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.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Happy New Year

I've now been unemployed three months and I'm settling into the domestic engineer role. The house isn't pristine as I'd imagined it would be, and I haven't accomplished as much as I thought I might. But I have been able to exercise frequently, be there for the kids more and sign them up for sports. Normally, most activities for kids don't fit into the working parent's schedule, which sucks.

When I ask the kids if they want me to go back to work, they resoundingly say NO. They don't like after-school care. Personally, I think it has nothing to do with having me home with them; they just want to have more time gaming on their tablet. But for me, it IS nice to have more time with them, guiding them, working together on household chores, getting homework done earlier, getting into a rhythm, etc.

My l'il Chicken Hawk is five years old and in junior kindergarten, so it's special time we have when I pick him up from school at 11:30, have lunch together and he chatters away to me. I know these are precious moments that won't last and I want to hold on to them. Eventually I'll be be at full time work again and hurrying the kids from one thing to the next until they're older and have no interest in me being around.

The Christmas break was a long, drawn out, intense period of family time that was taxing though. Too much togetherness with sibling rivalry and general chaos, coupled with unwanted outside critiquing from the inlaws/grandparents. Mainly my step mother in law's expectations for more order, etiquette and peace from a family of five. Sorry, but that's unrealistic. I started to become so extremely irritated by her attempts to control all situations with her minimizing comments, food control issues, simplifying complex parent/child/sibling/family dynamics with her 'wisdom'. I don't like to be confrontational, so I stuff my anger and frustration, but it finds a way of seeping out. I welcome her to take our kids for a week and see how 'easy' it really is.

To be fair, she wrote a letter apologizing for her shortsightedness and thanking us for helping her to see things a different way. I will try to give her the benefit of the doubt and not let her get under my skin. The holidays can be rough for me emotionally and I don't like being trapped at someone's house (with limited WiFi/connectivity) and not having my typical routine at home.

It was a relief to fly away on New Years Eve day to go help my mom out for six days - alone. One post-surgery semi-elderly mom is so much easier to care for than three kids and a lecturing husband. She was in her recliner chair most of the time with the Hallmark Channel on at full volume from morning to night. I actually started to enjoy watching the Golden Girls and the cheesy romantic movies!

Now it's back to the grind with school, sports, clutter, bickering and attempting to find a job. I DO want to work, don't get me wrong. But I really want/need a job with flexibility and a manageable work load. Benefits and a decent salary would be nice too. We can't live off Daddy-O's salary alone and he often laments about it. I do have financial goals like paying off debt, saving for kids' college and retirement and buying a new car, so securing a job is necessary.

I have secured two freelance opportunities and some pro bono writing work, so at least I have things to keep my mind active and the networking going. I wish I could do that for work, but it's not the same income and predictability as a salary, unfortunately. I guess I haven't found the 'secret sauce' to it. I keep brainstorming though...

If you work from home, or work part time to accommodate your family life, please leave a comment below to let me know how you do it. Hearing how others make it work would be helpful to me.

Have a great week!