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triggers

Work is finished now thank God. I feel quite traumatized by this experience. Not quite. Very. Today I’ve spent a lot of time in bed, just trying to get bits of me back. This has been pretty much the worst work experience of my life, and i’ve had some bad ones. The disheartening aspect is that i’d thought I’d become so much more socially skilled, with all this therapy and reading, that I wouldn’t get into these situations anymore. But not so.

These last two weeks, the manager continued her silent treatment of me unabated. She sat right beside me, so I never seemed to get much of a break from it. I was excluded from all meetings, and had almost no work to do, so had to fill in eight hours, day after day, with my own stuff. Which may sound quite pleasant, but isn’t. You know you’re sitting there as a punishment, no one speaks to you, and it’s all pointless, just for this individual to show their power over you.

My social skills do disintegrate after a certain amount of this treatment. I feel in so much pain, I don’t really know how to respond to people or how to approach anyone. Things spiral downward.

Plus my sense of reality is attacked. I rack my brains for what has gone wrong, what I could have done. It must have been really bad, for them to act this way, as if I don’t exist.

A small bright spot was my fellow contractor who was also let go, a young man from an African country in one of his first contracts. I persisted in trying to get both of these contractors to go out for coffee with me, as a way to at least connect to someone. The one who wasn’t fired refused – he dropped me entirely during my two weeks, presumably not wanting to be tainted. But the other one came sometimes.

He was a bit better off than I was, because he did not sit right with the manager. As well, he had some work to do, and, he worked with the other contractor, doing the same things, so they naturally chatted throughout the day. To my eyes, he had the better deal here. But it was still rough on him. The manager treated him similarly, not speaking to him, speaking only to his co-worker.

So we walked around on breaks, laughing (a bit hysterically on my part), and talking about our work situation, but also I found out a bit about him and where he came from. On our last day, I left before him, and he actually accompanied me the few blocks to the subway to keep me company. I remember his big smile and warm goodbye as we parted. That was so nice.

I said goodbye to only one other co-worker, a nice BA who was also contract but for a different manager. She bought me a quick tea at Tim’s as a goodbye. Trying to make me feel better, she actually made me feel worse. She said not to worry, you’ll get back on your feet and put this behind you. Just a failure to connect.

Was it a failure to connect? For sure, the manager disliked me, but was it because I didn’t connect with her? This BA is self-confident and socially skilled, definitely more than I am. But is social self-confidence the thing that they pay me for at work?

I told her I actually didn’t see what I could have done differently. Which I don’t. It’s true that everyone who approaches this manager seems to do so in a very – oh how are you darling? is everything OK with you? kind of a way. Which I didn’t realize for the first week or two, and wouldn’t have been good at anyway.

Today I’m feeling like I have a complete lack of social skills. I do have trouble making friends. I think I am a good friend in terms of loyalty and honesty, but I don’t seem to appeal to people much so that we can become friends. Maybe the world is missing out.

I just need to recover slowly. Right now everything feels kind of strange – I haven’t assimilated this bad experience yet.

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I went back to therapy Thursday. I’d say the session was helpful.

We chatted a tiny bit about Ron’s vacation, and how it’d been four weeks since we’d met.

I spoke about the work situation I described in my last post. How furiously angry I’d become, and how it seemed out of proportion to what was happening. Ron had pointed out previously that with bosses, I almost always fear they don’t like me, or don’t like my work, or that they are somehow displeased with me, and he thinks this is the case now. I couldn’t really point out anything specific this boss had done that showed she was angry with me – I just assumed.

Well. I do think I was getting up her nose a bit, because she doesn’t like a lot of questions. Ron pointed out that my anxiety was likely affecting her also. And I did find, on Friday, that as I was less anxious, she reacted better to me.

I found after a while, I really wanted to leave this topic of my new boss and myself. I was feeling more and more anxious, and gaps occurred in our conversation, and then I was tempted to change the subject. I had other things to talk about, and parts also would have liked a say. However, I mostly do jump about a lot in therapy, and as a result, never tackle any subject in much depth.

At one point, Ron asked me to speak in both voices – the part that wants to continue with the topic, and the part that wants to change the subject. I found that really hard to do. Like a pros and cons list, he said. OK, I could do that. Pros of continuing on – we can go deeper with the topic, it’s good to stand up to and tolerate anxiety, instead of running away from it. Cons – it felt like this was a conversation I could have with a friend, and didn’t need Ron for, and there were other things I wanted to talk about – a massage I’d had, and some troubles after exercise. Ron said maybe we could discuss this in a way that I couldn’t with a friend, and that we could come back to the other topics next week.

