Trust, At My Workplace

As I have said, I am in the middle of having a nervous breakdown.

Afiya contract

Afiya contract

I know what to do, and I am doing it. My breakdown is moving me forward, into ”Breaking Through”. And what I am moving through and into is more trust, in a culture where trust (and the lack of it) has left me post-traumatically stressed, with some pretty powerful triggers primed and ready to explode.

Sad but True Trust Point #1:

We in the Mad Pride movement –who work jobs anywhere “inside the system”– still must present as The Exceptionals.   San Dylan Finch says this very well, below:

books at Afiya

I am using the tools that I have gathered over the many years of my wild and crazy life.  I map my  warning signs; and also when things are beginning to break down. This doesn’t always play out so well, in a corporate system of written requests for time off, FMLA, sick days, personal days, days without pay…

bath at Afiya

bath at Afiya

Not if you are someone who has been On The Wrong Side Of The Locked Door.

Sad But True Trust Point #2 :

The Exceptionals are NOT supposed to fall down again. Ever.

14 months into my very heart-opening work in a (trying very hard to be) progressive social service agency and one month before I emigrate to Canada, I find my warning signs signaling that I need to prioritize self-care to maintain my sanity this round of Life Catastrophes. And the triggers cluster around racism, ageism, and misogyny.

ART from Afiay stay 1So staying sane while a Black sixty year old living in rural Vermont became a priority, after several episodes that rubbed my nose in this—




Sad But True Trust Point #3:

I regularly work with white AmeriKKKans who have:

— a. never had a Black person in their home

room at Afiya

room at Afiya

–b. have never had to answer to the authority of anyone Black

–c. are a part of a culture that sexualizes Black women and openly and dismissively comments on our appearance regularly.

Last week Monday, I had a perfect storm of triggering, involving two white women with tattoos and an SUV. My interaction left me feeling murderous RAGE at these women.

And a reality check on what might happen if I expressed even one TENTH of what I was feeling– anywhere in my work environment– shocked me and left me feeling helpless and confused.

I have named this for what it is. I am having a Spiritual “EMERGE And See”.

a map of my own relationship to RACISM

a map of my own relationship to RACISM

What I am seeing isn’t so pretty with respect to naming problems in a financially stressed social support system, with overwhelmed and overworked staff and too many vacancies. Under a new administration whose “super CALLOUS, fascist, racist extra-bragadocious” exploits of less than one hundred days are becoming legendary.

from the Boston sister march, with the Women's March inWashington

from the Boston sister march, with the Women’s March inWashington

So my Wellness Recovery Plan for Staying Sane While Black in Vermont has action steps like this:

–limit your exposure to police cars and blue flashing lights to no more than FOUR episodes in a 24 hour period.

–don’t walk into any situations where there are three or more white men are standing/ sitting around wearing baseball caps (no, what is on the caps is NOT important—ANY baseball caps).

–look THROUGH police officers, do NOT try to engage them with a friendly smile or a “Have a nice day, officer” any more (I am up to 8 stops by police since I began counting in 2014)

–look THROUGH white men who look like they voted for Trump (yes I have signs I look for that usually play out as accurate predictions); do NOT try to engage them with a friendly smile or a “have a nice day”. This, after one man coldly stared back at me, pointed his fingers at me and made a signal as if he was firing a gun into my chest.

Using my WRAP Plan, that meant that Wednesday’s plans for hang out time between a 9:30 a.m. medical appointment and a 2 p.m. supervisor’s meeting were re-scheduled, when I had reached the magic number of THREE police cars by 9:15 in the morning.

9:15 a.m.                                                                         

Mike Keefe cartoon, from the Denver Post

Mike Keefe cartoon, from the Denver Post


And I wasn’t even using the major highway!

I imagine that I am sweating out/crying out/raging out my deep feelings of FOOLISHNESS, over expecting more from my country. I never really believed that white people of working class and white women of all classes would actually react to eight years of Blackness in the white house with this level of VEHEMENCE.

Van Jones named it “whitelash”:

What will Get Me Through is challenging, because it has never been my strong point. That is my sense of humor.

I am at a Peer Led Respite, taking inventory, while I prepare to embrace a level of “Devil May Care” and SPIRITUAL Trust that reclaims the little girl in me that Was Always Too Much:

“And yet she persists.”

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One Response to Trust, At My Workplace

  1. WOW…I am so blown away…Glad you are there though. Sorry you could not stay at the other place you reached out to, though. Powerful piece…Blows me away. Thank you. Pam

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