Tag Archives: job

My Aunt Louise

Aunt Louise is the oldest of four sisters.  In her day, she was very beautiful with a beaming smile.  She was also quite awkward in many ways.  As an example, when she graduated high school, her fiance still had a year to go, so she kept going to school and audited classes so she’d have something to do while she waited for him to graduate.  She didn’t feel free and excited and have all these girlfriends to do things with.  She waited for her fiance to graduate high school.

The following year, they did indeed get married.

In the wedding photo she looks quite happy.  He looks kind of bashful.  The article in the paper is typical for 1949 with descriptions of what everyone wore and the several bridal showers she was given, including one given by the office girls of the place she worked.

Her life afterwards turned out to be very, very difficult and sad:  dysfunctional marriage, death of a three-year-old daughter, poverty, divorce, more poverty, then a good husband who died years ago, abusive relationship in her later years, and finally death of another daughter from brain cancer.

I would read the wedding article sometimes and wonder where it all went wrong….

Aunt Louise is due to turn 90 this coming January and my mother recently remarked that she has been quite talkative the last few times they were together.  Louise has said surprising things such as:  the reason she never worked after getting married was because not one person had liked her at the job she had.  She knew it the very first day she walked in the door.  They hated her at first sight.

How strange.  I wouldn’t have guessed that she was hated at her job.  According to her wedding announcement she had worked there for two years and “the office girls” had even given her a wedding shower.

I had always thought she had two lives.  The one before marriage and the one afterwards.  Instead, those “two lives” were part of a familiar pattern.

Her life turned out like all the other women’s lives in this family.  A beginning seemingly full of promise and light, beauty and hope.  Smart, sensitive, active girls who end up as victims on some level wondering where it all went wrong.

I suspect the clues to the future were right there all along.  We just missed them in the quest to do the right thing, please the people around us, be good girls, and basically give away our power until there was no more to give.

There are more women’s stories in my family and I hope I can do them justice.

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Filed under anxiety, decisions, depression, dysfunction, emotional health, enemies, family, first impressions, getting along, grief, history, human nature, journey, love, opinion, social phobia, Uncategorized, wellness, work

Blast From the Past

I was Halloween shopping at Wal-Mart last week when I heard a familiar voice call to me.  I turned around to find an elderly man sitting in one of those motorized scooters and, though the voice was familiar, his appearance threw me for a loop.

It was Doug!  He had been a contractor at my old place of employment and back then, he had been a very large and very intimidating man.  From the very first day I had to deal with him I was very uncomfortable.  He came into our office every single morning and every single evening to do his job.  He was foul-mouthed, bossy, angry and left a mess for us to clean up every single time.  Nobody liked working with him.

However some employees knew him outside of work.  They didn’t have to work with him like I did.  He was a gentleman around them and they clearly liked him and would stop to chat him up when they saw him.  They knew him from church.

That was so odd to me as I found not one thing to like or appreciate about the man.  My only experience of him was as a sexist bully.

Eventually he was fired when he pissed-off someone who mattered more than those of us who had been complaining about him for a couple years.

So in that moment at Wal-Mart, I had to make a decision.  Should I be short with him and try to get away like I would have had to back in the day?  Nope.  He has no power over me any more.  So my decision was to talk with him as if the way he is now was the way he had always been.  It was still an odd conversation.

When he talked about how surprised “we” had been when I quit my job, I wondered how he could possibly know about that since he had been fired and no longer worked there before I left.  When he said I was missed, again I wondered how he could possibly have known that.  He was speaking about my quitting the same way people who really had liked me have spoken to me about it.  The truest and most tactful thing I could say in that moment was that I missed a couple people there but not too many of them.

It was an odd encounter but it made me realize some things.  For one thing, I guess that he has both of those people inside of him–the miserable, selfish, and aggressive person I was stuck working with and the polite, friendly, interested church-goer who is capable of making a positive impression on someone when it suits his purposes.  I wouldn’t have thought something like that was possible!

