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work

I’m still attending therapy. Still working.

Work is OK. This time I have no conflict with a boss whatsoever. This boss is fairly nice. I want to listen to her and understand from her point of view. That’s new. But I’ve realized that I don’t know this organization or what her life there is like. I am trying to listen more.

Mostly though I am working from home. It’s kind of lonely. But, in one way less stressful, as if I don’t sleep well, or am not doing well for any other reason, I don’t have the stress of getting myself together early in the morning, flinging myself onto the subway and coping with an office all day. So there is leeway to feel down while still earning a daily rate. Which maybe sounds bad, but really, a lot of office work is spinning in circles anyway. I’m probably average on productivity.

Therapy continues to be very hard to recover from. I’m actually not sure why. Last session, we did not get into trauma or any parts work. I discussed the family Easter dinner, that actually didn’t go badly. A few glitches of course. Maybe even mentioning my family is majorly upsetting. I did not cry or feel any deep crazy emotions in the session. It was adult. We also discussed the difficult reaction I’d had to the previous therapy session where I’d gotten stuck in a child part.

Sometimes strange things catapult me into trauma reactions. One of them happened the week before. I’m following a new health diet and had ordered a blender online. Picked it up on foot from the post office. That blender is huge – you can’t tell from the online picture. So I had to carry this huge and heavy box about a mile back to my house. I rested a few times, and made it in the end.

That night I couldn’t sleep at all. I felt completely blank – I couldn’t feel or think about anything. It’s one of the states that happens to me after physical exercise sometimes. So very aggravating. Ron suggested when that happens again, I could try using my mind to plan something, like a trip somewhere. A mental project. He thinks that might help get my mind online again in this situation.

I like the idea. I think it might help and i’m going to try it next time the blankness happens.

Meanwhile, I tell Ron I’ve decided to avoid things for now. I’m trying not to get triggered, because I want to have a life. So I’m avoiding exercise beyond my daily half hour walk. I try to avoid my family. Because these trauma reactions are consuming so much of my life. The Easter weekend I was mostly unable to function for instance, though I did get out to Easter family dinner.

Because I want to have a life. Not hole up in my apartment while I wait for whatever trauma has been triggered to wear off.

However, unexpectedly my session last Friday once again put me into a place where I was so very sad, I couldn’t do any of the things I’d planned on the weekend. So very frustrating. I can’t say it’s Ron’s fault either – he’s not pushing me to talk about anything in particular. And even though I avoided talking about the past, I ended up in this overwhelmingly sad place.

I’m thinking I’ll cancel for this week and see if I can have a weekend of some kind. I didn’t go to anything I’d planned, so spoke to no one. Now I’m back to working from home where i also don’t interact with anyone. I feel I can’t stand the loneliness of this.

I know I can’t avoid things forever. But wow. I am having no life at all if I keep going to therapy like this. And I’m not entirely sure the therapy is helping anyway. I respect Ron, he’s good to talk to, he doesn’t insist on his way. But I can’t seem to make it work. I don’t know why I get so sad I can’t function after therapy. Ron doesn’t know either. So maybe a little vacation from therapy will help.

 

 

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A bit of success. I seem to have found a contract. At least, it was offered to me verbally last week, though they are slow with the written contract.

I went for an interview for a short contract with an accounting firm Wednesday. I felt fairly good going in, despite it being early for my current habits, 10 am, and despite having to slog through heavy snow and whistling wind to get down to the subway.

I am trying to work out what made the interview better, and it’s not as easy as just saying I had better answers. I didn’t. I did establish a good dialogue with a very scared younger part first. Basically reassuring and adult every step of the way. For example, that part was distressed by the snow and wind, so I reassured that we’d be fine and could warm up in the subway. And other messages such as that I’d take care of the interview (the adult) and there was no danger.

So I felt a layer of peacefulness about the situation. I was still a bit nervous, but it wasn’t as desperate as before. The manager and I then had a conversation about what she wants to do, and it didn’t feel as if she was interrogating me. I was able to summon up some anecdotes showing how, um, fantastic I am at the very skills she is looking for.

