Narcissism-Scenes From the Front Line — New Job

20131108-090107.jpgThis is an excerpt from my first book, “I Woke Up in Paradise“.

was receiving cheques from the government. They had started to come again after my work at the emergency clinic, but they were about to run out. I had been applying to jobs and despite Bob’s insistence that I work; he was actively interfering with this process.

One company called to set up an interview. The job would have been in sales. Bob told the person that called that I was pregnant but that it would work out really well because I could take the baby with me to the sales calls. He explained to me afterwards that he had told the guy this. I was never interviewed for this position.

One job that I did get interviewed for was with the federal government. Not an ideal job but government jobs have a lot of benefits and security. On Thanksgiving weekend that year I got a call saying that I could start on the Tuesday. There were twelve weeks of training set up and if I could start right away, I could attend the training. If I could not start away I would not be able to start until they ran the training course again and that might be a year or so.

It was 12 weeks until the baby was due, so if all went well, I could work the twelve weeks and then the baby would be born. A woman that I had met through the playgroup said that she would take my youngest daughter for the twelve weeks. I explained that I would only need day care until the baby came. My daughter and her son were the same age and had gotten to know each other pretty well.

So, I took the job. When animals are being used for food, they are brought to slaughter plants. These places are more or less disassembly plants. The animal comes in one door and it is processed until all of the edible parts have been removed and all of the inedible parts have been disposed of.

Unfortunately, one of the known drawbacks to working in slaughter is that you become exposed to all of the bacteria that naturally occur on the animals. All of the caution about cooking your food before you eat it does not apply when you are not actually eating the animals. There is no way to protect yourself from exposure to these bacteria. They are in the air. You can inhale them on a water droplet.

All this to say that near the end of my pregnancy, I got a type of food poisoning from my initial exposure to these bacteria. When the smooth muscles of your digestive tract contract to aid in the removal of these pathogens from your body, it stimulates the contractions of your uterus. Some of the things that pregnant women are told to help bring on birth are based on this understanding. Eating spicy foods, for instance, can cause your digestive tract to become upset and have extra movement. This movement stimulates the uterus as well.

I can’t describe how awful it was not knowing which end to put closest to the toilet and having a contraction, each time my body tried to expel the toxins. I managed to call Bob at work and told him about the situation. He assured me that there was nothing that he could do about it and he was quite upset that I would not be able to pick my daughter up from day care. I guess I was not doing my part. There was no question that I was completely alone in the world.

Narcissism-Scenes From the Front Line — The Drive

Narcissism-Scenes From the Front Line — The Fax

Narcissism-Scenes From the Front Line — The Interview

Narcissism-Scenes From the Front Line — The Call

Narcissism-Scenes From the Front Line — The Cavity

Narcissism–Scenes From the Front Line — The Funeral

Narcissism-Scenes From the Front Line — The Pants

Narcissism-Scenes From the Front Line — The Trailer

Narcissism-Scenes From the Front Line — Biking

Narcissism-Scenes From the Front Line — The Doctor

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The Fish Bowl — Chapter 3

Needless to say at this point, my answer put quite a damper on the rest of our holiday. The time immediately following this trip was uncomfortable because once he had asked me to marry him and I had declined it changed the relationship. I remember there being this awkward feeling of not knowing how to proceed, what to do next.

The distance between us was palpable. I knew that I had to make a decision. I either had to rethink my initial response or I had to end the relationship with this guy.

On a particularly memorable day I had coffee in the main administrative building on campus. This was a large building that originally had been paid for by the students, if I remember the story properly. Not only did it contain the administrative parts of the university, it also contained offices for the student newspapers and clubs, a bar, the graduate student lounge and a cafeteria of sorts.

The place that contained the cafeteria tables was affectionately called the fish bowl because it was a large open space that had glass on four sides extending up two or three stories and forming the roof. This area overlooked the centre of campus that had a lawn with walkways through it and was home to the cannon. These were some of the places that I used to sit with Bob the first summer when we both worked on campus.

I’m not sure what the initial significance of the cannon was, but it became a symbol on campus. Various groups and individuals would go out and paint the canon. Sometimes it would sport the team colours. Sometimes it would have slogans or messages on it and sometimes it was painted to look like something else, a zebra perhaps. Occasionally, particularly ambitious groups would steal or move the canon. That meant the university employees would have to retrieve it and replace it.

http://elementalview.blogspot.com/2010/07/iphone-diries-200-cannon-old-jeremiah.html
http://elementalview.blogspot.com/2010/07/iphone-diries-200-cannon-old-jeremiah.html

So, my best friend and I sat in the fishbowl and had a coffee together. The conversation started with my admission that Bob had asked me to marry him and that he wanted to start a family. I wanted to have a family as well, so it was something that was being discussed.

