Adventures in General Counseling

I have moved into the role of General Counsel for a small company.  As you can imagine, the number of legal issues that arise, even for a computer forensics company, are few.  My first week I wrote contracts, by the second week I was handling all of our HR paperwork, by the third week I was responsible for our social media presence.  Week four, they added web design.

So today, I sit in my boyfriend’s cozy downstairs office in front of a fire attempting to ferret out the necessary HTML/CSS coding required to double space a block quote in a content manager plug-in.

I find it humorous that law school taught me the one thing I needed to join the world of business as a valuable and fully flexible team member, the ability to research.  My tens of thousands of hours spent researching various legal issues has given me a nearly preternatural ability to find information and tutorials pertaining to any task I am handed.

So I am building our website, piece by piece.  It was initially fully designed (in my mind) two weeks ago.  Then, at the website review one simple question was asked. “Can we add different colored boxes with information to the site?”

“hmmm…. I don’t know. Let me check”

The answer, no. The theme I had chosen didn’t allow for that.  So off I went on a two day research trip across the vast landscape of the interwebs to see what resources would work with the theme to enable that capability. I found many, but most were pretty crappy looking.  Then I stumbled across one that would allow us to make as many changes as we wished to the site.  I bought it and happily began the tedious process of moving the content into the content manager and arranging our boxes and information in a pleasing and eye-catching manner.

Then I hit a wall.

Paragraph spacing.  I have no idea how to accomplish paragraph spacing within this theme.

So weeks of work are stalled while I spend more time seeking out the appropriate way to code for paragraph spacing than I did on writing the content for the site.


I’m so very tired. The only time I don’t have a headache is when I have had too much to drink. Even my sleep is invaded by the invisible drum chorus in my head, pounding endlessly like waves upon the shore, eroding my strength and forebearance.

There is no where to share my despair. All the compassion has been spent, I have exceeded my allowance.

This is never going to end.

This is never going to end and I am trapped inside it, alone.

I want to give up, to give in. To tell the pain it has won and just slide into its throbbing darkness. I want to sleep and never again battle the waking hour, never again force myself to rise and walk when each breath, each step, resonates in my head in an unending rhythm.

I want to wave the white flag and let my consciousness succumb to the overwhelming clashing of blood and vessel in my brain. I want to blithely sleep while the vessels constrict and gorge, over and over, the rhythm of my foolish heart playing it’s swan song for an audience of one.

I want to release it, vent it, let it go.

I want this to end.

Grief and other socially unacceptable attitudes…

I have had a number of lovely discussions with a friend and mentor about grief.  “Of course we should grieve the things we have lost.” He says.

He says it so simply, as though it were a given.  Every time I hear it my brain erupts into hundreds of little voices, hungrily digesting or spitting out the simple truth behind his words.  The chaos this phrase causes inside of me seems ridiculous because of course we should grieve the things we have lost.

Why don’t we?

I learned, as a weird and often rejected child, not to show the sorrow and hurt I felt when a person or group dismissed me.  If I showed them their words stung, they won.  If I hid it inside and pretended not to care, saving my grief for the privacy of my diary or best friend, I won.  I soon learned to build my entire life on this simple principle.  Do not show people they have hurt you.  Do not share your grief with people you don’t implicitly trust.

I remember one day in high school when a friend gave me a great gift.  I was dating a boy in my choir, one who had asked me to keep our relationship secret at first and then threw a nasty public scene when I ended it.  I mean nasty, in front of everyone, calling me a whore, etc.  I bravely stood up and fought back and showed nothing but disdain for him and his sharpened steel tipped words as they ripped through my skin and bled me in front of my entire social group.  A friend stepped in and took me aside, saying “C.Mon, he’s not worth it.”  He walked me to his car and told me to hold on for a few more minutes.  Then we drove around the block behind a building and he said “Okay, now you can cry.”

This person had taken me to a safe place away from the prying eyes of everyone who would have taken pleasure in my pain and given me permission to grieve.  I grieved.  I cried like to world had ended, not because I had broken up with a boy, not because I had been so publicly renounced, but because I had someone in my life who had offered me protection for my feelings.

Over the years, each time a relationship ended and the friendships I made were divided, I grieved for the lost friends privately, showing nothing but understanding and acceptance for those who decided to toss me aside and stay connected with the other person.  I shared my grief in journals, with one or two people, or sometimes not at all.

My conversation with my mentor, his simple acceptance that we should all grieve what we have lost, opened up a maelstrom in me.  I have spent the last year trying to pretend I accept and understand the behavior of the people I called friends during the last ten years of my life.  People who chose to toss aside the relationships I built with them and never even bothered to ask me what happened.  People who cared so little about me that they just threw me away.

Of course I should grieve what I have lost.  I have lost the illusion that I mattered to these people.  I have lost the belief that they cared about me. I have lost the certainty that the time and effort I put into them, listening to their problems, helping them with solutions, loving them, would be returned.  It won’t.  When the shit hit the fan I was tossed aside in moments.  No questions asked.

Just as I mourned the loss of connection with the friends I had before my marriage, the friends I didn’t get to spend time with because I was busily putting energy into my husband’s group of friends,  I mourn the loss of connection I had with his friends.

However, I have another nugget of simple truth to get me through.  “Of course I grieve the things and people I have lost.  You have to.” He says over coffee. “But I also have to realize that there are other, sometimes better people and things in my life now. “

The secret.  Grieve, and then let go.  You can’t let go if you don’t grieve.

