#freedom

Adult Goldilocks

As a mental health clinician, I have the right to diagnose myself. Lately I believe I have been suffering from MULTIPLE OZARK PERSONALITY DISORDER. (MOPD)

MOPD is located in the DSM-V: Diagnosis code: 69692020. ICD-10 Code: 2337.

Since quarantine, I have noticed that I am taking on more and more characteristics of these Ozark personalities. (You WILL definitely relate to this, whether you watch Ozark or not. Truly… no spoilers here, anything discussed is all pretty obvious.)

What I find ironic and hilarious is that my husband will no longer watch this show with me because he found the show “ridiculous” and “unrelatable.” He stopped after season one…typical. Season one of any show is comparable to a psych 101 class; basically playing just-the-tip with character development.Sheesh.

Anyways, the irony is, that the more outlandish and ridiculous this show becomes, the more I find it relatable.

Let’s be real, everything is ridiculous in the world right now. I mean who would ever think we would not be allowed to attend live sport events and there would be cardboard fans? Who would ever think that kids would not be attending school in person? Who would ever think that in the midst of massive change and uncertainty there would be a presdential election? I digress

These real-life events make some good old-fashioned, illegal activity seem refreshing. What’s the big deal about a dad who wants to make some extra bank on the side for his family?

Since we were encouraged to do nothing but sit at home, scroll on the phone and binge watch tv; we extinguished our coping skills. Now, everything is different at one time. All this change is just too painful for my brain to tolerate; my psyche has now split in order to protect my sanity…

Split Personality #1:The first episode of the third season of Ozark, Ben is introduced. He is a substitute teacher who seems pretty cool; but then he is exposed to the reality of tweens and smart-phones when a student begins to cry in class about a text with a photo received. The lack of eye contact, respect or response from the rest of the students infuriates the him. He then proceeds to take all the kids’ cell phones and throw them in a garbage. (I think this is a completely appropriate reaction.) He goes too far and throws them all into wood chipper. I find myself relating to this entire scene up until the last 17 seconds.

Take it easy Ben, you are just a sub. Substitute teacher: https://youtu.be/Dd7FixvoKBw

Split Personality #2: Ruth Langmore, who can make you blush with her raw cussin and brutal lack of filter. Ruth’s demeanor, even while having sex, gives off that don’t-fuck-with-me vibe that can make you cringe. She has also channeled her white-trashness into some useful business woman tips. What is cool as hell about her is she owns her mistakes; no excuses. Fuck is now a noun, verb, adjective, pronoun, adverb and a language in itself because of Ruth. Anyone else speak fluent fuck nugget?

Straight up…my Spirit Animal.

Personality #3 The matriarch of the show, Wendy Byrde, who manages being a mom and wife with political policies. Wendy Byrde is completely transparent with her kids, does whatever the hell she wants in her marriage and uses her political knowledge to commit illegal crimes legally.

First episode of season one: Wendy is an ordinary, stay-at-home mom who gave up her political career/power to raise her kids. Her life was uneventful and easy, and she was unhappy and bored. She thrives in chaos. She had a rough childhood. 👈🏻(This article is brilliant about her acting out when she doesn’t belong.) She comes alive while juggling negotiations with a mexican drug cartel and her power soars when she comes up with strategies to legalize her husband’s money laundering operation. Wendy spins these webs from the safety of her minivan.

Just like any mom does, “Wendy’s got this.” Mom’s know what to do. Wendy can handle almost anything and plow through the day, unaffected. However, what is so relatable: it’s the little shit that throws her over the edge. Everything is cool until her damn emotions slow her down.

She can blow off a call from a drug lord👇🏻.

She can answer her kids tough questions without missing a beat.

Wendy’s-mentality: Don’t sugarcoat anything. Throw us a bone and let us know where we stand. Mama Byrde: OK, here’s a bone…straight up your ass.

