I have a problem with avoidance. I think avoidance is similar to denial. I don’t particularly remember studying avoidance in Psych, but I definitely remember studying denial. Denial is not an effective coping skill. Denial causes you to pretend your problems are not there and not deal with them. Denial is not to be confused with suppression, which means putting your problems on the back burner when you need to, while you deal with more pressing situations. Suppression is the good twin to the evil twin denial. Throw avoidance in there and then we have triplets with two evil triplets and one good triplet. And like I said, the evil triplets have been my friends.
So, for those of you who do not enjoy this cryptic psych stuff, all this means is that there was a conversation I was avoiding like the plague, but I knew that I had to have it sometime. (Plain English sometimes makes more sense than psych talk, even to me. I may have sat in a very serious presentation about suicide the other day and smirked because I had never heard anyone talk so much like a Psychology book before. I kept imagining how it would be to have a psychologist as a parent. I stopped smirking, though, when the psychologist turned on me and demanded to know why I was smiling. It isn’t good form to smile in a presentation on suicide.) I kept talking myself out of this phone conversation until it had morphed into an enormous mountain in my mind and my gentle boss into an ogre. I’m very good at avoiding difficult conversations, and there have been conversations that I should have had that I never had because I avoided them that sincerely. This, however, was not going to be one of them.
I made up my mind weeks ago to go to Bible school at Faith Builder’s Bible Institute for a 5-week term in January and February. The only hurdle was what to do about the full time position I hold at the hospital? I kicked various ideas around in my mind- should I quit my job altogether and get another job when I get back? Being a full-time float nurse has not exactly been a picnic anyway. But my boss and my coworkers have been so nice to me. I didn’t want to leave them already…
I tossed ideas back and forth- even going so far as to set up an interview for a job in Allentown. Moving out on my own sounded kind of exciting, but then I asked myself if I would really like that? Of course, it sounds good now, but what if I would get bored and homesick?
Well, I finally decided that I would cancel my interview and go per diem at the hospital where I work now, which means that I could pick up shifts as needed rather than having a regular schedule. I would be free to go to Bible school, free to do my volunteer job when I want, and free to go on mission trips as I got the opportunity. The only problem was how to tell my boss.
It seemed like a scary conversation. Yesterday I determined that I absolutely would call her and talk to her. I even went as far as to punch the numbers in the phone, not just once, but multiple times. I video-called my brother for support. I asked if I could just email her. He loves to give advice. “If you don’t talk to her before you come to Houston this weekend,” he said, “I am going to yell at you.”
I messaged my sister, and she said to talk to my boss. I waited until my mom got home and went on a walk with her and my Grandma and told them how mad I was that I hadn’t made that phone call. They told me that I was blowing it way out of proportion, and what did I think my boss was going to do?
I didn’t know, but I imagined myself saying that I wanted to go per diem, and her saying that why did I think I could run off for 5 weeks and expect to keep my job? Why was I complaining and not wanting to just work full time like a good girl? I imagined her thinking that I was a crazy little Mennonite girl, wanting to go to Bible school. My imagination works very well.
So this morning, I told myself that I would make this phone call- for better or for worse. So I did. I punched the fatal numbers into the phone, telling myself that there was no turning back. And do you know what my boss said after I spoke my piece? She said that she’s sorry to lose me full time, but she understands that I’m young, and it sounds interesting, and I can definitely stay per diem. She was so sweet, she didn’t yell at me once, and the whole conversation was incredibly civil.
And so the moral of this long story about a silly phone call? Avoidance is not an effective coping skill. I wasted days stressing out about this situation. Avoiding doesn’t help anything, it only makes things scarier, and things are very rarely as bad as you think they will be. (Except when they’re much worse. Which doesn’t happen very often.)
Oh yes, and guess what? I’m going to Bible school for 5 weeks and I am so excited! Nursing and nursing school have had me tied down for years, so going to a school to study the Bible for 5 weeks sounds like a gift from heaven. I had decided I was too old for Bible school, thinking that it was for 18- and 19-year-olds. Then I saw on the FB website that they welcome people from all stages and ages. And so I applied and the rest is history. Some of the rest, anyway.
With that figured out I can go to Houston this weekend with a clear conscious. I won’t have to employ avoidance techniques to keep my brother from yelling at me…