For another thing, I don’t have to be affected by either of those versions of Doug.  I don’t have to waste valuable energy trying to figure this person out.  I don’t have to like him.  I don’t have to approve or disapprove him.  He’s got his place in this world and I have mine.  I don’t have to be affected because I have boundaries now that I didn’t have back then.  Boundaries are so very important!!!

The last thing I realized is that I have been very powerless throughout most of my life.  Many people have taken advantage of me in order to benefit their own situation or at least make their lives easier.  Those people tend to become my enemies.  Casting people in the role of enemy has often been my only recourse–a boundary of sorts.

As I heal and gain power within myself, I am also gaining skills and that may help me to repel the people and behaviors that would take advantage of me.  Only time will tell but right now it’s looking pretty good.

 

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Filed under boundaries, bullies, decision making, emotional health, enemies, first impressions, getting along, growth, healing, history, human nature, progress, Uncategorized

My Sub-conscious, She So Smart

The Terrible Job came up in conversation yesterday.  I handled it.  Pulse good, breathing steady, visualizations under control, rest of day like an average day in the life of someone recovering from clinical depression.

Then  this morning I woke up from a dream in which I tried like crazy to get a job back there at the Terrible Place.

It was going to be different this time.  A retiree who had been a friend and a former co-worker who had become an enemy both came up to me and said the new boss would re-hire me and give me anything I wanted.  I guess they were desperate for my magical skills or something.

The retiree said he would be there because he would also come back to work, and he was already wearing his uniform.

I was right in the middle of crashing a graduate-level photography class.  I was in over my head anyway knowledge- and skills-wise.  I thought, might as well get my old job back, making a living in the arts isn’t working out.

So I started racing around looking for “Bob”, the guy who wanted to re-hire me.

I kept trying to tell people, I don’t know if this will work.  I might have to pay back all the retirement money they refunded me.  I was mentally calculating what my paychecks would look like with all the deductions.  For example, I’d need new uniforms since I threw out all my old ones.

Bob kept being unavailable.  I could see him but he kept having to leave for meetings and such.  But I knew it would be okay because he wanted to hire me back.  He was a different boss from the old one.  He understood what I offered.  He must have since he was willing to give me anything I wanted.

What I wanted was to work in an easier office that wouldn’t leave me bone-tired by the end of each day.  That wouldn’t overwhelm me with responsibility.  That wouldn’t constantly change the Standard Operating Procedures simply for the sake of change or for the sake of someone else’s big, fat, stupid ego.  I knew exactly which office I wanted and since nobody else really wanted it, it would be perfect.

I never did connect with Bob.  The whole plan slipped through my fingers even though I had a couple allies and every reason to think the scheme would work out.

Ha!  How funny is that?  In real life none of this is possible.  No one wants to hire me back.  Certainly not on my own terms!  That one is extra funny.

And no matter how many times I turn it over in my mind, there was no saving the situation when I still worked there.  The wrong people were in charge then.  There were no allies at that time.  And I was completely drained of anything that a person needs in order to be successfully employed, let alone have a career on my own terms.

It is really over with and it hurts quite a lot.

It has been over three years now since I left the Terrible Job.  I’m still on the mend.  I am still not capable of employment.  The financial repercussions are huge and unlikely to go away.  The emotional repercussions are the hardest part of all of it.

It’s really very hard to accept this.  But I have to in order to be healthy and move on.

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Filed under depression, dreams, friends, grief, healing, honesty, human nature, injustice, Uncategorized, work

The Slow Climb

One of my friends posted a job listing on Facebook so I clicked on it out of curiosity.  I had been led to believe that this particular job (with the state) was political and that in this part of the state you need to be a Republican in order to be hired.

I am not a Republican so I always figured that particular job was “out of the question” for me.  I clicked on the link just so I could see if there was a way to tell from the application that you have to be a Republican.  There isn’t anything obviously political about it.  I’m sure they have their ways, though, if they want it to be political.

The application was fairly short.  They mainly want the last five years of job history plus whatever other jobs you have had that would qualify you to work there.  And… have you EVER been fired OR quit a job before you could be fired.

