Being ignored

This is my last week at work. I’m finding it difficult. There is absolutely nothing for me to do. I sit at the opposite side of the building from the rest of the department I’m with, so no one knows that I’m there. I do chat a bit when I first arrive with one cubicle neighbour, and that’s about the extent of human contact for the day. I did ask if I could work from home this week, and my boss emailed that it’s ‘inappropriate’ to do so without a good reason. Well, my reason is it makes no difference to  anyone if I’m there or not – but I don’t say that. Instead, I go in the morning, but pack up my laptop and leave at lunchtime. So far, no complaints. It’s a risk – my boss could walk by my desk, even just on his way to somewhere else, and see that neither I or my laptop are there. However, I don’t think he cares, as long as he doesn’t have to officially give me permission to work offsite.

I did start feeling things after my last post, where I was stuck in a numb state. It took about a day to get back into my body. I start at my feet, for some reason.

I considered some more this boss’ similarities to my father. We spent a fair amount of time discussing this in my session, though mostly what I said was what I posted previously. Ron said if I think my relationship with my father is influencing what happens for me, I need to change my relationship to my father. But I don’t see him much, I say, we barely interact. I know, says Ron. And there the conversation ended. I have little idea of how I might change my relationship, such as it is, to my father. What would that look like, in the context of we basically don’t have a relationship?

I do feel I’m amazingly triggered by this boss. And all this realization is somewhat wasted, because now I don’t interact with him anymore, and am leaving shortly anyway. I know I shouldn’t have raised my voice in our last interaction,  where he went sailing down the wrong river. Why couldn’t I just calmly point out my concerns, and leave it at that? At least I let it be, after that, I didn’t raise it again.

When I was a child / teenager, my father consistently humiliated me. He has this whole superiority thing going, where he feels superior because of his education. I’m not sure why there had to be a scapegoat. Why did he need to rank the children, from smart to stupid? Not that he exactly said I was stupid.

A lot was done with looks. For instance, if I came into a room when there were visitors, and I’d be shy, he’d wince with embarrassment. Or if my brother and I were arguing about something, he’d smile at my brother and frown at me. Or he’d criticize my clothes, my table manners, anything.

His favorite weapon, my whole family’s favorite weapon, was cold withdrawal. If I did something displeasing, he’d look away, leave the room. Culminating in him never talking to me at all when I was a teenager.

So it makes sense that when I seem to be ignored, even though it’s for much different reasons at work, it triggers old and deep feelings.

The other thing about my family’s culture was the importance of being the smartest. I don’t know that this was the real concern, at bottom, but it’s how they presented it. You were more valued, the more logically and knowledgeably you could argue your case. Emotion was forbidden. In a way, there’s nothing that terrible in this. Knowledge and logic are good things. Just that people weren’t valued for themselves, or valued as people with feelings that need to be respected and cared about. It was all about this logic stuff all the time.

So when I was arguing with my boss, all that kicked in. This boss does the same kind of thing, bringing in all kinds of arguments and looking smart. I’m sure he is very intelligent. But it triggers me into trying to also look smart. Which is always a mistake in my profession. It never leads anywhere good. Most of these things are matters of practice anyway, they can’t really be deduced. So what needs to happens is you need to have conversations with the right people. For me, I need to keep my relationships good, with people wanting to work with me. I am never the expert, and shouldn’t try to be. I pull things together, I don’t come up with things myself.

Anyway, arguing was stupid. Trying to look smart was stupid. But under stress, I’ll revert to what i know and try to look smart. Stupid.

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20 comments
  1. Andi said:

    I think you answered your own question of “why?” in this post. Your father is obviously a major trigger for you so of course anyone who resembles or reminds you of him would also trigger you. I ALWAYS end up in conflict with supervisors who remind me of my mother. Always. Something I need to work on and plan to work on as I get closer to finishing PT school and getting a job again. I hope you’re able to work through this more with Ron because it’s clearly a tough and uncomfortable situation for you. And no, you are most certainly not stupid.

    • Ellen said:

      Thanks Andi. I see i am not alone with this problem. I hope I can work through it more with Ron also.

  2. My husband is currently in the sameish sort of situation with his boss, he’s a contractor and his employer and him don’t have a good relationship but although he could work from home his boss wants him in the office. So like you, he goes in and it’s a miserable environment for him. I don’t understand this need to be visible if employers can see output. It’s micromanagement which screams control issues. You have a two pronged thing going on here, transference and an uncomfortable working relationship. I can understand your unhappiness. I don’t see how your professional capacity should force you to confront your personal issues as Ron suggests, surely it’s mixing the two and making things more miserable? Anyway, Hopefully you’re using the Internet to find better work, and a tindle to get some good reading in!

