Therapy Thursday

Mar­lene-690x613I’ve been low all week. I’m worried I’m going to stop blogging altogether, and I don’t want to do that, because it’s been helpful to me. I find things easier to bear if I can describe them. Plus I like having the record. Plus I enjoy my readers and the support that is offered. So it’s a good thing.

The difficulty at work has hit me really hard. I decided that I really didn’t have anything to apologize for. I didn’t want to make a thing when there wasn’t much of a problem.

It’s hard for me to tell if there is a problem. I’ve seen my boss only once in the last week. And he seems to have withdrawn completely. I’ve had no work to do at all, except for going to review meetings, and my boss missed two out of three of them.

I do feel there is a problem. However, this is work. I don’t want to mess around, talking about problems if they’re all in my own head. I have been much better in these last meetings. I’m pretty quiet, mainly facilitating everyone else. That should be my role anyway. I’m not there to be smart, I’m not there to get things done my way. I have lots of influence just by the fact that it’s my work – I need to be calm and accepting of everyone else at the meetings.

The manager who kind of mocked me is remorseful it seems – she now goes out of her way to wish me a good weekend, say hello, and is generally being nice to me. It’s fine – it’s work. I just go with it.

The good thing about being depressed like I have been is I’m very calm. Maybe I’m accepting reality more or something. It’s not pretty, but it’s real.

I wonder if therapy is not working. I feel so crap. I’d like to blame therapy.

Let’s see what I can remember about last session. It’s a day early – Ron is taking a week off, but has come in for one day, and I guess I’m one of the pathetic type clients whom he fits in that day. Or he just really likes me? I’d say it’s the first reason.

I really feel like I need to talk to him, whatever the reason I have an appointment. I thank him for coming in. I ask how his vacation is going, and he doesn’t say much – it’s good, something like that. No chatting with Ron.

I discuss the work situation. I wonder about the stresses that brought on my behaviour – I tell him about the cancer appointment, how it stressed me out. The deadline.

Ron thinks it has to do with my father. I talk about how I would argue with my father, how he always had to win. Ron brings up how he stopped talking to me. That was later, I say.

I spend quite a lot of time sitting in silence, feeling the badness of this situation. I think maybe if I can really feel it, I’ll be able to resolve it. It’s easier trying to feel with someone else there.

Towards the end of the session, the kid comes up. She wants to tell Ron about Frozen, we finally saw it, it was good….

We get back onto the topic of what might be going on with work. Ron suggests talking to my boss, even just saying that I thought I got a little intense there for a while….I tell him I don’t feel like doing that. What’s the risk? Ron asks. That I’m making an issue when there isn’t one.

Ron wants to tell me something. He starts talking, and it’s kind of complex…..and I feel so angry with him. I feel he shouldn’t be talking when I’m feeling all this pain. So I interrupt and tell him. I’m angry with you. Because you are supposed to be helping me and you’re not helping. Because….because you don’t know what it’s like to have cancer!

Ron looks at me. I’m glad you told me. What is it like to have cancer?

Well, it’s not nice. It’s bad. It’s really bad.

Then I switch out, back to the adult. Well, it’s not as if I really had cancer. I mean, I never was sick with it. I had surgery, I had to recover from that, that was all.

I guess I switch out of the anger – I no longer am feeling it. I feel fine about Ron – he’s sat with me and listened, and tried to help.

And we finish the session. Ron says he’s glad I told him I was angry. I thank him and leave.

I know I was angry with my boss, when I was arguing with him. Just the feeling. Because my boss hadn’t done much. He’d agreed to this ridiculous timeline, but then said not to worry about it. It obviously didn’t mean much, that he’d agreed to it. Maybe it was my general anger with men, coming out. It did have that feel – kind of a familiar pattern.

I wonder if I can repair this with the boss, without talking about it directly. Because I didn’t do anything wrong – it was the tone, and not being calm, and being combative. I don’t think this guy should hold it against me, if it’s just a one time thing. Anyone can have an off day, right?

Art: Marlene Steyn

  1. Gel said:

    I can understand you wanting to ‘repair’ the relationship while not having to put yourself down in the process. I wonder if there is a way to convey that you care, without making yourself wrong.

