A happy Monday to you today. We’re in week 3 of 2019, and I feel it necessary to publish a new issue of my continuing series of Behavioural Issues.
It’s been awhile since I’ve blogged about anything on here. Whether the absence has been noticed or not, I feel it necessary to catch you up on what’s been going on.
My position as a Data Entry Specialist ended just before the holidays were about to begin. A lot was happening, not just with the recent move into my new place, the holidays kicking off, and the recent addition of my fur-son, David Meowie (pictured below), but also the job itself lent a helping hand to my ongoing anxiety.
This is where the main topic comes into play. It’s been an issue I’ve had to deal with for at least the past two decades, but I was not aware there was an official diagnosis, nor even a name for it.
Misophonia. Please…save the “me so horny” jokes for another time. I’ve got a flow going.
See also: decreased sound tolerance, phonophobia, hyperacusis.
I lived in a 2nd Floor walk-up in Brooklyn, where the tenants below me were a bunch of guys who wore their CAT boots indoors. I could hear them walking through their apartment, and it felt like Hulk was walking through in a bad mood, thus putting me in a bad mood. I used to live in that apartment, and there was a couple who lived above me, and they drove me nuts with their pounding and chaos as well.
When the landlord finally got rid of them, he invited me and my flatmate at the time to move upstairs, thinking he had solved a problem. We all thought the problem would be solved with this switch. The flight of stairs was a warm welcome compared to the situation at the time. We happily took the offer, accepted the fact we’d have to pay a little more, and shifted things upwards and onwards.
Months later, said flatmate had left to move in with her fiance`. I couldn’t afford the apartment on my own, though I badly wanted to have it to myself. I interviewed prospective tenants, and found a new one, who took the weekends off from the apartment to stay with her boyfriend in Massachusetts. Everybody won with this arrangement. She was quiet, unobtrusive, and most of all, didn’t walk through the apartment with shoes on. Salvation!
Then she decided to move out, and it was a series of nightmares after that. Conversations with boyfriends or girlfriends at ridiculous hours, clunking and clomping through the apartment with heels on. I finally got another good flatmate, but then the boys of a Monty Python skit came into the picture, and forget it! My blue heaven became a living hell.
Jobs I had to work had similar issues of noise. Again, there was the pounding of shoes on hardwood floors, heels clacking, mindless chatter in the adjacent kitchenette. All of these were things I could not control, nor was I in any position to try and ask them to keep it down. I was a temp; they were (mostly) permanent staff. The restraint to say what was irking me took a lot of strength, energy and emotion. I was crying in the bathrooms on more than one occasion. My walks home from work involved a lot of pit stops to liquour stores and Trader Joe’s, buying wine, Jack Daniels and/or beer.
Coming back to present day, and the issue persists. I cannot handle the uncontrollable, ongoing chatter of people around me at work. Especially when I know their conversations have nothing to do with the job. I have had to deal with a manager calling out loudly to her staff about non-work-related topics. The manager’s staff would (and probably still are) talking loudly and cackling, behaving like over-caffeinated children at a Build-a-Bear Factory.
I don’t believe in making my issues – because I’m self-aware enough to know they’re only mine in the immediate environment I’m in – other peoples’ problems. I had approached the manager about maybe relocating me to another area of the office that was a safe distance from the noise, explaining my “noise sensitivity issues”. It was a no-go from him, so I had to find an alternative resolution.
So I brought my noise-canceling headphones to work. I could still hear them.
I brought in cotton balls, to stuff into the headphones. I could still hear them.
I brought in earphones that could plug into the computer, that rested on top of the cotton balls, that were tucked into the headphones. I could still. Fucking. Hear them!!
During the hours of 12 -2 pm, I would take my lunch hour, and then relieve the receptionist so that she could take her lunch hour. The front desk is across from the door that gets used fairly frequently. It also slams. Frequently. Loudly. Shaking the frame. The same cackling, Happy-Hour-All-Day-Bitches-Yeah! people, they were the door slammers as well. I could not get away from them. I smiled through tightened lips, tried my best to ignore them, and left the unspoken argument about sound alone.
One day, when I had to relieve the receptionist for a larger chunk of the day, I put up what I thought was a friendly, well-meaning sign, requesting that people please close the door quietly behind them.
I said “please”. I even omitted my favourite colourful adjectives.
Later that day, the sign went missing, never to be seen again. Someone call Robert Stack! Oh wait…..shit.
These two issues – separate that they were – coupled with the fact that I had a sabotaging supervisor, made the position a painful one to endure. The pay was great, but the problems were greater. I handled the aggravations as best I could.
The assignment ended the Friday before Christmas. I’ve been in search of a job ever since.
I’ve been labeled as “odd”, “weird”, “difficult”, “bitchy” and a myriad of other terms much more denigrating than that. I take it with a pinch of salt, knowing what I know.
Why can’t I control this? I don’t know. I’ve tried. I truly have. It’s like an invisible bully. It keeps pushing you, pushing your triggers. You can only ignore it for so long. It’s similar to when kids flick rubber bands at you. You want to get away from it, you’d do damn near anything to get away from it, but the danger stalks you.
How did this start in the first place? What was the initial incident that sent all this rolling? Again, I don’t know the exact thing or day, but it started in high school, and it’s grown like a sea monkey ever since. I would go to the library on lunch break. I was the only kid I knew who cut lunch, and it had nothing to do with any diet. This has been nearly 30 years now.
I’ve been through multiple temp assignments, some more successful than others.Looking for jobs that will accept someone such as myself is not easy. I’ve been on the hunt for literally a month now. Almost every ad is “high-paced, fun environment! Fun activities after work!” Why can’t I get a job that promotes “Quiet! Low-stress! We all mind our own business and work quietly! Introverts UNITE!” I’m at the point now where I have to take whatever I can get, regardless of the noise level, if I don’t want to end up homeless, sending David Meowie back to the shelter. An idea I cannot bear to consider.
While I wait for that Golden Ticket job to peek out from under a candy bar, I’m just coming up with other ideas to try and get some income.
I have a Teespring store, where new designs are being produced on a somewhat regular basis.
In the meantime, I’m also looking for writing and blogging gigs, while working on this one. I’ll also be pursuing dog-walking, pet-sitting and cat-company gigs as well.
If you like what you’ve read, and you want to read more from me, some monetary encouragement would go a long way.