TO HUSBAND: “Quite Frankly, I Don’t Give A Damn If You Like It Or Not, Cause I Feel Pretty Good About It. It’s A Good Idea, And I Did It For Our Family. What Did You Do Today… For Our Family?” Wendy Byrde (boom)

Marty replies flatly: “I bought a strip club.” (He is pretty bad ass but I haven’t gone numb yet;)

Everyone has a weakness and Wendy’s is: she cannot handle her brother and his “irrational” behavior. Why can’t her brother just understand that they are laundering money for a mexican drug cartel and everything is going according to plan? Why won’t he leave things alone and stop trying to make everything moral and just? Why doesn’t her brother “get it” that it is normal to be disintegrated in an acid barrel when you stand up to the cartel’s lawyer or you work with the FBI? Why won’t he stop behaving like a toddler and involving the police? Jeez…

Wendy. loses. her. shit. with her brother. The flooding of emotions causes her to get hammered in a parking lot in her minivan for days. When she does eventually come home, she wants to hide under the covers. She doesn’t want to get out of bed. She doesnt care about any of the stuff she was relentlessly working toward. She lost her tenacity and drive. She fell apart.

Which brings me to my “Wendy Moment”. No I did not get hammered in my minivan. What are you nuts? I do not drive a minivan😜.

Backstory: The last seven months during this global pandemic, I’ve taken pride in that I’m a Gen Xer. I have been thriving in this chaos. Watch movies with my kids every night, psshh, my dream come true. I have loved not having to go anywhere. I accomplished so many projects and got in the best shape of my life. I was kicking ass at work and rolling with the changes. My relationship with my kids and husband has never been better. Even when I struggled with e-learning and juggled my kids being home while I was working; I persevered.

Then the little shit happened that threw me over the edge. School started for 2 days, then was canceled for two more weeks (something died inside me that day😜). I broke my own phone and had wait 6 days for a new one (I am still re-doing every password in my life). My daughter received her scoliosis brace and she was NOT happy. This clusterfuck of events has triggered me to split. These are all NORMAL, regular, solvable problems, yet I cannot deal. Like Wendy, I can deal with the crisis and big stuff. The little, unpredictable, emotional shit…not so much ..

👆🏻Mama Byrde broke into her old house in Chicago, then acted out by pulling an adult Goldilocks. She drank their beer and sat on their beds. She realized she no longer belonged to this life anymore.

MOPD Examples:

Monday: I was picking up some girls for a volleyball camp carpool and my friend was talking briefly about her day to me as a elementary teacher; now teaching her students online. It sounded unbearable, extremely stressful and overwhelming. A flashback of me teaching my daughter in May, triggered a depersonalization episode. It was as if I was hovering above both of us, looking at our life thinking “this cannot be real.” Similar to the Wendy-Goldilocks moment when she realized she did not belong in that life anymore.

The no longer knowing is terrifying.

The not knowing how to do our job, not knowing how to be a parent, not knowing how to behave in public (That awkward-should we hug, I want to hug but, are you hugging?…)

Everything we once “knew for sure” we no longer know.(split) In comes Ruth Langmore: “This is crazy. I don’t know shit about FUCK!”

Tuesday 9/28/2020 – I Drive kids to school, attempted to listen to the news on my way home. The discussion about the presidential debate …Flood of emotions …I walk past my office, get in bed and hide under the covers…(split) Ben Davis “I will not fall into line with the others. What you walked into is normal… this is all normal….No, nope, no it’s not …smh…” (split) In comes Ruth again…

“What are you going to do, kill me? you bitch wolf?