So I stayed with this. The boss. The feelings of anger. How it tied back to being criticized as a child, how nothing had been enough for my father.

I can’t remember any grand conclusions actually. But the next day, I felt calmer at work, in a way.

That night though, I couldn’t sleep. Parts of me were furious with Ron for not getting a chance to speak about their concerns. I actually wrote him a furious email in the middle of the night, but luckily I didn’t send it. I felt differently in the morning.

At the end of the session, Ron asked how it felt to be back after the break. I didn’t really know – I didn’t feel anything in particular really.

This adult way of doing therapy is kind of new. I like it in that i don’t have a huge therapy hangover the next day. And spending time on a topic seems good. The downside is younger parts don’t get to speak. But, maybe that’s OK. Speaking in therapy wasn’t really getting us anywhere much except triggered.

Things were chugging along, but now once again not so much, so of course I am writing another post. Why bother with them when things seem OK right?

I fear I’ve landed in yet another contract which sucks. Or is it me that sucks? One or the other, but when the same type of thing keeps happening, albeit in completely different ways, you have to wonder.

Today I got home and was just so angry. I felt furious through and through.

I’ve been working a week and a half now at the new big corporation. My boss is, it turns out, an IT person who is now tasked with getting a particular new project off the ground. They have also engaged an outside contracting agency to do some of the work offsite. I’m onsite, ’embedded’ as it were, while the people from this agency are off site and working together elsewhere.

Anyway. It has emerged that my boss has severe communication problems. She seems to dislike speaking and struggles to explain herself. So she was almost completely unable to explain even what the project is to me. Eventually after a week and a half I have gathered the basics from other people.

Unfortunately I’m not at all an expert or even knowledgable in this particular specialty. I just have worked a fair bit in the financial sector, which is very broad. To be fair, I was not hired to be an expert, I was hired to write. However, I can’t pull the info out of my manager as to what she’d like me to do. I’ve spent a lot of time reading their collected files and intranet. Sometimes she gives me something very brief to do, and I send it off to her, and she never mentions it again.

Meanwhile, the group is under severe time pressure to deliver a part of this project by end of week. I have the strong feeling that I’m expected to be doing things, but I can’t work out what.

As well, the clients have been complaining bitterly about the other consulting agency, that they are not delivering what they need. Well, if they communicate with them the way they do with me, I’m not surprised to tell the truth. And I suspect they are saying similar kinds of things about me as well.

Today at end of day, when I’d normally go home, I received a final file from the consulting group. Now my manager and I are supposed to modify this, ready for executive review tomorrow at 11. As well, my manager was in meetings all day, and again disappeared at four. So, I left. I had no direction, I’d spent a lot of the day filling time, I didn’t know when the manager would be back. She didn’t seem concerned about this upcoming deadline. OK, so I decided I’m not either. So I left instead of staying late. No one had asked me to stay late, I had no direction to speak of.

I also feel guilty for leaving. I don’t want to leave her in the lurch after all. But honestly, there is no one more aggravating than a boss who cannot speak. But if she won’t say what should be done, I will simply keep asking, and when it’s time to go home, I’ll go.

I must be triggered to be feeling so very angry. It’s a feeling of not being enough. As if there is some huge expectation that I can save this project, but I’m not doing this, for some reason, and therefore I’m not good enough.

I am so aggravated by this manager. She’s bantering with co-workers and such, and doesn’t seem worried by this looming deadline. On the other hand, she did say she worked until 1 am a couple times last week. It’s not that she’s not conscientious. I think she’s likely one of those people who only work alone. She doesn’t know what someone else would need to know. We did have one working meeting booked, and she simply sat and typed while I sat and watched her. She surely didn’t want to have any kind of conversation. I suppose that made me feel unimportant. Which I realize I am, but why book a meeting with me then?

In other news, I’m also trying to feel feelings instead of dissociating them, as when I do that, they come and hit me later and make me feel exhausted. Plus, feelings can have needed information on how to act or on what is going on. It’s a hard road to try and do this. At work, the temptation always seems to be to be a talking head, with no feelings.

I hope to move through the anger instead of pushing it down. It’s not at all easy.

I also have fears of being let go. As a contractor, it’s easy for them to decide to let you go, if you’re not all that they hoped and imagined. So probably fear is driving my anger as well.

Well. I suspect I’ve triggered myself by going to see an unsuitable movie. Sigh. I am feeling discouraged, like I’m swimming through fog. I can again so easily spend time in bed doing nothing.

