Without any obligations to Lauren, I began to have much more free time at work.

Peter became a main object of my attention that I needed to mentally prove my point that Lauren was bogus and an asshole. Peter was a nice guy. White hair, glasses, stooped a little when he walked. Usually wore t-shirts with ducks on them. He was funny. He had a weird sense of humor. But liked it, it brightened my day in a weird sort of way.

I started becoming acutely aware of the tactics Peter would use to stay “safe” in the lab. I say tactics deliberately, even though he wouldn’t have seen them as tactics, I clearly did. I noticed how sad it was, and therefore how sad he was.

In the lab, he’d always be bringing little tidbits of information to Lauren or Shannon about the people they disliked.

He would appeal to Lauren all the time. Look at me, look at me he would say in his own quirky way. Lauren never gave him the attention. She loved giving him just the right amount so she could still feel superior. But Lauren, he would appeal whining and cute. Everytime she made him feel inferior it made my skin crawl. More so, that Peter allowed it. I thought that it was ironic that Lauren’s favorite quote was by Eleanor Roosevelt, “No one can make you feel inferior without your own consent.” She had told it to me a couple of times in her truck in a way that she assumed I had never heard it before.

Lauren gave him extra attention when she noticed Peter and I, briefly, getting a bit closer. I, naturally, saw it in the plain terms that it was. Lauren was insecure so she gave Peter and extra sense of security in their relationship to feel more secure.

One morning Peter was next to my desk joking with Angela. Sarcastically he said, “well even if everyone else is bad, I will still be good.” He was gleefully exclaiming something, I presumed, Mary had confided in him. Mary would naively still confide in Peter even though every time he would tell everyone else in the lab. He was a sheep, he was over 60, but still a sheep. He didn’t think for himself. He thought for Lauren and Shannon.

I hear you sister, reeled through my brain. I had thought about befriending Mary, but I didn’t really connect with her whenever we would talk. I thought that we could connect about Lauren, but decided that I’d just do my own thing for a bit.

I surmised that Peter had lost himself completely.  I thought about how guilty he might feel for abandoning himself all the time. Sixty years old, yet he hadn’t learned that key lesson that I had just learned, to accept yourself just as you are.

I found out one of my “strengths” was appreciation of beauty and, in a way, I naturally noticed the beauty in Peter. He wasn’t used to being noticed for that. He was used to being noticed for doing what he was ‘supposed’ to do, or doing things for other people. I think he appreciated me for recognizing the real and the beautiful in him, without him needing to be a certain way for me. When I looked at him I saw the child who hadn’t gotten the attention that he had deserved way back when. I saw a simple kind of beauty in him that was raw and light and fun.

One of Jay and I’s favorite songs by The Wood Brothers is called Postcards from Hell. It goes, “If you ask him why he sings his blues so well, he says I got a soul that I won’t sell,  I got a soul that I won’t sell, I got a soul that I won’t sell and I don’t read postcards from hell. ” I felt sad that Peter had sold his soul because it was such a natural beautiful one. It made me sad that he didn’t see that in himself. I was ashamed of how I had sold my soul towards the beginning of my time working there too. It felt good to finally be proud that  I wasn’t selling my soul, even though I felt completely alone at work. It felt good knowing there were other people out there like me like the Wood Brothers, I just had to find them.

In the winter I would still sit out on the rocks and bundle up. I needed to get away from the toxic energy in the lab. It was the constant waiting for the next shoe to drop. I was in a constant state of panic thinking there would be some verbal attack against me as I sat on edge at my desk. There was a great sadness in me, but it came with a great knowing. Somedays, I would even be feeling so good as to skip down my dirt road listening to, “That’s My Girl,” by Fifth Harmony. That song, even though I always forget about it, can really get me in a good mood if I’m already feeling empowered.

There was a point in time, though, where all I was focused on in my weekly therapeutic  sessions with Margaret was how miserable I was at my job. I didn’t have a whole lot of hope for anything else going on in my life and Peter’s, Angela’s and Lauren’s antics on a daily basis were all getting to me. Margaret encouraged me to focus on something else that I liked. She suggested to check out Reiki at a local place that had a workshop for five dollars because she knew I was interested in that type of thing. Reiki, because I know that there may be some that are unaware, is energy healing work.

The first time I did Reiki on someone I was astounded at the feelings I could feel deep within each person. The leader of the workshop had said to, mentally, try and send the person we were working on, love in our minds and through our hands. I was exploring how it felt when I was sending love to the first gentleman that volunteered. I suddenly  noticed a huge wave and a great sense of worthlessness come over me. I knew instinctively that it had come from him. I had had moments of worthlessness in my life, sure, but I had never felt it in this deep type of a way before. I didn’t know it was possible for someone to have this depth of worthlessness inside of them. I immediately felt compassion for him, and worked on sending him better energy.

It was like each person after that had wells of emotions concentrated within different energy centers of their bodies. The next person would lie down on the table and again I would get distinct emotional energies, different from that of the last person. It felt like they were flowing through me for me to detect and send specific positive arguments back at them. In my experience as a Reiki practitioner, it’s like emotions can be held captive, demanding attention in the form of knee pain or hip pain or shoulder pain. If they are ignored long enough they can cause worse disease or needs for hip replacements or what have you.

The place that I found in my mind and my spirit that allowed me to feel these different emotions and energies from people, seemed, most of the time, easily accessible.

I had told Rich in my second workshop that after doing reiki on him that I felt like I couldn’t shake off a painful feeling in my chest. I had sensed that he had had something going on in his chest and had sent some better energies to the area.  Rich had said that when another woman and I had been working on his chest that he had actually seen some darkness go up into the light. This encouraged me, and I felt like, with this other woman, I had really accomplished something. But I couldn’t shake the pain off that was lingering in my chest after the session was over.

Rich told me that he would take care of it for me. He had me turn my back toward him and did something back there. I wasn’t sure what, but the pain dissipated gradually and I thanked him. He asked me if I knew what he had done. Confused, I said that I wasn’t sure and asked if he had just cleared my energy.

Another lady in the class, blond, about forty years of age and whimsical chimed in.

“You put her wings back on,” saying it like she knew what he was going to say.

He excitedly agreed, and said that he felt like he had to bring me back to myself. He started explaining that it was almost like I had lost my wings, my essence and my personal power, so he got a vision to put my wings back on.

I felt so special after that. He would always tell me that I was awakening, and encourage me to share the gift that I had with other people. It made me believe in myself and the new path that I was now taking in my life.

All in all, I was able to feel a greatness inside of me from my experiences with Reiki, an appreciation for myself and how far I had come. I appreciated the effort I made to make myself happy. That was a love for myself that I had never known and I was grateful it had come into my life.

At work, I was able to think about the cool experience that I had had the night before. I wasn’t of worrying and ruminating about what could happen next with Lauren or her clan. I was in the present moment and had positive expectations for the future.

What seems like a small thing, like a $5 dollar reiki workshop, can make a big difference in your life, and did in mine.

It turned my interest into something tangible. Something that was actually going on in my life. It connected me to other people that even encouraged me on the new life path that I had chosen for myself. It gave me something new and exciting to think about when my days felt mundane and charged with negativity. It opened me up to the endless possibilities were truly out there waiting for me. You never know what five dollar workshop can be the starting point for positive momentum to flow in your life.

That, alone, is a form of self-love.



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