Healing at Work

I have five weeks left at work before I am laid off, and I am using this time as an opportunity to give myself the space to heal. A luxurious five weeks to heal the wounds and scars of eleven years or eight months or right now of me in my workplace.

Over the past eight months I have had so many interactions with my boss – face to face, emails from him, watching how he interacts with others – that have felt painful, demeaning, inconsistent, and harsh toward me. All this has built into an anxiety around having to interact with him in any way. I find myself relieved when he is not around, but then anxious about what the next interaction will bring. Even though things have eased up since I decided and voiced that I would rather be laid off than stay, residual anxiety and fear remains.

Somehow, my boss’s way, which is harsh and emotionally cold and judgmental at times, touches some deep raw pain in me. It feels like an icy metal rod piercing through my core, familiar in me beyond this one man. I watch him closely at times, and I can see that he is more than this deeply judging harshness that has covered me in depression for so long. So my healing practice has been to mentally pause as I walk past his office during the day, or before I go into a meeting with him, or notice that he has come into my mind. I pause in my thinking and bring my attention right into my chest, right into my lungs, right into my breath as it moves in and out of my body. This is where I reside in awareness for moments at a time.

In doing this I have found that the whole of the experience of anxiety and fear – that icy metal rod of the Now – eases to some degree. Eventually it passes. And it does not Become my reality, does not Create the world of the moment, does not Paint the landscape of my emotional and physical interior. I can have this experience, as fully real and difficult as it is in this moment, but it does not define who I am.

A dear friend suggested that as I practice with this, I surround myself with love and compassion. Fill the space around me with gentle kindness. Then send compassion and kindness toward him without changing anything about how I am feeling inside myself.

I took up her suggestion and sat with it. How did it feel to me? Waves of compassion and relief washed over me. I do not have to change myself, shut myself down, cover over my feelings or justify them, to be okay. I can fully experience the difficulties brought on me by someone else, surround myself with space and love, and send out compassion and kindness without a single thought or worry or hope about how any thing or any person has to change for me or the world to be okay. Within this kernel of internal interaction lies a Great Power of release and freedom. As well as an Ungrasp-able, but fully experience-able, Love.

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