Thoughts inside a therapist's mind.....
Shelley Shaffer, MS, LPCC | Shaffer Professional Services | 12/03/2019
WTF? Work ‘Til FRIDAY!!
How many times do you tell yourself, “I just have to make it to Friday?” I sure wish I had a dollar for each time I’ve said it…wait, I’d even take a dime for each time! I’d still be sitting pretty! The worst part? I made up little phrases that would “help” me get through my work week.
Monday – well, there’s really no way to jazz up a Monday, so it was “just Monday”. That became a part of my vocabulary: “How you doin, Shelley?” “Well, it’s Monday”. Like Monday is such a fantabulous descriptor? But everyone knew what THAT meant. And it’s even stranger when you ask someone (on a Wednesday or literally any day OTHER than Monday), “How ya doin’?” and their response, “Well, it’s my Monday”. They’re not meaning it feels like a Monday, it really IS their Monday. I have always worked in 24/7 facilities, so they need to be staffed 24/7, so someone’s weekend might be a Wednesday/Thursday instead of Saturday/Sunday. And don’t get me started on holidays “off”…..
Okay, Tuesday became “at least we’re past Monday”. Again, Monday is such a descriptive, yet pejorative word that it is sufficient for poor little Tuesday to “just not be Monday”. Poor Tuesday. It’s a long-standing joke in my family that, if you want to indefinitely delay something, you agree to “Talk about it on Tuesday” or to “go ____ on Tuesday”. My nephew once greeted me with a boisterous “Ni hao, Bob!” (Yes, my nickname is Bob, but that’s for another blogday) I asked him where he learned Chinese and he responded, without any hesitation, “In China”. You see, he was like 4 or 5, and I’d think I would’ve known if he went to China so I look at this kid, defiantly (or confidently, idk) staring at me, hands on hips, awaiting some Bob-wisdom. So, the best I could do was, “When did you go to China?” After an exhaustively long sigh, and I’m recalling some sort of eye-rolling included, he stated, “On Tuesday!” He figured us out. We’d have kept that Tuesday schtick going if it wasn’t for that meddling kid…..
Wednesday. Well, that’s OVER HALF-WAY!!! It’s also the longest day for me, as a private practitioner. I still haven’t figured out why most client want to meet mid-week….is it to prepare for the weekend? Because they need a little pick-me-up after “Monday” and “Not Monday?” I have no clue but I start early in the morning and it easily could be a 12-hour day if I didn’t have some darn solid healthy coping tools like boundaries, or forgetting my glasses places, or turning my phone on silent during a session and forgetting to turn the sound back on…But it’s also church night because I don’t want to get out of my jammies on Sundays. Sometimes I miss a service if I’m working late but I think God understands. I mean, He’s the one who kept giving me all these signs to open a practice, right? He gets it. I hope.
Thursday is FRIDAY EVE!! Wahoo!! It means I’ve survived almost a whole ‘nother week! I’m one day closer to my weekend!! I’m so excited I can barely stand it, like a kid on, well, Christmas Eve! (That’s when my family opened presents. Yes, we had to wait ‘til after church, dinner, AND THE DISHES had to be DONE before we could all formally gather to open gifts. This was back in the day before dirt was invented, so of course there wasn’t a proper dishwasher not named “Mom”, “Grandma”, “Aunt Someone”, or “the kids should do them this year”. But you know that, when you lay down your head on Thursday night, it’ll be Friday when you wake up!! Sometimes a nightmare or snoring dog(s) will wake me and I can’t even articulate the frustration if it’s before midnight. Then I woke up and it IS NOT FRIDAY yet.
