Sunday, July 17, 2011

The Fear

This is the sound of someone losing the plot -
making out that they're okay when they're not.
You're gonna like it, but not a lot & the chorus goes like this:

Oh Baby, here comes the fear again.

Grabbed from Pulp's song, The Fear I've had this in my head for a couple of days now. I (and my colleagues) had to attend a compulsory training session regarding 'dealing with difficult patrons'. After 23 years of working at the library, and most of those spent dealing with the users directly, it seemed a little redundant. However, as they are changing our jobs a bit, and changing our work area a lot, and in a few weeks time we will be standing side by side with our users. We will no longer have a desk between 'us' and 'them'. Some people are quite anxious, as they have been threatened or verbally abused by our users, and now that we'll be standing without a barrier, feelings are running high.

So last friday we attended a half day training course. It was run by two lovely people, who have previously dealt with people in the criminal and prison system. So a bunch of librarians being anxious about students, staff and the public must have seemed like an over reaction. We were told to look at people like they were icebergs. You only see what's above the waterline, but mostly there's a whole lot more going on underneath. They discussed the definitions of aggression and violence, and about how sometimes we can be the straw the broke the camel's back. They talked about making sure you always have an escape route planned and never find yourself cut off from a doorway, especially in a room with only one door. We discussed how sometimes being professional and not engaging with an emotional person can make us be seen as cold and uncaring.

I spent most of this training biting the inside of my lip. I was trying not to cry. All the discussion just made me think that professionally I know what I'm doing. And I think I could probably cope with most things at our service point...and I now know when it's ok to leave. However, it was also like reliving dealings with my Ex. Having to go through the fallout from the breakup, and have someone abuse me verbally, threaten me physically and accuse me of being heartless and cold all came flooding back. I've been trying to work through all this, but BAM it came quite unexpectedly and it hit hard.

At the tea break in training I was talking to colleagues, and said that I understand how and why people get to breaking point. I understand the pressures of juggling life, relationships, finances, study, work etc etc. And I know we all have moments where it can get to be too much. But I wondered where personal responsibility comes into the equation? If we've reached the point of aggressively abusing someone or threatening them, haven't we lost the plot? The teachers did reiterate that none of this behaviour was acceptable, but it was just trying to explain how people get to that point. And I guess that's where I found the training hard. I could appreciate, sympathise, empathise and understand the behaviour - but I cannot excuse it.

In being on the receiving end, it is a hard thing to cop. For things said in seconds can take lifetimes to heal. The teachers discussed ways we need to look after ourselves, and whether that's using the support of friends and/or family, the counseling service at work or a range of other options, it is important that we look after ourselves. I left the training with about a million thoughts racing through my head. On saturday morning it burst and the tide of tears flowed once more. Peter said that it's understandable as the Ex made me feel like rubbish about my decision. Rubbish seemed like the perfect word, as that is exactly how I felt. Like a crumpled piece of paper.

Dealing with the fallout of abusive people can be hard. Whether it's a ranting patron who we just have to deal with once, or the breakdown of a relationship that we are forced to endure for 18 months until things like settlements are legally sorted. Either way, having a great support crew is essential. As is, the understanding that time will eventually heal most wounds...mostly. There will be more bumps in the road along the way, but by letting out the fear and holding tightly to loved one's hands, I'll keep bouncing back. And The Fear will just go back to being a fabulous song by Pulp, rather than a way of life. After all, a life lived in fear, is a life half lived.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Secrets and Lies

make a wish that weighs a tonne
there are no handles for you to hold
and no understanding where it goes

I've been listening to the new Arctic Monkeys album, and it's a grower. I think Alex Turner has a great turn of phrase, and different lyrics always pop out at me. In the last couple of days the words listed above have been making me think. They're from the song 'That's where you're wrong'.

I guess part of the reason these words resonate with me is because I love to make wishes. On the first star I see each night; any birthday candles I blow out; or tossing coins in a wishing well...well...I'm your gal. I guess if I think about it, it's because I need to feel that there is hope. No matter how dire the situation, I need to feel that happiness, or better times are just around the corner. If I didn't think this, I don't know how I'd get out of bed some days. I used to hold some wishes so tightly and secretly for fear that they wouldn't come true if they were known of. Crazy, I know. The signs of a desperate woman perhaps?

But what this did eventually, was make me anxious. I could wish for things in my life, but without action they were pretty unlikely to ever happen. Of course I realise this now, but I've spent many years just kind of believing that things would happen for me, if and when they were supposed to. And for the most part they did. But at some point the time flies by. It seems like yesterday I was in my early thirties, and now I'm 41. It's still hard to believe. Perhaps I spent too long just waiting or hoping that things would work out, instead of taking steps to make things happen.

That's easy if you know what you want in life. But in some ways I've been a meanderer, and sort of stumbled into things. That's great in your 20s, but those birthdays are a not-quite distant memory. I guess I'm realising that sometimes you need to take more control over what happens in your life. Secretly wishing for things, is as good as lying to myself. The hard part is the moment when you realise that something may never happen in your life. A dream unfulfilled. A secret wish that will always remain just that.

Being 41 is great in many ways. I'm now at a point in my life where I feel that the shy girl has found her voice. I'm getting better at speaking up, and maybe learning to ask for what I want. Not just wishing for it to happen. It's been a hard road to get here, but hopefully by paying attention to the road signs and trying to learn from my own mistakes, I'm becoming the person I want to be. Leading the life I want to live. I've also realised that I'm lucky enough to be supported and surrounded by quite a wonderful group of friends, new and old. And the love and support of my amazing husband makes me feel like anything is possible. Although I still wish on stars, I don't need to keep the wishes secret. I don't need to 'make a wish that weighs a tonne'. The burden of hoping doesn't need to weigh me down. I need to speak up and ask for what I want. Here's hoping I get it!