Friday, June 9, 2017

Are You There God, It's Me, Unemployed Elle?

Dear God, Odin, Master of the Universe, Almighty One, Father of Mine...
Are you there? Are you listening to me? Do you see me? Obviously I am physically and mentally capable, willing, available and experienced. I would like to be hired for a professional job again, please. Pretty please. With sugar on top.

Perhaps you have a master plan? Perhaps I'm best in this dedicated mom role right now? But I'm getting discouraged and demotivated. The economy is better, there are lots of jobs posted... there should be no reason why I'm not being an opportunity.

Why are hiring managers and organizations so damn flaky and hot/cold? I really need to have a job. Like, months ago. If I have to spend the summer without a job and no summer camp for the children to go to, so help me God, I may really perish.

Stay tuned. Need to hustle to get the little peeps from school. I'll continue my stream-of-conscious prayer in my head to you. I expect results Lord Odin!

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Unemployed and Lamenting

I was laid off in January. Almost four months ago. This is the second job loss in the last few years. It's a little unsettling and demoralizing. I question my career choice, my abilities, my age, my emotional fortitude, my intelligence, character, employability.

I'm over 40 in a career that seems to be a young, driven person's career. I don't want to make lame excuses or be a victim. If I'm being one, tell me and let me know how to adjust my mindset. Ever since having my third child, I'm very challenged for time, energy, money, resources, patience, mental agility. Working full time and using childcare pretty much took a full paycheck and maybe a little more each month - on a fairly decent salary I would say. And I'm always spread thin - at home and at work and every other realm.

My last job came after a six month lay off from a very challenging position where I was doing the work of an entire team it seemed. I couldn't succeed in that role. I could barely work the full 40 hours during the week. Yet I didn't want to blame being a mom. I wanted (and want) to do it all. And do it well. But it doesn't seem possible. I tried.

So back to the point. My last job... the hiring manager told a very compelling story about the organization to get me inspired and onboard. I didn't realize until too late that it was an aspirational story. The reality was the exact opposite of what she presented. She even oversold herself. I learned quickly that the work environment was toxic and my boss was a control freak.

I wish I had blogged more during those eight months that she reigned over me. She was so neurotic, bipolar, two faced and bossy. I should've listened to my instincts in our interview when she dominated the conversation and didn't listen when I spoke, talked over me and everything centered around her, her career and her vision and strategy.

I gave the job my 100% and give her the benefit of the doubt. I didn't want to create conflict or lose my job. Although there were many times that warranted standing up to her. Here are just a 'few of my favorite things':
  • If I had a hint of a cold, she would panic that I would get her, the office and her infirm dad sick and would want me to stay at home (more extreme than school illness policies)
  • She had layers upon layers of process and procedure to share information and project updates as if I were Six Sigma/PMP certified and we were launching a rocket to the moon, which was far from the case. The simplest of projects/tasks would become paralyzed by her stubborn adherence to her wonky rules.
  • People brought their dogs to work almost daily, yet the one time my Little Chicken Hawk had to be picked up from school because of a potty accident, she became outraged that I had him in the office briefly. (I couldn't leave him in the hot car, outside the office building alone, or otherwise.) She ended up tensely being introduced to him, making him feel unwelcome and then making a big deal out of it that evening and the next day with me behind closed doors. I was lectured for bringing him in briefly, introducing him to others, talking about her behind her back about her rules. Other people had brought their kids in and she was equally annoyed by it. Oh and she just 'LOVES KIDS', however, I think that's false.
  • She gave me detailed direction in ordering materials before a specific date and we'd had months of back and forth leading up to it, comparing quotes, designs, options. Turns out it was the wrong direction from the president and he didn't approve the expense. It pissed her off, put her in an awkward position and she blamed me for not following procedures. There were closed door meetings, stomping feet down the hallway and cold shoulders. I apologized to the president for any wrongdoing on my part and he brushed it off and made it seem copacetic.
  • It felt like a toxic relationship where you're always walking on eggshells and not sure what mood the person was going to be from day to day, hour by hour.
  • I tried to be friendly in the office with the other staff. She tried telling me not to talk to certain people telling me that they're not a good worker and would often talk about others behind their back and over-the-top friendly to their face. She liked to be in the know about everyone's lives and tried to influence the president on who should stay and who should go.
  • She needed plenty of time off for random crises like a cat's sickness, leaky pipe, etc. However, if I needed time off, it was a nuisance or petty.
  • She took copious notes and kept them under lock and key and randomly ripped her notes up loudly in her office.
  • Always kept her office door closed to concentrate and if it happened to be open and someone had a conversation nearby, she would shut her door rudely and exasperatedly.
  • She claimed to be a mentor to young girls, when it was really being an AA sponsor (I believe). She was supposedly sober and often talked about her former crazy party days. I don't mind someone being in recovery and working their program, but the neurotic, abusive treatment of employees is completely unacceptable.
  • She become enraged the one time I needed to leave a volunteer charity event 15 minutes early in order to make it to an after-hours appointment. I told her about it before and during, and I told the other volunteers, but she claimed to not know. She emailed me that night about it and she had a heated closed door meeting with me about it the next morning. She accused me of being defiant and told me 'I needed to get out of my head' and some other asinine shit. I was stunned in disbelief and hurt. It was supposed to be a positive event with holiday philanthropy and she tainted it and created another tense, hostile workplace situation. This is the one time she made me cry on the job where everyone could see my red, puffy face. Then that made her feel incriminated and she suggested I wasn't feeling well and that I should go work remotely. ?! 
  • I could go on and on, but you get the gist
Unfortunately there was no official HR department in our small office and I felt there were no checks and balances against her power. I really tried to make it through each day doing the best I could and to keep my reactions and emotions in check. I wanted to keep my job, make it at least a year and get my bearings as I was going through divorce mediation and I suspected I was suffering from depression. I didn't want to be a baby or a victim - 'woe is me'. I wanted to be strong, confident, capable.

