10 August 2006

Old Dog Hopefully Learning to Tread New Waters

A quick update, hopefully one filled with a little optimism on such a bleak-filled and depressing day.

Days such as these make me count my blessings (and I'm sure the WR also shares this with me) that I no longer work for American Airlines®. Not that my entire experience there was bad...in fact, I owe much of my world travels to their (once) generous flight benefits programs for employees. However, there is not enough money readily available to have gotten me back on the phones today to handle what were some assuredly very bad calls (amazing really how much people can wig out when they realize that 'no exceptions' also applies to them). In 2001, it was WR that had to handle the post 9/11 fallout and my evaporation of sorts in Cairo and then London (where I got stuck with several other ex-employees on a familiarization trip, with no money and virtually no communication for days on end). By the time I made it back to the US (almost a full week later) and to double shifts on the phone, I was almost rested compared to some...almost. And then the shit hit the fan, and daily, and without provocation. So, even though I was not able to handle anymore the calls that came in there today (and I would have gotten the humdinger freak calls, as I always did), I did feel sympathy enough to call out to the former slave quarters and extend my sympathies for those still carrying the weight of the yoke. Everyone I spoke with before and after work desperately needed something very strong to drink...and theoretically the planned attempts have been thwarted. God I hope we're right this time.

And as horrible an admission this is to make as a news junkie, here goes: at some point this afternoon I just had to tune out. It's not like I don't care, I do. It's not like I can't empathize, I can. And it's not like I don't understand the general fear and anxiety, I was feeling the same. But at some point my sensory system just went on overload and stopped processing. As a result, the TV channel and the internet news sites were bypassed for something more forgiving until I at least made it back home from work.

Not having a pet or a significant other to complain to when I did make it back to the homestead, and not finding something even mildly entertaining to distract me, I switched back to my goals in process. Specifically one that I've been gradually working on internally for awhile now, and externally now just starting last week. Like all things working for, though, the execution can sometimes be a bitch...it's an amazing blow to my ego to actually find out what I have mentally prepared myself for may not be grounded in reality. And it's even more amazing to find out how much crap you can generate for yourself...good and bad...if you just believe it long enough. Which, unfortunately, I have done for more than two decades. For years, I have thought I would fail at things 'physically active' and I have, largely because at the end I never even tried. (If I didn't succeed or had a bad experience the first time in some sort of sport, that alone was enough for me to become ill enough or disinterested enough to stop trying to learn.) For years, I thought people would clearly notice me failing so well in public, so I never opened myself up to public ridicule until I had complete knowledge my endeavours would succeed. (Ex-bandmates of mine will attest to my Draconian Nazi rehearsal schedule as evidence to this latter point.) For years, I never questioned the logic of my parents and family members who were too scared to try anything themselves, so my decisions to 'break free' and try something on my own (and frequently facing their condescension and/or disapproval) have always been couched in extreme doubt. (The list is long here, and includes everything from rejecting my family's racist attitudes, to exploring foreign countries, to walking away from a future medical degree.) And at age 36, I think I'm learning something about all of these historical assumptions: namely, that these theories were faulty and extremely incorrect. Once again, the shit is hitting the fan.

Now, for the second time in as many weeks, I am heading all of these wayward tangents head on...and I'm liking it. A lot, even. At age 36, after almost drowning twice as a child in previous attempts to learn, I am learning to swim. (Parents: NEVER allow your unswimming children to be thrown off a high diving board so they will 'get over being scared of the water'. For some of us, and I am not the only one, that practice only scares us away from the water and from the pools and beaches, too. And damn it, as I learned revisiting Coffs Harbour this past January, being a non-swimmer at a beautiful beach is not any fun, either.) And yes, in a pool with an exceptionally patient instructor and with noisy, splashing, experienced swimmers all around me. And yes, even though I nearly had a 'wardrobe malfunction' incident last Thursday, I survived the 'assumed' public humiliation as I learned the adult males there weren't watching, the adult females there had flashed more there more often, and the children could frankly care less. And, even though my Mama is highly disdainful of me spending 'good money' to learn something that I haven't 'had a need to learn so far in life', it's money well-spent for no other reason than no one else in my family has been this brave...as incredible as that sounds.

So, as I write this, my hairwrap is dripping in the bathroom. The smallish one-piece is returning to its previous shape (apparently my 'good' one piece was left somehow in Brisbane, where it never once got wet but did look quite good under the broiling Oz sun, where it enjoyed rockmelon slices and bad magazines). My feet, God bless them, are still borderline prunish in appearance. My arms, which until about 3 hours ago, still flailed against the 'noodles' that supported me, are tired but generally happy. And my self-confidence, which earlier in the day was as low as my friends' at AA®, is high enough now to lift even me out of the geopolitical depression that plagues so many. Then again, the enhanced attitude could be from the chlorine as I did accidentally take in some water while practicing my breathing 'technique'.

Good news, though, and proof that I'm making some progress, folks: two good and lengthy lessons done now...and I have yet to drown.


twitches said...

Thanks for this post. I'm going through a bit of a low point myself, and it's nice to be reminded of how to pull myself out of it. Onward and upward! Keep swimming!

wr said...

You were absolutely right, Zoe, one of the first things I thought about the other day was how glad I was that I was not one the phones at AA. I realize that was extremely self-centered of me, but I know how crazy the flying public(is that a new category?)gets these days. I am always amazed that during times when patience and calm are most needed by people, they rarely exhibit them.

I aslo want to echo what Twitches said, "Thanks for the uplift". This whole week had gotten me down and I think I need to learn to "Swim" also.