I spent Sunday through Tuesday in the company of my two oldest and dearest friends kp and mkb, along with some mutual friends, primarily of mkb's. It was her 50th birthday on Tuesday, and she had gathered us up to celebrate - on Hornby Island, which is a delightful place and one that is now only about a 3 hour trip away, including ferries (this is if you are as lucky as we were with the ferries, being able to drive right on both going and returning). It was a fairly compatible group, and the collective intellect was pretty startling: there were four lawyers, two college/university profs (one of the lawyers teaches law), one museum exhibit designer ... and a small child, who also shows signs of above-average intelligence. Conversation at meal-times was lively. On reflection, I realized that of the six adults, three had been physically or emotionally abused as children, one abused by a sexual partner, and one of the three emotionally abused by parents was also sexually abused as a teen. Did we gravitate towards one another, or is that representation anywhere near normal (after all, they say I think that one in three women has been abused..)? I think we were all aware and sensitive to the fact that others of us had some scars or some tics that could be attributed to darkness in the background; in any case, we all puttered around quite companionably and it was overall a restful and pleasant get-away. Hornby was beautiful, too, as you can see on my Flickr site.
Yesterday was an all-day workshop on workplace bullying, pertaining to the present climate in our department. This was considerably less restful; indeed I found it extremely stressful, nearly breaking down at the beginning and breaking down in truth at the end. The facilitator told me afterwards that I was very brave, which was nice of him, but I was left feeling wrung out. There is ongoing anxiety about how or whether we will in fact be able to deal with the situation, but the day did bring its own comfort in the presence and solidarity of the attendees (the faction that is the cause of the problems was, needless to say, not there), and there is some growing hope that we may be able to develop and implement strategies that will help. I certainly felt considerably less alone at the end. Solitary, but not alone.