Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Ayelet messes with The Man

I'm depressed. Not just my opinion -- Dr. New thinks so. A few weeks ago I was put on Synthroid by Dr. Cool, and ever since I've been miserable. Headaches, nausea, wooziness. It immobilized me, and huddling in my small apartment, my mood has worsened. It doesn't help that it's winter, I'm not getting any exercise, I missed my Apostherapy appointment and my knee pain is worse, and I can't face going back to my job.

Fortunately, Dr. New says I don't have to, as far as she's concerned. Not yet. She increased my Cymbalta, something my previous psychiatrist would never have considered. She also thinks I should see an endocrinologist, so I'll be making some phone calls tomorrow, and hopefully an appointment.

The day before I started the Synthroid, I had a job interview. I thought it went well, but I didn't hear back, so I guess it didn't, or someone else's went better. Another job I interviewed for lost its funding. I'm not remotely well enough to start a new job, so missing those opportunities isn't the worst thing. But I still get job opening emails, and sometimes I submit my resume.

Sent it off today for an opportunity called "Clinical Professional LCSW." The job description was kind of vague, but I'm a clinical professional with a LCSW, and they said it was with a terrific agency. Turns out, it's for a position that I almost interviewed for in November.

I say "almost" because I scheduled an interview, then got a voicemail from the interviewer saying he needed to reschedule. I called a few times but only ever got his voicemail, so I left a message with some times I'd be available. No response. It struck me as odd. I started to wonder if I was blacklisted from the agency, since I'd sent in my resume a few times and had never been called for an interview. Which kinda hurt because my second-year internship was with this agency -- a different office, but still.

Ultimately, I interviewed for a similar position at yet another branch of the agency (it's pretty large). They had me do an enormous application -- not just listing where you went to school starting with elementary, but pages and pages of "what would you do in this scenario"? I don't like filling out applications -- I consider it beneath me and a waste of my time. Doctors don't fill out stupid job applications like a teenager trying to get a job at McDonald's. Social workers shouldn't either, especially social workers with two master's degrees.

But I did the whole damn application, and then learned that the salary range is below acceptable. Seriously, if you want an LCSW you should be prepared to pay more than $58,000. That is just pathetic.

So today, after I sent off my resume, they responded quickly. I don't want to quote their email, but they said that they'd like to present me as a candidate if I were interested and the salary range was acceptable to me. The opportunity is the same one I applied for in November. (At least I think it is. It's a big agency and that location has several clinicians at that level, so it could be another clinical coordinator in that building.)

I blithely responded that the salary range was insufficient, but I'd be happy to discuss any other opportunities they have. I didn't expect to hear back again in the same day, but the recruiter asked if I'd like to be submitted with a higher minimum salary.

I don't know why I said yes. I mean, if the interviewer was interested in me, he'd have rescheduled. I guess I wanted to seem agreeable to the recruiter, although my limited experience with them hasn't been that wonderful. There was one recruiter who, last October, actually pushed me to get my LCSW so I could interview for a position. After the interview I never heard from him or the agency. Which was upsetting, because I didn't know what I did wrong. I have two other recruiters who've left me voicemail recently, and I need to stall them because I'm not really up for an interview right now.

I suppose I thought it would be fun to mess with the interviewer that blew me off. Although now that I think about it, it's a little risky. I'm not going to be in interview shape for at least a week, probably longer.

Yonina and I have patched things up after our fight. She's a mature adult, after all, and she loves me despite the mess I am. I still haven't decided whether I want to go to Jerusha for the Seders. My mother called last night; I told her I wasn't talking to her and hung up.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Sunday, January 05, 2014

Ayelet doesn't always fight fair

I got an email from my sister, Jerusha.

I am doing the Seders. Mom and the Survivors are coming. Some of the our Long Island cousins are coming for one Seder, and the Survivors' friends the Millers may come for one as well. 

We would love to have you join us.

I've been too sick most of this autumn to visit the kids at their father's. And I miss them terribly. But badly enough to cope with Jerusha's sharp tongue and my mother's betrayal? I don't know. So I sent an instant message to my cousin Yonina.

Ayelet: Jerusha invited me for the sedarim.
Yonina: That's nice! I hope you will join us!
A: I don't know.

She responded with an extra-large weepy emoticon.

A: I hate how horrible she is to me. It's really unpleasant.
Y: Well, it would be nice to see you. I know that the kids and I would all really love seeing you- and you can spend your time with us-
If you decide not to come- let's make a plan to have dinner in the city one night while I'm there?