This friend and I had become acquainted during our pre-vet year, a year that was tacked onto the beginning of the veterinary degree to essentially make a four-year program into a five-year program. We both sat at the front of the class and quickly got to know one another. She had been with the same guy for a few years by the time that I met her and she was still with him at this point.

On this fateful day we started to do the math around becoming mothers. First, we had to finish veterinary medicine. Then, it was advisable to practise for a year in a city that you did not want to stay in. As new graduates, you are more likely to make a mistake so you are advised to not start where you wanted to end up.

Then, we would move to the city that we wanted to live in more long term and get a job. Once we had established ourselves in that community, we could then start our own practices and then we could start our families. So, lets see three years of schooling, one year of practice, then another two and by the time that you could establish your own business you have to add two or three….

The math said it all. We would both be well into our thirties before we had even begun to start to try to have babies. As biologists we knew the problem with this. The older you are when you start trying the harder it is to get pregnant. Some estimates put the decline of fertility beginning in the early twenties. On the other end of it, we would be in our sixties before our children were through university.

This just wouldn’t do. After a long discussion with Bob, held over several days, it was decided that it would be possible to start a family right away. He had already suggested that we have a baby sooner rather than later and he said that he wanted both of us to have part time jobs so that we could minimize childcare. He would be finished his degree before the baby was born and he would stay at home full time and care for our child while I finished my veterinary program.

I felt that it was more responsible to get married to have a child. In my estimation of things, that showed that the father was committed to the relationship and that he was in it for the long term. It was proper to be married if you were choosing to have a baby. So, we got engaged.

To mark the occasion Bob rented two videos and we had a take-out pizza. The movies that he rented were, “Lost in America” and “Paris Texas”. It is eerie to think back to this selection now. For those of you unfamiliar with these films, in the first one a couple liquidates all of their assets and then loses all of it gambling and in the second a man becomes so obsessed with his wife that he ties her to the stove. At the time I found it unnerving but how much can you read into the movies that just happened to be chosen at a video store?

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Admission — Chapter 2

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The only thing that still remained unresolved was my application for veterinary medicine. In order to apply to veterinary medicine there were several things that you had to complete. First, you had to fill out the paperwork and sign a release saying that they could access your marks. Then, you had to write an essay explaining why you wanted to be a veterinarian and finally you were interviewed by a panel of professors that would evaluate your suitability as an applicant.

The essay that I had to write was a disaster. I wrote it while I was still working on the dairy farm. I was not given time off or allowed to leave the farm, before I quit the job, so I had to make due with what they had on hand. What they had on hand was an old typewriter that was in need of repair.

When you insert paper into a typewriter, the paper goes down the back of a barrel that is slightly longer than the paper is wide and it is guided to go around this barrel and come up at the front of the machine. The paper is held snug against the barrel as you type. The typing mechanism moves to the right the distance of one letter each time you hit a key stroke. At the end of each line a bell rings to let you know that you have five spaces left before the end. When you reach the end, you use a return paddle to move the paper up one line and move the typing mechanism back to the left so that you can continue.

This particular typewriter had something loose inside. As I typed the page would shift down giving it a droopy appearance. The essay had to be typed, that was stipulated in the application, and I had no other typewriter that I could use so I would type a bit and then try to pull the paper up to where it was supposed to be. It is painful now to think about this.

I likely could have used a typewriter at a local library or hired someone to do the typing for me, but I did not know this at the time. Even though the farmer’s wife was a teacher, she did not offer any insights into how to improve the appearance of the essay. It brings into focus how much of a disadvantage students are at if their parents did not get any higher education. So, my essay was probably a frightful mess.

The interview went OK, but I have learned that unless you know what they are looking for there is no way to tell if you have given them what they want. They asked me some specific questions about the Pre Vet Club. I had been elected to its board, but I had never done any work. I did not know what I was supposed to do and the other people on the board never let me know.

In general, my marks were all good except for two courses. During grade 12, I had made the mistake of taking grade 13 biology. The high school I was attending went on strike the year that I was in grade 12 and we missed several weeks of classes. Many of the people that I was in grade 12 with never did graduate, or did not graduate that year, because the teachers were on strike so long that the students got full time jobs and then it didn’t make sense to go back to school.