    You wrote: “We get back onto the topic of what might be going on with work. Ron suggests talking to my boss, even just saying that I thought I got a little intense there for a while….I tell him I don’t feel like doing that. What’s the risk? Ron asks. That I’m making an issue when there isn’t one”

    Maybe there isn’t an issue but from other things you wrote it sounds like there might be a little issue?.I’ve seen my boss only once in the last week. And he seems to have withdrawn completely.”. I’m not attached one way or the other if you say something to your boss or try to repair things. But since you brought up the idea of doing a repair….I will say that maybe there is a way to do or say something in a small way that shows you care, without making a big deal out of it. And without having to be wrong or him be wrong.

    I’m sorry to hear that you’ve been down. I appreciate your honesty. I’m glad when you write and I hope you don’t stop.


    • Ellen said:

      Hi Gel,
      I think I’m explaining this very badly. The main reason I don’t think I’ll tackle this directly with my boss is because it’s a corporate work environment, where I’m consulting. If this was a more personal situation, I think I would say something. So yes, I believe there is an issue, though I’m not certain. This is plugging into vulnerabilities I have about authority and being disliked. But I think on an emotional level, there is maybe a problem. However, I don’t want to be too personal at work. It’s kind of a formal relationship. If I start bringing up problems, where others wouldn’t, I don’t look good at all. I think image is important at work in a way that is not such a concern with more personal relationships. If that makes any sense at all.

      I take your point about doing something in a small way without blame – I like it. I’m going to try and think of something I can do.

      I actually don’t mean to stop blogging either – I was just writing off the top of my head. I feel very blocked when I’m depressed, and writing becomes so difficult. That’s what I guess I was trying to express.

      Thanks a lot. Cheers

      • Gel said:

        I don’t think you explained it badly. I do get it that it’s a professional environment and so how you relate to people has to be within whatever fits that context.

        I guess I still feel that even in a corporate environment, people are still people with all the full range of feelings and complex issues (and even dysfunctions). And maybe I’m going off of what the NVC teacher I like demonstrates. He consults in all kinds of work environments including professional, and he has kind of demonstrated how you can still ‘meet’ people on a human level within most environments but you do have to tweek how you do that according to what feels acceptable for that environment. And that is what takes skill and experience….I don’t have that but I’ve seen someone do it.

        I think you have the awareness and inner intention of caring that could be conveyed indirectly or non-verbally.

        Anyway….thanks for your thoughtful replies. I hope you don’t feel misunderstood. Wishing you a good day.


        • Ellen said:

          Thanks Gel. No, I don’t feel misunderstood – its more that I’m writing it out to get clearer for myself. I have the NVC book now so maybe will brush up. Just he doesn’t talk about what to do once you have screwed up! I’d love to be around someone who can do this stuff so I could learn. I’d say most people at work are not especially skilled at communication, just if you come from a reasonable background, what you do naturally is more functional than what I do naturally.

          Maybe it would be good for me to just remember, when under stress, start asking questions about what the other person is trying to convey. Once they feel heard, things get easier.

          If I can ever take an NVC course I think I’ll do it. Wishing you a good day also. 🙂

          • Gel said:

            Yeah – ‘he doesn’t talk about what to do once you’ve screwed up”…Uh huh.

            Being around someone who can do NVC or taking a class is definately in a different ball park than reading the book. When I was first in the class I didn’t think I could apply what I was learning, tho I totally recognized the validity of the theory. But then I realized one day that even though I couldn’t apply all the skills, I remembered “the most important thing is our intentions” that is the starting place. Even if I can’t think of what to say to be a skillful communicator, it helps, and it changes the game if I can orient myself in my intentions. There have been so many times when I was in an interaction that was going sideways, and I couldn’t think what to say that would make it work better….but I just paused and remembered “we’re in this together” even if we don’t succeed at making a great outcome right now — it just feels good to remember that this other person is trying too.

            So Yes – under stress you could just slow down and ask (yourself silently) what is it that the other person is trying to express (wanting to be understood)….And at the same time what are you wanting/needing to be understood? Even if you don’t know or you don’t get the answers, it’s really BIG to just get into the place of asking those kind of questions silently in self. That is taking a different orientation from the patterns and stuck places.

            NVC is more about a consciousness and attitude than a technique. Even though there is a structured learning process to it.

            Your second paragraph is a good expression of the essence of NVC, (IMO)


            • Ellen said:

              Thanks for sharing your wisdom about NVC Gel.

  2. leb105 said:

    you generally like this boss, don’t you? did you feel that he was committing you to an impossible schedule without consulting you, which you would fail?
    is there an issue between you and ‘mocking’ manager? she hurt your feelings, didn’t she? is the way she’s handling it working for you?
    what would be the upside of not blogging?