That's when I struck a low blow.

A: I don't appreciate you not validating the effect her behavior has on me, or that it's inappropriate.

And last time I made plans with you, and then got sick, you blew me off.

All of you just enable her behavior.

Two years ago, Yonina and I were supposed to go out to dinner during her Passover visit to the East Coast. Then I got sick from taking passion flower supplements, which was probably another incident of serotonin syndrome:

I tried passion flower supplements, which are supposed to be Nature's benzodiazepines, and ended up sick in bed for several days. Nausea, stomach cramps that felt like I was being wrung out like a rag, palpitations. Withdrawal. 

Yonina was supposed to come see me and didn't.

Y: I'm sorry that you feel so hurt by her behavior. I don't what I can say? I care very much about you- I don't recall blowing you off either, but if I have hurt you in some way- I'm so sorry-

I really hate "I'm sorry you feel." It means, "You're wrong about what's happening and just making yourself feel hurt by it."

A:We were supposed to have dinner. You flew home early instead. Then you had Jerusha over for a visit.

Nobody in this family says anything about her behavior. That's the problem. You're all just part of the abuse.

Why don't you ever tell her that what she's doing is wrong?

Y: I flew home early instead because my dog died suddenly and I was totally devastated.
Jerusha had plans to attend a conference in SF- so we spent some time together between her meeting sessions

I'm still holding a grudge, one of the things I do best. As a therapist I know how toxic this is, but knowing something's wrong and letting go are just not the same. I'm tired of feeling like people treat me as a lesser being in my family. So I hit hard again.

A: You didn't seem devastated when you took her to a baseball game.

I know it's not fair to bring up something that happened almost two years ago. I guess it angers me that Jerusha acts so coldly toward me and nobody calls her on it, and I get sick and nobody takes care of me. And it's pointless, because nobody sees things the way crazy Ayelet does.

Y: I honestly don't see what she is doing. I am so sorry that you feel this way- I do talk with her about your relationship to one another- but I cannot change either one of you- so I am just going to listen. It is not my place to tell you or anyone else what they should do.

You know what, I am done with this conversation. I will talk with you later.

Which is of course the mature thing to do: end an unfair fight and talk later when both parties have cooled down. But I'm not sure this can ever be resolved. If she can't see how inconsiderate and hurtful Jerusha's behavior is, then she's enabling it. And to say that she can't change me intimates that she thinks I'm doing something wrong. Also infuriating. Not that I think I'm perfect, but I was never as nasty to Jerusha as she is to me, over the years. Except after my niece's bat mitzvah weekend, when Jerusha was so flagrantly rude and unappreciative that I told her,

"I totally get why your husband left you for his secretary."

That's more or less the last communication I've had with her. And I don't think I'll go there for Pesach. I don't want to see Jerusha, I don't want to see my mother, and right now, I don't want to see Yonina either. Hopefully after I start feeling better, I'll be able to visit the kids at their father's again.

I did slip in one final barb:

At Shira's bat mitzvah, half of Jerusha's friends didn't even know she had a sister. That's not a hurtful behavior? To pretend I don't exist?

Because it is not all in my head.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Friday, January 03, 2014

A somewhat happy New Year's

Living without any painkillers at all is not difficult if you don't have to walk around too much and you can apply warmth to dull the pain somewhat. I've been using my old knee braces, which are masters of insulation, and covering up with several layers of clothing: leggings, thermals, and a fleece sweater as a lap robe. Of course, this would be difficult to do at the clinic. Since I can't take tramadol anymore, the next best option is codeine.

I'm more or less recovered from the serotonin syndrome; no more awful headaches, wooziness, or nausea. My lithium levels were tested and came back WAY low, so I'm pretty sure we can increase my dose. My thyroid results were somewhat abnormal, which might mean that the lithium is finally, inexorably destroying my thyroid function. But that's easily controlled with synthetic thyroid hormone.

I see Dr. New today and need to see Dr. Cool as well, for a new codeine prescription and more blood work to determine how poorly my thyroid is faring, but that won't happen for a few more days thanks to the huge storm that blew in last night.

What did I do on New Year's? I went to a small party given by friends of a friend. I'm not feeling 100% myself; the lithium dose is too low. But I've been relaxing at home, not stressing out at work, so I figured I could handle a small party, and I didn't want to be home alone again by myself. Fortunately, my friend Chester (yes, strange name for a Jewish guy) and his wife Amanda invited me to join them at a friend's soiree.

