Saturday, January 10, 2015

Not at the top of my 11-letter game

I'm using the light box and taking Vitamin D, but not operating nearly at my best. Proof of that is that I just typed "I'm using Vitamin D and taking the light box." True, I have TV blaring in the background, but my brain is stilted. I don't feel suicidal, I don't hate myself or feel guilty. But I can't deny that I've got some seasonal affective disorder affecting my concentration and processing.

This feels very apparent at work. Increasingly I feel like I don't know what I'm doing and I've bitten off more than I can chew. I've felt this at other jobs, of course, but at this job it's especially pointed because people keep coming to me for answers I don't have.

My supervisor, the program director, has been working at several other tasks and programs around the agency. She's not always in. When she isn't, people come to me for direction. I just got there.

Maybe it's acceptable that I don't know agency policy and procedures. I asked for a manual but never got it. But I'm starting to feel like I don't know anything about clinical work or social services. When faced with a situation or crisis, I either freeze or fumble.

Yesterday my supervisor announced that she's been promoted. She will be overseeing our clinic and several others at the agency. It's wonderful for her but totally sucks for me. She was a big part of the reason I took this job, and now she's leaving.

Touchingly, several of my co-workers begged me to apply for the program director position. "You have the credentials!" they said. "I know you can do it!"

I have 11 letters after my name. But most of the time I feel like I don't know anything.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Saturday, January 03, 2015

Unexpectedly good New Year's

So my plans with the millennial fell through. Not a surprise. They're pretty flaky. Just in time, I was invited to another party -- in Teaneck, NJ. With people my age and older. (Some younger.)

Fortunately, I got a ride there and back fairly easily. But I wasn't thrilled. I hate going to parties by myself, even if I know I'll have friends there. Nevertheless, this party was unexpectedly good. By which I mean that I received a flattering amount of male attention -- although at one point my anger got the best of me.

I've reached a point where I can recognize that my reaction to a situation is completely wrong and irrational. But somehow that doesn't yet prevent me from carrying it out. Here's an example: I started talking to a non-repulsive guy who seemed to be in my age range; call him Doc Maroc, since he's Moroccan. A friend of mine, Delila, came up and started talking too, and Doc Maroc focused more on her than on me. I felt edged out of the conversation, got mad and walked away.

That would have been fine, except that later I went back up to Delila and hissed, "Worst wing-woman ever." Which isn't even true; earlier in the evening she diplomatically found out the age of another guy I was interested in (too young). But I was angry that Delila distracted Doc Maroc from me.

It's not even that Delila  was interested in him. She wasn't. But I got mad, walked off, and then basically attacked her. Looking back, I can't believe I did something that petty and stupid, although readers of this blog probably think that petty stupidity is Ayelet's hallmark. I apologized later, but I know she was taken aback. I hadn't seen her in years, I was thrilled to hang out with her -- why did I ruin it?

So even though I'm mindful of my mistakes, I'm not arresting them. It's even stupider than stupid because later I talked to Doc Maroc and he friended me on Facebook. And said he'd take me to a museum. Of course, he hasn't contacted me since New Year's Eve to make any actual plans. I guess if I don't hear from him in about another week or so, I'll unfriend him.

I met another guy I'm somewhat hung up on. Not just because he's really cute and has an amazing body. He said something incredibly hot to me, and now I can't stop thinking about him. I shall call him Shikker, because when he and I spoke, he was beyond wasted.

I first met Shikker early-ish in the evening. Before I yelled at Delila, who is quite a party girl, she and I were standing and talking with Shikker and a few others. Delila likes to joke that if she gets drunk enough, her clothes will come off. "His too!" she squealed, pointing at Shikker. Now that was something to look forward to. He is medium height, with dark hair and dark blue eyes. Burly, solid, well-defined musculature.

I didn't think Shikker noticed me; honestly, I considered him out of my league. That's why I flirted with Doc Maroc. But later in the evening, Delila and I and a few others were relaxing on the couch, and Shikker wandered over. He was wavering a bit. Plastered. I myself was good and tipsy.

