Makes Me Wanna Scream

The self-proclaimed silver lining hunter is in a slump. I try really hard not to throw pity parties, but GAHLEE it is getting more difficult as the months keep passing me by. I have been trying not to think about everything that I think/feel is wrong by telling myself it could always be worse and of course I know this is very true but the pep talks aren’t working. I probably wouldn’t be so frustrated if I was the type to talk my problems over with someone, but emotions especially vulnerability is not my thing. Well that’s not true…. It’s the sharing part that I’d rather not do because in the past when I’ve opened up about how I feel people always try to interpret my feelings and 9 times out 10 their assessment is so far off the mark that I think are we talking to each other right now?!

Part of my frustration is with my unemployment, but I’m sure that’s no surprise and the other is my isolation which I’m sure is a surprise especially since I’m a big ole introvert. People are still trying to help me out with my job search and the Lord knows I know they mean well, but most of the “help” isn’t really helpful and that seems to further bring me down. Being in such a rural area my opportunities are extremely limited; however I am keeping my eyes open and even looking outside of my area of interest. The weight of my unemployment is burdensome. People tell me be patient, it will happen, it’ll be ok, something will come up and they might be right, but it is a different ballgame when you are living it every day.

So what do you do when you are motivated but not really….

How do you tell people I appreciate your concern but ummm you kinda aren’t helping…

Arrrrrrrrrrrrgh!!!

Last call for alcohol… I guess I should shut this pity party down *cues Before I Let Go*

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The choices we make

I am a wife. This one fact does not totally define me, but in a sense it does. My husband is in the Army and he has been for 13 years. We’ve been together 9 years and married for 6. In our six years as a “legal” couple we’ve moved twice, which I think is pretty good in terms of Army life. As an Army wife I had to decide early on if I was going to be the wife that accepted my husband’s orders as my own and relocate with him OR if I was going to move to one place and stay there seeing my husband when he could get away for weekends or long holidays. I can’t say I thought long and hard about it because I didn’t. We’ve lived through 3 deployments and countless out-of-state trainings that separated our family so making the decision to pack up my life when he did seemed like a no-brainer. There are several military families that choose to settle down and find their “home” while the military spouse travels from place to place and they are able to make it work quite successfully, but at this time I don’t think it is the move for us. In a few years when the kids are older we are definitely considering finding a home base and staying there while he finishes up his last few years of service.

Growing up I watched my dad travel constantly for work and although he and my mom weren’t together we used to see each other quite often until he was promoted. After he started moving up he began to travel almost weekly even now when I call him I never know where he will be.  As I got older I started to consider his wife and I wondered how she felt with her husband being gone all the time and  I thought I wouldn’t want to live like that… funny how life turns out though.

Probably the most difficult part of being an Army wife (besides the obvious things like deployments, etc) is job hunting  when we move. I realize when I decided to move with my husband I also made the decision to put his career first.  I can’t say that was a conscious decision, but clearly I made a choice. Unfortunately, I do not have a “portable career’ so pretty much it has been back to square one. I have a Masters in Public Health and my heart is definitely in the field so at times it is hard to find just the right job. It took some time, but eventually I found a position in Columbia and I am hoping to do the same here in El Paso.

Recently, a Soror and fellow Army Wife told me about the Priority Placement Program with the federal government which helps military spouses find federal employment IF they had to leave their previous job due to a PCS move. All this time I’d been thinking checking the military spouse box on the USAJobs applications was enough!!!! HR specialists review your resume and determine which job codes (up to 5) you qualify for and they notify you of job openings on post. Not only will they notify you of the position your name is also placed on a list of candidates to consider which is sent to the hiring officials. It sounds simple enough, but believe me there is a lot more to it and the rules are very strict. One mistake and you are out of the program. On the bright side it  looks promising, because they have already contacted me about a job they wanted me to submit my application packet for and of course I did so immediately.

