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Day 1 – Communication

Day 1 – Communication
Day 1 – Communication

I’ve been thinking for a while about doing a daily post about the goings on in my life. What living sober looks like. It won’t be the same as when I was in early sobriety, the white-knuckle days. But, it will be a chance for newer folks to see that I struggle with the same issues today as I did 3 years ago.

Today was a lesson in communication.

Growing up I learned to hold everything inside. Whether that was directly or indirectly I don’t know. I do know that I have never been good at communicating how I feel. When I feel threatened, I come off as angry. When I am scared, I come off as angry. When I’m frustrated, I come off as angry.

The funny thing is, when I was in treatment, I didn’t think I was ever angry. We had to do a worksheet on anger, listing 3 times we were angry, and what happened. I wrote that I wasn’t an angry person. But, as time went on, I recognized that I do get angry. And, that anger is often not anger, but something lying underneath.

So, when it comes to communicating how I feel, I tend to go from mellow to angry in 60 seconds. Not conducive to productive problem solving, especially at work. But the key for me when I was newly sober was recognizing that, and digging to find the feeling under the anger.

Today at work I was quite proud of myself. I’ve been having problems with my supervisor and co-worker “taking care of things” that I had left for another day, without asking me about it first. Today’s item was a toy drone that didn’t belong to our store. I had put it up on a shelf, with a note saying “hold for Mindy” written under the note “not from our store”.

When I came in yesterday, it was gone. And, of course, my supervisor and co-worker were both off, so I couldn’t ask them about it. I was frustrated (angry). Yet again they had “taken care of” something I was going to do another day.

Today I was telling my supervisor about another problem I have with my co-worker, and then mentioned that the drone was missing. Turns out my supervisor was the one that gave it to our Asset Protection Manager.

Now, in the past, I would have left the issue alone. I would have ranted and screamed in my head, or to someone else, but not to my supervisor. I would have shoved it under the rug and left it alone. But, that is also not a conducive way to handle problems, and I’ve been working on communicating better.

So, when my supervisor told me it was her, I tried to keep my cool. I said I put a note on it saying “hold for Mindy” because I was going to take care of it yesterday. She told me that she didn’t know the note was from me, she thought someone else had written it. And, she was also getting short with me while saying it.

Again, in the past, when someone I was speaking to started getting short with me, I would either a. drop the subject, or b. get even angrier and start yelling.

Thankfully I didn’t do that today. I simply explained that when I see something, and I don’t know what it is, I leave it until I can ask about it. I also gave an example of something I held off on because I didn’t know what it was. Unfortunately, my supervisor started getting snippy by then, and said she didn’t even see the product I was talking about yet. But, I’ve learned that that is not on me. I do not have to react to someone else’s tone or feelings.

Now, whether the issue of them “taking care of things” for me has been resolved, I don’t know. But I do know today that my communication skills are growing, and I feel good about how I handled the conversation. Progress, not perfection.

Originally published January 6, 2016 – medium.com

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