Living in Contrast

This week held 2 very different anniversaries in my life. Wednesday, August 1, 2018 was the 2nd anniversary of my grandma (Grams) being called home to Christ. Tomorrow, August 4th, is my official 10th anniversary at work. Because of scheduling and whatnot, though my co-workers took me out to celebrate on the 1st. This led to a very interesting first day of the month.

Between dredging up past hurts in therapy, work stress, life stress, and (I’ll admit it) still erratic sleeping patterns, my “wake up mood,” or the way I feel when I’m first getting up, is pretty unpredictable, which is something that blatantly showed itself on Wednesday. I woke up from a strange dream feeling like I was in the deepest depths of depression again, but also just generally feeling upset, irritable and alone. I could tell it was going to be a hard day with regards to both my emotional and mental health. I knew Grams’s anniversary was coming up, but as I was rolling out of bed, I hadn’t yet realized what day it was. When I was groggily going through my Facebook memories and my Timehop on the toilet, and realized it was August 1st, I wanted to succumb to my feelings. I wanted to call out from work, crawl into a hole, and pull the hole in after me. Or at least go back to bed for a few hours, hopefully sleep off the mood, and then have a self-care sort of day. I went so far as to go through my work calendar to see what was on it and if it could be rescheduled. That’s when I was reminded that my boss and co-workers wanted to take me out to celebrate my work anniversary. Yes, it really does take me that long in the morning to have a functional brain; I am definitely not a morning person.

So, realizing I should probably be at my own anniversary lunch, I pulled on my big girl panties, as it were, threw on some makeup, both as a small moment of self-care and in the hopes that it would help me hold myself together, and headed in to work. I would get there late (because, of course I had to sneeze right after putting on my mascara, so I had to clean up a bunch of black lines under my eyes), but I would be there, and I would be as productive as I could be.

On the way in to work, I thought about a lot of things. I thought about the contrast between missing Grams and the accomplishment of making it to 10 years at work, which, honestly, is longer than most of the people I work with in my office. I thought about the many changes that my company has gone through in the past 10 years, and how, at my 5 year anniversary, I was given an etched Tiffany & Co glass bud vase, but the company name on that bud vase essentially no longer exists.

5th Anniversary Vase

I thought about how far I’ve come in the past 10 years. When I first started, I worked in the inbound customer service call center, handling customers who were either upset or needed help placing an order. I was realizing that my mother was wrong when she told me that the only stupid question is the question that’s not asked, because sometimes, customers just ask the strangest things that, at least to me, seemed pretty self-evident (for example, when ordering flowers, asking what a stem is, which is a real question I had to politely answer). I was married to my ex-husband, trying to support both of us on my $11/hour paycheck, because he didn’t have (wouldn’t get?) a job. I was in a very unhealthy place, but starting to make changes that led to leaving him less than a year later. I was dancing hula in Grams’s halau. I had given up on religion.

Over the course of the past 10 years, nearly everything has changed. I am in a much healthier relationship. I haven’t worked in customer service for 8 years. I have learned more than I could even list from a couple of wonderful bosses who have basically taught me everything I’ve needed to advance to my current role. I am a mom. I have gone back to the Church, and learned so much about what the Church actually teaches (which has only increased my love for my faith and my desire to grow in faith). I am going to therapy, and I’m realizing that there is a lot about myself and my past that I’ve always just accepted as the pains and scars of my past that can still be healed.

Auntie Barbara
My Grams.
Photo Credit: William Ing, Hawaii Tribune Herald.

Over the past 10 years, I’ve also seen firsthand how horrible Alzheimer’s disease can be. I’ve watched my grandmother, an amazingly strong woman who was a great support to me and was always there for me, slowly fade away, and I struggled the whole time to digest everything that was happening, how it was changing our entire family dynamic. Every time her disease went through a rapid decline, bringing new changes and worsening symptoms, I would mourn and my soul would ache. She was a constant pillar in my life, and that pillar was falling away.

So, at lunchtime on Wednesday, as I sat on a beautiful patio, on a warm San Diego summer day, celebrating my 10 year anniversary at work with three of the wonderful women I work with, I felt a lot of feelings. I was glad for their friendship, and for the enjoyable celebratory lunch. I felt struck with wonder by the long, winding and rocky path that I’ve walked these 10 years (and even longer). I also felt the aching pain of sorrow and mourning as I remembered Grams, and thought of how proud she would have been at my progress.

All of these feelings, combined, left me feeling very raw and precarious throughout the day on Wednesday. In the past, even the recent past, I would have been overwhelmed by the strength of all of these feelings, and would have allowed myself to wallow in it, letting it color the entire week, or longer. This week though, I am working on honoring and accepting that my feelings on Wednesday were exceptionally strong, and that’s OK, but it doesn’t mean that I will slide into a depression, or that I’ll allow one day’s strong feelings to color my outlook on the next day. A new day will dawn, and with that, a fresh opportunity to seek out ways to follow the path laid out for me, and to work towards an overall healthier life.

A new day will dawn
Photo by Wojciech Święch on
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Do times of contrasting emotions trip you up? How do you handle it?


2 thoughts on “Living in Contrast

  1. This is beautiful and touching. Congratulations on your work anniversary! It is an accomplishment to ride out the waves of change in an organization!
    The part about your grandmother really touched me. I worked for years as an Activity Director serving elders in memory care and in nursing homes. It was a rewarding and meaningful job. I can feel the love that was shared between the two of you. You should know how very lucky she was to have you too!! Thanks for reminding me just how important it is to treasure those bonds. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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