I felt like whatever initial fondness she had for me, turned into disdain and hostility as her attempts to control and manipulate me would sometimes fail. Of course, I tried to adjust my projects and communication style to her preferences, but it was always a moving target. I have over a decade of professional experience and many good performance reviews, so I'm not a complete incompetent moron. Or am I? I've started wondering about my own abilities and have lost much of my self esteem. I've considered changing professions or at least industries.

She liked to attempt to give me career advice. What I would be good at, what I'm not good at, what type of person she thought I was - basically I'm not cut out for corporate life. If she's the epitome of 'corporate', than hell yeah, count me out. I have become so disenchanted on the career I fell in love with and so burnt out by politics and egos. I'm hoping my next job will fuel me and not deplete me. I can't handle going through this again.

As a side note, I need to blog more as an outlet. I've been blocked and not able to put my thoughts into words. I think it would help me feel so much better getting it off my chest and knowing that I'm not alone in how I feel. I could really benefit from two or five different support groups for all the things I'm going through. Is it a complete midlife crisis?

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Actual Tears Shed in the Workplace

It's happened. The unspeakable. Tears fell from my eyes at work. This is something that hasn't happened in EVER (that I can recall). I've worked since I was 12 years old in a lot of jobs, some of them pretty crappy. But crying at work isn't something I find acceptable. I try to keep all my emotions in check at work.

Not only did I cry, I sobbed. When I couldn't control it at my desk, I went to a bathroom stall and let it out. All my anger, frustration, confusion and powerlessness came to a head. It's hard to say if it's related to the holidays, my aunt passing away, my marriage ending or all of it accumulated, but what set me over the top was my controlling, borderline abusive boss.

The afternoon prior, I'd left our holiday volunteer event 15 minutes prior to scheduled ending because I needed to get to a personal appointment. I didn't get a group photo of the volunteers before I left because of leaving early, as well as my hands were deep in the food we were serving. I'd also published promotional posts on our work social media related to our volunteer event without her review/approval. She knew I had the appointment, but she acted like I hadn't asked her and I had just snuck away. She is the type that you have to ask for permission in writing. Leaving early negated getting the group photo, and I realize that it's part of my role to get that. I messed up and tried to apologize. Posting on social media without her approval is just a ridiculous charge.

So that same night of the event, she emailed me with her list of offenses I'd committed. I knew that I would hear all about it the next day. I wrote back with my defense. Then she came into the office the next morning and I already felt really sullen and filled with dread. I went in to her office to try to talk to her and she started blowing up. Some things she said: "You need to own your shit", "Your defiance", "You need to get out of your head"... I was stunned and hurt. I felt attacked and angry.

