A journal of healing

ACE Champion


I have been working on a professional certification in Trauma Informed Organizations from the University of Buffalo. I want to champion this cause for people like me.  You know; the overly sensitive ones. Someone who seems to be fine and then all of a sudden, they seem out of it, depressed and short tempered. And you cannot figure out why they are “over-reacting.”  This person goes into a tail spin over a simple comment. These are people who seem to be worriers and drama queens. They can be a co-worker or someone who is a customer. It can be terribly difficult to work with them, or try to provide a service for them. If you are a fixer type personality, this kind of flighty reactionary personality is very trying.

The first thing I got involved with is the ACE study. Here is a link to information about the ACE study and the findings: http://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/acestudy/about.html  This information was so connecting for me. I took the test and have an incredibly high score of  8. I came from a white affluent family with no apparent (to the world) issues. But the truth is my parents were alcoholics, abusive alcoholics. And my sister has mental illness and she too was abusive. I have come to terms with the history, but it affects me often in how I deal with things as an adult.

On top of this, I am an empath. That is someone who is very sensitive to how others feel. In the Woo Woo World, we are considered seers and fortune tellers. We are able to “read” people. The truth is it is a skill set necessary to survive in a family or any dangerous environment. You need to be able to “read” people to see if there is a dangerous threat coming from them. I read eyes very well as they really are the portal to the soul.  For some of us, it is not desirable as you cannot turn it off. I can sense people’s real feelings sometimes before they can. People love to come to me to tell their tale only because I am often able to dig in and see things they may not.

But I am also affected very much but the climate of the people around me. For example, right now at work the climate is one of fear. When people are fearful, they turn nasty and Nasty is what it has been every day for the last month. The Mothership has ordered an “Engagement” with a consulting group, Fazzi, to come in and look at the organization. We were told heads would roll. So far, two people have been let go. The Admin team is sweating bullets and so they are sending terrible fear throughout the organization. One VP announced her early retirement already. It was a wise choice.

Two years ago, we bought another agency and we were supposed to be one organization by now. All of their executive team left and what is left are a few directors who are in a tenuous situation. The bigger issue is that they have not played well in the sandbox. One of the things this engagement is to discover is where services can be combined and supervision eliminated. Finally. This was the plan all along, but our touchy feely board did not follow through with the combining. Two years ago, the then CEO told me that I would be in charge of education. The person at this other organization was not scheduled to be let go because she only works part time. But she is to report to me. She is a NP. I am not. She does not want to report to me. Bottom line and she has made it very apparent. It has caused some major compliance issues because she does not embrace our way of documenting. There is a lot more to this. There are little battles of strategic survival all over both agencies. This is just one situation in a sea of pissing contests going on right now.

The result for me right now is I come home from work totally exhausted. I have been keeping to myself as much as I can. There are a lot of projects that I am responsible for that require cooperation from many people and it ain’t happening. Part of the issue is the uncertainty; the other part is the underlying flow of fear. I sense it and it has triggered me to be in a hyper arousal, hyper sensitive mode. By the end of the day, I am so worn out from just trying to keep it together. My mind knows there is nothing I can do about it. I do not have the ability to control anyone else, only my reaction. But clearly, I am not controlling myself either. I slipped up at lunch recently with my fellow HR managers. We go out to lunch periodically, and to have not gone would have been worse. So we were talking about how tired and cranky we were and I said, “I know, I went home and sat out in the garden last night and just cried.” Later, one manager came over and was totally freaked that I would be crying over my job. I do not have the desire to tell her all about trauma and my history. Crying for me is a release. The breathing and shaking all release pent up chemicals and relax my muscles. She is trying to be a friend, but I know she wants to fix me.

This type of stress is very prevalent in companies that are looking to “squeeze the buffalo on the nickel to save a dime.” (That’s a father-in-law comment) The admin team and CEO could have presenting this engagement in a better light. They should have waited on the terminations for a few more weeks. Since these two were not administrators or even supervisors, the fear now has extended to all ranks. They announced they are changing the pay structure for only the field nurses. No more pay per visit, which has been a money maker for some. Yet, they have not implemented it so the fear of loss of personal revenue is floating around. They are putting together two new teams and are pulling existing staff from the field to do this without filling their positions in time. It is so simple: hire the amount of people now you need to take out later, train them, get them up and successful, and then form the new teams. But no, that would make sense. And let’s do this during the summer when we are short anyway from vacations. The list of incredible poor planning is extensive. If they could see how their lack of governance has affected the organizations and instead used mindful awareness of being trauma informed, it might change how this would all be going down. Trauma informed does not mean to pussy foot either. It means to eliminate unnecessary fear and ambiguity. It doesn’t change what will happen, only how it is communicated and presented. Have a clear plan, have boundaries and guidelines, and people will know what to expect. It is much easier to deal with than fear.






Comments on: "ACE Champion" (4)

  1. Oh my goodness…. I would be crying in the garden after work, too. At the very least. My heart goes out to you.

    I went through a similar job situation in the 1980s when the company I was working for was trying to avoid bankruptcy. Half of our department was laid off in a single day. Those of us who were left were expected to do twice the work. About a month later, another large percentage of our department was let go.

    Then we were told to lie to our customers. I was the only one who refused to lie. So there went my job. This was a major Christian ministry — and I lost my job over refusing to lie! All of my remaining coworkers were so afraid of being unemployed, they went along with the lying. I can’t really judge them, though, because most of them were the sole support of their family. I was not.

    I, too, am a spooky empath. And my ACE score is also extremely high — either 9 or 10, depending on how you interpret having a family member go to prison. Does my dad being arrested for coming so close to killing my mom that I thought she was dead count as going to prison, even though he was in jail less than 24 hours when he went into a diabetic coma, was taken to the ER, and eventually ended up in a psychiatric ward for several months? Meanwhile, the attempted murder charges were dropped, because in 1965 they let the abused woman change her mind about pressing charges. With 5 children, 4 of whom were preschoolers, my mom needed my dad out working and paying child support.

    Yesterday was my 62nd birthday — yet I still feel emotionally like I am about 12. Literally, it’s like I am still stuck at the age I was when the worst traumas happened. I am painfully aware of how much of my life has been “wasted” by depression and anxiety and worse. I am also painfully aware of the fact that I have already outlived my greatly reduced life expectancy, per my extremely high ACE score. I feel it. I feel death trying to overtake me. Sounds nutty, but I really do.

    And yet, I am deeply grateful to be alive. I have so much to be thankful for. Not the least of which is being grateful not to be working in your job. I hope for your sake that it all works out for the best, and soon. Double Hugs!


    • Your last line made me laugh. Sounds like you are handling things pretty well. Unfortunately, my job situation is more common than you think. It is no longer about loyalty, it is about survival.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I am just as you are. I have learned/am learning, how to distance myself from the collective fear of this planet, and how to distance myself when I do my “healing” work. I must keep my Heart open in order for me to do the work I do, yet, it takes a toll. YOU must put you first and that is a Journey that all of us empaths must learn for survival. My photography is my saving grace, for with it, I loose conscious awareness of this world, renew myself, getting lost in the Now Moment of Love. My Heart truly goes out to you, for you do walk a very challenging path. With Love, Amy ❤


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