I’ve been doing OK overall. Despite being concerned by the lack of work, now for four weeks. The job market is very slow in July. But I’ve been doing activities. Like going to movies.

Last night I went off with a movie meetup group to see Dunkirk in Imax. It was intense and I admired the movie. It’s about the heroic rescue by ordinary small English fishing boats of 300,000 WW1 soldiers trapped on the beaches of Dunkirk. ┬áThe movie conveys the trapped soldiers’ point of view so well – bombed from above, the sea in front, the Germans behind. There wasn’t any gore either – just the imminent peril all the time. With Imax, you feel as if you are right in the movie – on the sea, or flying above in these tiny shoeboxes of airplanes.

And after, I chatted for a while with a woman about my age, and the conversation felt mutual and fine. I’m going to these types of activities in order to be with people after all. I felt good about the outing overall.

But today, I have not been able to get it together to function much at all.

I keep getting triggered without realizing it at the time it’s happening. And so many different things seem to do that.

 

 

One thing that really is hitting home for me from this week’s evening session is the realization that I’m being triggered.

Work continues to be an enormous struggle for me. This has been a theme for me pretty much since I started in the workforce, basically seventeen years ago. The difficulties change, but it remains the case that I am struggling pretty hard nevertheless. Usually the trouble is not the work per se, but troubles with bosses, with co-workers, or sometimes with such low level work it bores me to tears.

This particular contract seems to be triggering massive anxiety for me. A second person was fired from our small team at the end of last week. They don’t even get their two weeks’ notice – they’re just gone. We’re told the person was being difficult with the client. Who knows what their side of it is.

And the fact is, I’m not meeting my metrics unfortunately. Last time I did, kind of by a fluke. But this week, I have to fix up last week’s documents, as it turned out I was writing in a different way than what is required. Would have been nice to get that feedback sooner, but oh well. The thing is, fixing up these ‘old’ docs is taking precious days away from the seven new docs I am to produce over the next two weeks.

Anyhoo. I had a real low Monday. I came home completely overwhelmed and convinced I too was about to be fired. I had the overwhelming urge to quit this job, both to avoid the stress of it and to forestall the humiliation of being let go. But – I knew I had just quit another job recently. What’s with all the quitting? In addition, ye olde bank account was crying for funds.

I decided to phone people to ask for advice. My friend J was home, and after I’d semi hysterically explained my situation to him, I started to feel better. He actually came over and brought me food, he was so concerned, which was kind. It was amazing how much more tolerable the situation became once I could discuss it. It was difficult to explain why I was so sure I too was about to be let go, and I realized the situation wasn’t that clear. Though I think the relief I felt had more to do with telling someone else what was going on than with re-jigging my thinking. Maybe it was both.

I went to therapy and explained about the job, about my fears, about my extreme need to quit and how I dealt with it the day before. Ron asked if I was anxious, and I told him I thought I was having massive anxiety, and did I seem anxious. He said he thought there was a layer of anxiety over top of a lot of other feelings. And that I am likely triggered by the work situation into past feelings.

There is a part, V, that has been loud and prominent. This is a young teen part of me. That part experienced so much pain, loneliness and rejection. I spoke a bit about that time of my life, how I more or less stopped speaking to anyone. How I was depressed all the time, and sure this was my fault and my failing, but not able to work out what I could do about it. I remember the heaviness and hopelessness of that time.

So lying there on Ron’s couch, I started to feel some of those feelings. They hurt to feel, but feeling them reduces the anxiety.

At work, my co-workers have been commenting, asking if I’m OK or doing better. I guess I’ve been giving out distress vibes. I’m trying not to do that – I want to be seen as capable as anyone else.

If my feelings at work are kinds of emotional flashbacks to my past, at least my extreme feelings make some sense. Those feelings of alienation and helplessness are feelings I had as a teenager.

Today we had a meeting at work with the big boss. I felt completely alienated, and he actually asked me if anything was wrong. I stood there, as the meeting progressed, and started to acknowledge to myself that a lot of these feelings were coming from that part, and from the past. And it helped a lot. I tried to focus on the here and now, where bad things are not currently happening to me. I was then able to engage a bit with the meeting, asking some questions not in a hostile way, but just in a normal conversational way, and the response was good. So then I again felt more a part of the meeting, and more a part of the team, and less under threat, and less angry.

Ron said that the task is to separate the present from those past feelings. And I knew that before, really. But for some reason this thought is really meaningful to me right now. There is nothing so terrible happening right now. I have a job with some challenges, but also some good points. The boss/PM continues pleasant and seems actually good at his job. He seems to see his job as helping the team get things done rather than harass us or whip us into shape. My co-workers also are fairly decent and we all rub along. And I’m earning good money.

