the year that was (or was not)
As is my custom, I spend those moments in between the conversations with relatives during the festive season in quiet contemplation. Thinking about the year that was (or was not depending on my frame of mind in the moment).
Physically speaking, it was a atypically healthy year for me. In my measure of highs and lows, as someone who has survived a neuro-endocrine pancreatic tumor and who manages not one but two crappy inherited genetic auto-immune diseases, it was a year absent of any new life-threatening diagnoses. Only seven weeks lost to viral infections and (for the first time in a very long time), my own voice was cough-free for almost three quarters of the year. No hospital stays and no new specialists added to my collection. Any need to live my life off the grid in a hermetically sealed geodesic dome seemed as remote as it has needed to be in a while (notwithstanding various world events that might suggest other reasons for thinking about building a bunker)!
Compromised immune system? Continuing life in a Petrie dish? Bring it on.
Yet, the year past seemed to be punctuated with many lows for me. There was more than one occasion where I thought about quitting my day job (flight response). It turns out mental resilience is a fragile thing when experiencing a sustained period of bullying. I do not want to talk specific details here because I haven't quit my day job. Instead I will cover the basics below.
I am not quite ready to walk away from a job that has given me a lot of satisfaction over the last few years even with the deterioration of one working relationship with a person in another organisation. Also, to be perfectly frank, I have little faith that any formal complaint against the perpetrator will be dealt with any compassion, particularly given the person is someone well above my pay-grade. The irony is the so-called professional is someone who should know better. On a bad day, I believe because the bully is knowledgeable in the subject matter, she knows exactly how much she can get away with and, as a result, I've experienced a spectrum of indirect threats, vilification, intimidation, ostricization, white-anting, and belittling over a sustained period of over a year. On a good day, I believe the bully doesn't even realise she is doing anything wrong as it is just part of her normal suite of behaviours and how she treats everybody (not just me).
Most of the time I am a stronger person. Call out someone who is mistreating any member of my team (including myself). It turns out an aggressive bully is impossible to reason with. And my body armour gets dented, battered and bruised through the steady flow of opportunistic slap-downs targeted my way.
I ended my year with my self-esteem in tatters. Two weeks break later - the new year only a week old, I can barely think about the year that was without wanting to cry. The thought of returning to work tomorrow terrifies me. Dreading any prospect of interaction, remembering one meeting last year was so bad, I could have sworn afterwards my body's reaction was akin to PTSD type shock. Mentally I was drained. Emotionally I was done. Spiritually I was dead. Physically, I smiled a strained smile.
Where does that leave me with my writing (after all this is a blog about my writing experiences)? My reflection of the year past led me to choose as my short-story theme for 2017 the idea of intergenerational karma. I wondered over about "sins of the fathers" and the question - how long would the Universe bitch-slap or feather-tickle echo through time? If a person(s) mistreat others, do they pay for their sins eventually or do their children and grand-children inherit the fruits of their labour? Does good behaviour really pay forward? A karma bank.
I am very much a believer in the ethical concept of "living your life as if you were in a time loop". Every decision you consciously make is precious and it is important to treat people with respect - in a way, benchmarking behaviour against what you would want to be remembered by. Generally speaking, people may not remember exactly what a person said, but they always remember how that person made them feel.
Fodder to fuel the 2017 writing efforts.