The drawback for me was that the instructors for first year Zoology assumed that you had learned the material in grade 13 biology. I had not. I had been given the credit, so it would appear as though I knew the stuff, but I hadn’t even seen most of it before. The course amounted to a huge amount of anatomy of various creatures and it required a lot of memorization. I am explaining this in a great amount of detail because Zoology was my lowest mark, by far.

The other course that I got a poor mark in was an accident. It turns out that this particular professor was the father of a woman that would later become one of my best friends, but I did not know her at the time. There was a mistake in recording my mark. When I calculated how poorly I would have had to have done on the final exam to get my final mark, I would have had to have received less than zero. I knew it was an error. I went in to see the professor and he acknowledged that it must have just been an error and assured me that he would change the mark. He never did.

So, I waitressed for the remainder of the summer and eagerly anticipated a reply to my veterinary application. I knew that I was going back to university regardless of whether or not I got accepted. I did not get accepted.

The letter that came with my rejection said that I could go in to the office of the veterinary college and find out why I did not get in. So, I decided that I would do this. In those days, computer paper was about 20 inches wide and had edges that were separated from the main paper by perforations. These edges had holes in them. The holes fit over the mechanism that moved the paper through the printer. Computer paper was not similar to regular paper in shape or texture. When I went in to see why I had not been accepted, the man explaining it to me pulled out this long piece of computer paper that was probably three or four feet long.

Each line of the paper had a name followed by the overall average that the person had on the test scores. This was followed by the mark given for the essay, the average mark from their course work and the mark that they received for their interview. The most important mark was the overall average and the list had been organized with the highest average at the top and decreasing averages below in order.

Some very talented individual had taken the time to highlight a large block of names in pink. So, when he held the paper up, there were a bunch of names at the top, followed by a huge area of pink and then the vast majority of the names were below the pink area. He explained to me that the people in the pink area all had the same overall average. About one third of the way down the pink area was a bold blue line that had been drawn in to mark the bottom of the list of accepted applicants. I was in the pink, just below the line.

Being that close is a strange feeling. I was just as good as a group of students that were accepted that year (based on the way that they were evaluated). Unfortunately for me, my last name was not ‘Abbot’ or ‘Burns’. Several things could have put me above that pink patch: taking grade 13 biology in grade 13; having the professor actually correct my grade; and having a decent typewriter to do my essay on. Any one of these things could have given me a fraction of a point advantage and I would have been accepted. I did not know if I would ever be accepted. It felt like there were a few fail-safes to make sure that I did not get in that year.

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Milk is For Cows — Chapter 2

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I would get up in the morning and help the wife make breakfast. She was a teacher in town, so she would leave right after breakfast and I would go out with the men to milk the cows and do the chores. At break time, the men would come in and I was supposed to get the coffee and food out and then clean it up. When I was done doing this, we would go out and do more work on the farm.

This pattern occurred at each break and mealtime. The men would plop themselves down, often complaining about how tired or overworked they were and I would be expected to get them food and clear things up and go back to work when they did. Interesting.

When I asked to have an evening or a weekend off, I was told that they couldn’t spare me. This was not consistent with what I was told by the fella from the Farm Labour Pool. I called the fella that had interviewed me and brought this to his attention and he was evasive and said that there wasn’t anything that he could do. He represented the farmers, not the people that he hired.

A few weeks into the summer a guy that I had been dating before I went to university decided to come up and visit me at the farm. I explained that I couldn’t get away so he took it as an opportunity for a road trip. The family that I was working for acted as though they had struck gold. Here was a strong, healthy, young man that had just showed up on their doorstep. When he asked if he could stay for a night or two I was worried that I would be back in the closet. The “spare room” that I had stayed in when I first arrived and they had company staying with them in my room.

They welcomed him with open arms, originally. Then came the dreaded day of the misunderstanding. In case it is not clear at this point, I did not grow up on a farm. Some of the things that would be considered common sense are actually learned and so common that most people already know them. It is only common sense, once it has occurred to you.

I was asked to plow a field. I don’t remember exactly what type of equipment I was using or what purpose there was to plowing this field. My fella came with me and it seemed like a lovely day to be out on the land, even though the roar coming from the motor of the tractor was deafening.

I was supposed to go back and forth on the field and drag this piece of equipment in rows. Not actually having any experience with this, I decided it was best to be thorough and to overlap each row a bit. This was wrong. The most efficient way is even to leave a small patch between the rows. So, instead of needing to go back and forth lets say 10 times, I needed to do it about 15 times because I was overlapping. The proper way to do this was never explained to me.