"So are you going to take off your shirt like Delila said you would?" I asked. She and I began giggling. He looked amused, then began to unbutton the plaid button-down shirt he wore loose over his jeans, not tucked in. Underneath was a thermal Yankees shirt. Delila and I shrieked and tittered. He moved his hands over his shirt front vaguely, like he was having trouble working the buttons.

"May I help you with that?" I asked. He smiled vaguely, didn't say yes, but didn't say no, so I stood up and began fumbling with his buttons. He wasn't the only one too drunk to work them easily. But I managed to close them. Then I began stroking his chest and arm.

"Wow, so strong," I said. "Do you work out?"

He regarded me. "Well, sort of," he said. "I practice wing chun kung fu."


We sat down. I think it was at his suggestion. I kept stroking his chest and arms. And face. And ears. He reached around behind me and groped my ass. Maintaining the intense eye contact.

I can't recount our conversation word for word, but it seemed passionate and potent. He told me I was very pretty. I told him his skin was soft. When I think back on it, all I remember is a pleasurable sense of excitement and flirtation. I wasn't thinking about who he is or who I am, what I want from him or any other guy. It was just fun and intoxicating in the moment.

Then he said the most thrilling thing:

"I'm very drunk," he said, "and I want you. I want to take you into another room and do things to you that no man has ever done before."

Every fiber in me sang. Although I can't imagine what exactly that would be, it was exhilarating to hear. Even more stirring was what he said next. Again, I can't remember the exact words, but I believe the upshot was that he didn't want to take advantage of me, so he was just going to take my phone number and then go to the bathroom, because he had to pee "like a racehorse. I heard someone say that in a movie once."

"I've heard the expression," I said as he handed me his phone. I entered my number and hit send. But his phone died before I could save the number with my name as a contact. So I texted him a very flattering selfie I took that evening before the party, after I'd gotten ready.

I've since learned that he's 34, flakey,and divorced with six children, courtesy of my friend Faigie. So he's not a likely candidate for anything but a quickie or brief liaison. But I can't forget what he said to me and how intently he said it. gazing deep into my eyes.

Of course, he could have been beergoggling, and he might not think I'm at all attractive when he's sober. So I'm trying to put him out of my mind.

I posted about this situation in one of my Facebook Jewish singles groups, and ended up attracting the interest of another man.

Went to a fun New Year's party. Two guys took my number, but neither has called. Hate waiting...

He commented: They sure have their eyes closed because they must not know what they're missing out on

He's a Syrian Jewish clothing retailer; call him Secondhand Mose. He's also much younger than I am -- 35, nine years -- but says it doesn't bother him. He seems very nice, and not at all sexy.

But he doesn't mind about my age; he's divorced with a child, and not necessarily interested in having more; and he seems to be a very kind and non-judgmental person. We're haivng coffee tomorrow, and I guess I'll see if I can develop some interest in him.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Monday, December 29, 2014

Yes, it's been a while

It turned out to be something of a difficult autumn and winter. The light box is helping, but I'm still mildly down, lacking initiative, shy, reluctant, dulled. My brain isn't very sharp. This isn't great because I have a newer new job.

I don't want to discuss the circumstances that led me to leave the job I thought was my rescue and salvation. Suffice to say they were humiliating. I have some distance now and can see some of the mistakes I made, including trying too hard and caring too much and pushing myself into a frenzy, which made me do and say really stupid things. Still not sure why I can't stop myself from making these mistakes, even as I'm developing the ability to recognize them as I commit them.

Ever feel like your life is like a car accident happening as you watch and can't stop it?

Fortunately, I found another job where they seem to like me well enough. It's not ideal, but it's not terrible. I'm catching on relatively well, I think, and making some progress. With difficulty. Because I'm not thinking as quickly and clearly as I'd like to. Is "depression brain" a thing, like "pregnancy brain"? It should be.

The knee therapy is going reasonably well, but not so well that I can really exercise enough to boost my spirits. I have to watch it or I overdo it and regret it.

