Okay, buckle up, kids, because shit’s about to get real.
I cried in front of my boss yesterday. It was horrible and awkward and super embarrassing. There’s a lot going on in my life and in my head, and most days I’m able to paddle along and stay afloat. But yesterday morning I was feeling overwhelmed and I had an argument with my husband and then I came to work and someone said something that felt critical of my efforts, and when I went in to talk to my boss about something else, it just kind of came out. That’s one of the unfortunate side effects of my depression: I cry super easily and sometimes I’m not able to prevent it.
So, yes, let’s start with the logical and factual and reasonable: my boss is wonderful and supportive. She was kind and said all the right things. In my head I know that what happened was not a disaster.
And yet, here I am, cringing because I don’t want her to think that I’m weak or that I can’t handle my job or my life. I’m embarrassed because I feel like I’m supposed to be strong and capable and competent, and most days I am. What I did left me vulnerable, and in my head that means vulnerable to her thinking less of me.
This morning I chose something purple to wear, and I put on eye makeup that I rarely wear, because I needed those things as a shield. War paint, right? I needed them to help me feel like yesterday was an aberration, not the norm. Then she stopped at my desk and asked how I was doing, and I felt embarrassed again, self-conscious because I don’t want to be on her radar for this kind of reason. I want to be on her radar because I’m awesome at my job. Period.
Why do we do this? Why do we think it’s shameful to be overwhelmed or sad or anxious? Why do we expect so much of ourselves? Why do we think we have to be strong all the time and unaffected by what’s going on around us? Why should we think we have to keep work life and personal life completely separate? They aren’t separate.
I don’t have the answers, obviously. I just have these feelings at war inside me, the one side arguing that what happened was fine, and that we need to be more aware and accepting of those unpleasant emotions. The other side says no, those outbursts are somehow shameful, and I need to project an image of strength and perfection. Yep. I can know it’s wrong and still feel it.
But do you want to know the funny thing? I woke up feeling better today. Part of it was taking care of a nagging home repair, part of it was making up with my husband, and part of it was probably just time and sleep. But I’m wondering if part of it was the release of letting go, because I so rarely get that. I hate to lose control like that, so I hold a lot in, but I also have very few people I feel safe losing control in front of, being that vulnerable in front of.
Plus, if you’re the one always asking people if they’re okay, who’s asking you?
So yesterday was about my body/mind/heart finally saying, “You know what? I know you didn’t ask but I’m actually not okay right now, and I need to let it out.”
I want to support my friends and family, I want to be there for them when they need me. I don’t ever want them to feel like they can’t talk to me. But in doing that, I absorb some of their negative energy that stacks up on top of my own anxieties and worries, and I need to allow myself to release it sometimes, in some way. And I’d like to be able to pick the time and place, rather than emotionally vomit on my boss, you know?
What does that look like? Not sure yet. I’d like to start with regular journaling because writing out my problems helps me so much. I’m not opposed to therapy again, but the therapist I liked is in a very inconvenient location, so I’d have to break in someone new. I probably need to remind myself that it’s okay to be honest with people sometimes, to pick a sympathetic ear and unload occasionally.
These posts are the easiest to write and the hardest to publish, because I know some people in my real life read my blog and this is really painfully honest. But maybe some of them are putting up the same shield. Maybe some of them will realize now that depression can wear a mask much of the time. So for them, I will say what I keep telling myself: It’s okay to not be okay sometimes.