When I got back to the house the farmer was furious. I had taken a considerably longer amount of time than I should have. When I tried to explain that I was not doing anything wrong and I thought that there must be a misunderstanding he started to yell and scream.

I have been treated poorly before. I thought nothing of driving my mother to the States to go drinking and driving men home for her. I know what it is like to work hard. I worked full time while going to high school, so none of that seemed to be too crazy, but I draw the line at being accused of lying, being yelled at and most importantly being called names because he figured that we were plowing, just not the field. I packed up my stuff and left the farm shortly afterwards.

I did not leave the farm without more drama. The farmer’s wife was emotionally distraught. They had finally found someone that was willing and capable of taking care of the cows so that they could get away for a while together. I’m not sure what she felt this respite from the farm would have done for her quality of life, but she desperately wanted a break from the day to day labour of taking care of animals.

She pleaded me to not go. These situations are difficult for me and I know many people that would have made a different choice, but I had learned already with my mother that just because it might “kill her” did not mean that I was less important than she was.

Yes, I felt sorry for this woman that worked all day as a teacher, lived in a house that was desperately in need of some organization and cleaning; that lived with a man that was so oblivious to the world around him that he simply could not understand how she felt, but that was not my fault. I had been mistreated for a few weeks at this point and being accused of lying, being yelled at and being insulted were enough for me to leave. I will never know if she ever got away from the farm for any length of time, but I would never wish to trade places with her.

I drove back to my hometown and knew that my first priority was to get a job. So, I went straight to the restaurant that I had worked at before I started universityl. I was surprised to see that they had gutted the place. It was no longer a burger joint with a diverse menu. It was now a prime rib restaurant with a bar and softer lighting. It had the same owners.

As if the universe was congratulating me for standing up for myself, I walked up to the restaurant to find it closed. From the door I could tell that they were having a staff meeting inside. The owner could see me through the windows on the side of the restaurant and came to the door to let me in. I told her why I was there and she told me to take a seat. I would be paid starting now. I had arrived at the first meeting to let the staff know the ins and outs of the new restaurant and I could have my job back. When I pitch in a little to take care of myself, the universe pitches in a lot.

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Happy New Year — September is the real beginning…

IMG_2198This is the first day of school and it is still my New Year. I have started a new cycle each September for as long as I can remember. New Year’s eve may mark the actual change in the calendar, but September changes my life. The days of summer are waning. My focus changes from holidays and relaxation, from sunshine and time away from work to planning for the year ahead.

Every year either I’ve personally gone to school, or one of my children has. This year is no different. My daughter starts a new program and things will once again change for her.

Living in a university town means that the students are coming back and some have already arrived. This changes everything. Grocery stores will be depleted (this week at least!), traffic is snarled because everyone is trying to avoid the roads around the university and don’t even try to buy alcohol; the parking lot is jammed.

I myself feel like I am at a new beginning. I started a simple program. Instead of letting my workday pull me along until I am exhausted, I’ve carved out time in my morning for meditation, reflection and writing. Sitting down each morning and having time set aside to write has had a huge impact on my entire outlook.

When you stand up and say to the world, I am making myself and my interests my priority, it shifts things. After just over a month of doing this, my entire attitude has changed. I am writing prolifically, both blogs and fiction (I’m testing the waters with fiction which is unpublished-even as blogs) and I seem to be drawing opportunity into my life.

My book sales have skyrocketed, my website visits are way up and I am receiving more and more requests for coaching. I have developed a whole new style in what I wear and how I present myself to the world and things simply feel like they are expanding. I will continue to let you know how this plays out, but let me put it this way, “I’ve put myself first and the universe has responded in kind.”

Guardian Angel — Chapter 1

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A synchronicity joined the two major relationships that occurred during this time in my life. My heart knew that it was only fair to end the relationship with the older fella that I had had in my life since before my mother left my father. He wanted to get married right away and I did not. I still had my sights set on going to university and I did not plan to finish up high school and get married to him, or anyone else for that matter. It was difficult to end this relationship because he had seen me through so much. We had spent almost all of our spare time together and he was easily my best friend at the time, but I had to let him go.