Part of it is likely just a pretty good match of personalities….She seemed to like me, and it made me feel more relaxed. She is a young person, from an Asian background but likely born in this country. I felt the conversation was good, calm and positive.

The agency phoned me that afternoon to offer me the contract.

I am very relieved to have work, even just for a few months. I’m also relieved because I can see I was able to pull my interviewing together. It’s not like some contracts I was offered where there essentially wasn’t an interview. I can see I managed the situation well.

Of course, now I’m also mentally going over all the things that have gone wrong for me with bosses. I’m hoping they won’t go wrong this time. I will be doing my very best to see that they don’t, including talking about these issues in therapy. It’s just really really time I had a decent work experience.

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.

About a week after my last post, I was fired from my contract. I have to work out my two weeks’ notice, which has been excruciating so far. I have one more week plus a day to go. I wish I could afford to quit, but I can’t – who knows when I’ll next be working.

After the last post, where I was experiencing all kinds of anger with this manager, I calmed down. However, she started in with the silent treatment. She’d try and pretend she didn’t see me come in when I arrived in the morning, though as we sit side by side, it’s not actually possible that she didn’t. I’d say good morning to her, forcing a response. But that would be the end of any communication through the day. If she needed me to do something, she would email me or message me.

I find this behaviour very painful. I was treated to this practice extensively as a child, and it makes me quite crazy. So I was frantically trying to figure out both what I’d done, and also what I should do in response. Did it make sense for a contractor who has only been onsite for two weeks, to ask for a meeting with the manager about the strange behaviour? I talked to friends, and Ron. There was no clear answer, but most thought that in the circumstances, I should let it alone and see what emerged.

So I did that. And what emerged was she fired me. She also fired a fellow contractor who was more on the technical side, who had been there two months. One final contractor remains, a database guy.

I hadn’t yet had a chance to turn in any real work. I was finally assigned something, which the manager didn’t look at until after I was given notice.

I am quite angry and also quite traumatized. I don’t know what I’ve done. The agency I got this contract through has informed me I am not to ask the client what happened. Ron has suggested I ask anyway. He was quite outraged on my behalf actually, asking in what sense is this a contract, when it’s for six months, but they can fire me without cause with only two weeks’ notice. I considered going to my manager’s boss and asking her what happened. I realize she has signed off on all this hiring and firing, but my manager seems impossible to have a conversation with.

The agency is not important to me – I can work through any agency, so it doesn’t matter if they disapprove of something I do. The agency has been extremely poor overall. Some person I didn’t know from them called to inform me of the two weeks’. Then my actual recruiter emailed me a few days later to say she would call me, and she hasn’t. They really only care about the client, not the workers.

I waited three weeks without pay for this job to start. There was no on-boarding whatsoever – I wasn’t even introduced to anyone, not even the other contractors on the team. As soon as whatever it was went wrong, I was treated to the silent treatment instead of feedback or discussion about what is expected. Now I’m heading into the holiday season, when hiring stops altogether, so may not work again until next year. I’ll have a huge gap on my resume, or, I’ll have a tiny job I’ll have to explain, for which I won’t have references.

This manager continues to act as if I have done her some huge disservice. She’s worked for the bank for thirty years – has she ever gone without a paycheque? Is she really the injured party here? I suppose in her mind she is.

I’m trying to keep my spirits up by asking fellow contractors to join me for coffee breaks. They are these techie guys, and don’t seem to care about having human companionship, but once in a while they join me. I’m trying to avoid the situation of having no one say a word to me all day long. When that happens, it’s easy for me to slide into a morass of feelings that I had as a child being ignored.

This is in a way an opportunity to confront within myself this particular bad situation. I keep reaffirming that I am not at fault here, there is nothing wrong with me. It really helps. It’s hard though – 8 hours a day, with nothing much to occupy me – it’s rough.

One more week. Plus a day.

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.

Suffering from anxiety today.

I got a new contract last week, and it starts last week of August. I actually got two offers at the same time and picked the best paying one. I hope it was a good decision but can’t really know. I don’t know how to tell what the manager is like in a half hour interview. They always seem OK to me. It’s after that problems arise.