- I cannot be sleepy at work. It’s just not ok to yawn when people are sharing their deepest darkest secrets. But it happens. Please know I’m NOT bored. I’m a person, just like you. I’m juggling family, life, work, and a few extra pounds too. There’s no such thing as a “work/life balance”. I call “shenanigans” on any person who truly “balances” work and life. Although I absolutely LOVE what I do, I’m sorry, I do NOT give it the same “weight” as my life. Therefore, Work and Life should NOT balance. Life should be the older sister on the see-saw with Work being that little sister sitting way high, waiting for big sister starting to sob, yelling to let her down from “WAAAAAAY up here, Shellllleeeeeeeeey!” (I should probably apologize to one of my sisters for that, btw. That could’ve been mighty traumatic). But I digress, Work is not equal to my Life. You can love what you do for Work but here’s my perspective: I work for several reasons – to pay for all of those things I love to do, to afford to be able to see the people I love, and because I’m just not a good sitter-arounder. I Work so I can live my Life. Not “balance” the two. If they were truly “balanced”, we’d have a much longer weekend too, and I don’t see that happening anytime soon, so there you have it. It’s a Work/Life Blend. Just add Sleep.
And here we are, Finally Friday! What’s so darn special about this day? Well every other one is usually a pay-day! Just reminding you that you work all week to get an invisible check. Seriously, when was the last time you actually SAW your money? Going in or out? We don’t. We work all week to get reassured that there’s money that was deposited at some point that day. But be quick or it’ll all go out, also without you seeing it. It’s in the timing, am I right? I remember having to play “who’s going to get it first?” when I was a young, single mom in grad school. Whoever had the date closest to payday got the money. Oh, the memories…and the stress…and the Ramen. So much Ramen….
− The stress that comes with our finances is one of the number one causes of marriage breakdowns. And whereas there’s a really good job market right now, there are over 11,000 people HOMELESS in Seattle. I know this because I watched the last “60 Minutes”. One individual worked full-time as a postal carrier and lived in an old RV parked on a boulevard. There’s just no affordable housing there. And we’ve seen the stories about “Tent Cities” in our state of Minnesota. I can’t even imagine – winters are hard enough when you have a home. Yes, there are some “problems” that come with being a homeowner, but at least I own a home, that has a furnace, with running water, a few beds, and have running cars. I sometimes forget how absolutely lucky and blessed I am. I promise, the next time I complain that I can’t go out to eat, I’m going to remember that there are many out there that won’t even eat, let alone have someone else cook and serve it to them.
− Fridays. We wait all week for it to come and then? Well, I’m usually too pooped to do anything. We made it through yet another work week, we should be more energized, right? We have two days to rest, relax, rejuvenate…who am I kidding? Unless you’ve got a housekeeper, groundskeeper, general maintenance worker, chauffeur, and a spare teacher you pay for tutoring, we’ve got more “work” to do in just two little days that seem to somehow go by twice as fast as those other 5, am I right? Cleaning, laundry, mowing/blowing snow, fixing those things that keep breaking down, carpooling kids from one activity/game in whatever-town-this-weekend-let-me-check-the-schedule-where-are-we-again?, helping with homework, and then finding time to see family, friends, alone time with your partner,…you see where I’m going with this? It can all be SO overwhelming even for someone who feels comfortable leaving their home, seeing people, sleeping well, having energy to tackle the above lists, and isn’t constantly on hyper-alert, worrying about how much they’re worrying about the same thing they can’t recall exactly why they’re worrying, trying so hard to find the energy to shower or brush their teeth, or is too hungover/under the influence because they’re tired to “feel” anything anymore. Yes, these people exist and they just might be your work-spouse, your live-in partner, next-door neighbor, child (age is irrelevant), boss, or even yes, you.
We can’t forget about Saturday. Saturday is where we try and find that magic o’clock hour where we got to “sleep in” but not too late that we “lost the day”. What time IS that, anyway? Saturday is sometimes the only time I get to shop, but it’s also the day all of the planets align for every available human being to shop as well. And I’m not a fan of crowds. At all. Two decades and change in a corrections environment makes me watch everyone, find the exits before I go into a store/restaurant/bar, sit with my back to the wall, and never let my guard down. Why? Well, someone’s got to be on perimeter check – there’s always something that “could happen”. Wait, it’s not my JOB, right? Well, not technically, but I would feel responsible if something bad were to happen and I didn’t rush into help. Or at least be a good witness for later.