There had been some on again, off again, as I tried to break out of this relationship, but I had finally ended it and it had been a while since I had seen him. One afternoon there was a knock on the door and I opened it to find a delivery guy that was bringing me a dozen roses. These were my old boyfriend’s signature flower. The attached card said, “Meet me at Cosmo’s at One O’clock, your Secret Admirer.” Since Cosmo’s was also our favourite restaurant, there was no doubt as to the identity of the admirer.

I did not want to resume the relationship, but I was not willing to hurt this guy by not showing, so I went to the restaurant on the date and at the specified time. It was a small restaurant that had been around for a long time. The building was roughly the shape of a rectangle with the kitchen area occupying the entire one end of the space and the seating area was straight out front. There were large glass windows on all three sides that gave a panoramic view of the outside of the restaurant. The centre of the dining area had a block of booths that afforded some privacy, and there were tables along the outside walls. In the middle of the far end, there was a space where tables could be combined for larger groups or kept separate for smaller ones.

I drove up to the parking lot and I was surprised to see that his car was not there. Was it possible that it was someone else? I entered the restaurant and came up the stairs to the level of the seating area and I did not recognize a single person. There was a possibility that there was someone in one of the booths that I could not see, so I walked into the restaurant, to the end of the seating area and came back through the only other space between the tables. There was no one there that I recognized.

I wondered if he could have possibly meant One in the morning. It occurred to me that he could have been playing a joke on me. He could have had me dress up to go out for a meal, drive over in the middle of my Saturday looking for him and he would not be there. This was not consistent with the man that I knew and I doubted it as an explanation. There was also the possibility that he had decided not to go. His family knew how hard our break up was on him and they might have talked him out of showing up and trying to resume the relationship. Who knew?

The invite had said one o’clock, so it could have meant one in the morning. This did not seem likely, but I was going to show up anyway, just in case.

That afternoon one of my friends invited me to go with her to a Church teen group. Churches often had these casual meetings that were more or less mixers for the young teen age group, with a little teaching thrown in. I thought that it might be fun, so I decided to join her to see what it was like. I met my next significant boyfriend, the one that looked and acted the most like my future husband, at that mixer.

I went by the restaurant at one in the morning and it was dark and the parking lot was empty so I did not bother to stop. I planned to call him and ask what had happened.

Call it a coincidence or a synchronicity or the work of a mischievous guardian angel, but the card had been written wrong. The person that had taken the original order over the phone had written a sloppy “7” and it had later been transcribed as “One”. If I had gone at the correct time, I would have had dinner with my old boyfriend. We may have seen each other a couple of more times, he may have been going to propose that night for all I know. The fact is that I did not show up at the right time.

The significance of going to the Church mixer instead was that I met my next boyfriend that night. I dated this particular guy for a couple of years. He looked a lot like my husband. He had the same mannerisms and even smoked the same brand of cigarettes. I still think that one of the reasons that I immediately found my husband familiar is because I dated this other guy first. A sense of already knowing someone, that would, unfortunately, lead me in the wrong direction.

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Baby Number Three — Chapter 4

20131108-090107.jpgII was receiving cheques from the government. They had started to come again after my work at the emergency clinic, but they were about to run out. I had been applying to jobs and despite Bob’s insistence that I work; he was actively interfering with this process.

One company called to set up an interview. The job would have been in sales. Bob told the person that called that I was pregnant but that it would work out really well because I could take the baby with me to the sales calls. He explained to me afterwards that he had told the guy this. I was never interviewed for this position.

One job that I did get interviewed for was with the federal government. Not an ideal job but government jobs have a lot of benefits and security. On Thanksgiving weekend that year I got a call saying that I could start on the Tuesday. There were twelve weeks of training set up and if I could start right away, I could attend the training. If I could not start away I would not be able to start until they ran the training course again and that might be a year or so.

It was 12 weeks until the baby was due, so if all went well, I could work the twelve weeks and then the baby would be born. A woman that I had met through the playgroup said that she would take my youngest daughter for the twelve weeks. I explained that I would only need day care until the baby came. My daughter and her son were the same age and had gotten to know each other pretty well.

So, I took the job. When animals are being used for food, they are brought to slaughter plants. These places are more or less disassembly plants. The animal comes in one door and it is processed until all of the edible parts have been removed and all of the inedible parts have been disposed of.

Unfortunately, one of the known drawbacks to working in slaughter is that you become exposed to all of the bacteria that naturally occur on the animals. All of the caution about cooking your food before you eat it does not apply when you are not actually eating the animals. There is no way to protect yourself from exposure to these bacteria. They are in the air. You can inhale them on a water droplet.