☝🏻Ben the sub: insubordinate and churlish☝🏻
Wednesday: My son was excused from school for a golf tournament. I drive him to golf course at 5:30am. By 8:46am: My son has a golf-injury, I shit you not. He hit a ball, it ricocheted off a tree and knocked him in the chin. He was gushing blood apparently. I had to stop working and bring him to urgent care to get stitches. The day was shot. Anything my family said to me after that, I replied:
Kid: “I’m going to ride my bike to Dunkin.”
.
Me: “The fuck you are.”
.
Kid: “I’m going to the skate park.”
.
Me: “The fuck you are.”
. Everyone just stay here, stay safe, stay uninjured. But…wait…we already did that…and that’s not living. Of course I thrived when we were all in a bubble. Nothing ever happened. We were all zombies. That’s not normal. It was a nice break; a reality check on what’s important. Yet it is all a blur. You don’t remember the nights you got plenty of sleep. You remember the nights you almost died in a field while you were at a “sleepover.” “Ok, ok you can ride to Dunkin after you do the dishes, and get decaf”. Look both ways when you cross the street (dipshit).”

“Ok. Ok you can go to skate park after you take out the garbage. You better wear helmet, knee pads, elbow/wrist guards…and here’s some bubble wrap (dumb ass).”

In the end, the little shit is all that matters and that must be why it’s so hard. -Quillan Kelly-Dunn

Women's Fight

The Eye on the Sparrow (Part One)

In 2002, I was finishing up grad school and ready to “Make a Difference”. I took the train to my new job, walked around Downtown Chicago like a tourist, all bright-eyed and excited for my new opportunity. I was also engaged and in wedding planning mode. Life was amazing.

When I arrived for my training at the NBC towers, I was beaming with pride and so impressed with the office location. I felt so cool taking the elevator to “my office” and using my badge to scan myself in to unlock the door. I walked into the training room and found six other girls in the training room. We all appeared to be about the same age, well except one woman.

She was wearing glasses, had short stacked hair and a blazer: dead giveaway for a mom. She did not look happy. She asked about 17 questions before the first break. I did not understand why this woman was insisting on knowing everything right away. The same thing happened day after day for two weeks, constant questions from this Mom-Lady.  It seemed as if the other five women had the same thought as me because we all began to make eye-contact with each other when she asked yet another question. I had no idea what I was doing either; however this women’s questions emphasized that I was also clueless and made the training longer.

By the time the Monday arrived for week three of training, the newness wore off. It was winter and freezing downtown. I was exhausted from waking up so early, while it was still dark out, to begin my journey to what it felt like the north pole. It takes a lot of effort to be in the loop by 8:00am. I was also beginning to realize that I voluntarily signed up to be in the real-life version of Office Space: the cubicles, everyone complaining about the copier jamming, and all the staff in the cubicles with the same flat-zombie-like expression as Peter. (“Peter…What’s happening?”)

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Finally on Friday of our last training day, we somehow decided to walk to the same place for lunch. As we sat down, one of the girls my age unloaded, “I am sorry, but do any of you guys know what the fuck we are doing?” All of us burst out laughing.  The bubble of phony professionalism was broken and everyone unleashed their confusion, realness and fear. It was such a relief to hear everyone’s insecurities. Even the Mom-Lady was laughing and was making funny comments.

After we all had our food, Mom-Lady stated she felt compelled to tell us something. You could sense the uncomfortable tension by the abrupt, dead silence at the table. Mom-Lady explained that she had been in the field as a clinician for fifteen years until she took time off to be home with her kids. She was married and had two children, a girl (8) and a boy (5). She disclosed she was 42 years old and “feeling pretty humiliated” about going back to work after being off for eight years. “My husband is self-employed and his business was doing well. We were able to afford my being a stay-at home mom. However, with all the insurance changes and pre-existing condition limitations; private insurance cost a fortune. Unfortunately, I need to go back to work to provide insurance for my family.” The story continued to get worse. She then confessed she had also allowed her license to lapse during her time off, and without a license, you could not get hired anywhere except for entry positions. Therefore she had to basically start over and take the licensing exams which were not held until next year.