Anyway, it doesn’t make sense that I keep falling into despair or fear because of this contract. It makes a lot more sense if I see it as flashbacks to my past.

Well, one week down for a ten week contract. I am extremely tired. I feel like I’ve burned out – just have that heavy exhausted feeling all the time. I’m not depressed. It’s as if my cells are not getting the oxygen they need from my breath.

The contract is a mixed bags in terms of positives/negatives. The people are nice. I’m with fellow writers who are pretty independent, like me, but also fairly friendly. The Project Manager is acting as boss, and he is younger and fairly soft spoken – I can’t imagine him yelling. The quality assurance person is an older woman, very chatty and seems bright and competent.

The down side to this one is the sheer volume and speed of work required. The company I’m with has committed to completing and enormous amount of procedures in very little time. I’ve already fallen behind, delivering only two procedures when they wanted five. I don’t think anyone actually was able to complete five either, but I suspect I delivered the fewest.

I guess they need volume as opposed to quality. Somehow, I have to be able to produce enough for the right number of check marks on the PM’s spreadsheet, regardless if there is any quality there or not. Not how I like to work.

I feel it is harsh to ask so much from the first week at work. We didn’t get connectivity until end of day Wednesday, or email. First two days then we did more training exercises, though it wasn’t clear that’s what they were at the time.

I am intending to make some kind of plan for myself so I can conform to what’s being asked. It’s just taking me a few days to acclimatize and even figure out what they want and how to give it to them. It’s only ten weeks. I do need to keep this contract if I possibly can, to replenish the storehouses.

I feared I would be let go Friday, after not getting in enough documents, and the PM and QA who had been friendly, suddenly becoming frosty and in the case of the QA, who is nice, worried looking.

Anyway. After becoming enormously afraid and tearful Friday afternoon, going for a walk and coffee to try and compose myself, I made it back to work and at least handed in my two measly documents. I almost quit actually, because the task seemed so impossible. However, I didn’t, and I’ll go back and try to make it work somehow.

I wonder what really causes this exhaustion. This is a challenging contract, but I have this reaction for any new job I take on. I think it’s maybe the stress of clamping down so much on my reactions and triggered feelings. I end up being unable to sleep, I’m so tense. Then I drug myself to sleep, though I also try and do meditation/self-expression/prayer/reading. I am likely not getting proper sleep.

It is so easy for bosses to start seeing me as a problem child. I think it must be something I give off, some vulnerability, some essence of not being competent. I don’t know. It’s hard. Writing about it is bringing all these feelings up. Just being seen as not good enough. That echoes my place in my family – simply not as good as my siblings. Defective. A squashed and hopeless feeling.

 

I’ve been feeling as if I were kicked in the stomach since my session. It feels so very physical, yet when I press down around my gut, nothing is actually sore. It’s like a shocked feeling – what you might feel around the pain, without the actual pain.

I haven’t written to Ron about it, and I don’t think I’ll send the daily tracking to him either, this week. Sending reports on how you feel is for someone you trust and feel close to, and I am lacking that this week.

We really didn’t discuss anything very unusual yesterday and I am not sure what triggered the pain. We spoke about looking for work. We did have two small conflicts, but nothing major really. I had the overall impression he thinks I’m avoiding important things, and I did not know what it is I am avoiding. That endless mostly unspoken difference of opinion on what is going to help me. Then there was the very strong and unusual sense I had at end of session that he was angry, or at least very stressed, and wanted me to leave as quickly as possible.

It reminds me somewhat of all the bad relationships I have known. Including to be honest my father. And I feel like a rebellious client, who won’t conform, and at the same time is completely devastated at the lack of approval and connection that results.

I am containing the pain and trying to get a few tasks done despite a portion of my body being in all this pain. At least I am up and have done the dishes. I am glad I’m not spending the day in bed, even if I did get up late. I won’t try and see my son because I need my emotional resources somewhat intact if we are to have a decent time together.

I suspect my difficulties with severe therapy hangovers, even when nothing huge seems to be discussed, is a difficulty I have with Ron and the way we relate. I didn’t think this for a long time, but I suspect that has something to do with it. The feeling of trying to work through vulnerable stuff while not trusting that I’m being cared about. It would be worth discussing but this doesn’t seem to be Ron’s area at all.

A dark day politically. I’m on a media diet for today – I don’t need to see the spectacle of a malignant narcissist ascending to power in my neighbour country. I just don’t want to know anymore about this than absolutely necessary. Must look out for some hopefulness somewhere instead.