I’ve got work troubles once again. I’m not sure how much is just in my mind and how much is real. When I describe it, likely it won’t seem like much. However I have no one to talk it over with and it’s sent my mood plummeting. I have been feeling completely worthless and at fault. I wrote it out and sent it to Ron in the middle of last night, but I think he’s away for March Break. In any case, he didn’t respond.
There is a part of myself which is a kind of attacker part. When I’m feeling threatened, that part can come out and wreck havoc on my life. That’s kind of what happened to me last week at work. The last time this happened for me was in group therapy, and it really wrecked my relationships with fellow group members. And when that happens, I feel worthless.
At work, it wasn’t as bad as in group. At least, nothing I said was personal – it was all about the work issue.
It’s kind of about my role there. I’m a contractor, and I meet with ‘experts’ in the subject matter I’m writing about – managers there who’ve got a lot of product knowledge. So I’m tacitly expected to take a subordinate role, be fairly quiet and accommodating, letting others speak. You’d think that would suit my personality – I’m fairly quiet and introverted. Nope. After four years there, I’m feeling self-confident about what I know. When it comes to work, I like to engage and discuss.
Well, that’s me. It’s OK when everything is calm.
Last week was difficult for me. I had a really tough weekend recovering from therapy. I’d had a new deadline shoved in my face without consultation. And I had a medical appointment on Monday to discover the results of my cancer follow up scan.
The scan was great, and I’m happy about that. The appointment was difficult though, a long wait in a crowded waiting room, plus I’d been into work first and had two meetings already. Worrying about this scan. The whole thing mildly traumatized me – couldn’t sleep afterwards, couldn’t calm down.
Maybe that’s what set me off Wednesday. I was trying to get my project finished fast, which means moving the managers along in the meetings. Then my last meeting before review, the screen in our meeting room wouldn’t work. (I project a document that we review.) I fiddled with it for a long time, then we moved to another room. There, there was also a problem with the projection. Everyone took turns trying to diagnose and fix, to no avail. So we found a third room, which finally worked. Half my meeting was already over. So perhaps my nerves were a tad frayed.
My boss then wanted certain changes, and I argued fiercely against them. One of the issues was much bigger than the project, and there was no point even discussing it, but I waded in. Stupid. The other, he may have been right. And it became so important for me to win, to prove him wrong. My boss. Stupid stupid stupid. That’s what happens when that attacker part takes over – I get super intense about things. And I project a hurtful energy.
I believe this part is modeled on my father. Unfortunately, knowledge was a big big deal at our house when I was a child. Being smart, and knowing the most, was the thing that was valued. And my father had to be the smartest. Or at least, the person who evaluated who is smartest. Someone had to be right, someone had to be wrong. People’s feelings were completely irrelevant.
I’ve stayed away from academia, which is where all this would really come into play. But I do have work where problems need to be discussed and solved – I’m not gardening, or something more physical or creative. I think analysis is where my talents lie, anyway. Though who knows, maybe I could be more creative, given a chance.
I don’t believe that people’s feelings don’t matter. I don’t believe there’s a winner and a loser. But this part believes those things. When this part kicks in, things go to hell in a hand basket.
After the meeting, I then switched into the kid, which is the part of it I discussed with Ron in my session. There wasn’t time to discuss the other part of it. And I’d hoped this would all be water under the bridge this week.
Well, this week’s meetings were not good. I’d sensed I’d hurt my boss’ feelings last week, and this week he doesn’t seem to like me. Then the same manager who echoed my kid voice last week, made a sarcastic comment about me. I’d asked to be included in an email, and she said something like ‘oh and you’re so quiet, it’d be so easy to forget you’ in this really sarcastic voice.
When she said that, I stopped talking, and was quieter the rest of the meeting. It’s probably true, I may be talking too much. Not more than her, but too much for my role there. It did really hurt my feelings. And for her to feel free to say that, I’d say there was not a good feeling about me generally. I’ve always rather liked this manager. She’s older, and she still has style. She’s knowledgeable and down to earth. But I realized, she’s consistently being a little mean – she doesn’t much like me. She’s been in the same role for many many years – maybe I threaten her a bit, who knows. Anyway, I no longer like her. I am going to be guarded around her and not particularly friendly.
In that same meeting, my boss made some comment about ‘did I want to retire’….there was a context, but it felt like a weird comment, like he wanted to get rid of me.
And there’s the thing. As a contractor, as soon as someone doesn’t like me, I’m vulnerable to being let go. They’d save some money – my job isn’t vital, it’s more a nice to have. Anyway, that’s my fear, when I start getting a bad vibe from my boss, as I am this week.
Just before I logged off today, he sent me an email asking me to list my projects for the last year. It’s not something he’s ever asked for before, and it suggests my usefulness may be being evaluated. Or maybe not – but given I feel awful about work, I’m quick to think this is the case.
This is when it’s especially tough being single with a single income. And I wish I had a more stable job while I work on my issues. Work is a good place to work on things, as I’m triggered there a lot.
So I feel down. Kind of like throwing up. Kind of like needing to lie down all the time and stare at the ceiling.
Art: Mirror Reflections, Joe Amenechi