So today I shed the tears my younger bullied self so bravely taught me to hide.  I shed them openly and honestly. I grieve here, in a public forum, no building to hide behind.

I grieve the loss of the easy banter I had with my husband’s friends.  I miss the group outings, the parties, the shared jokes and experiences. I miss feeling they were assholes for sending one person into a movie theater line to save the space for eleven of us and knowing every person behind us hated us as the rest showed up.  I miss arguing politics with them, celebrating holidays with them, sharing stories with them.  I miss every single one of them, but mostly I miss them all together.

And I am letting them go.

Sometimes the ups, outnumber the downs.

The new super-powered ibuprofen I was given seems to be bringing the shadowboxer down to a dull roar.  I am still oddly aware of the right side of my face, in that it feels slightly more electrical than the left side, but it’s not making me cry anymore, so Yay!!

In other news, I got a new job this week, which is wonderful and super exciting.  I will tell more details when I am actually plugging away at it.  I am also writing a book on Evidence.  So, that should be a fun combination of time consuming activities that require me to have a normal appearing life, along with the lowering in pain necessary to do it! So Yay!

So despite the dire sounding nature of the illness I have and the complete upheaval of my family by divorce, things are shining pretty over here for a change.

Move ‘em on, head ‘em up, Head ‘em up, move ‘em out

This whole “lead a normal life” regimen is really hard.  So far I am mid-transition with my medication which means I am getting the sharp face punches more frequently.  The good news is they last a very short time and I am learning to breathe through them.

Still, the only way I can keep on with the normalcy prescription is to just keep moving.  The first day I cleaned my entire living space from head to toe, reorganized my files and office, cleaned my son’s space, washed and folded laundry, waked to campus, taught class, then hung out with the kids, doing homework and such until bedtime.  Ten o’clock, my chosen bedtime, has never been so happily greeted.

The second day I spent in search of the icky cat pee smell and spent two hours scrubbing hardened cat resin off of various parts of the house where my twelve year old had failed to sweep up spilled litter when changing the catboxes.  Afterward I mopped assiduously. For exercise I spent 45 minutes on the exercise bike. Finally, I worked for a few hours, cooked dinner and did dishes before helping the kids with schoolwork, baths, and bedtime.

By the time the third day rolled around I had the hardest time getting moving.  Every step seemed a struggle and every action a burden.  All I wanted to do was lie in bed and watch t.v. or sleep.  Instead, I got up.  I got the kids ready for school, made myself breakfast, and did thirty minutes on the exercise bike.  I worked, applied for jobs, reviewed my current cases and did laundry.  After school I took Marlena to the doctor for a knee injury at school and once home ran errands for her and made sure she was comfortable.  When she and Ollie left with their father I did rest some.

I keep thinking that if I just keep busy I will get used to it again.  I used to have tons of energy and was able to handle dozens of complicated things every day while still managing to be a good parent.  I even did this with migraines.  Heck, I’ve had ‘em since I was 12, so learning to cope with them was  a necessity.  I succeeded through law school with more than 16 headache days a month and a small child.

Still, despite the prescription to just keep moving, I can feel the tiredness pouring from my body.  It’s inclination to lie down and sleep is powerful, fed in part by the three or four different medications I am on that cause drowsiness.  At this point, it’s sheer will, stubborness, and the love of those around me that keeps me going on this new lifestyle change.

Back to life, back to reality.


That’s how the doctor’s edict is feeling these days.  I am running from the morning until the evening just trying to live a normal life.  I am job hunting, working, cleaning, reading, mending, parenting, seeing doctors, and eating like a normal person.  So far it appears that I can live a moderately normal life, even if I am really excited when bedtime arrives at ten.

In one week I start the new medication to handle the nerve pain.  Until then it’s reset my circadian rhythms to see if it helps make the headaches go away.

I have to say I am at least distracted from them by doing.  I managed law school with migraines and I always thought it was because my brain just compartmentalized the pain into a tiny corner and focused on Evidence.  I think the past few years there has been less of an ability to compartmentalize.  My hope is a regular schedule and a non-coma inducing treatment will result in me once again being able to kick ass.

Fake it ’til you make it.

That is basically my new medical plan.  For now at least.  It turns out the fancy drugs they gave me to assist in fighting off the shadowboxer caused suicidal ideation.  Long term use of opiates does the same thing for me, so I am used to randomly being ready to hang up the towel when my brain chemistry is altered by various medications.

So I called my doctor and used the magic words.  “Dear Doctor So and So, I want to drop a piano on my head. Please advise”.  I had an appointment the next morning where he took me off all my currents medications and started me on all new ones.  He also ordered the following:

Go to sleep at the same time every night.

Wake up at the same time every day.

Eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner at about the same time every day.

Exercise every day.

Work at the same time every day.

He basically ordered a “Fake it ’til you make it” prescription.  I started it yesterday.  It was grueling.  I wanted to fall asleep at noon, so instead I spent two hours cleaning.  I ended up going to bed at ten.  Ten took forever to get here.

So, today I woke up to get the kids to school. Stayed up after seeing them off, made myself eat a healthy breakfast, and am now sitting down to work.  I assume someday this routine will reset my circadian rythyms and seem more natural, but for now, it feels a little like water boarding.  I keep forcing myself to keep doing stuff until it’s time to go to bed.