So while unintentionally that’s how being a wife took precedence over my career. I don’t regret the choices I’ve made thus far and I am looking forward to seeing more of the world at my husband’s side.

 

Choked

The day I was dreading rolled around without much fanfare. I was strangely calm going into the meeting so I was hoping that things wouldn’t be as bad as I initially thought. I was second on the agenda so I thought I would give my little presentation and sit back down easy peasy right? Wrong!

The first person on the agenda was late so it was looking like I would have to go first. I reluctantly said yes.. the room was slightly empty so I figured I could push through. Just when it seemed that it was show time the person in the first slot showed up. She launched into her presentation full of enthusiasm. I sat in my chair barely listening because I was watching the door and the room slowly fill up. As my coworker continued to talk well into my time I felt my breathing start to get shallow and my hands began to tremble ever so slightly. I willed myself to take deep calming breaths to no avail. She kept talking, people kept pouring in, and I kept thinking I will be okay, I won’t stand and give my presentation I will sit at the table while I advance my slides.  By this time the person ahead of me had blown through her time and mine. My heart began to race. My coworker sitting next to me kept whispering breathe breathe and rubbing my shoulder. By this time my level of anxiety was spiraling out of control, it felt like the walls were closing in on me. Finally I couldn’t take it and I swiftly walked out of a side door. I barely made it into the room before the tears began to fall and I was struggling to catch my breath. The only sound in the room was me gasping for air.

Needless to say I did not give my presentation. I was beyond embarrassed. Luckily for me no one knew what was going on especially since my colleague got extra excited talking to the room about Brucellosis and used up my time and hers. I’m not certain if I had a full fledged anxiety/panic attack or if that was just an extreme case of the jitters. Nothing like that has ever happened to me before and I am hoping it never happens again.

Shine the spotlight elsewhere…

Arrrrrrrrrrgh!!!! Please excuse me while I vent!

I have a fear of public speaking or being the center of attention. It is a fear I’ve carried for my entire life. It has not gotten better as I’ve gotten older, or the more I do it, as people LOVE to tell me it will. I do not enjoy participating in any activity in which the focus will be on me. I don’t volunteer to make speeches, give toasts, presentations, etc. I prefer to be one with the background.  I am sure there is some deep psychological connection there and a therapist would have an absolute field day analyzing this and me, but it is a part of me and I am ok with who I am. Am I limiting myself by avoiding the stage/attention, perhaps, and some would probably say definitely, honestly I don’t care. The Lord knew what he was doing when he didn’t bless me with a talent like singing because it would have definitely been wasted in possession!!

Most people who’ve met me are surprised to learn about my fear and once they find out they all want to “cure” me.*sigh*  While I can understand their motivation, but when I am telling them it is not as simple as they think WHY in the world don’t they believe me? Why do they keep pushing and insisting their method will be the way to fix it? I don’t think I should have to explain myself nor what I’ve done to overcome thus far in order to get them to back off.

Once and for all here’s what everyone needs to know so they can stop passing along the same advice thinking you are the first one to tell me this stuff: It does not matter if I know everyone in the room. I am going to be scared if it’s a room full of strangers OR my family and friends. Picturing everyone naked does not help. My fear has nothing to do with my lack of knowledge about a topic.It has not gotten better every time or the more I try. I tried hypnosis. It didn’t help!!!

So who put a bee in my bonnet you ask? The powers that be at work have decided that I should present at our quarterly meeting. I said no. They kept pushing. I never really had a choice. Despite KNOWING how I feel they put me on the agenda anyway. They reassured me with “you’re the expert. You just need to do it more and the better you’ll feel.”  I was told if I feel “too” bad about it then to let them know and I won’t have to do it, but I already know the deal. You don’t say no here, you do what you are told. So hopefully I won’t make a complete ass of myself for 15 minutes while people stare at me. Maybe my voice won’t crack and by some miracle I won’t tear up, as I often do when standing in front of a group of people.  Guess I should quit griping and go work on my power point <insert sarcasm>.

