Dear Passive-Aggressive Coworker

I realise that you just got back from your maternity leave over two months ago now but I think it’s about time you, you know…work.

In case you haven’t looked at our mutual job description in the last few months let me clarify something for you. Inputting absence reports is *NOT* a full time job. Or it might be for someone making half your salary.

I’m not sure whether you’ve noticed or not but on a daily basis I do 10 times more work than you do in a week. That’s my natural clip so I’m not complaining but I thought you coming back would in some way lighten my load. Actually, it seems to be getting heavier as now I’m tasked with picking up your slack as well as my own major projects that are on the go.

Making flip comments like, “You and our boss are like two peas in a pod”, when I hear the way you trash our boss behind her back, is not endearing me to you.

I know our boss gave you a verbal smack down the other week but that’s no reason for you to ratchet up your passive-aggressive-cunt-like behaviour. Seriously, pretending I do not exist when I can stretch out my hand and slap you at any given moment is not in your best interest.

We don’t need to be friends, hell we don’t even have to like each other (lord knows I think you’re an immature brat who has no concept of what a work ethic is!) but you do need to be civil to me.

I am content to have minimal interaction with you but do not, for your own sake try to bully me or push me over – I will push back.

Also learn boundaries. I appreciate that you were having a miscarriage (a normal woman would have stayed home but I digress) but there was no need for you to graphically describe what you discovered in your panties while I was eating my morning snack.

We are not friends. I can’t stress that enough. I don’t actually care about your weekend plans. Or your daughter or husband or if you’re already pregnant again (I suspect if you’re not you’re trying). None of that matters to me. What does matter to me is that you show up on time. You do more of our shared work. You listen to what I say if you ask me for my opinion before you disregard it and you don’t waste my time.

If you do those things we can fake this coworker relationship until you get knocked up or fired, which ever comes first.

No love,

Me

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Good Days

Note: I actually wrote most of this post the first weekend in November, while riding a bus on my way to the Playground conference. Between extreme laziness and not feeling connected to what I’m about to post here, I just didn’t get around to putting in on my blog. For the most part it’s no less true today than it was when I wrote it. 

This post has been a long time coming.

I have lost track of how many “good days” I’ve had. I was keeping track on Twitter for a while back but I lost count. I. Me. The girl who suffers from chronic depression; who has so few real life friends; who spends her time alone; who was raped a few months ago; who has faced job uncertainty; who decided to tackle her financial situation head on and yet somehow through all that, and more, I have been having good days!

I’ve been seeing my therapist and made a lot of progress in dealing with my guilt and shame surrounding my rape. I am still wrestling with self-forgiveness and channelling my anger towards my rapist (I have actually given up on trying to be angry with him. I have difficulty feeling and expressing anger with others.) I’m still working on me and getting myself to a place where I can cope with my feelings.

On the job front, after my year-long contract expired and my boss looked me in the eyes and offered me nothing but another six months. I lost it, in a manner of speaking. The next day I dragged myself into work and did nothing. My work ethic generally forbids that kind of behaviour but I spent the day organizing my inbox, tweeting, chatting and generally not working. I was a giant black cloud of frustration. So I talked to my boss. I was teary and emotional. I explained that after busting my ass for the last year for her and the company I was more than disappointed that no one saw fit to reward me in any way. Then I asked for the rest of the week off. My boss, the Director of HR is generally unflappable but she was shaken by our conversation and my desire for time off. I know the decision about me didn’t lie with her but I was voicing my displeasure loud a clear through my actions. I’ve known since last March that my boss wants me to stay, that she sees a future for me in the company’s HR department going forward but so many other factors were making it difficult to convince the higher-ups that making me permanent was necessary. So I left work Tuesday night not really knowing if I’d just shot myself in the foot or what my next step would be. I spent the rest of the week at home indulging in self-care. Now I didn’t do this as some kind of stunt that’s just not who I am. I was emotionally unable to handle that situation and go to work and pretend that my work and my worth to the company hadn’t been undervalued. I called my boss on Thursday to let her know that I would be in on Monday and that I would take the six month contract extension. In my mind, I was fixing up my resume and getting ready to make an exit from the company at a moment’s notice. Much to my surprise on Monday morning by boss offered me a full-time permanent position with a slight raise and benefits. I was elated I love my job and my co-workers (the exception being my counterpart who has returned from maternity leave but that’s another post).