- I’m going to share a couple of things here: I’ve been assaulted. I’ve been an abuse victim. I’ve been on the wrong end of some really strong orange spray (it was an “oops” but it still ruined my angora sweater, the ONE time I wore nice clothes to prison). I got used to being “on guard”. I got used to having Squad available to rescue me faster than I could finish the “call”. I’ve seen death happen, what happens to someone’s loved one days/weeks after they left this earth, what happens when the dinner wasn’t cooked to someone else’s expectations, and how resilient people can be when they’ve lost everything and can’t find their family.
- BUT I’ve also gone through some seriously intensive therapy to help forget those things I thought were going to be with me forever. I still don’t think I’ll go see how pennies are made (don’t need that smell), won’t be the parent putting on the Vick’s Vapo-Rub (because we used that to cover up “that smell”), and I will let my husband have his back to the wall. I know I can trust that he will have my six. He’ll be on “guard” during dinner, just so I can relax. Maybe one day he’ll let me try to show him I’ll always have his back. And front. And even his sides. Therapy literally saved my life. Yes, SAVED MY LIFE.
And, on that note, we come to Sunday. I’ve always loved Sundays because, for as long as I can remember, they were the only “day off” that my husband and I had together. So, it meant fishing, football, going somewhere or staying in together, whatever. It meant I had him for a whole day! It also meant I’d go to church sometimes (no Wednesday services in the summer, bummer). I walk a strong faith journey but not a loud one. I am the woman I am today only because I have a strong faith. I like to think of my faith/spirituality as the root system of my “tree”. If I nurture it, fertilize it, water it, and make sure I pay good attention to my roots, my tree will grow strong. A storm may come along and blow some leaves off or even crack some branches, but if I have a solidly healthy root system, my trunk can weather any storm. And I’ve been through some doozies, let me tell ya, but I’m still standing strong. Growing new leaves and gaining new rings (wrinkles?) each year.
- Sunday can also be a downer as the day goes on. We’re making preparations for kids to go back to school in the morning, we have to work AGAIN, and these two little days just whizzed by without us having any say in it. We run through the lists in our heads of what we didn’t get done because we slept in, or because we binge-watched (insert your favorite here, mine is “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” on Netflix) some TV show. But what DID we get done? We rested. Even God rested one day. Seriously, it’s in the Bible. We spent some quality time with our loved ones? Did we take a whole day to do laundry while watching football? (This is my secret – I’m really watching football but telling everyone I’ve “been doing laundry ALL DAY”. If it’s in the machine, I’m doing it. End of discussion.)
- I can’t stress it enough – self care is NOT selfish. If you really think about it, what NEEDS to be done TODAY? Yep, I can procrastinate with the best of them but I can also say I’m in the healthiest place I’ve ever been in my entire life. I’m happier than I’ve ever been. I’m working harder than I ever have, for far less than I ever thought I’d settle for, for now. But I’m HELPING people. I mean, what a gift! What an honor it is, every single time one of my clients walks through that door or a new client calls my phone. I KNOW how hard that call was to make when I did it, so I’m sure it was even harder for you. And you’re giving me a shot. No better or bigger compliment than when you entrust me with you. And there’s nothing but genuine gratitude in those statements.
So, Work ‘til whateverday….
Whatever day your Friday falls on, congratulate yourself for making it. Heck, congratulate yourself on getting up on the right side of the dirt today. You’ve got a chance to make things better because you woke up. Not everyone gets that chance every day. Take advantage of it. Read a book. Read a book to a child. Make dinner for your neighbor. Leave a $10 for the person in line behind you to go toward their groceries. Call your local school and put some money on a kid’s lunch account. Do something kind for someone but don’t forget to include yourself. I’ll bet you’ll feel pretty awesome if you did one of the things above….and guess what? Helping others helps ourselves. Trust me, I’m pretty familiar with helping others so call me “selfish”. I am a “helper adrenaline junkie”. Once you get the bug to help others, it spreads.
Have a great week, however you measure your days/nights/weeks. Be kind to yourself, you’ve earned it.
Xia ci jian. It means “See you next time” in Chinese, just in case you didn’t get to go to China on Tuesday.
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