This post is a continuation of my last post. First, I want to point out that I am tending to discuss extremes. My home life is quiet, slow, and mostly uneventful. Most work days are eventful but not because I make them so. I work in a terribly stressful environment made more so by recent changes above my boss. It is not an exaggeration to say everyone feels the ramp up in ridiculously high expectations while adjusting to cuts in resources. This is probably true across most industries. Also, when places go corporate that were previously independent, self-contained, community built, and employee oriented; the culture shock jolts even the most beautifully tempered, seasoned, wisest, and senior members. Our benefits are rapidly decreasing, getting more expensive, or being taken away. Disciplinary action sky-rocketed a while back and several areas hemorrhaged staff. That is to say the life blood of that area was lost. There are areas that are no longer recognizable to anyone who knew them before. A few spots seemed fairly safe and stable. Mine was one of them. A year and a half ago the culture change hit my area. Many people left which felt weird because my area historically had little turn over. Today, anyone who can leave is leaving.
It is not just going corporate and attempting to make thousands of workers identical and interchangeable, but individual bosses have been bad bosses. I mean bad as in literally mean, threatening, unreasonable, sneaky, disregarding, and arrogant. One was all about power and sought confrontation. I literally had to avoid contact with them for my own safety. This was unfortunate because I have a long history in that area, I am well liked, good at what I do and would be asked to pick-up hours over there. However, my peers flat-out told me not to pick-up until they was gone.
What I have just shared explains a lot about me. I can hold a job for a long time. I am extremely versatile, can adjust to change, good at what I do, reliable, well liked, and known. Most people who know me know I don’t put up with crap. Now, that is not to say that I am intolerant or impatient. The number one reason I have loved my job for so long is the inexhaustible variety of individuals I have been blessed to care for and work along side of. Nobody would ever say I lack empathy or listening skills. I am also well-known for my attention to detail, thoroughness, team oriented spirit and loyalty. In my area specifically, I pride myself on getting things done and being available. I have built these qualities into my reputation because I insist on respect. (Ya. Not lost on me that I was disrespectful to someone out of a snarky and unknown need for attention. Still really painful). I also don’t like to be micro-managed, bossed about, yelled at, discounted, treated as less than I am, or further pushed when I have sent up a warning flag. If you really want me to turn 50 shades of red, say I can’t be found or call me a liar. You risk your life.
So, I am somebody who is really good at my job but because of my shortcomings my safety is at risk if poorly managed. And we’ve gone corporate. The good news is I just spent 2 years on my bed, 15 weeks of good out-patient behavioral services teaching me CBT and validating my experiences, 2 solid years working a 12-step program, 1 year at a welcoming church, and countless hours in front of my Wall working my concept map untangling my brain. I posted to Facebook that I would get off my bed this year. It is time to put into practice 2 years of learning how to deal with myself.
I need to bring a real version of myself out, stand up big and tall expressing what I can and can’t do, develop the Courage of a lion with the gentleness of a bunny, take advice, and move in Self Interest. This is going to cause some scenes. I am going to freak out asking for attention to myself and issues that are problematic for me. Now, how can I do this without losing my job, my mind again, and maybe my life.
Scenes are not always big. They aren’t always bad or negative. They aren’t even always my fault. I am going to work up the courage to take dinner breaks. At my job it is expected to forgo eating. Sometimes peeing and drinking. There is a good chance a scene will develop if I leave to eat. A scene nearly always develops between me and one other person when they are displeased with what I have not gotten done. It is going to get worse for them. I am going to value my sanity and minding my tongue (indeed my safety) more than the ridiculously high expectations that I cannot meet, thus being subjected her wrath. To really push myself, I could apply what I learned at the seminar and ask her what her real concern is. I play it risky by opening up dialog with her about why she is killing herself, acting ugly, and making her own scenes. (I heard she literally ranted for literally 8 hours after I left. So much so that other people did some of her work). The thing is, she isn’t wrong. Neither am I. The ranting for 8 hours yes, but being concerned for the work, no. My thinking is that all of us in the same job description need to unite, present real data that the current situation isn’t workable and ask management to reallocate duties to other departments, drop them all together or believe us and return us to our prior staffing. Given current thinking, we’d be looking at reallocation or dropping of duties and be out of jobs. And the joint would go down the toilet. I am not being arrogant. Standards would be in the sewer.
Or I could scale back, preserve myself and the rest of us and pick and choose scenes. I think this is what everybody else does. Part of picking and choosing scenes is having the courage to face current reality. It is facing reality and courageous to go eat when I am starving. It is also facing current reality and courageous to politely inform co-workers my exact load, geography, and expected additions to my day. People get upset when they can’t get what they want. I get it. So do I. Hence a hell of a lot of snarky behavior on many people’s’ part. For me, I feel like this falls into expectations. This idea of how I think people should act because they are chronologically in adulthood, older than me, above me, or should just “see” or “know” stuff, needs to go. When I am looking for someone, I assume they are there somewhere. Generally I think about what I know of them, and I find them. I need to stop thinking others think the same way I do. This alone will reduce scenes.
Maybe I would do better to in my mind make everyone 15. We all remember survival at 15, right? Every 15-year old knows appearance, other people’s perceptions, proximity, inside stories, home life, resources, and the right relationships with the right people especially those who could harm us are critical to survival. Maybe I need to be courageous enough to admit that in reality my job just might be a giant high school. Remember being told something like, “Just wait until you get out in the real world”?Well, “real world” meet high school. The difference being of course by law you had to be there, not so with a job. My working hypothesis is going to be something like, meeting a need like hunger – risk a scene. Being available and maybe not meeting my BFF’s expectations – risk a scene. Getting pissed off because my phone has not stopped ringing for even 30 seconds in four hours – not risking a scene. Seeing my boss’s boss and immediately launching into a tirade about what an absolutely clueless idiot they are- not-so-much-a-good-idea to risk a scene.
Bottom line, if my safety is at risk, even if the situation is egregious, pretend it’s high school and zip those lips! If my safety is not a risk, if the scene is likely to be because of someones else’s deeply held schemas or from environmental stressors, go ahead and meet my need.
For my next post, I will tackle the terrifying notion of requesting that my needs be met hence 100% chance of a scene with my family.