Bartlett: Complications arise with a new job. Fear of oversharing when you are a PTSD survivor.
It was bound to happen sooner or later. I can’t sit at home being homemaker for ever. I wasn’t made for that. I have always sought out work and a way to make my own money ever since it was legal to do so. I concede that not working these last 4 years has shown me the other side of life; the side of being a dedicated mummy at home from the birth of a child until starting school and managing the household lock stock and barrel. Another major benefit is that I was at liberty to go through the heinous process of EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprosessing) therapy, get my physical health back up without the pressure of outside noise from simultaneously juggling a job/children/house/husband.
So, one Sunday morning about a month ago we were out for a family morning walk and coffee in our local town. It was a chilly autumn morning by the seaside. As we walked down a side street to the cafe we saw a sparkly glow coming from a small shop and as we drew closer the gorgeous window display drew us in…. a new bookshop. Magical. Chatting to the owner, the shop had just opened up, she will be looking for some help. The children bought some books, as did I and we left to get that coffee we had been distracted from heading towards.
After ordering our hot warming drinks and some sweet goodies, I sat down in the cafe. I looked in the direction of my husband, wondering to myself. I boldly announced that I’d love to work somewhere like that and then felt panicked. He looked at me and with a slight grin said that he thought that the owner was dropping a hint to me about needing some help anyway! What! I asked if he minded if I raced back just in case any other mummies at home were looking for part-time work (very specific I know). I burst through the door, stared at the owner and rather out of breath let her know that my youngest had just started school and I have some time now that I’d like to fill with a lovely and meaningful part-time job and I just wanted to let her know!
A week later I was employed. One day in the shop, a couple of hours working on stuff at home. PERFECT. SO EXCITING.
Fast forward 3 weeks.
After hours at the shop last weekend. Prosecco and nibbles. The team from the big city are visiting to see the new venture and the latest addition to the family (me). New boss and her husband are amazing hosts. It is a lovely atmosphere. What an amazing new work family I have become part of – I’m so hopeful and happy. I feel so relevant and valued. I’m more than a little tipsy. I should get home. I’m invited out to dinner. They want to get to know me.
Screechhhhhhh. Slam on the brakes.
What do I say to questions about where I’m from, where do my parents live or are they still living, any brothers or sisters, etc?
My ‘Goddess’ talking therapist of 8 years and I tackled this the next day. My angle was that I would just drop it into conversation sometime fairly soon that my new boss reminds me of my foster mum. That way I figured that initially she’d think twice about delving any deeper and it would buy me some more time. Foster parent = must’ve had some level of trauma in childhood, i.e. don’t pry unless she wants to talk.
After explaining my new boss’s lovely bubbly chatty/sharing/caring character, turns out perhaps this isn’t maybe the safest approach.
A common side-effect of Complex PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) and childhood sexual abuse is SHAME.
My M.O. when I was a child and young adult was that when I felt ‘safe’ with someone, I’d (what I now have come to understand) overshare. Unfortunately the pattern would dictate that I’d have to cut that person out of my life completely thereafter. Lonely life.
I don’t want my new boss to regret hiring me. She is an amazing boss and very kind, someone I connect to instinctively. I mustn’t lose her trust, or run away out of fear of what might become of our effective working relationship if I overshare at some point.
The advice from my thereapist is to state: ‘I don’t talk about my parents’. I think it goes deeper than this though. So many triggers with anything to do with my childhood. It wasn’t only my parents who abused me. Shall I try: ‘I don’t talk about my childhood’? Should I say: ‘I don’t answer any questions about my childhood’? What’s the best approach? I’m still confused. I’m doing really well keeping my triggers under wraps whilst I’m at work. I don’t all this mental effort to go to waste.
Will let you know how I get on. I am determined not going to run away from this!
I’m not going to let my past ruin my future happiness (and repeat).
Bartlett: Complications arise with a new job. Fear of oversharing when you are a PTSD survivor. (c) 2019 Laura Devlin