We all sat there stunned and speechless; wide-eyed and jaws gaping open. None of us were even married yet or had children. I could not even fathom this kind of stress. The silence was unbearable and I assumed it was making this Mom-Lady more uncomfortable than she already was. I had no clue what to say. Everyone began looking down at the remains of their potbelly sandwiches and sitting on their hands for what seemed like an eternity. When things are tense, uncomfortable and awkward I always think of funny things and feel the urge to laugh inappropriately.

Before I could think I blurted out: “Jeez, remember in Office Space when he says “Every time you see me, that’s on the worst day of my life. He’s got nothing on you. Sheesh! That SUCKS!”

Thankfully the Mom-Lady began to laugh, probably more out of gratitude that the silence was broken. Then we all began to laugh. It wasn’t the most professional, empathetic, therapist-like thing to say but it broke the ice. We all returned to the office laughing, relaxed and more cohesive than when we left; by being honest and raw, we had bonded.

The next week, we were all thrown into our roles and able to grasp the actual job fairly quickly. We had to just do it in order to learn it. We discovered instant messaging and we would IM each other all day long. It turned out the Mom-Lady was pretty hilarious once she got over her initial anxiety. We all laughed hysterically all day long at her instant messages, nicknames for team leaders and her in-person impressions of different coworkers.

Mom-Lady was honest, eloquent and had an amazing ability to say things to me that I would not tolerate from anyone else. An example, one day I was talking to my own Mother on the phone at work. I was all stressed out about my wedding dress and that “I would not be able to lift my arms all the way up” and “how would I dance if I can’t lift my arms up!” My Mother became stressed and worried too and the two of us were like two balls of irrational anxiety. Mom-Lady apparently overhead me talking from her cubicle and came over to my desk smirking. Mom-Lady basically told me straight up to “get some real problems.” I was knocked right into a reality check. Then she elaborated, “I know your wedding seems like it is the most important day of your life right now but seriously, I have been married for 12 years, and in the big scheme of things it is not a big deal. It’s one day.”

I was dumbfounded at first. Then I embraced her authentic honesty because it was exactly what I needed. I began to giggle and I replied, “Oh yeah, well then you explain to everyone at the wedding why I am dancing and walking like this.” I stood up and began doing some dance moves resembling Ed Grimley from SNL and walking with my arms planted at my side like Molly Shannon in the Seinfeld Episode “The Summer of George.” Mom-Lady and I began to perform Ed Grimley dance moves in my cubicle while laughing hysterically. We spent the rest of the week walking down the hall not moving our arms like Molly Shannon.

ed grimley

molly shannon

Mom-Lady taught me to laugh at myself and she turned out to be the older sister I never had. Over time she became my favorite person to talk to. Eventually she changed from Mom-Lady to my most cherished Mom-Angel-Friend. My Mom-Angel-Friend was definitely an example that fear and shame can bring out the worst in people; and in some circumstances, you do get a second chance to make a first impression.

Ross Stores, Women's Fight, Yoga Pants

Fight Club: Business Women in Yoga Pants

Fight Club: Business Women in Yoga Pants

The First rule about fight club is that we should talk about fight club.

We should talk about the constant fight for women to do it all. We are supposed to be business women, short order cooks, waitresses, housekeepers, unpaid Uber drivers and oh yea, moms.

What I envision when someone says “Business Woman” is Sigourney Weaver in Working Girl.

1. Power suit with huge shoulder pads

2. Big office with name& Big TITLE on the door

3. Briefcase & Business cards

4. Stiletto heels

5. Big coffee

6. RBF

This vision seemed to be the only kind of women who could support a family on their own.

Have you ever tried to cook dinner in a dress, blazer or pantyhouse? Total fire hazard.

I could never imagine myself in this role, nor did I ever want to be. Plus I like to be comfortable in my clothes. I thoroughly enjoyed being a worker bee and a mom. I tolerated some humiliating treatment in the past because I thought that’s “just the way it is” and some things “will never change”.

