I read Women Who Run with the Wolves, chapter 8, Self-preservation: Identifying Leg Traps. The entire chapter is based on the story of The Red Shoes. Dr. Estes pins her psychological arguments on the oldest mythological tales.
Briefly the story: a poor, orphaned, homeless little girl makes herself some red rag shoes. She is absolutely proud of them. She is skipping along one day when an old woman pulls up in a gilded carriage. Old woman takes little girl in, burns her red shoes, locks her up, makes her go to church and conform. Little girl eventually receives new, expensive, fine, red leather shoes and is obsessed with them. Little girl later has curse put on her shoes and is doomed to dance herself to death. She has to cut her feet off at the ankles and spend the rest of her life crippled, but free to tell the tale.
The traps, which the little girl faces as soon as the old hag in the Gold Rolls slides up, are titled: the Devalued Life, the Senescent Force, Soul Famine, Injury to Basic Instinct/The Consequence of Capture, Trying to Sneak a Secret Life, Shadow Rebellion, Normalizing the Abnormal, Obsession and Addiction (at which point the little girl gets her feet hacked off!).
Last Monday I was experiencing a good dose of Shadow Rebellion. Ammie took seriously good care of me that evening, plying my mood with the most beneficial comfort food ever (recipes here!). I fell asleep relatively early and had no dreams. On Tuesday morning I was falsely calm. By the time we arrived at the bus stop, a mere 2 blocks from home, I was on the war path toward my cubicle. I smoked a cigarette and bitched. For much of that day I tried to cram "5 pounds of mud into a 10 pound sack" (thanks again to Dr. Estes for that one). I generated borderline antagonist emails to my boss in response to the messages she sent me. I arrived early to "prove a point." I dragged myself through hours of boring and inconsistent systems work and pushed myself to stay away from the more glittering lands of the internet.
The night before I'd come to realize that this backlash was due to my diligently ignoring the needs of my psyche, but I hadn't put recognition into reaction yet. When I heard my boss humph audibly in response to, what I imagined to be an defensive email from me, my mood magically lightened a little. I used that flumpf of light to propel me further upward into more calm manners.
Obviously Not Cut Out For This.
Obviously Unable to Restrain from stirring the toxic pot when I'm dangled too close to it. When I realized how petty, tortured and terrible I was being I became slightly alarmed. This was not a good side of myself. Now, when I take more time for myself during work weeks, I have been managing to cope fairly well. I believe that's the "Normalizing the Abnormal" leg trap. But like I said before, I'm not ready to leave this job. Yes; for my spirit, the source of all that I think is worthwhile and beautiful and good in myself: This. Really. Sucks. Sigh.
At some point yesterday, I decided today needed to be a Mental Health Day off. (See why I can't quit this job, goddammit? I can do it, and do it well, when I'm feeling stronger and more determined to Get There, the comfortable way.) I do have a toxic boss. The work is unstimulating 75% of the time, but still, I'm grateful to have it. Maybe stupidly, though I doubt the 500,000 Americans who lost their jobs in January would agree with me.