I’ve realized I absolutely must do something about work. In fact, I’ve basically left it until I was in a complete crisis with it all. I’m lying on my bed, feeling just absolutely psychotic. I don’t know how else to describe it. All the characters from work have become larger than life, monstrous in my mind. I feel as if I am coming apart.

The only think I can think to do is to immediately go and speak with J’s boss first thing Monday. I think when J started giving B my work (we have completely different skill sets), and leaving me day after day with nothing to do, that was my breaking point. That and no longer having B to speak with on any level.

How come for some people, it seems so easy for them to be alone, never speaking to anyone, just doing actions to function and to keep themselves so called safe? How come I can’t do that? It reminds me so much of my family, where I was shunned, made to feel so much less than my siblings in knowledge, skills, personality….My family also is so good at pretending, at not feeling and not speaking, while basically an insane person was in charge.

How come I keep landing in these situations where this is all played out again? It hasn’t happened this severely for me before, but over and over, I am in a situation where I am seen as less than, not given much to do….Of course, perhaps I am less than. Perhaps my skills are not good. People with poor skills don’t know, after all. Everyone assumes they are competent.

I used to dress very poorly, and I see how that hurt me. When you do that, you give corporate city people one quick reason to judge you and dismiss you. I bought some clothes, I don’t do that any more. Yes, the clothes are mostly from one store, because I don’t have much energy for shopping. Still, I blend in now for the most part.

I guess that wasn’t the main thing. I just end up not wanting to be alive, most days after work. And I’ve reached a breaking point. Something has to change. Quitting would not be the worst thing, but I feel I made a commitment to J’s boss to stay until October. I need to at least talk with her first.

  1. This sounds miserable. I’m so sorry! Good luck with the talk.

    • Ellen said:

      Thanks Cat. The main help would be to report to someone else. Maybe by Monday I’ll have decided to quit. My mental state is going down the tubes entirely!

  2. I once asked my counselor if I had a target on my back since the same things kept happening over and over. He agreed that I did. I was stunned. I asked him to explain. I was trained to be a ignored and neglected, I expect that behavior. I’m still learning to set healthy boundaries and expectations. The healthier I become the better I am about coping with the same situations that keep happening.

    • Ellen said:

      I think for me, when I’m ignored, I get triggered into how that felt as a child, and I get angry. I am not a robot – that anger is visible to people, so I look bad. Plus she attacks, basically, and I again get angry. I cannot have any kind of reasonable conversation with this woman. I’m not really sure how I could ‘set boundaries’ here, as she is not rational. A lot of the passive aggressive stuff is designed to be unmentionable, right?

      I do wish I was healthier, because I feel it’s partially my fault, in that I am not responding in a healthy way.

      Thanks Ruth

      • You are getting healthier….you are better able to identify what the problem is. You are recognizing that she is part of the problem….when I first read your blog, you only blamed yourself. Now, you are realizing that part of the problem is the other person. Your counselor might have some suggestions that help with how to work with an unreasonable person. Cheering for you.

  3. leb105 said:

    I don’t have your family history, and it would make me nuts!!!! I think I use social contact to allay my anxiety that the parent/other could be angry at me. No social contact? Silent treatment? The best part about it is that it isn’t your family, you’re not a kid, and you can walk out whenever you choose, and never look back.
    It’s good of you to give J’s boss a heads up as to where you’re at, and a chance to fix the mess that her nutjob employee is creating (again) – but short of firing that woman, or moving you beyond her reach, I can’t see how she’d be able to change her behavior substantially! It seems like she’s being triggered, also, and can’t help herself. Have you ever had people reporting to you?

    • Ellen said:

      Laura, this comment helps so much. I feel so alone and so crazy, and this is exactly how I see it, so maybe I’m not crazy.

      It’s very good to remember that some of these overwhelming feelings are from my past, and not from the present. And yes, I do have a few options available that I didn’t have as a helpless child. For sure.

