The week after the Christmas party a co-worker, moved by the Christmas spirit, begins to sing a Bing Crosby Christmas carol. The flashbacks begin. This was one of the songs the radio played the night we were raped by the family friend. The family friend would sing to me when the bad things happened. I begin to dissociate.
We have no idea who is going speak if we ask our co-worker to stop singing the song that he has begun to sing over and over. We have to stop this. We take a chance, ask him to sing something else. We are fortunate. The One Who Rages, she hates the co-worker, is not the one to ask him to sing something else. After work I tell the husband that we were raped by Santa Claus. The husband thinks we are telling a joke and he laughs. We feel ourselves sink into ourselves in pain. Dissociation begins again.
The next day the co-worker starts to sing another Christmas carol. The flashbacks begin, again. Technology issues at work and equipment break downs lead to a couple of 10 to 12-hour workdays. All the overtime is good for the paycheck, bad for our health. We’ve learned the hard way that working long hours increases dissociation.
There are several of us who work the job with varying degrees of dexterity and skill. When dissociation events happen, we start the task as one aspect and another aspect finishes it. This is problematic because inevitably a step in the work process gets dropped or forgotten. One would think repetitive tasks would be helpful in this case, its not. Our brain goes on automatic, our focus wanders, things get done incorrectly and have to be done again. Or, if done correctly the task takes longer to complete.
Things at home are unstable. The husband feels neglected because we come home and go to bed – the safest place to be when we are dissociating. We hope that once we go to sleep the aspect who wakes will be more present and capable of functioning. This week it is a futile hope while we process the upheaval the surfacing memories.
The effort to present the image of normalcy is exhausting, We have no safe place to just be us. There isn’t any downtime to process. Towards the end of the work week we get to work and begin to get overwhelmed. Christmas decorations, Christmas activities, Christmas music, we begin to cry and shake. Our first panic attack.
We leave the space and breathe deeply. What are we going to do? We can’t function like this. Panic escalates. We breathe deeply. We slow are breaths. The aspect who is the Administrator steps forward. ‘We can breathe.’ After what feels like forever, we begin to do our work tasks. The workers take comfort in doing what we know. The One Who Rages begins to rage. The Administrator makes us stop and breathe until we can change the channel. Our co-worker comes in to begin his day. We ask him to not sing Christmas songs anymore. He smirks (The One Who Rages is ready to lash out) and the co-worker agrees to sing something other than Christmas carols.