So while I’ve been struggling and having moments of hurt and frustration I feel calm, in control and strong these days. I can’t explain why but I’m much more sure of myself.

Whirlwind

Last weekend was supposed to be about exciting new changes, fun and spending time being with the one I love. Instead it bordered on being one of the worst weekends ever.

The apartment I was supposed to see and was really hoping to rent was rented before I had a chance to see it. What followed was a scramble to find other possible places. Believe you me where I want to live, with my budgetary constraints pickins are slim. I arranged a few more appointments for that afternoon.

Disastrous.

No other word can describe it. I was shown an apartment where people were in the process of being evicted. It was beyond filthy. Amidst their piles of crap/junk/waste were not one but two litter boxes. The stove was pulled out and covered in various foods. The bathroom looked like it had never been clean and that no amount of bleach or fire could make it so again.

I politely declined that apartment and went to see another one of their properties. The apartment was much nicer though the fridge stank when she opened it but the neighbourhood and the building itself were questionable.

With my anxiety visibly rising and tears in my eyes The Gay Boyfriend and I decided to drive to Starbucks near where I work. We ordered our drinks. And I wasn’t ready to get back in the car. I needed some air. I needed moment to process what would happen in a little over two weeks if I didn’t find a new place. Homelessness is not a state I’d like to ever revisit in my life. As we were walking down the street I saw an apartment for rent. I called and we saw it right away.

Now it’s tiny compared to the 1 bedroom I live in now and it’s more expensive too but it’s clean, close to work, on the bus routes I would need. It’s not ideal but I can work with it.

I’ve since secured the apartment, movers and I’m getting used to the idea of living in this new place.

BUT

I had a complete breakdown on the way home from seeing that apartment. Full on tears. Sobbing. Trying to speak and blubbering instead. It was the first time I said out loud that I was scared for this move. I was scared to be leaving my comfort zone; scared that my best friend won’t be on the same block anymore; scared that I will be alone out there in my new life. He gently reminded me that I’d be closer to the boyfriend so surely we’d see each other more often. With that thought in mind I felt a little better.

Sunday I had a date with the Boyfriend but it just never happened. Later in the evening he told me to give up on him.

I am hanging by the thinnest of threads right now.

Work is pulling me in a thousand different directions at once; I’m moving; it’s the holiday season; I have 2 exams on Saturday; my boyfriend walked away…

Today I had to will every single action out of me – breathing, walking, not bursting into uncontrollable tears. I feel like I can barely keep going but stopping just isn’t possible.

I need to keep going but I’m not sure how long I can keep this up.

The Ugly Little Duckling

I can be awkward, klutzy, nerdy, and a little uncomfortable at times but these days, I’m feeling completely out of sorts.

You see I now work at a fashion company. Everyday, though I show up dressed appropriately I don’t feel like I measure up.

I am not as skinny as the women running around our office. I am not in heels everyday. I don’t have a real sense of fashion. I feel like my hair and makeup leave so much to be desired.

I try. Everyday I try but I feel like the ugly little duckling in a room full of swans. I feel like I’m being judged and measured and I don’t make the cut.

I know that there is a disproportionate amount of teeny-tiny fashionistas in my proximity and I shouldn’t let it make me feel bad but it does.

I am a petite (short) size 14/16 in the land of size 0’s. The only other people who are my size in my office are the older (45+) women. So I am alone.

My clothes fit me well and I’m always put together but I feel like it’s not enough. I feel plain and out-of-place. I feel self-conscious all the time like I am being judged. Maybe it’s all in my head but I just wish I could blend in a bit more. I wish that I could have the confidence to not care what other people think or to worry if people are evaluating me. I wish I had the ability to not internalize this pressure and feel worse about myself.

Work: My Relationship

If you’ve been reading closely and between the lines maybe you’ve figured out just who The Boyfriend is. Hint: this is his 4th name incarnation in my writing.

It has taken us a long time to get to this place where we are now and it was not easy at all but I couldn’t be happier.