Some of my 'woe is me' thoughts: why does she have to make it personal? What did I do that was so horrific? Why do I feel so targeted? Why can't I do anything right in her eyes? Why does she have to control every little thing? Why can't I ever be happy working anywhere? Why would a boss do that?! What is wrong with her?! What is wrong with me?!

She ended up walking away without us resolving it and going to a colleague's office. Likely to talk about me. I sat at my desk and started to well up. Then I started crying, then let myself go to the bathroom to sob. When I came back, of course people noticed. She then tried to soften her approach and talked to me about my personal life and suggested I go elsewhere to work remote. (I think so others didn't realize she'd made me cry as it would be a bad reflection on her.)

Like usual, I didn't stand up for myself adequately in this situation because she intimidates me. We don't have an HR department and the president is rarely in the office. But we did talk it out and some of the air was cleared. The team gave me a sincere greeting card for the loss of my aunt. The day went better as it went on, as her morning anger melted and she transformed into a jovial, social person in the company. But the damage has been done. I don't know what crazy shit show I signed up for, but I need to save myself and my career.

I'm starting to question my perceptions and how much is reality or what seems to be depression. I feel paralyzed by everything and burdened. Irritated and annoyed. Everything is a task. Nothing is a joy. How am I supposed to get better? People always have helpful advice. I take it for the most part. But a new therapy I will begin to take is journaling. (Which is like blogging, but even more free style.) Where I can really drop some F-bombs.

Other useful depression therapy advice commonly recommended (many of these I try):
  • Exercise
  • Yoga
  • Meditate
  • Mindfulness
  • Healthy diet
  • Good rest
  • Friendships/connectedness
  • Gratitude journal
  • Positive self talk
  • Limit caffeine 
  • Limit alcohol
  • Give back to the community
  • Self care (massage, nail salon...)
  • Nature/outdoors
  • Therapy
  • Music
  • Self help books
  • Support groups 
  • Church
  • Prayer
One thing I haven't tried is anti-depressant medication. I think I'm there, ready to give it a try. I am tired of living with sadness and anger and anxiety and fear. I'm trying to 'snap out of it' but it's not working. The holidays and the stress of marital separation is making it worse.

I am reading Brene Brown's book Daring Greatly right now and it's been pretty therapeutic so far. I wish I could retain those nuggets of wisdom when I'm feeling the most vulnerable and stressed. Or when I feel personally attacked at work.

Tomorrow is Monday. Ugh. After the Thanksgiving break. Double ugh. I hope I can get through the week staying on her good side and doing an acceptable job. (I FEEL LIKE A VICTIM OF ABUSE WHERE SHE IS CONDITIONING ME AND CONTROLLING ME SO I WALK ON EGG SHELLS). Am I crazy or am I correct in my assumption?

Needless to say, I'm on the hunt for my next opportunity. I need to be secure, content and productive when I work. I'm wasting my time and talents at this place. Hmph.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Six Months into New Job and Over It

Book to add to my Working Mom Reading List
Pardon my rant... but being a working mom sucks right now. Employers who promise flexibility and then end up not delivering on that promise suck. Occupying all my working hours with lame, unproductive meetings and demanding strategies, tactics and timelines for the most mundane projects that don't require that much time, is asinine. I should be able to get the actual work done, but no - layers upon layers of approvals and shit are preventing it. So I should bring my work home with me at night and on the weekends to try to be productive?! In addition to parenting, domestic chores, physical fitness, etc.?! Ugh. I don't like being a grown up sometimes.

I'll continue trying to make the best of it, though. Save my pennies, work on building my resume, look for a new job, network... I'm six months in. Holidays are upon us. I need a vacation from that place. They are wonky. Like people have to be physically in their seat at their desk to be working. And heaven forbid if you leave to take a real lunch or do errands. F that. We're not performing neuroscience or sending astronauts to the moon.

So my last two jobs have really sucked. Perhaps I'm in the wrong career field. Maybe I was wrong when I chose it. Maybe I'm getting too old to do it anymore. Perhaps I'm better suited to be a bus driver or a self storage attendant. Things are so different when you study them in college than the real world. Then you have to deal with real dickheads and control freaks.

