It's Tuesday night. I settle into bed and begin to read.
Suddenly, I can't breathe - there's a weight on my chest - I have a huge knot of fear in my stomach... I left the candle burning in my office at work!
I turn over and partially sit up to try and catch my breath - I really was having a hard time breathing. And the rationalization starts...
"I didn't leave the candle burning - that would be stupid! I can't call 'cause then I'd really look stupid! I always blow out the candle. Did I blow out the candle? New candle - gift from a co-worker...did I blow it out???"
So I sit on my bed for what felt like eons trying to calm myself down. "This is just a panic attack. It's not real. You know how to deal with this." "OMG - what if the office is burning right now!!" "I remember the candle going out... but then I relit it...so do I remember the candle going out or actually blowing it out?"
Lately I've been working on listening to myself and learning to trust my thoughts, intuitions, etc. Somehow I seem to have lost this skill. So as I am panicing, I'm also thinking "listen to yourself; trust yourself; if you're reacting this strongly it's probably with good reason."
So what's a girl to do? She calls her mother, of course!
Mom was all for calling to get someone to check on the situation. She even offered to drive the 30 minutes to go check with me. And since I work in HR, I have the only key to my office except my boss, the President of the Company. Not going to call him to go check the stupid candle!!!
So I decide to call a plant supervisor who lives just a couple blocks away. He's very gracious and gives me the after hours number and tells me to call back if I need him to go to the plant (again, won't work 'cause of the door lock...).
I call the shift leader. He laughs good naturedly and says he'll check and get back to me. In the meantime my hyper-sensitive fear of getting into trouble is running rampant. Is my boss going to hear? Will I get in trouble? Will the Plant Manager hear and make an issue? In the close-knit group of the production employees, will everyone eventually hear and I'll be teased mercilessly? Teasing isn't too bad - getting yelled at is horrid.
So the shift leader calls back and says he was busy so he sent another employee (Supervisor, leader and employee all know - Good Grief!). Couldn't see any candle through the window into my office. Everything looks ok. Whew!
I call my mom and relay the news and freak out about getting into trouble. She reassures me. After all, what boss wouldn't be pleased that the employee risked discipline to keep the business safe? Good point Mom.
I finally lay back down. I can breathe but the tension in my stomach is only somewhat subdued. No burning - yeah! Potential trouble - boo!
This definately rates up there as one of the most embarrasing moments I've ever had at work. And for the curious neither my boss nor the plant manager have said anything which I hope means they didn't hear anything. The shift leader did see me the next day and gave me some gentle ribbing. But then he also told me a personal story about having to leave work to check and see if he closed a cattle gate. That was sweet of him.
So moral of the story?
* Rethink the whole candle at work thing
* Do listen to yourself. But yourself is still in training and obviously falliable.
* This probably wasn't as big a deal to everyone else as it was to me in the middle of a panic attack!