All this to say that near the end of my pregnancy, I got a type of food poisoning from my initial exposure to these bacteria. When the smooth muscles of your digestive tract contract to aid in the removal of these pathogens from your body, it stimulates the contractions of your uterus. Some of the things that pregnant women are told to help bring on birth are based on this understanding. Eating spicy foods, for instance, can cause your digestive tract to become upset and have extra movement. This movement stimulates the uterus as well.

I can’t describe how awful it was not knowing which end to put closest to the toilet and having a contraction, each time my body tried to expel the toxins. I managed to call Bob at work and told him about the situation. He assured me that there was nothing that he could do about it and he was quite upset that I would not be able to pick my daughter up from day care. I guess I was not doing my part. There was no question that I was completely alone in the world.

As a veterinarian, we are in the slaughter plants representing the public and the farmer. We do not work for the company that owns the slaughter plant. Our job is to decide what can and cannot be eaten. So for instance, if an animal has some sort of illness or injury, it is our job to decide if the animal, or part of the animal, is safe to eat.

This is a factory setting with overhead machinery and loud noises. The carcasses go by on tracks that hang from the ceiling. I was on the vet stand, which was a raised part of the floor. It was composed of metal mesh that had ridges on it so that it would not be slippery. I had hearing protection on, a hardhat on and steel-toed rubber boots.

I was the only woman on the floor. These places are rough by their very nature. Most of the men carry large knives that they take pride in keeping very sharp. There is a code of conduct that can be felt in the air. Lots of teasing, lots of insults, lots of profanity.

It felt like an extreme contrast to standing there feeling a contraction wash over my abdomen knowing that I was going to give birth. The endorphins kicked in right away and it felt incongruous. Here I was in this dark, loud, aggressive place feeling all blissed-out and knowing that my third baby was coming. This was Friday, the last day of my training and the government had done me a favour by moving me to a plant within walking distance of where I lived.

My older two daughters were present for the birth. This is one of the many advantages of having babies at home. We had practised making the “power noises” that can aid in bringing the baby out and they were full participants. Hearing a five year old and a two year old grunting and making deep throaty guttural sounds while you are pushing a baby out is quite comical and really makes it more of a family event.

Keep Reading:  Back to Work

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Back To Work — Chapter 4

IMG_3467Now the pressure was on. I had no income, but I had a job. I could go back to the job whenever I “wanted,” so Bob was constantly explaining how much money we were wasting with me not back at work. He saw no value in me staying home with the girls. He knew that we could pay someone a fraction of what I made in order for me to go back to work.

I was not going back while I was still wholly breastfeeding. I completely ignored the baby books on this one. There is a lot of pressure to start feeding cereals and formula to babies. It comes at you from all directions. One of the ways that mothers are persuaded to feed cereal is with the promise of the baby sleeping through the night. Formula is marketed as a way that dad can help out. Even he can sit and hold a bottle to a baby’s mouth!! If someone was going to actually help, wouldn’t it be nicer to have them do some of the more unpleasant jobs like changing diapers or doing laundry?

I decided that the information from our society had been so wrong about birth that it was probably wrong about how to feed a baby as well. When I look around now and see how many children and adults are afflicted with food allergies, I have to wonder how much of this is created by the way we are taught to take care of our babies. So I decided that we were probably designed perfectly. I would breast feed completely, until the baby was able to pick up food and put it into her mouth herself.

This worked quite well for me. Not only did I never sit and spoon goop into a child’s mouth, but I was putting her in complete control of what she ate, what went into her mouth and when it went in. I had been given a baby grinder from some friends so I would mush up whatever we were eating into particles that were not smooth but were too small to choke the baby.

These are the sort of details that you cannot control if you go back to work. I can feel the anger as I write this because this was very important to me and I had to fight with Bob about it. None of my children have any chronic diseases or allergies at all. This may have just been luck, but I did my best to ensure that they received the best care that was available.

By nine months, he had me worn down. They placed me in a slaughter plant that was in another city 60 miles or 100 kilometers from where I lived, driving into a large city. Every time it snowed, the highway would slow to a crawl or a complete stop. It was relentless. We had more single snow falls that winter than I ever remember. One day it took me over three hours to get into work.

I was beside myself. I almost ditched the car on the way to work one morning because I had to leave before the plows were on the highway. I was miserable. My entire life seemed to be fighting traffic to get to a job in a slaughter plant. I started to apply to other jobs within the government that were closer to where I lived.