When my kids both were in school full day, the “mom-brain fog” seemed to lift and I was able to think about myself again. I got my health and nutrition back in order and found personal development.

It began with podcasts by Chalene Johnson. I noticed that my day went so much better when I would listen to her podcasts before work. I felt more empowered all day and I finally believed that I did not have to tolerate anything I did not want to.

These podcasts brought me to the realization that after working at the same job for 12 years; I was bored. I was unchallenged, frustrated, fed up with coworker-scheduling dynamics and micromanagement. In my heart, I knew I was meant for more. I was also tired of working evenings, weekends and holidays.

I was ready for the next step…BOSS.

That is what “moving up” means, right?

You become what you think about.

So, I made Pinterest Boards entitled “CEO” “Like a Boss” & “Boss Bitch”. I began actively looking for clinical supervisors and managerial positions.  

An opportunity presented itself and I was offered a Clinical Director position.

I enjoyed giving my two weeks notice to my manager and advising him that I would be leaving to be a DIRECTOR of a department (a title higher than his). I fantasized about this moment for months and his uneventful reaction solidified that I made the right decision to leave. (However I was disappointed he did not beg me to stay, counter with a pay increase etc.)

If you could fight anyone who would you fight?”

“I am the Director of this department” was  broadcasted by me as many times as possible throughout the day. I relished in watching people’s facial expressions change or check their tone when speaking to me.

I am IMPORTANT.

I am POWERFUL.

I thrived on getting up early, working out, sending emails, checking the status of “MY” department.

I owned it.

I rocked boots and $12.99 dresses from ROSS (I know-I am so fancy).

I listened to audio books on my commute. I was UNSTOPPABLE. This is what I wanted! I made it happen! I am killing it. I am making more Money and MONEY IS POWER!

After one month, I was hysterically sobbing after working late…again… and receiving a humiliating phone call with the CEO on my “day off”. My brothers wedding was that night and I didn’t want to go. I went with puffy eyes.

After two months, I was miserable all the time .

I was so confused.  After all, this is what I wanted?

Why am I so unhappy? I assumed it was the growing pains of change. I missed the connections and laughing with my coworkers.

I was lonely.

However, I told myself every morning

“It’s lonely at the TOP” and I persevered.

I focused on what I COULD do. I created a cohesive, unstoppable team like a tribe! I worked on empowering my team members. I devoted time cultivating relationships with my staff and knowing them personally. I got in the arena with them and did the work. I became the manager I always wanted: Someone who has got your back!

I EARNED the title I had and proved to my team that I am their fearless leader.

That did not matter to management though. Now I understood my previous boss a lot better.

Now I was miserable…empty, exhausted, and depressed.

Yes I made a lot more money “per year”. However, In reality, I was putting in 55-60 hours a week at work and spending 3-5 hours in my car commuting.

How much more money was I really making?

Also, I noticed I never felt free. I finally was “off” on weekends with paid holidays; but I was never truly off.

I had no clue what was going on with my kids. I was missing the kids games and planned dinners with my family and friends. I was passing out in my work clothes next to my kids because I missed them so much.  I was not sleeping well. I was getting massive carpal tunnel in my hands from holding the steering wheel so many hours and from typing, writing, and holding the phone.

The coworker “drama” I used to deal with became silly and comical; like a family argument that you look back on and laugh about.  The coworker drama I was exposed to now was some serious shit and I was the one who was supposed to handle it!

So what did I do? What does every girl do when they feel empty? I shopped. I bought more stuff. I justified to myself that I, I need to look good: I AM THE BOSS. If I look good, I feel good. I worked harder and got deeper into the trenches of my arena.

I refused to give up.

I noticed at my kids games that I did make, I had to answer the phone and be available. I was preoccupied with how my department was doing.

My kids were not doing well at school.

I actually craved punching in and working a weekend shift like I used to. I missed working my ass off and then leaving for the day, completely free.