My social life is nonexistent. Officially. Unofficially, I've taken up messing with millennials. Dating for marriage didn't work out for me, now I'm trying to have some fun. Of course I'm being safe, as far as STD protection goes. When things go south I still get hurt. Too easily. Fortunately, there appears to be an unlimited source of millenials who like women my age, so if one doesn't work out, I'm on to the next.

Which brings us to New Year's. After much consideration, and wading through about 300 responses to an ad on Craigslist ("I'm the hot aunt you always wanted to nail at Christmas Dinner" -- along those lines), I might have a date. With a 28-year-old who seems grounded, cute, smart, and nice.

Am I insane for pursuing a "relationship" with someone technically young enough to be my son? I don't know. I don't know if I'll fall in love with him, or with the 31-year-old I had on tap until he allegedly contracted bronchitis. He asked for a raincheck; I guess if I have some free time I'll give him another shot.

I do know that I'm slightly happier and less lonely, fielding all the texts and emails, although the sex isn't as intensely pleasurable as I remember it being with my ex. But then I was young and foolish, so there you go.

Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Tuesday, October 07, 2014

Ayelet takes a shot in the dark

Woke up this morning at 3 am with a pounding heart. Not unusual, but hasn't happened for a while. Work has been very stressful; I walked in on one of my subordinate, joking around, giving the Nazi salute and saying"Heil Hitler" -- and my supervisor seemed more pissed at my reaction than her action -- i.e., I said in front of others, "Please don't do that" rather than taking her aside to discuss it.

I stood my ground and refused to give a written statement of my actions, because I didn't want it to be used against me, and my supervisor backed down. But only enough to meet with me and the subordinate to say that some jokes aren't appropriate for the workplace.

For the workplace? What about ANYWHERE?

That, and some other work shit I don't want to get into, has me on edge. Which could be another reasson for the insomnia and tachycardia. So I went online, did a little shoe/jewelry shopping, and while surfing MSN came across an incredible article: Ambitious plan to treat mentally ill inmates, built on a father’s anguish

By his count, Francis J. Greenburger has built or owned more than 20,000 apartments over the past 50 years.... Yet for all of his 20-million-square-foot empire, the project Mr. Greenburger may be most excited about — certainly the one he is most determined to build — is a 25-bed center to treat convicts with mental illnesses. 

"These aren’t criminals,” Mr. Greenburger said during an interview last week at his 15th floor office at 55 Fifth Avenue. “These are people who have committed crimes, mostly because they don’t know any better or they are acting out on impulse. And study after study has shown that prison only makes this behavior worse.”

I couldn't agree more. So I sent him my resume with this note:

Subject: Social worker committed to re-entry and reintegration for ex-offenders with mental illness‏   
Dear Mr. Greenburger,

I just read the New York Times article about your new initiative and had to write to you immediately. I don't know if you are hiring, but your organization is doing exactly what I have hoped to do since I entered John Jay's forensic psychology master's program in 2002: advocate and care for people with serious mental illness who are entangled in the criminal justice system. Because recovery is possible, but only in an appropriate and therapeutic setting.

In addition to my MA, I have my LCSW and CASAC, and I am a certified substance abuse detoxification acupuncturist. I've treated parolees, probationers, and other court-involved clients in a forensic outpatient substance abuse and dual diagnosis treatment program, I provided clinical supervision for 16 counselors in Beth Israel's methadone program, and I have some experience in supportive housing. I would like to submit my resume for your consideration, or just to meet you and share ideas.


Ayelet's name and 11 more letters

I forgot to mention Andrea Yates, who really catapulted me into this field, but I think it's still a pretty good letter.

I also interviewed for a different re-entry job at an agency that assists young ex-offenders with career development and placement. It's very clinical, because in order to go from being a drug dealer to being a legit employee, you have to make significant changes to your mindset. I sent them my resume on Saturday, and on Sunday the CEO emailed me to ask me to call and set up an interview, which I attended a week ago.

