A decision

A bunch of things are going on for me. Work is better. My boss came back from holidays this week and we have so far not had any difficult interactions. I have a personal mission of sorts, to get along with this boss. I know I affect her, and I can be ‘nice’. I need to play the game, and find ways to keep her calm and feeling in control. I really want to find a way to do that. Then she will go off and be angry and upset about other groups, other people, but not me.

OK, I feel bad writing about this. Because I know that some readers and commenters, with my best interests at heart, will not agree with what I did. But – I think it’s for the best and I feel good about this decision, so far.

I took the full-time job.

I didn’t ask for a different manager.

I thought about the distress this would cause, if I got a different manager. This is not a big department – it has maybe fifteen people, total. Four of these are people managers, and my own boss has only two direct reports. I would still sit very close to her. It would just be horribly awkward, and I decided not to ask for this.

I deeply deeply did not want to start again somewhere else in yet another short term contract. I’ve reached my limit with that, even though I have little doubt I could find contracts fairly easily. I am just starting to learn the subject matter in this role. I want to build on that.

I realized I must manage this boss, and I must realize what she is like, and try to sooth her her anxieties if I possibly can. The good (and bad) thing is that she usually has very little input into my job. I work with other internal clients, in an area she has no knowledge of at all. So for the main part of my job, she is irrelevant. If I can build up a better history of interacting with her, I think she will mostly leave me alone.

Secondly, I want the health insurance. Because of the cancer, I don’t qualify for anything decent on my own, so I want to be covered just by virtue of working there. I now have another health concern, which I am worrying might be some degenerative type illness. I need some type of coverage. It’s likely not the worst case scenario I worry I have, but having insurance is important to me. (For US readers, we are all covered for basics like doctor visits and hospital stays in Canada, luckily, but I’m talking benefits – some percentage of pay if I can’t work for a time, drug coverage, etc.).

Thirdly, the stability means a lot to me. I’ve felt these little starts of connections form to people at work, and it means something that I keep the same people in my life, for a time at least. This is not like a family, of course, but it’s still some stability and continuity for me.

Maybe I’m being defensive. There were also good reasons for turning the job down, but anyway, this is what I did, and I feel happy with my choice at this moment.

And in other news. The yoga for anxiety class was helpful. It was very very slow, and you’d almost be hard pressed to find the yoga in it. We moved our arms and breathed to various counts, basically. The part I really am doing every day is a type of balanced breathing. I downloaded the recommended recording, which is simply two bells, one for in breath, one for out breath. So very simple, but I am not getting tired of it. I do feel calmer after doing this breathing for a while. And I’ve been practicing on my commute, and on breaks at work. I noticed I carry and unbelievable amount of stress with me all the time. This is so noticeable when I try to do the slow breathing. My throat is almost panicking, my chest is tight….And normally, I don’t notice.

Anxiety at work is a real problem for me. I talk in an anxious way sometimes, or just plunge into anxiety, so I’m hopeful this little breathing exercise is going to help. It’s already helping, but I hope I don’t get tired of it.

All in all, I feel kind of hopeful about everything.

  1. You are making really good progress. It takes strength and empathy to realise how others are impacted and change our behaviour to make things easier. I think sometimes that can mean we are being more realistic (about others flaws and faults), although some may say its co-dependent. If it brings peace and balance its for the best.
    The yoga sounds like it will really help you, Ellen. I know its simple but I am finding the complex yoga classes jangle those of us with PTSD more. The power of a simple breathing practice can work wonders. My recovery readings talk all the time about how simplifying is de-stressing in and of itself. In an increasingly confused and over complicated world surely this can only be good. So glad you are feeling at peace with all your decisions. Sounds like you are really taking care of you and listening to your needs.