    • Ellen said:

      Yes, I like him personally. I did feel at first it was an impossible schedule. Then it turned out, to him timelines are just vague promises, that don’t have consequences, so don’t need to be planned for much. I have had the opposite view, but it’s up to me to adjust to his views. In my world as a contractor, missing a timeline would make me fear for my contract in the past. We are now in fact a week past that deadline, and will take another week or more, and there doesn’t seem to be any problem at all.

      There is some issue with the mocking manager, yep. But she really is pointing out when I am dissociative – she seems very sensitive to that. The way she does it hurts my feelings. However, it seems to blow over with her and with me. Like I said – it’s work. Everyone is in their own issues, so you never know what’s really going on, unless you become buddies I guess.

      No upside to not blogging, except maybe not having the fear of someone I know finding the blog. I’m not considering stopping the blog – I was just trying to express, to myself really, how difficult it is for me sometimes to speak, like on this blog, when I’m depressed. It’s worthwhile for me to push through that though.

      Thanks for the comment.

      • leb105 said:

        It seems as if mocking manager was triggered by something, and she’s sorry. Starting to seem like group! as you say, everyone has issues.

  3. Cat said:

    Hi Ellen…. I sincerely hope you don’t stop blogging; your experiences have become part of my own journey. I love hearing about your meetings with Ron. When we’re down, it is difficult to find the words to write. I’ve also been quieter than usual, so can appreciate where you’re coming from.

    I think there is always a danger of us over-playing (in our minds) a situation like this. Perhaps the boss does have a problem, but it’s more than likely nothing to do with you. Yes, maybe he was a little agitated by your insistence for doing things “the right way” or maybe he is glad of your attention to detail. My hunch?… It is more than likely a bit of both. You know already that I am a big fan of Ron and I have to say his suggestion about saying you were “a little tense” would have been good if you had put it into action the first time you seen the boss, following this little spat. There is nothing wrong with letting down our guard occasionally. Sometimes people need to know we are aware of our own behaviour….show the people that the Rottweiler is really a cutey after all!!

    I think you seem to have a good ‘feel’ for your position and maybe where you might stumble outside that role. It sounds like you need to find some middle ground. Your attention to detail and consistency might be why they keep you in employment. At the same time, few boss’s like to be bossed around!

    At the end of the day, Ellen, you can only do your best and it does sound like you give it your all

    • Ellen said:

      I’m glad to pass on Ron’s sayings to you Cat. 🙂 Maybe there is a Ron in your near future? Thanks for understanding and for your thoughts Cat.

  4. Cat said:

    PS…. As for Ms Sarcastic-mouth, she doesn’t sound worth bothering about… just stay polite and professional ;0)

    • Ellen said:

      MS SM has now turned nice and polite. Go figure. I’m trying not to take any of it too seriously!

  5. Hi Ellen,

    This work stuff somehow has a positive feel to it, the way you write about it. I sense that you are slowly but surely gathering confidence in your perceptions, even if you sometimes still recognize that there are issues that creep in from your past. These past events influence how you’re seeing the present, maybe?

    And yet you seem to be doing a better job of listening to your inner voice(s) 🙂

    I always found corporate work environments to be very challenging emotionally for many reasons. I would be oftentimes stressed, bored, and anxious. I tended to overanalyze the interactions I had with my colleagues and my bosses. Frequently I was lazy and worried people noticed my poor work ethic.

    Office life is not always fun but you seem to be handling it better and better. Look, you’ve been at this place for years now. In the past, didn’t you say you’d been dismissed from other places after very short stints due to interoffice issues?

    Now, even though you’re having some, it feels like you’re seeing more clearly what they are and why they’re happening for you. This is key. I think you’re doing a wonderful job of healing and taking responsibility for yourself.

    I’m inspired. Good luck!!


    • Ellen said:

      I’m glad you see it in this positive way Aaron. Hmmm….. it is hard for me to have confidence in how I see it, because I’ve seen how distorted my perceptions can become. But it could be I’m getting better at it.

      I agree with you about office life. And yes – this work situation is an absolute blinding success compared to my past. I’ve never worked anywhere for so long, nor been paid so well, nor had so much free time. I do credit that to Ron’s influence – not what he’s said, but somehow, talking with him took a lot of the edge off for me.

      Aw, thanks very much. I hope so much you are right.

    • Ellen said:

      Hi many – I’m OK thanks. Having some troubles writing here though. Cheers

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