I thought it went well. I interviewed with him and his second-in-command and sent a thank-you email as soon as I got home. I think he intended to forward it to the second-in-command, but responded instead:

She has the passion, that's for sure

I do share your connect ability with the guys

I bet [name redacted] would like her

Haven't heard anything, but it felt good to be interviewing. To get my LCSW I spent way too long in a job I hated way too much. So I'm going to explore my options aggressively if I'm not happy. I've worked tirelessly for my current agency, I've been incredibly productive and creative, and yet I still get blamed for everything that goes wrong. Like being saluted with "Heil Hitler." So if I get a better offer, or even an equivalent offer, I'm moving on.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Friday, October 03, 2014

Speaking in tongues: The Fake-Nice Social Worker, the Angry Psychiatrist

I have always been a straight shooter, speaking my mind and letting people know exactly how I felt about what they are doing. That is not always effective; it failed me spectacularly in my first job out of social work school. Now that I'm a manager and have to deal with outside agencies and clients at a fairly high level, I have to be effective. If' I'm annoyed at someone, I can't just tell them. It's simply not pragmatic, because then they'll get annoyed too and won't do what I want them to do.

Deliberately managing how I speak and interact with people feels duplicitous and manipulative to me, but for most of the world I think it falls under the category of "diplomatic" and "think before you speak." So I'm learning how to control and strategically deploy my tone of voice, rate of speech, and choice of words. (Apparently being a manager means managing yourself more, not just your subordinates.)

Right now I've developed two basic modes of communication that are more effective than the Ayelet blunt go-to of "This is how I feel and what you have to do because I say so." It sometimes surprises me how effective they are.

The Fake-Nice Social Worker

This is the tone and demeanor I employ when I'm trying to get an annoying person to stop doing the inappropriate thing they're doing, like calling me or a case manager incessantly to check on their application (still in progress, just like it was yesterday) or showing up at the residence every day to see if they're qualified to apply to live there when they are not. (This actually happened.) Or when I'm trying to get them to do something they are reluctant to do.

In person, FNSW begins with a big smile, like I'm seeing one of my nieces or nephews and I am delighted they're there. On the phone, I add an element of delighted surprise when they identify themselves and I greet them. Then I ask how they're doing, pretend I'm interested in their answer and respond accordingly, and speak in slow, soothing cadences with lots of pauses. Unlike my usual rapid-fire peppered-with-witticisms verbal delivery.

I guess I use a similar tone when I'm conducting therapy with clients who are fragile and need more emotional holding, but then I have a clinical justification for not talking the way I usually do.

When I lay the bad news on them, my tone and expression turn tragic, like I'm so sorry I have to tell them this and it just isn't fair but lamentably, that's the way it is and I am powerless to do anything about it. I explain painstakingly why the bad news has to be and offer hope that maybe some other solution will work out, or, if there is something they can do, encourage them to do it as though their doing it is personally important to me.

I hate being in FNSW mode. It feels completely artificial and manipulative. But I can't think of another way to get people to thank me for giving them bad news.

The Angry Psychiatrist

This is the tone I use to convey extreme disapproval without getting loud or abusive. It's called "the Angry Psychiatrist" because I've never met a psychiatrist who actually yelled at me, yet they manage to convey extreme quiet disapproval. Psychologists don't seem to have the same stricture, because I've gotten yelled at by good ones (Albert Ellis) and bad ones (Dr. Jerk).

AP is also delivered more slowly than my normal discourse, but the pauses are ominous, to give them time to take in the measured disapproval. I explain in painstaking detail why what they are doing or saying is inappropriate or inaccurate, such as an agency again sending us one check for several clients when we requested, in writing far in advance, separate checks for separate clients. I clearly and slowly detail the negative consequences that such conduct will likely lead to if they do not change what they are doing.

My psychiatrist friend Joey hates when I make fun of psychiatrists, but it was actually an argument with him that inspired me to create this persona. I think at one point he said, "Well, I'm very sorry you feel that way" and I cried, "Don't do that! Don't talk like I'm an annoying patient and you're the angry psychiatrist!" I don't think he's done that since, and I would much rather he yell at me than treat me like a difficult patient.

I have to be careful how much I use AP because at the end of the day it still reveals you're angry. But it's much more effective than yelling and getting frustrated.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"