    • Ellen said:

      Why thank you for the supportive comment Emerging! I like your thought about being more realistic about others. Sometimes I actually think I give people too much credit and myself too little. Other people can be encouraged to act in a way that benefits us. This probably sounds Machiavellian, but for me, I tend to never think about how to manage how I come across to others….I’m too honest in a way. I think my challenge is developing empathy and insight into how others tick, instead of being such an ‘honest’ victim. I think co-dependency, which I understand is a problem for a lot of survivors, isn’t one of my big challenges. Maybe I need to move more in that direction, while someone else needs to move more towards being stronger in themselves.

      Yes, I’m pleasantly surprised at how helpful this yoga breathing is for me. It’s calming, without bringing up my trauma stuff.


  2. Hopeful is such a good thing to have – hope is power over your own life.

    I love the yoga you’re doing – the breathing sounds amazing. I have my first yoga therapy session on Monday and I am hoping that it helps.

    I think for work you’re making all the right choices for you. As a fellow Canadian – I totally understand the healthcare perspective. Sometimes staying with what we know and managing our managers is the best choice.

    It sounds like you are feeling good about your choices, and that’s amazing. Xx

    • Ellen said:

      I hope your yoga goes well. I have my second session tomorrow and I’m looking forward to it somewhat.

      I’ve been longing for some stability, and right at this moment, I feel like I have some, so that feels really good to me. Thank you PD.

  3. Ashana M said:

    Sometimes it is good to see if you can learn to manage a situation. It’s hard to know until you try. Stability has been very helpful for me. Take care.

    • Ellen said:

      Exactly. I want to try and manage it instead of running. I am older and more experienced than this manager – or maybe equally experienced. I believe I can manage. I have been having a run of days where the thought that I now have some stability has been making me happy. I have so deeply longed for something to last. I will continue to know, and to sometimes like, the same people for longer than six months – what a relief. Thanks for understanding Ash.

  4. Congratulations on the full-time job, and on the health insurance–very important! I don’t think you need to defend your decision. You know what you can and cannot tolerate. You know how to handle her. If it ever shifts to be an unmanageable situation, you will know that too, and then you will deal with it. This works for you now, so that’s great.

    Stability is definitely good for soothing anxiety, and so is breathing and slow yoga. I’m a big fan of all three.

  5. Listing your reasoning process I don’t believe is defensive. You worked out your choices and made a plan on how to succeed in that situation. Congratulations on full time work. I remember my breathing in yoga. It helps me too.

    • Ellen said:

      Thanks Ruth. Lots of yoga fans here I see.

  6. You know yourself and your needs better than anyone else! So what if you make a decision that is different from what another person would make or different from what you would make at a different time? This is an ambiguous situation where you aren’t clearly being abused, after all, right? So if you can learn to manage her in an active sense, I could imagine that it could increase your sense of agency as opposed to running.

    Who knows what positions might open up that would allow for a lateral shift within the company to a more compatible supervisor at a future point? And, yes, there is a lot to be said for stability.

    • Ellen said:

      Yes, there is no way I’m being abused. Right now everyone is being nice to me, even. I know it won’t always be smooth sailing, but I have hope I will be able to keep afloat. I do feel more adult having a stable job.

      Thank you Cat.

  7. Rachel said:

    I echo what everyone else has already said – staying with a situation that has some very obvious benefits to you, seems really wise. And stability is pretty irreplaceable for trauma survivors, I think.
    Great work Ellen, I’ve noticed how hard you’ve been working lately at making changes and sitting with the really strong stuff.

    • Ellen said:

      I actually am working at sitting with strong ‘stuff’ in relation to the boss, so thank you for saying that Rachel. Ron made some comments that hinted that I seemed to be splitting people into good/bad at work, and that struck a chord for me. I think my response to some of what my boss said was projection….or something. Anyway, caused in some part by me. And I’m sure it will happen again. I hope awareness will help.

  8. e.Nice said:

    Making decisions is so difficult for me. I am glad that you looked things through and decided what was best for you. It sounds like a wise choice. And you aren’t stuck there if things go south in the future, and it is the right decision for you now.

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