Archive for the ‘anger’ Tag

Gut Churn

I’ve been trying not to be too raw, too vulnerable with my posts, wanting to protect myself and to avoid burning out readers with too much angst. But yesterday was a particularly crappy Monday and I wrote this in the heat of the emotion. After letting it sit overnight, I find it is still valid and not too overwrought with drama, so I’m posting it.

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305 days. That’s how long it is until my 20th work anniversary 17 April 2020). If I stay at this job that long, I will have earned my incentive compensation payout for 2019 (if any) and my milestone anniversary gift card (woohoo!) and will have proven to myself that I could do it. That’s the sum total of incentives I can catalog for staying (apart from my regular paycheck).

For going, I count a lot of things as incentives, not least of which is the salvaging of my self respect. I’m so weary of the stress and, now, the disrespect I receive from so-called peers. I’m utterly spent in terms of grace and charity for those that abuse my team and my good intentions. My sight line to the reason I keep going is more obscured every day. And I honestly don’t know what purpose it serves me or my company to continue as a lame duck “leader” under the direction of another who has been made the whipping boy/scapegoat for all things negative. He can’t shield my team anymore and I’m no longer given my full agency and authority to direct my organization. So what’s the point in remaining?

Except that I don’t yet have another job and that I still cling to the belief that I’m doing some marginal good for my team, I wouldn’t stay. I’d pack up today and walk out without another word.

Or, at least I like to think so.

Reasons Be Damned

Last post, I talked about reasons to stay/go at my job. By sheer numbers, Go won hands-down. But I was still working through the logic, trying to figure out whether it was salvageable. Then, later that week, I had a terrifyingly open discussion with my boss in which I admitted to being extremely unhappy and unable to identify what purpose and value I have to the company anymore. He again advised that the chief source of our mutual misery will be leaving in under two years and I should stick it out.

Since that conversation, I’ve been doing my best with the dreck I’m dealing with. I keep looking back at that list in my last post and trying to beef up the Stay side, attempting to persuade myself that giving up on nearly 20 years of work and professional investment isn’t failure. I have dug as deep as I know how, and I keep coming up empty.

And in the face of the blatantly unfair and wrong directive I received last night, which completely disregards my leadership, undermines my authority, and eviscerates my agency,…for the second time at this job…I can think of no good reason to stay and endure the continued abuse and poisonous politics.

Reasons be damned. I’m out.

I even applied for a job I saw on LinkedIn today. I won’t just walk out, leaving my team unsupported and work undone. But I’ve made the choice inside my head and committed to myself that I won’t put up with it any more.

Now I just have to find the least disruptive path to a new start. Oh, and tell my family…and my boss…and my team.

Ugh, this sucks.

Rejection Totally Blows

Jeez, this week was brutal, a mixed bag of jangling anxiety spiced with tiny moments of joy, wrapped in a sleep-deprived haze and topped with a glittering bow of flaming rejection.

It’s been a really long time since I’ve felt this disconnected from logic and rationality. I’m a logical, linear thinker and careful planning, meticulous language and precise action are my safety. When I get outside that realm, into areas where impulse and emotion appear to be the rule, I have a hard time coping. That kind of spontaneity, even chaos, stresses me more than any long work day or serious decision ever does. The disorder is unnerving and makes it hard to think and breathe.

So when I found myself in this situation, a nearly constant state of distress resulting from sleep deprivation-induced anxiety, desperation pushed me to do something entirely out of character: I asked for help.

Ignoring the cautions and warnings screaming in my head, I signed up for an online counseling service to get help with my insomnia. Normal people do this without compunction all the time. Surely, the millions of people relying on mental health professionals to assist with these challenges can’t be wrong, I reasoned. Surely, I told myself, there is nothing shameful in reaching out?

Still, I battled a heavy load of shame – you’re almost 50 years old, how can you not know the basics of how to be a person, how to get adequate sleep and deal with common work-induced stress? It can’t be that hard, what’s wrong with you? You’re so inept that you can’t sleep without instructions?

But I knew that most of that invective was simply fear. So, swallowing my pride and steeling my nerves, I looked for and found an LGBTQIA-supportive counseling service online. I did a little reading on it, and on counseling options in general, and decided to take the plunge. I knew I’d have to be a little vulnerable, letting an anonymous stranger into my head where I hardly let anyone before. But, I reasoned, if I was going to resolve whatever is plaguing my peace and preventing my sleep, I’d have be brave and face it head on.

