard at work, doing some deep, substantive lawyering on a couple of litigation matters for which I’ve been managing outside counsel. For the last few weeks it’s been preparing rebuttals to expert opinions, supplementing discovery requests and preparing for depositions, including my own.

Today was in-person strategy with outside counsel, my boss and me. Lots of discussion, debate, review of documents, etc. In the middle of it all, one of the outside attorneys, trying to keep things light, characterized me and my boss as sneaky lawyers, which moniker I proudly admit. Then, when trying to convince me to agree to be the subject of a second deposition, my boss and the other outside lawyer described me as smart and fresh. Also appellations I willingly wear.

So, I’m a smart, fresh, sneaky lawyer and I’m gonna rock these depos this week.

Yay for being a bad ass Butch boss. Boo for more work. But also yay for being sneaky fresh!

Rejection Totally Blows

Jeez, this week was brutal, a mixed bag of jangling anxiety spiced with tiny moments of joy, wrapped in a sleep-deprived haze and topped with a glittering bow of flaming rejection.

It’s been a really long time since I’ve felt this disconnected from logic and rationality. I’m a logical, linear thinker and careful planning, meticulous language and precise action are my safety. When I get outside that realm, into areas where impulse and emotion appear to be the rule, I have a hard time coping. That kind of spontaneity, even chaos, stresses me more than any long work day or serious decision ever does. The disorder is unnerving and makes it hard to think and breathe.

So when I found myself in this situation, a nearly constant state of distress resulting from sleep deprivation-induced anxiety, desperation pushed me to do something entirely out of character: I asked for help.

Ignoring the cautions and warnings screaming in my head, I signed up for an online counseling service to get help with my insomnia. Normal people do this without compunction all the time. Surely, the millions of people relying on mental health professionals to assist with these challenges can’t be wrong, I reasoned. Surely, I told myself, there is nothing shameful in reaching out?

Still, I battled a heavy load of shame – you’re almost 50 years old, how can you not know the basics of how to be a person, how to get adequate sleep and deal with common work-induced stress? It can’t be that hard, what’s wrong with you? You’re so inept that you can’t sleep without instructions?

But I knew that most of that invective was simply fear. So, swallowing my pride and steeling my nerves, I looked for and found an LGBTQIA-supportive counseling service online. I did a little reading on it, and on counseling options in general, and decided to take the plunge. I knew I’d have to be a little vulnerable, letting an anonymous stranger into my head where I hardly let anyone before. But, I reasoned, if I was going to resolve whatever is plaguing my peace and preventing my sleep, I’d have be brave and face it head on.

So I filled out the forms and answered questions and logged my sleep activity and did everything I was asked to do without complaint or reservation. When my hands shook and my mind rebelled at the feeling of exposure, I forced it down and pressed on, telling myself that changing what I didn’t like required getting out of the cocoon of safety that my reserve and privacy have afforded.

Then, after nearly a week of uncomfortable logging of nearly every aspect of my daily activity, revealing an unprecedented amount of my private life, I was asked to give candid feedback on the process to date. I guess where I went wrong was in the assumption that it was safe to be frank. I guess I thought that because I had been required to be so vulnerable and open, I would not be ridiculed for being honest about my reservations about the process and method.

Not so.

It didn’t matter that my comment was politely and professionally worded, honest and offered without any hint of accusation or rancor. The counselor’s immediate response was to fire me as a client, telling me I clearly wasn’t a good fit for her service and that there was no need to even respond to her message, just to go somewhere else.

Ouch.

So, not only am I so abnormal that I can’t even take care of a basic need like sleep, but I’m so inept that I can’t even pay someone enough to help me cure that weirdness. Jeez, loser much?

Sarcasm aside, I have to admit that the rejection hurts and its potential consequences scare me witless.

I had let myself hope that with a professional’s help I could be back to a regular sleep pattern quickly and that the erosion of my thinking and communication skills, that have already begun to impact my work, would be set to rights before it becomes a serious problem. I can admit that my sense of self worth is very much tied to my professional success and the respect I’ve earned among my colleagues. The prospect of losing that respect and the reputation of being the go-to leader and problem-solver makes me quake with anxiety. And I have no doubt that will be the result if I can’t get my head back in the game. To do that, I need to get over whatever this mental block is and get regular, restful sleep.

So being fired from the one thing I thought would help has me reeling. And I’m fairly pissed off that someone I had paid to provide that help fired me, not the other way around. But even worse than the anger is the humiliation of realizing that I and my problem aren’t worth the time and effort to help, even for a fee.

I’m feeling pretty low, so I’m having a really hard time finding anything positive in this experience. But at least I got to see a bunch of cute small humans in cool costumes come to my house and beg for candy on Halloween. The sparkly princesses and fierce miniature Black Panthers were a bright spot in a rough week. I may not be sleeping, but at least there’s super heroes and princesses in my neighborhood.

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