When we met almost two years ago he was just supposed to be a FB. Nothing serious as I had met him after all in the intimate section of a popular dating site. The truth is I avoided him for awhile because I was seeing a few other people and I had this nagging suspicion that he was not going to end up a casual fling.

I was right. Off again. On again. Hurt feelings on all sides.

No matter what we’ve struggled through to get here, here is where we both belong.

I have placed a lot of blame for our inability to make our relationship work directly on him. Some of it was deserved but I never really stopped to consider that I had any responsibility in the failure. Perhaps it was my hurt feelings or simply just my refusal to accept that my actions didn’t correspond with my words.

Last month after a rough emotional experience I had an epiphany – I needed to change my behaviour. No, not to be someone else but just to stop and focus on what I wanted. The truth is, though I said I wanted to be with The Boyfriend my actions openly and constantly signalled the opposite. Continuing to write about other trysts on my blog, the profiles on various dating sites, the constant need to always be looking elsewhere for attention even if it was purely sexual. I wasn’t focused on him or on us.

Part of my behaviour can be linked directly to my mistrust of The Boyfriend – we’ve been down this road before. He’s hurt me and I’m scared it will happen again. And then the other part was my own fear. Fear of commitment. Fear of a loss of independence. Fear of moving forward. Fear of change. Fear of allowing someone into my world, my life, my heart.

My past experiences, not only with The Boyfriend, have left me hesitant to be vulnerable to anyone. When I open myself up to people I get hurt and because I am someone who feels things so intensely it’s often devastating. If I let him in, will it destroy me?

I had to make a choice and it’s one I make again every day. That choice is to change. To change how I interact and react to him – I’ve had to allow my defences to drop a little. To let go of our past mistakes and hurt. To be a more vulnerable and open person. In short, I am letting my guard down. It hasn’t been easy and at times it’s a struggle with myself and with him. You see, he suffers the same thing on his end.

So we are working towards a new version of him, me and us. We are not always in sync or perfect. We disagree. We are still learning to trust and depend on each other. Even though it is not an easy process we’ve come so far in the last month and we are moving forward together.

That’s the tough stuff.

The easy stuff, they stuff that makes working through all this worthwhile, is amazing. We are so alike in many ways it’s often mildly disturbing. We have the same dry sarcasm and humour. He makes me laugh and giggle and feel all girly and silly. We are both ambitious tempered with realism and a hint of cynicism. We can talk about anything and we do. Sometimes it’s 80s tv shows sometimes it’s the future – living together, marriage and babies. Nothing is off-limits. We’re honest and we respect, care and support each other.

I am falling in love and enjoying every second of it.

Work: My Career

As many of you might know, I used to be an academic (some days I wish I still was) but alas, after much soul-searching that was not the career for me. So almost 2 years ago now I quit that life.

I regret taking so long to get myself out of that situation. I knew after the first few months pursuing a PhD didn’t make me happy but others encouraged me to stay to follow through that was my dream after all.

Was it?

I know now it wasn’t. The problem 2 years ago is there was no plan B. I was lost. Sure I had two degrees but not in a field that on its own is marketable.

So I turned to friends both online and in the real world for guidance. Someone suggested I look in to HR more specifically into corporate training. Well that sounded right up my alley. I actually love creating and delivering lessons/learning products (and no I didn’t want to teach – I could easily have gotten into that field but kids aren’t thing). So I investigated and applied to a few HR programs at local colleges. I got in and started last September.

I thought I would go I’m with the belief that I would certainly look to specialize in training once the course was complete. It turns out that I love all aspects of the job really except perhaps compensation (only because of my aversion to numbers). I love contracts, orientation, health & safety, etc. I truly am happy and think I’ve found a career that suits me and that I find fulfilling.

I am 3 courses away from competing my HR certificate and I will finally be done school for awhile in December. Relief!

And after not quite 2 months of unemployment I’ve found a job that’s a perfect entry-level position. I will be exposed to all aspects of HR. While I am only 2 days in, the organization is great. My boss checks up on me regularly and my coworker who is training me is sweet and patient, which is essential. All in all things are going swimmingly.

For the first time in years I feel like I have a direction again. I don’t know exactly where I’m going but I’m no longer clueless about the route to get there.