I was fired once when I was 20.  It was quite traumatic at the time.  It was also traumatic having to explain it on subsequent job applications.  I still got the jobs, though.  I even received unemployment benefits after the firing because their investigation showed that my firing was unjust.

That was thirty-four years ago!!  I don’t think about it very much any more.  Maybe if I was “normal”, I wouldn’t have thought about it in years and years and might have even forgotten the whole episode.

Some people would probably chide me for being unhappy about not being normal.  But that has been what I have consistently wanted my whole life!

It’s hard not fitting in.  It’s hard having to invent yourself and your routine… every single hour of every single day.  It’s very hard to attract odd kinds of attention from strangers.  I just don’t think “normal” is all that bad.

I’m not going to fill out the application at this time.  I’m obviously still “triggerable” which means I’m still not out of the depression/anxiety/PTSD woods yet.  I can still picture myself at that job I was fired from.  Still know the names of the people involved.  Still can see the events of the day like it is happening right now.

There is something different, though.  Now I can see how I got into that situation.  I can recognize that a healthy me would not have even worked there to begin with.  A healthy me would not have worked at my last job to begin with either!

The difference now is that I can recognize what a healthy me would be.  That’s a big deal!  It is hard-won knowledge.  It is measurable progress.  I don’t know what it will get me at this stage of the game.  But I’ll take this seemingly small gain.  It actually gives me something to work with.  It might be the difference between “forward” and “stuck”.

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Filed under anxiety, boundaries, bullies, decision making, emotional health, getting along, grief, healing, injustice, progress, PTSD, self-care, self-respect, Uncategorized, work

Stodgy Stuck Up and Not Fun at All

I had a nice Christmas Eve at my cousin’s house. I even drank a little wine which I seem to have developed some kind of liking for. It used to be that alcohol pretty much tasted terrible to me but if I wanted to get drunk, I would just tough it out and either ignore the taste or bury it with orange juice or Coke. Even with this new found liking for alcohol, though, I still don’t drink much. Or enough. Wink, wink. If I were a drinker, I might still have a job.

My cousin’s neighbor joined us later on that Eve. I’ve met this neighbor many times before. We never hit it off or anything but I can live with that and we have conversed in the past so it wasn’t a problem her coming over.

We ladies had been chatting for awhile when she turned to me and said she wanted to tell me something and she hoped I didn’t mind and she didn’t know if she should or not and if she said too much, please, just tell her it was too much and that she had stepped over the line and to stop.

Here we go. This kind of thing happens to me all the time. People often feel compelled to tell me exactly what thought just popped into their little heads. People have said some pretty unusual things to me over the years.

This time I smiled because I kind of suspected what was coming. Then she said that when she first met me, she thought I was very stodgy and not much fun. This made me laugh out loud. This is not news! I am aware that I make a certain kind of first impression. People who can only see surfaces are frequently left with a very basic and somewhat unfair impression of me. It became even funnier when my cousin piped up with, “People say that about ME, too!!!” A fellow traveler! Thank you, cuz!

I don’t know if the neighbor lady was relieved at my “fun” reaction to what she said or if she really didn’t think about the conversation that much at all. The only reason I care to think about this, and write about it, is because it reminded me of previous similar conversations people have had with me and my realization that I would NOT say such a thing to someone. I would not say, basically, “I used to not like you but now I do. Before, you fell well short of my requirements but now I think you’re A-okay.” Why, thank you! What a sweet thing to say. Wink, wink.

Well, it hurts my feelings when people tell me these things and I know not to do that to someone else. At least not on purpose.

As a kid, I was considered stuck-up by several of the school cliques. The popular kids couldn’t figure out why I wasn’t popular; they thought I should be, but I was not. Yes, somebody told me this. The not popular kids didn’t like me because they thought I was popular. Yes, someone told me that, as well.

On my long walks home from school by myself, passersby would say, Smile, it’s not that bad! Even though I wasn’t feeling bad and was just thinking about things on those long solitary walks. I guess I should have been tap dancing on the shoulder of the road and talking to myself.