I have 20+ more years of this working life shit. How in the world will I make it through? I need a change. I could see if working was my only commitment. But I have a lot more to be concerned with. I want to enjoy my kids more. They are now 11, 9 and almost 6 and require a lot of time, effort, instruction, refereeing, help, food, transportation... there's only so much of me to go around. And I'm SO DAMN TIRED.

I know I've been melancholy and I've sought help from online therapy (Talk Space), and it helps a little. I'm also exercising as much as possible, not drinking alcohol regularly, trying to do good self care, etc. It helps some. But then I'm back at work and anxious, stressed and annoyed. I guess I have a low tolerance for bullshit.

I will keep trying. I will work on persevering. I will remain upbeat as much as possible. I will work more on setting boundaries with people. I will work on being patient and loving with myself when I don't succeed at balance. I will continue to do the best I can. I will try to find ways to laugh as much as possible and not let uptight people get the better of me.

Any other advice you may have, feel free to leave it in a comment below. Any books, podcasts, blogs, movies that you recommend?

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

New Job, New Woes

It's been almost four months since I posted last. It shouldn't be so difficult to publish snippets from life. I'm always thinking of what I want to say to a handful of readers. It also is somewhat therapeutic to put the thoughts out there.

One month ago I started a new job! Yay me. I was super excited and anticipating the new opportunity. Five months off full time work was at times difficult. Although I did enjoy the extra time with the kids to do homework, tidy up, exercise, etc. I started wondering if I was getting too old, if I liked my chosen career path anymore, if I was cut out for the business world, etc. I was ecstatic to get a job offer so quickly after really putting effort into the job search (and not just pondering getting a job).

This new job is super close to home, which is a huge relief for me. Also, my new boss lady seemed very cool when I interviewed and first started out. I was looking forward to working and collaborating with someone else. Having a regular paycheck and benefits was attractive too.

Now that I'm a month in, however, I'm beginning to feel the familiar creeping in of anxiety, doubt, anger, resentment and resistance. I'm struggling with being productive, focused and also enthusiastic. I've been plagued with an oppressive sense of doom today. It's causing me to be depressed and thinking of finding a new job or quitting already.

The boss who claimed to be one thing, has been slowing but surely showing herself to be the very opposite. Micromanaging, meetings after meetings, workaholic tendencies, critical... I am already a little insecure and unstable from being unemployed, so it's making me unnerved.

Daddy-O mentioned I should see a psychologist and be medicated probably for 'faulty thinking'. I'm so unreasonable in his opinion. BUT - I'd hate to schedule any doctor's appointments without receiving the proper approvals and time off. Plus, I'm not certain I want to be on anti-depressants.

I'm trying not to lose sight of the big picture, but I was inundated by all the emails I got from the boss lady today on projects/tasks/timelines etc. I can't keep it all straight and I can't stay focused enough to finish a task. I honestly feel I'm struggling a bit with ADD. Should I try one of my daughter's meds? (kidding).

In addition to adjusting to work life again, my oldest chickadee (10) is acting out at home, school, after school care and with friends. She is struggling to complete assignments, take tests and even be nice. It's exasperating, unending, sad and more. I'm so discouraged. I don't have the tools. All the negative attention she's getting... There are only a few weeks left of school and some of her grades are pathetic!

It's hard to be enthusiastic and hopeful sometimes. I can't envision ways to make life better. I am going through the motions of survival. Finding little slivers of joy and laughter here and there. I have many friends sprinkled about here and there, but most of them are consumed with their lives and families. I am missing more female friendship and good conversation. I feel isolated at times, even though I know I'm not. I get to see friends regularly.

I'm also pissed off with my/our finances. We live in a relatively expensive area of Southern California. Our house is in sad shape in my opinion. We don't make enough money to afford much. We have three kids. My car is 10 years old and has dings down both side panels. We have accrued some debt that doesn't seem to budge. I feel resentful about that. I want to be driving a roomier, newer car to feel proud about. I want to live in a more spacious, organized and tidy house. Certainly, the key is to try to be content with what I/we have, but I don't like feeling like everyone else is succeeding at the game of life and I'm failing. 

What's wrong with me? I think I need professional help. But I'm too weak and afraid to take the steps. I tried meeting with three different therapists this year for guidance, support and help, but I don't think it was very effective. Plus, I'm frugal with money, time and energy. Sigh...

I'll try to write more to relieve some of the angst. Maybe someone will have some good insight for me; I hope so. Please consider leaving a comment below.