I got screened into a job that was in a town 18 miles (30 km) from where I lived. I had an interview set up. It was a job interview that required a lot of studying. It was a program that I did not know and the way that the interview was conducted was more like an oral exam. I sat on my breaks at work and studied for this exam. The person organizing the interviews explained that I would receive a document before the exam and I was to read it and to be able to comment on it for the interview.

It was arranged that the document would be faxed to the house. We did not have a fax machine, but Bob’s computer could receive faxes electronically and then they could be printed out or read on the computer screen. The fax never came.

I went into the interview knowing that if they had not sent the fax, it was their oversight and that once I explained that then something would be worked out. Unfortunately, this turned out to be the fourth time that Bob had actively interfered with my career. He had “lost” the fax and was amazed that he had actually received it. He apologized. Everyone can make a mistake right? As I said, individually these all seemed like unfortunate accidents. It was not until hindsight that I realized that they were part of a larger pattern of sabotage.

The universe was still protecting me though. I made a decision one morning while fighting traffic that I would rather be unemployed. I would face Bob and just tell him that there was more to life than driving all day to a job that I didn’t like. I knew that I would be the target of his anger and his need to control me. I knew that it would make things tense at home. I knew that he would be verbally abusive and would let me know how useless I was, but it was my life and I wasn’t going to spend it this way.

I had three children under six at home and I intended to be there. I made the decision to quit. Before I had the opportunity to discuss this with Bob, something strange happened. The slaughter plant that I was hired to work in decided to close permanently. This interesting fact meant that I was “surplussed”. Surplussed is one of my favourite words.

As a government employee there are all kinds of regulations about job loss. If there is a job available, it has to go to someone that is already employed. So, by being surplussed, it meant that if any job became available it was mine. It also meant that I was eligible for a cash-out. How convenient. They would pay me the equivalent of sixty percent of a single year’s income to just walk away from my job. Done.

Keep Reading:  My Sister Vicki

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Narcissism-Scenes From the Front Line — New Job

20131108-090107.jpgThis is an excerpt from my first book, “I Woke Up in Paradise“.

was receiving cheques from the government. They had started to come again after my work at the emergency clinic, but they were about to run out. I had been applying to jobs and despite Bob’s insistence that I work; he was actively interfering with this process.

One company called to set up an interview. The job would have been in sales. Bob told the person that called that I was pregnant but that it would work out really well because I could take the baby with me to the sales calls. He explained to me afterwards that he had told the guy this. I was never interviewed for this position.

One job that I did get interviewed for was with the federal government. Not an ideal job but government jobs have a lot of benefits and security. On Thanksgiving weekend that year I got a call saying that I could start on the Tuesday. There were twelve weeks of training set up and if I could start right away, I could attend the training. If I could not start away I would not be able to start until they ran the training course again and that might be a year or so.

It was 12 weeks until the baby was due, so if all went well, I could work the twelve weeks and then the baby would be born. A woman that I had met through the playgroup said that she would take my youngest daughter for the twelve weeks. I explained that I would only need day care until the baby came. My daughter and her son were the same age and had gotten to know each other pretty well.

So, I took the job. When animals are being used for food, they are brought to slaughter plants. These places are more or less disassembly plants. The animal comes in one door and it is processed until all of the edible parts have been removed and all of the inedible parts have been disposed of.

Unfortunately, one of the known drawbacks to working in slaughter is that you become exposed to all of the bacteria that naturally occur on the animals. All of the caution about cooking your food before you eat it does not apply when you are not actually eating the animals. There is no way to protect yourself from exposure to these bacteria. They are in the air. You can inhale them on a water droplet.

All this to say that near the end of my pregnancy, I got a type of food poisoning from my initial exposure to these bacteria. When the smooth muscles of your digestive tract contract to aid in the removal of these pathogens from your body, it stimulates the contractions of your uterus. Some of the things that pregnant women are told to help bring on birth are based on this understanding. Eating spicy foods, for instance, can cause your digestive tract to become upset and have extra movement. This movement stimulates the uterus as well.

I can’t describe how awful it was not knowing which end to put closest to the toilet and having a contraction, each time my body tried to expel the toxins. I managed to call Bob at work and told him about the situation. He assured me that there was nothing that he could do about it and he was quite upset that I would not be able to pick my daughter up from day care. I guess I was not doing my part. There was no question that I was completely alone in the world.