Many years into the terrible job, one of my former co-workers said, “Man, that first day, when you first got hired, I told Lisa, ‘man, she isn’t going to be any fun at all!'” She told me this because I had finally passed the Fun Test. I was so relieved that I had passed the Fun Test. I do fit in! I thought I never would. Life is good.

Except that I didn’t fit in and life wasn’t good at all. The terrible job was really just a Red Flag Parade. Grab one of these here flags and swing it in the air with us! It took a long time for me to see it that way.

Last week I visited my mother. It was a pretty good visit. I stayed pretty laid back while I listened to Show ‘n’ Tell. At one point, she asked me if I wanted something to eat. She was hungry and didn’t want to eat in front of me. I told her to go ahead, I didn’t mind, I wasn’t hungry. But she kept asking me if I wanted something to eat. She tried tempting me with ever more delicious treats. But I truly wasn’t hungry and kept turning her down. “Oh, you’re no FUN!” Thanks, Mom.

Apparently, “fun” doesn’t mean what I think it means. Neither does “stodgy” or “stuck up.”

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Filed under family, first impressions, honesty, opinion

Dance Class

I am a member of a belly dance troupe and tonight at practice I learned that one of my troupe sisters is applying for a part-time job at an office of my previous employer. Of course my first thought is, Oh no! You don’t want to do that! But people have to figure out things for themselves.

And some of the offices and some of the jobs are doable. Many people still enjoy their jobs with this employer. I asked some pertinent questions about which office, which job, would they provide a vehicle, and determined that she will probably be okay. I ended up encouraging her while at the same time it was breaking my heart AGAIN that I was NOT okay working for that same employer. My mind automatically went to: if only I had worked in a smaller office, if only my boss had my back, if only my co-workers had my back, if only it had mattered that my customers liked me a lot, and that I worked hard, and that I was loyal…. If only I had seen the place for what it was much, much sooner.

Having to give up that terrible job broke my heart in the same way that every other rejection in my life also broke my heart. They really didn’t like me! How can that be? That was my life for nearly twelve years. I gave it everything I had to give. In the end, I meant nothing to that place and most of those people. I must have thought I was earning some kind of value or a spot in that world. Except they didn’t come through on their part of a bargain that only existed in my own imagination.

I’ve done a lot of reading and sitting and thinking this year. One neat thing I learned about from reading a Dear Abby column. I don’t remember what the letter writer asked but the answer had to do with something called “Emotional Starvation.” This occurs when the parents never instill a sense of “mattering” in their infant child. Then later on as the child grows they go about life with this lack that they probably don’t even know they have. They will seek out people and situations that make them feel like they matter. When the people leave or the situations end, the emotionally starved person is devastated.

In my case, my parents didn’t know how to give this sense of mattering to their children. My father was mildly autistic and my mother is somewhat narcissistic. Each of them, in different ways and for different reasons, just couldn’t see beyond their own narrow experience. They couldn’t meet others halfway let alone enter a child’s world in order to raise them with a sense that they mattered.

I think that I do everything with this mistaken idea that I must earn the right to exist and that this right is only granted by the approval of others who may or may not care about anyone other than themselves. Crap.

Anyway, practice tonight went fine even though I was feeling the depression strongly and was out of sorts thinking about that terrible job. I have been belly dancing for about seven years now. It has become a part of who I am. Sometimes it even takes my mind off myself!

We practiced for a performance we have in a week and a half. It will be ten minutes and four dances in between the first and second musical acts of a local fund-raiser. We are donating our performance, which we often do just to get to perform. This performance is going to be hard for me, though. I almost declined to participate. I didn’t want to have to run into people I might know from any of my old lives. I am perfectly happy to perform out of town or for nursing home residents. But I am afraid to perform for people who I believe will be critical or disrespectful like former co-workers or my mother or people from good old golden school days. Some of my troupe sisters know this will be hard for me. But I agreed to do it and I will do it. I might not ever dance in town again, though! This might be a limit I don’t need to push.

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