    • Ellen said:

      Interesting about your hubs. I have to admit, I get more done in the office, if there’s stuff to actually do, which for me there isn’t. But I know a lot of people focus very well at home and get more done there. I’d like a nice mixture if I ever get a say.

      Ron thinks something like if I’m more real in my FOO relationships, I won’t carry them over as much into other situations. Not sure how that would work though.

      I am leaving shortly for a new contract. Thanks for the encouragement.

  3. Grainne said:

    Triggering bosses are the worst. They forced you to walk the line between coping with the thoughts and feelings inside, standing up for yourself and not getting fired. I hope the last week on this contract goes by quickly for you and your next one is more fulfilling! It must be so hard having to upend everything and change with each new contract…especially when you don’t feel the most comfortable in new social situations. xx

    • Ellen said:

      Thanks Grainne. I guess you would sympathize with the difficult bosses problem! It is actually difficult to change so often, you’re right. On the other hand, I get out of weird situations like this one without a lot of problems. I may look for full time at some point though. xox

  4. Two days, is it? I’m glad.

    I don’t agree with Ron. I find as I work through the feelings, I start to distinguish better between the present and the past trigger. The influence becomes more useful and less distorting, because the parts that are the same can guide me without this huge deluge of other stuff. I think that is already happening for you. I also think it’s easier to change stuff in the present than the real triggers–like your dad. He’s going to be like the bell for Pavlov’ dog for a while, because that reaction is so strongly imprinted. But how you respond to male authority figures can get easier because what gets triggered is not quite so intense.

    Just my two cents.

    Take care.

    • Ellen said:

      Tuesday is my last day, so three more days, officially. 🙂

      I don’t think Ron thinks I can change my dad, or even have a better relationship to him. He always wants me to be more ‘real’, that is express at least some of my actual reactions and feelings to my parents. I think this is supposed to change how much I carry them into my other relationships. I just don’t really know how to do this to be honest.

      I think I’m still getting deluged by past emotions with triggers. But yeah, it would be easier to try and change stuff in the present. Maybe the idea is if I can resolve the relationship with my father a bit, it would help me stop being triggered? I’m just not sure.

      Thanks for your two cents!

      • Ashana M said:

        Maybe Ron is right. I have no idea. It takes a long time for the deluge to stop.

  5. Rachel said:

    Given your family history, it makes perfect sense to me why you would feel triggered over being misheard or misunderstood or ignored. You grew up in an invalidating and tyrranical environment, so of course you want to have a voice and feel very upset when you aren’t granted that. Sending support.

  6. I hope the last few days on the contract go by quickly. Sorry he triggers you so much. X

  7. I agree with the above commenters. You answered your own questions. I know putting those words into action is hard, harder still because of the multiple personalities, but if you can, try. The good thing is these contracts are temporary and you can move on versus being stuck int he same job. Wishing you peace.

    Fondly,
    Elizabeth

    • Ellen said:

      That is the huge advantage of contracts. Thanks Elizabeth

  8. Cat said:

    Roll on Friday, Ellen, you may well be just realising why the boss triggers you, but it’s best to get out of such a soul destroying environment. I don’t believe the ‘realisation’ is wasted, but it’s a very important step forward.

    This resonates on many levels and it’s similar to a post waiting in my draft folder. When we face this kind of treatment as children, it’s easy to assume other people view us in the same way and reject us whenever we don’t conform.

    Once again, I am questioning what Ron said about the key to interacting with people like your boss is changing the relationship with your father. It takes two to change a relationship but it doesn’t sound like your father would willingly participate, so this statement of Ron’s is not making much sense to me. Maybe we can change our own view and feelings about the relationship, but I doubt this would make any difference to the actual interactions.

    • Ellen said:

      It is so easy to assume people are viewing us as we were viewed in childhood isn’t it.

      I’m pretty sure Ron didn’t mean improving my relationship to my father, getting along better etc. He means something like being more real in the relationship – saying my true feelings and reactions. Theoretically this would help my current other relationships.

      Thanks Cat

      • Cat said:

        Gulp, I would find that impossible with my dad

        • Ellen said:

          Gulp….it doesn’t sound like a fun time to me either.

  9. That coldness and someone walking away, I so know that punishment for nothing in particular except maybe being me. It’s been so healing for me as my T occasionally tells me she isn’t angry like my mother (which part of me knows but really I feel scared and confused).

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