External stressors

This week my husband told me that his boss gave him notice that he was going to be out of a job at the end of this year. I received the same news about a month ago. We both work in a field where we work under a series of year-long contracts and we have been given a lot of notice. I didn’t realize how worried I was about looking for a new job until he told me he would be looking for a job as well. I had a panic attack and then I couldn’t stop crying. I am worried about my children and having to tell them they couldn’t do their sports or activities because we couldn’t afford it. I wondered how long we could keep the house if we weren’t working. I went from our reasonably comfortable life to homeless and destitute in an instant. I couldn’t sleep that night at all. I got up in the middle of the night and emailed M. I told him about my husband and then I told him I thought I would have to decrease the number of sessions I was having and possibly take a complete break from therapy. Currently I see M twice a week and pay for therapy almost entirely out-of-pocket (I am reimbursed a small amount by my insurance which I will lose with my job).

Now it has been 2 days and I’ve started relaxing. I’ve realized that I don’t know that we won’t be able to find other jobs. I am afraid we won’t be able to and the fear feels like a fact. The hardest part is not being able to do something immediately. I can look for a job but that takes time. I think that is one of the reasons I want to cut down the amount of therapy sessions and decrease all my non-essential expenses (for me those are the ones related to me and not my children). I feel like that would be doing something. I also feel like why should I spend my family’s dwindling resources on therapy when I struggle so much with therapy and don’t know what I am doing or even if it is helping, It would be very selfish of me. But the thought of quitting therapy completely or taking an indefinite break is scary as well. I’ve been trying so hard to work out what gets in the way of my therapy and now there may be no point. I see M tomorrow for the first session since I sent the email. I’m not looking forward to discussing it with him.

Triggered at work

At the end of the last week my boss lost his temper and yelled and swore at me. It was so surprising to me because I’ve known him for over 20 years and I’ve never seen him lose his temper with anyone. He was frustrated because I haven’t been doing enough work and he lost it. He’s right because when I struggle with my mood or with therapy I find it hard to concentrate and I’m always wasting time on the internet reading survivor sites. I work in a pretty informal work environment and my boss accepts some of those kinds of things but last week was worse than usual in his opinion.

I started working with my boss when I was 20 (I’ve left in the past and been rehired). He was the patient, calm, reasonable boss. He never blamed me or anyone else for their mistakes and were always focused on what to do to improve things and what had to get done next. I wouldn’t be in the field I am in today if I hadn’t met him as a student. He was the first man I knew well who didn’t use his anger like a weapon.

I tried to talk to my boss a few hours after it happened and that is when he explained how he felt. I told him that I didn’t respond well to yelling and swearing and I would rather he told me when he was upset with me sooner than when it built up into an explosion. I think I did my best to process the incident with him and get some resolution. I’ve felt scared, anxious, and ashamed. I’ve been inundated with memories of our relationship (good and bad). I been feeling like I couldn’t keep working with him because I’m afraid he will lose his temper again or worse he’ll be angry and frustrated with me and I won’t know it. I feel like I’ve ruined our relationship both personal and professional.

I’ve discussed it with M in both my sessions this week and I’ve been both amazed and frustrated with those conversations. I was amazed that M completely understood how the yelling was to me even though I’d barely choked out what had happened. He immediately compared it to my relationship with him and my fear that one day he will get fed up with me. He tried to encourage me to realize that I was triggered by the yelling and my boss losing his temper didn’t change all the years and experiences I’ve had with my boss. I understood what he meant but it doesn’t change how I feel (which is scared and anxious when I’m at work). Sometimes I don’t get how therapy is supposed to help when it can’t change how I feel. M tried to explain how therapy helps again (for the thousandth time) but I didn’t really follow him. I do feel better because I talked about how much my boss means to me, I shared some of my memories, and I could admit how afraid I am that I’ve screwed up.