Narcissism-Scenes From the Front Line — The Drive

Narcissism-Scenes From the Front Line — The Fax

Narcissism-Scenes From the Front Line — The Interview

Narcissism-Scenes From the Front Line — The Call

Narcissism-Scenes From the Front Line — The Cavity

Narcissism–Scenes From the Front Line — The Funeral

Narcissism-Scenes From the Front Line — The Pants

Narcissism-Scenes From the Front Line — The Trailer

Narcissism-Scenes From the Front Line — Biking

Narcissism-Scenes From the Front Line — The Doctor

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What’s a Girl To Do? — Chapter 3

IMG_0938I was just sitting out back on my deck. It is Thanksgiving weekend. This year it was even earlier than normal falling on the ninth of October. The weather has been extraordinary. By chance, I had knowledge of the weather forecast before I had actually closed the pool for the season and knowing that I would have a full house for the weekend, I kept it open.

It has been around 80 F and cloudless. The view from the deck is spectacular with a deep blue sky and all of the colours of fall. There are still bold greens, but there are also yellows, dark reds and oranges. I was thinking about how to write this next part because it is a difficult one to explain and a monarch butterfly started to fly around just above the pool.

The colours of the monarch and its sheer beauty made me remember one of the core aspects of my experience of life. There is always beauty. There is always joy if you are willing to let it in. All of our lives have good days and bad and if we stop and look around, each moment does not need to be influenced by all of our histories and all of our loss. The serenity of this morning, with my children still sleeping up stairs is not diminished by the fact that there have been some trying times in my life, but I digress.

As little girls, probably preteens, in that age before we actually started dating and after the time that we think of boys as strange, there were always conversations about hypothetical situations. The conversations went something like this, “would you rather marry for love or money?” “If your parents disapproved of your true love would you choose to marry him, or someone of your parent’s choosing?” “Would you be able to love a man that you felt was ugly?”

Funny thing about life, it does not often offer up these choices. Outside of movies and fiction, it is not often experienced that you have two suitors. One is unsuccessful, but totally lovable and one is successful and sufficient. One is kind and romantic but ugly and one is gorgeous but not as freethinking. One is rich and you are in love with the other one.

In real life the questions are much less romantic and much less dichotomous. The question that faced me was not whether or not I would choose to be with Bob or some other, more perfect, fantasy man. The question was whether or not I wanted to be with Bob or to not be with Bob.

As I have matured, I have realized that if you do not leave a space for something to enter your life, be that a relationship or an opportunity, it cannot come in. But, since I am trying to recall what happened at the time, I did not already have confidence that “making the space” for someone better would prove to be fruitful. Making space, if you recall, had already been my experience a few times in my life. It had occurred when I left the farm job and found a waitressing job right away. It had also occurred when I originally left my mother’s place and found a safe place to live, right away.

But other factors were involved as well. I had a perfect daughter. She was gorgeous, healthy and intelligent. I knew that I wanted to have more children and I could not imagine finding anyone that could give me a child as beautiful as the one that I already had.

Also, I had spent the last two years as a young, single mother and I had a pretty good idea of what the prospects were out there. Between working full time and taking care of a two year old, my opportunity for social outings was quite limited. I was living in a decidedly industrial town that did not offer a lot of opportunity for extracurricular activities or cultural events.

I had joined the university women’s club to find out that I was the only one that had a science degree and that the entire purpose of the group was to raise money, by convincing their husbands of the value of each charitable organization, thereby securing money for the various causes. This was not my “tribe” as it were.

My job required that I drive long distances to visit various farms and I found myself rehashing the events in my marriage. Had I done enough to make it work? All of the books that I had read about marriage and discord had clearly explained that it takes two to have an argument. Each person is at fault for their own behaviours. You cannot make your partner change, you can only change yourself. You should not put undue demands on your spouse because it will just drive them away. What had my part been?

I also knew from reading a lot of this literature, that people developed bad habits in order to get attention. These habits were the very reason that the partner got driven away. In order to repair a relationship you had to identify your contribution to the strife and fix it. When you changed, your partner could not stay in the same patterns so they were more or less forced to readjust how they behaved.

I criticized myself for not knowing what I had done wrong in our relationship. I felt that I must have done things to push him away. I must have been unlovable in some way and I spent these long drives pondering the arguments, the day to day life we had created together and I came up at a loss. I could find fault in some things that I had done, but I truly was not taking responsibility for what happened. My entire focus was still what he had done to me and I knew that that couldn’t be right. The books had said how difficult it was to see your own failings.

So what is a girl to do?

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My Outrageous Right Brain

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