In 2006 new management took over the company where I worked. Within a few short months the HR department was handed a big fat check and directed to spend it on sensitivity training. I welcomed the excuse to miss work for two days. I was a shell of an employee. I had just returned to my job after a five month absence. Five long, torturous months after surgery I walked into the building a shadow of my former self. I felt broken. My twenty-seven year old body had betrayed me and I was struggling to come to terms with my health and my future.
Five months is a long time to be away from work. During my absence my manager was replaced, members of my team moved on to other projects and my cubicle was occupied by a new employee. On my first day back I had no where to sit. My stuff sat in boxes in the corner of a coworker’s cube.
When a friend stopped by to say hello an employee on the other side of my cubicle shushed me. I was telling a very emotional story about my first trip to the emergency room. I was already on the verge of tears and just wanted to shrink into a little ball and disappear.
I don’t remember much about those training sessions. I remember that it occurred offsite. I remember that my arm still ached and my heart throbbed. I remember that I fought to hold back tears as we listened to guided meditation and my thoughts began to run amok in my mind, but I don’t remember much about what I learned or how it was supposed to make me a better employee.
Most of my coworkers didn’t want to be there, but they really didn’t want to be attending to their weekly tasks either. Who wants to sit in a cubicle all day? Who wants to stare at a computer screen? Who wants to sit through endless meetings? Not many.
The majority of participants went through the motions of listening and responding, but I remember being fully awake and alive during those sessions. It was there that I learned about the pause button. In essence, the need to halt your words and emotions. We learned how to quiet our minds and hearts to be fully present in the moment; to reflect on what was being said by someone else and how those words made us feel before reacting to them.
It has been a long time since I attended those training sessions, but I still employ this technique whenever I feel overwhelmed. I try my best to quiet my mind and my mouth before reacting; sometimes I am more successful than other times.
A week and a half ago I suffered unexpected effects from a course of antibiotics. The side effects of the medication left my body aching and my heart quite pained. It’s one of those side effects that is only supposed to happen to 1% of the population and I happen to be in that lucky 1%. I have dealt with my fair share of medical complications before and do not wish to relive any of it. I wanted to scream and cry. I’ll be honest I did a lot of both of things, but ultimately I hit the pause button and reflected on the situation.
I am still alive. Although this is extremely painful it will not kill me. I am ill but still able to care for my son. I am still capable of walking and talking even if it pains me. I am grateful for all that I have. I am thankful for a husband that will support me through these medical complications just as he supported me through my previous medical hurdles. Did I mention that I am thankful and grateful?
I still want to curse and scream and say why me, but there are many worse things that could happen and in the big scheme of medical conditions this is certainly not the worst to have. I can choose to continue on with life. To find things to be happy about and to hope that this too shall pass. My neurologist seems quite hopeful that the side effects are temporary.
Perhaps as much as I am pressing the pause button on my own thoughts and fears a higher power is pushing the pause button for me. If nothing else being ill or caring for someone with an illness puts all of the little things back into perspective. All of those little piddly annoyances in life are no longer a big deal.
You can choose to mope about a situation or press on. Although the pause button was pressed for me it does not mean life will not carry on.