Lessons learned

Prior to my husband’s reassignment I was employed full time as a Communicable Disease Specialist for the local health department. There were times that I thought I hated my job but looking back I realize I didn’t hate it at all in fact I believe I have learned and acquired skills that will help me in the future no matter what industry I choose.

My job was not an easy one, in fact it was extremely challenging and it was not a position for the faint of heart.  Delivering the news to a person that they have HIV is not something I enjoyed doing, but I learned that in being compassionate, empathic, patient and kind my clients actually appreciated hearing the news from me versus someone else who may not have been as sensitive or tactful.

Although the job was frustrating and emotionally draining I find myself thinking of the people I encountered, as well as my coworkers and I miss it even more so I feel that I am better for having worked there. Surprise Surprise… You just never know when or where you’re going to learn something .

Its a tough job….

From www.cdc.gov: “Of all racial and ethnic groups in the United States, HIV and AIDS have hit African Americans the hardest. The reasons are not directly related to race or ethnicity, but rather to some of the barriers faced by many African Americans. These barriers can include poverty (being poor), sexually transmitted diseases and stigma (negative attitudes, beliefs, and actions directed at people living with HIV/AIDS or directed at people who do things that might put them at risk for HIV).”

Part of my responsibilities as a Communicable Disease Specialist is breaking the news to newly infected patients of their HIV status… not the easiest thing in the world to do as you may realize. In training for this position our instructor told us to remember that we as the counselors are not infecting the patient when we give them the news; however at times it is hard not to feel like that is exactly what you are doing. Depending on the client and the type of lifestyle they lead they may not very well know who infected them because they’ve had more partners than they care to remember so forever more it may be your face they recall when they think of their condition. It is up to me to make a difficult situation as easy as possible though there have been times when I wished like hell I was anywhere, but here.

In the year and a half that I’ve been doing this EVERY single face that has sat in front of me for the results looks just like mine. African American men and women alike account for every HIV positive result that I have delivered. The CDC’s statistics show that even though African Americans account for 13% of the US population we also account for 49% of the people that get HIV and AIDS. Even in 2008 we are not being careful with all that we know about this disease… well excuse me with all that some of us know about this disease… because some of us are still in the dark ages and forwarding every crazy email that they get about HIV being in the body for years, etc… hell, some of us are forwarding that email about herpes being in hot wax!!!! Listen up people check your facts go to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s website and educate yourself, get tested every six months to a year, stop sitting back being afraid to do anything at all or listening to people who are just as clueless!!! Not knowing is not going to make you live longer nor is finding out you’re positive going to make you die faster. I’m not going to go so far as some people and say HIV is the new diabetes because it’s not, what it is though is a chronic condition that can be maintained with the proper diet, medication (if necessary) and exercise…you know pretty much all of the same things you do now to be healthy with a tad more diligence on your part.

I guess I am on my soapbox today because I recently had to deliver the news to a young man who seemed to be a nice young guy trying to do something with himself and his life and yet for some reason he had never taken a test before now. The entire situation made me sad and frustrated me at the same time that a young adult in this day and age is still not being tested on a regular basis.

I am saying all of this to say, Get tested… no matter your race/ethnicity just do it… stop being afraid or embracing this ignorance is bliss mentality… it’s not! This is your life we’re talking about!!!!

Ho Hum!

I am at work…bored out of my mind! I have an hour to go and not a damn thing to do..which I guess could be a good thing considering the duties of my job… it is actually a good day in my opinion if I am NOT doing my job because, though I have a good cause at times it can be damn depressing and just down right sad when you think about it, I mean really who wants to be the bearer of bad news? I am probably one of the most sensitive people I know so giving bad news is difficult. If I get to a point where I don’t have a problem doing my job then I think I will be in trouble. I mean you have to have some sort of feelings or human”ness” about yourself to tell someone they have HIV or some other STD, right?