I’m going to whine, and the purpose is to get a grip.

I hate work. Though it has good things about it. But I hate it. I talked a bit about it with Ron last session, because one day, I’d ended up partially switched into a kid part, and it scared me that that happened. It was just my voice. A manager called me up, and I answered and talked like a shy child.

What I don’t like. I am by myself. I am in a cubicle, and no one talks to me all day long, for the most part. I’ve got lots of internal documents to read, but not much else to do. My task is uncertain – I am to create a large document, but how it’s all going to work isn’t clear.

So I’ve struck up this tiny relationship with the very young woman in the next cubicle, who is very quiet, and also very new to her job. I believe she still lives with her parents, out in a suburb somewhere. She’s a little frustrating to deal with, just because she doesn’t respond much to my chat. She doesn’t ignore me, but she never initiates a conversation, beyond saying hello, she never seems to get up, while I go for tea four times a day, plus lunch, plus restroom stops. She literally sits quietly all day. But she’s important to me, because I talk to no one else all day – I’m a stranger in a strange land.

I sympathize with her also – at her age, I was also super shy, and didn’t see the need for chat with anyone unless we were best friends. It’s not her job to help me feel better, after all. She’s perfectly pleasant, and quiet is restful also.

I tell Ron I think that’s one reason I switched – no one to remind me that I’m grown up now and working.

I’m supposed to figure things out on my own it seems. Not easy, in a complex organization like this one. In fact, impossible. Unless I talk to people about this work, I will not be able to do it. An outsider can’t walk in and produce an important document on her own.

Yesterday I finally did meet with one of the managers there, at my request. In a way, it was a good meeting, as she was able to clear up a lot of puzzles for me. In another way, not so good. She seemed almost angry, or impatient, and I really don’t know why. It was as if she’d expected me to get things more clearly on my own. But I don’t report to her, and I hadn’t looked at our meeting as a test of what I’d done. Afterwards, I was puzzled about her, but put that aside as I was able to move forward with my project a bit.

This morning, my manager came by, and mentioned that this manager had told him my outline needed a lot of tweaking, that I had to go back and do a lot of work on it. Well, not really. Sure, it had changed, but it was no disaster. So.

I got a bad feeling about this – that she would actually go to him and say negative things about me. Why?

Then on a coffee break, I passed my manager on the escalator, him with coffee cup in hand, with someone else. He saw me, then pretended he hadn’t. Which made me feel like a complete loser.

I’m pretty paranoid now. I’m spending a lot of time at work spinning my wheels – not sure how to proceed. The manager has simply said to read and become acquainted with the organization. Plus I’m producing this outline. I feel that he somehow expects magic – that I’ll be able to produce without taking up his or his staff’s time. I fear this. And of course, I won’t be able to do that. What I basically do is facilitate a documentation process. I can ask questions, I can write, but I can’t provide the work in a vacuum.

Sorry, I bet this is boring.

Today I came home, and just felt devastated. One of my suicidal parts is foremost again also.

I’ve realized why I get so down when no one talks to me. Besides the practical reasons. This was one of the tortures of my childhood. My father wouldn’t talk to me for a few years, and the rest of the family followed suit, though less spectacularly. When I’m again surrounded by people who seem to be ignoring me, I think all my feelings from this childhood experience are stirred up. I become afraid I don’t exist, somehow. Then I panic, I stuff the panic down, then I feel uneasy and more and more depressed. And when I’m struggling with these kinds of feelings, it gets more and more difficult to relate to anyone in any natural way.

This is not something we came up with in therapy. I had a lot I wanted to talk about in the session, not related to work. But since I’ve thought about it, this realization seems big to me.

So, I have to go to bed at nine, as I wake up during the night and it takes me over an hour sometimes to get back to sleep. So I guess I’m off to bed. I hope tomorrow is better. I think about taking a day off, or an afternoon, if I can’t stand it. Because I’m making a good rate, I’ll lose quite a bit of money if I do that. But I have to take care of myself, overall. The main thing is not to get too depressed, too anxious. I need to keep working.

  1. Thanks for writing this. My problem at work is a little different but also parallels some of the issues from my childhood. You writing this helps me to think about mine in a way that makes more sense. Bummer about no one talking to you. That makes for a silently hostile environment. I hope things improve for you. Maybe outlining what you are reading will help see the pieces in another light. Just a suggestion that feel free to totally ignore. Hugs. Ruth

    • Ellen said:

      Very glad this post was useful Ruth. You never know what’s going to strike a chord with someone. I hope your work situation improves.

      I’d say the environment is actually not hostile. People aren’t not talking to me on purpose – it’s more situational. I’m the lone writer, I’m not sitting with a team I’m working with. However, my mind knows that, but because of my childhood, all these other deep dark feelings are stirred up. I get confused as to what is causing them.

      Outlining is good. I might try that. And things have actually improved for me the last few days. Thanks

  2. That does seem really big as a realization. It completely makes sense it would work that way. Being treated by anyone like you don’t exist–but especially a parent–is terribly, terribly devastating. I’m so sorry this is getting called up. That must be hard now.

    • Ellen said:

      Yes, it is hard, but getting better. Realizing where my feelings were coming from really helped. I can calm parts down and things seem more manageable. Thanks Ashana

  3. leb105 said:

    that sounds so hard, E! but you’re centered and aware enough of why it might be especially problematic for you, that you’re learning from it, in what would be a difficult situation for most people (I wouldn’t last a week, I don’t think). In silence, fears and imagination runs wild. I hope you can ask for what you need to do the job, and keep asking. It’s probably not as hostile as you fear, and the only way you’ll find that out is by testing.

    • Ellen said:

      You’re right, in silence, fears do run riot. And yes, it’s actually not hostile, as I’ve come to realize the last few days. It’s just anxiety provoking, and my task is in a very unclear beginning stage, so that creates lots of anxiety for me as well. Thanks for the encouragement.

  4. manyofus1980 said:

    Ellen, if you need a day off, take it. You need to look after you. If you dont, you wont be able to complete your work and then more depression and anxiety will ensue. I’m sorry you felt so suicidal. Sending you hugs if thats ok. xoxo

    • Ellen said:

      Thank you Many. It’s good to keep in mind I can always take a day off if I need it.

  5. Cat said:

    That is a huge realisation, Ellen. I think when we face a situation that remotely reminds us of the darker side of childhood, all those emotions come to the surface and can wreck havoc on our responses. In my short experience of the therapeutic journey, when we identify the root/cause of a problem in the here and now, something very powerful takes place. That’s not to say there’s this sudden miraculous healing, but it raises our awareness and the next time it happens, I try to remind myself of the realisation and talk myself down. I’m not sure if that makes sense.

    It’s a real bummer that work isn’t so good and it must put considerable strain on your emotional resources, but I think it’s great that you are analysing your experiences and coming up with new realisations that can only help to carry you forward

    • Ellen said:

      It is powerful, isn’t it. Thanks Cat.

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