This morning, unexpectedly, I had to do a second telephone interview for the contract, which I’ve already signed. It was stressful for me. I cancelled a plan I’d had for the afternoon to be ready. Then at the appointed time the manager didn’t answer her phone. Eventually my recruiter let me know she’d be calling later in the afternoon.

So I did that interview. It was very project specific, with the person going on about the details of her project. Very hard to say anything to the point. She was looking for me having had the exact experience before, which I haven’t. Each contract is different, just like each job tends to be different. Well, different and the same. So it was a frustrating conversation, but in the end she said she’d look forward to meeting me in a few weeks, so I take that to mean it’s OK. She’s not the hiring manager, but some other manager who presumably I’ll work with also.

Anyway. That was anxiety inducing, bringing up my fear of being judged big time.

Yesterday I went for a massage. This was a good experience for me, but I suspect my anxiety today is related.

In contrast to previous massages, I told the RMT that I do have some issues with touch and some trauma issues, so I need her to proceed gently. She looked a bit shocked to tell the truth. Oh well. While I had a stiff neck and some lower back pain, I decided to ask her to focus just on massage for stress.

So she basically did that. She did gentles strokes on my back, hand massage and foot massage. Then she did a head thing where she held my head and kind of rocked it. I mostly felt good – I enjoy being gently stroked. At one point it felt like I wanted it to be over, but that soon passed. And I’d asked for only 30 minutes, which seemed a good length.

And after, I felt fine. I felt a bit glowy from being touched nicely and gently. And because of previous experiences, I kept expecting to be hit by waves of sadness and depression, but that didn’t happen. I continued feeling good and slept pretty well.

This has been my first massage that felt good after. So I think my plan of asking for gentle stress relief was a good one. Usually, I’ve only gone for massage when I had issues I wanted addressed. Maybe the more intense massage, trying to get kinks out and addressing aches and pains, is too much for me emotionally…..

I do have back pain that I’d like to get massage for. Maybe in a few days I’ll go back and get half and half – half stress, half back pain massage.

I was actually thinking that everything brings up trauma for me. It’s great to find something that doesn’t seem to, and actually helps me feel better.

I’ve been trying to address my lack of a social life by going on various meetups. So far this has not been a great success. I picked a walking group meetup because I do walk quite a bit, and I find it enjoyable to walk and talk. However, they walk much too far and fast for me. I can do it, but then I’m hit with a huge amount of trauma shut-down afterwards. Last time the walk was in the morning, and I spent the rest of the day and the next day completely shut down. It’s such an odd feeling – I feel like a robot. I feel like I am outside of my skin somehow – I can feel my skin, but can’t feel further in than that.

So also trying to be friendly with fellow walkers is difficult. I feel fake, I think because after a while I’m probably fending off various feelings, and it’s too much to talk much to anyone at the same time. I have a sort of fake person persona that can take over but that feels pointless. As well, I feel somewhat judged there, as being weak and somehow not as good as others. It’s too much of a complicated situation. Although I was enjoying seeing other parts of the city I’m not familiar with, I think I’ll drop this group for now. Anyway, once I’m working I could not afford to have two entire weekend days where I cannot function after one of these walks.

It makes me mad that I’m in this situation, and that it’s so hard to make progress.

Ron is on vacation. I’ve again contacted a trauma therapist who has not gotten back to me. Our last session was not much good without being terrible. I just kind of listed my complaints about things without getting into much depth. I think depth for me involves parts, and it’s hard to launch into them just like that. Ron doesn’t discourage it, but he doesn’t encourage it either. I think he doesn’t want to encourage the dissociation of parts. But – they already do exist no matter what he does. So in the end, I stay mostly adult. The adult is not terribly emotional, and the session feels shallow as a result.

I think Ron is a good therapist, but has not much understanding of trauma and dissociation. If only he had that, he’d be great. On the other hand, someone with the knowledge, but who isn’t good as a therapist, is basically more useless.

I have been finding I’ve been trusting him in my mind. It makes a big difference to have someone to trust as being on your side in your mind, and it seems like my choice, whether I trust him or not. I can think one way, and distrust him, or another, and trust that he likes me and cares. It feels better to trust.