I believed I was being immature and this is what being a “Business Woman” is all about.

I have to tough it out. I have to keep fighting.

Then one day a friend said to me, “You never smile anymore.”

I started to cry. It was the painful truth I was avoiding. I was no longer myself. I realized my kids looked sad and stopped asking me to do things with them “because you always have to work.” Then I noticed that I stopped giving a fuck…about anything…

“Worker bees can leave. Even Drones can fly away. The Queen is their slave.”

Chuck Palahniuk, Fight Club.

One night another friend said to me, “Your kids need you.” The guilt, pain and loneliness was unbearable.

After a chain of extremely stressful events that left me feeling lost and sitting in the parking lot, crying by my car; I had a moment of clarity.

What I wanted to be is the BOSS…OF MY LIFE…

I knew in the gut that this job was not the answer. I didn’t call my husband. I didn’t ask anyone for advice. I didn’t ask for permission. I trusted myself. No excuses.

Thankfully I kept a plan B, I stayed on as registry at another hospital. My supervisor there said he could guarantee me at least 20 hours a week. 

I walked in and resigned from my “BOSS” job.

I felt like a failure. I felt like a quitter. Yet I knew I made the right decision. It was a terrifying ambivalence.

It felt like I put my heart and soul into building and decorating a house and establishing relationships with a family; only to hand it to someone else. -Quillan Kelly-Dunn

Then I randomly found some podcasts by Marie Forleo who described failing as a “WIN” because at least the risk was taken and there wouldn’t be that “what if”.

By taking a risk, you found what didn’t work.  At least you know now what you don’t want. -Marie Forleo

Not gonna lie, things were rough in my marriage for two months, but I appreciated my kids and every moment I had with them more than I ever did in my life. That was PRICELESS.

I enjoyed going to their games, being present, making dinner and punching in and out. I enjoyed the “freedom” of being a worker bee.

My husband eventually realized how stressful it was without me being home and how much time and money we were spending on gas, tolls, and trying to figure out childcare. I was smiling again without the stress of what to wear, what to eat and was able to sleep.

I assumed the full-time career I longed for did not exist; however, I wrote it down anyways.

I surrendered by trusting the universe and having faith. I let go of worrying about how my resume looked. I let the chips fall where they may. I gave up the illusion of control.

Things became desperate financially. Out of this desperation, I accepted the first job offered to me. It was less money, temporary, and not that great of benefits. It turned out to be an amazing fit for me that utilized all my strengths. I found my passion, my drive, my balance and my purpose again.

It turned out to be a job I had never done before in the field and working from home. I spent less money on clothes, food, gas, childcare, & commuting. I was free to drop off and pick up my kids every day from school. It also turned out to be exactly what I had written down:

I wrote down: “a job where I could balance between my family and career while maintaining myself, my sanity, my integrity, and be in charge of my own schedule.”

“It’s only after we’ve lost everything that we’re free to do anything.”

Chuck Palahniuk, Fight Club.

I was looking to feel important, powerful, unstoppable, assertive, ballsy, fearless, empowered, driven and fulfilled. I was looking for a job to make me feel that way.

What I truly wanted was to feel in charge of my life=a title does not equal that.

I am without a full time job again today 1/23/28(my company closed 1/12/18). I am writing this in my yoga pants, with messy hair/no make up on; yet I feel more important than ever.

I feel in control and more powerful than I ever have.  

I feel like a business woman.

I can give myself whatever title I want.

My office is anywhere I want it to be.

I can wear yoga pants or a Ross dress if I want. I’m ready to FIGHT.

“What you see at fight club is a generation of men raised by women.”

Chuck Palahniuk, Fight Club

After all, you do not have to “get ready” to fight if you are already wearing yoga pants.

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 Next Blog:

https://quillankelly-dunn.com/2018/03/28/my-brain-is-oatmeal/