Transition and the Need for Consistency

Wednesday was my last day at work, and for the week and a half before it, I was a roller coaster of fear, nervousness, peace, relief and back again. I received good closure from both the team I was working for, and the team I had worked with 17 months prior. It was bitter-sweet as I closed the door on almost 10 years service.

I had a chance to speak with my new Supervisor on Thursday and it was good to hear that she has a lot of confidence in me. I guess she would since I was one of the three chosen to be there.

So in all my excitement and fear, I’m hitching my wagon to her confidence in me. Not that I don’t have any confidence in my abilities, it just helps keep me in the flow when I start to panic.

I’m noticing some growth in my ability to witness my emotional experience during a time a transition, and that feels like progress.

Then a  funny thing happened.

I went to my ACA meeting Thursday night and I was feeling pretty good. Then the meeting started to roll out in a very scattered manner. Then I began to freak out inside. I felt angry, unsettled, anxious, and I wanted to leave.

The format of our group hasn’t changed in the 18 months I’ve been there. There are guidelines set so that, when it comes time for people to share, they can do so with neutrality and safety. Some of those guidelines are that there is no cross-talk, commenting on what others share, giving advice, making noise, or making gestures.

Last night all that seemed to go out the window. There was a lot of noise as people shared and there were pieces missing from the format of the meeting. I recognized that some if it was my tendency to cling to control AND part of it was that I felt a genuine threat to the safety of the group. It may seem like I’m being over dramatic, but the way ACA traits play out in a person’s life range from glaringly obvious to quiet subtly. I’ve seen people shut down from being praised for their comments, and getting agitated when people interrupt. The format and guidelines are there as a foundation for the safety of the group and no one person is a “leader”.

I wondered if I should say something. How do I do so without lashing out? How do I do so without laying blame. I closed my eyes and tried settling in my body, but all I felt was me crawling out of my own skin. I reminded myself that I was safe, and that things weren’t going to fall apart because weren’t following the format. I asked myself, “When did I first feel shaken by a change in structure?” But I was feeling to unsafe to even go there.

So I just said it. I shared that I was feeling triggered and feeling really shaken by the change in format of the group, especially as I am in this time of transition. I shared that the cross-talk, noises, and commenting was leaving me feeling really unsafe.

Part of me felt bad, but of me was relieved.

A few of us talked to the group facilitator afterwards regarding the way the meeting rolled out, and it’s yet to be seen how things will land.

It’s a trip I tell ya.


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