The first person I saw was Ikey Abadi. As usual, he thought I looked fantastic. "You've lost weight!" he said. (Thank you, Apostherapy. Walking in wobbleboard shoes really does tone your muscles.)

"I have," I said. "But you thought I looked great when I was bigger, too."

"Listen," he said. "I love women, and I don't discriminate. Fat women, I love their curves. Skinny women, I love their..." He paused, seeking a descriptive.

"Angles?" I suggested.

"Exactly!" He reminded me not to tell any future Cohen that I meet of my inappropriate status.

"Do you wish I hadn't told you?" I asked him.

"Listen, back then, it mattered more to me than it does now," he admitted. "But you go ahead and meet a Cohen now and marry him, and I won't say a word."

I also ran into my disastrous percocet date. Fortunately, this time I was able to greet him lucidly. There was a karaoke machine, which of course I couldn't resist, belting out a few numbers, even though few people seemed to be paying attention. One of my new year's resolutions is to sing more, because singing makes me happy.

As I was getting ready to go, I joined a group of three other women waiting for the elevator.

"I really enjoyed your karaoke-ing," one told me. "You did such a great job!" Tall, blonde, heavy but curvy with a very pretty face.

"Thanks," I said.

"I'm Susan," she said. "You look familiar."

"Ayelet," I responded. "I think I've seen you on Facebook."

"That's it!" she said. "Where do you live?" I told her. "That's not far from me. Do you want to split a cab? My feet are killing me."

"I can drop you guys," said one of the other women in the elevator. "I just have to get my car from the garage." Which was really nice of her. Susan and I chatted in the lobby as we waited. We talked about our frustration concerning dating. Like me, she's out of her thirties and not a perfect size six, and she was feeling somewhat sad and desperate about her situation.

"It's not us," I said. "It's the men. They're seeking perfection, when they're nothing special. Did you see Steve sitting on the couch?" I asked her. Steve is a guy I went out with years ago.

"We had one date," I said, "and he made absolutely no effort. Didn't pick me up at my door, just went to the cafe and sat and waited. Waited 45 minutes to call and ask where I was. And then when I got there... he was barely present. Didn't really talk much; it was like pulling teeth. And this was years ago, when I was thinner. Just sat there in his baseball cap, as if I couldn't tell he was bald, and acted like he really didn't care if I was there or not."

"Do you think he's gay?" she asked.

"I've heard theories that a lot of the older single guys on the west side are gay," I said. "So maybe. Or maybe he's just waiting for Cinderella to sweep him off his feet, and anyone lesser is just not worth his while."

"Where do you usually daven?" she asked. Tough question. I hedged.

"If I have a lunch invitation, usually I'll go where my hosts go," I said. "But mainly I sleep in these days. Going to shul is so difficult when you're older and single. You stand around and see all the new young things socializing, and you feel judged by everyone there."

"That's so true," she said. "That's exactly how I feel."

The car was retrieved and we piled in. The conversation continued, as the other two ladies were also both 40something and single. We didn't come up with any answers, but we did commiserate. (And yes, I realize this means that it's possible my single status is not only due to the pornography I was inappropriately exposed to during my adolescence, but I still think that played a significant part.)

So New Year's wasn't a triumph, but it wasn't a tragedy. I'm feeling better every day, in terms of the serotonin syndrome, although my anxiety is uncomfortably high due to the lack of lithium in my system. My employers are sending me leave of absence paperwork instead of harshly threatening me about my absence, which is kind of out of character for them, but fortunate for me.

I have a job interview in a few days at a new agency located near my apartment, and supposedly I'll soon have a follow-up for one of the positions I interviewed for in December and really liked. If I can find a better job, I think I'll be much more content. (And I think a few days of lithium could really make a difference in how I feel. Last time I went up from 600 to 900 mg, I felt better almost immediately. Until the serotonin syndrome kicked in.)

I'm looking for a better job not just in terms of my responsibilities, but in terms of the personalities and office politics. Where I currently work is a toxic mix that the witches of Macbeth would relish. There must be better agencies out there who pay more than lip service to employee wellness. I know, because I've interviewed at a few. The job wasn't the right fit, but the agency was non-toxic, as far as I could tell.

Also, I'll try to be more social without being a heat-seeking marriage missile. To enjoy my life as it is without trying too hard to upgrade it.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"