      Thank you for thinking it’s good to go talk to J’s boss. And yes, it’s hard to see what she can really do. Last time I quit, the first thing she asked me, is is this a reporting issue? Would I like to report to someone else? At that time, I said no, for some reason. My reason for quitting was that this was not a writing job. Anyway. I am vaguely hoping that she would be able to have me report to someone else. That’s really the main reason to get her involved. She cannot fix a deranged woman whom I am unfortunately triggering.

      I’ve never had anyone reporting to me, and I’m sure it’s difficult, or can be. I was once appointed lead, basically trying to lead along another co-worker. I wasn’t much good at it – micro-managed him too much, which he resented.

  4. This sounds so difficult. I get insane when work triggers painful areas and your work situation sounds incredibly challenging. I hope your conversation goes well.

  5. This.shaking said:

    Ellen: I have been reading your writing for maybe a year now. I am a really good writer (although I will now be punished for hubris ……) You are always clear and coherent. I conclude that you are competent at your job. Love – TS

    • Ellen said:

      He he. Why thank you This for your confidence in my skills. 🙂

  6. Did you interview with J? I wonder if there is something you do in interviews that makes you get hired for these jobs, and if you land in situations where your past is being re-enacted because you are good at getting people with trauma issues to like you. Then you get in the work situation and all their stuff comes out.

    It makes sense in this weird way that J would feel better if you stop talking to B. She must have this schema that she’s really not worthy, and B will like you better and leave you. That must be intense to deal with everyday. I hope you think of something that will help with this. It’s hard when the stress gets so intense you just feel insane. i know that feeling. It’s awful.

    • Ellen said:

      Yes, I did interview with J. I’ve been thinking back to that and wondering how I could have somehow figured out that she was a terrible manager. She presents a good front for a few minutes anyway. I hadn’t thought whether I can get people with trauma to like me. That would explain why I end up in difficult situations so often. I have no idea.

      Yeah, it makes sense, if I think of J as a very fragile personality with zero self-esteem….She doesn’t look like that, because she seem optimistic and kind of bouncy, healthy. But she seems threatened if B and I bond at all. I know that for B, the boss would always be more important to her than I would be, but J may not know or feel that. Plus maybe she knows that she is micro-managing and domineering B, and that at some level B resents that, and so it scares her if she sees B talking to anyone else. I don’t know. It’s like the Gulag. Sigh. Thanks for the empathy.

      • I think people can usually hold it together long enough for an interview–on both sides. That’s the hard part. Everyone is on their best behaviour. The other thing is that organizations with people who can’t manage well have a high turn-over, so they are the ones hiring all the time. It’s hard. Take care.

        • I agree – interviews are short and artificial interactions. As a manager, I’ve conducted, maybe 100. Usually when I do something a lot, I become more confident. Instead, I’ve grown less confident that an interview can tell me if someone is a good fit.

          • Ellen said:

            I’m also less confident as an interviewee that I can judge what kind of boss this person would make. I simply can’t – I seem to go with whatever impression they wish to make. I wish I had better insight.

            • I would love to have a trial week so both sides could see what it’s really like to work with one another.

  7. Rachel said:

    Ugh. Hope the conversation goes well. I often ask myself similar questions “well why do other people seem to be able to do ___ which is so hard for me. What is wrong with me.” I don’t really have an answer, except it is. And I don’t know their histories or if they are happy. I can’t imagine the mute office people are very happy. Particularly choosing to work in an environment like that. People might outwardly look like they can handle something or it works for them, but they also might just be existing with the same difficulty as you. You know? Your mind spins stories that you’re the f’ed up one, but I think that is just a story.

    • Ellen said:

      Yeah, maybe they’re not that happy. It’s true. But meanwhile I am going out of my mind. Maybe it depends what your favored unhealthy coping skill is – if it’s withdrawal into your own world, then you’ll be happier there than if you tend to need to vent and bounce ideas around. Thanks

  8. e.Nice said:

    It’s not a good thing when your work leaves you feeling like the only option is dying. I am sorry. I am glad you are looking at your options, continuing as is is not sustainable. In reading later posts you handled it professionally to speak with J first, but its still reasonable to speak with the boss. The communication and dynamics just seem so off.

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