So I filled out the forms and answered questions and logged my sleep activity and did everything I was asked to do without complaint or reservation. When my hands shook and my mind rebelled at the feeling of exposure, I forced it down and pressed on, telling myself that changing what I didn’t like required getting out of the cocoon of safety that my reserve and privacy have afforded.

Then, after nearly a week of uncomfortable logging of nearly every aspect of my daily activity, revealing an unprecedented amount of my private life, I was asked to give candid feedback on the process to date. I guess where I went wrong was in the assumption that it was safe to be frank. I guess I thought that because I had been required to be so vulnerable and open, I would not be ridiculed for being honest about my reservations about the process and method.

Not so.

It didn’t matter that my comment was politely and professionally worded, honest and offered without any hint of accusation or rancor. The counselor’s immediate response was to fire me as a client, telling me I clearly wasn’t a good fit for her service and that there was no need to even respond to her message, just to go somewhere else.

Ouch.

So, not only am I so abnormal that I can’t even take care of a basic need like sleep, but I’m so inept that I can’t even pay someone enough to help me cure that weirdness. Jeez, loser much?

Sarcasm aside, I have to admit that the rejection hurts and its potential consequences scare me witless.

I had let myself hope that with a professional’s help I could be back to a regular sleep pattern quickly and that the erosion of my thinking and communication skills, that have already begun to impact my work, would be set to rights before it becomes a serious problem. I can admit that my sense of self worth is very much tied to my professional success and the respect I’ve earned among my colleagues. The prospect of losing that respect and the reputation of being the go-to leader and problem-solver makes me quake with anxiety. And I have no doubt that will be the result if I can’t get my head back in the game. To do that, I need to get over whatever this mental block is and get regular, restful sleep.

So being fired from the one thing I thought would help has me reeling. And I’m fairly pissed off that someone I had paid to provide that help fired me, not the other way around. But even worse than the anger is the humiliation of realizing that I and my problem aren’t worth the time and effort to help, even for a fee.

I’m feeling pretty low, so I’m having a really hard time finding anything positive in this experience. But at least I got to see a bunch of cute small humans in cool costumes come to my house and beg for candy on Halloween. The sparkly princesses and fierce miniature Black Panthers were a bright spot in a rough week. I may not be sleeping, but at least there’s super heroes and princesses in my neighborhood.

Anti-Positives (not Negatives) For Those Days When Sunny Positivity Just Can’t Cut It

As you know, I’m on a mission to center positivity, gratitude and kindness in my life. I want to be the best version of me that I can be, every day. But because I am human and imperfect, I don’t always succeed. Sometimes finding the silver lining, the “one good thing” in a day utterly full of crappy, negative experiences and energy is simply too much. Some days I just can’t fake it ‘til I make it.

On those days, honoring the darkness, letting the emotional, political, mental sludge breathe and have its moment in the middle is all I can do. And, if I’m both lucky and careful, that momentary dominance will satisfy the perverseness of the universe and let me pin that day to the past, moving forward into positivity once again. It’s brutal and not at all pretty to live through, but once on the other side, relief at having given the darkness that moment makes the light a little more bright and a little more bearable.

So that’s the silver lining, the good out of the bad.

But what gets you to that place is acknowledging the pain points, the dreck that’s built up and is clamoring to get out. Catharsis, I guess. But not necessarily just a good ol’ fashioned, wracking, sobbing cry. Sometimes it calls for naming the enemies, a litany of the poisons steeping in the blood, to extinguish their power and potency. Only after being called to the fore can some of these venoms be neutralized – the power of light to bleach the stain of the dark.

To that end, I’m braving my fears of vulnerability and derision to call out some of the poisons currently plaguing my peace:

Imposter Syndrome

Being a Pathetic Loser

Loneliness and the Fear it is Forever

Inadequacy in Every Dimension

Fixating on the Unobtainable

Reliving Humiliating Moments of the Past

Beating Myself Up for Giving in to Anger

Fear of Change

Wow. That’s a lot of mental and emotional poison.

I wrote all of that over a month ago, after nearly a month of lost sleep and continual stress. I set it aside to breathe, thinking that it was too raw and left me too exposed to actually publish. I thought I just needed to get it out of my head and it would be enough. But it hasn’t stopped.

So last night, Wednesday October 24th, while I was, again, not sleeping and after my eyes called it quits on reading anymore as an escape from the poisonous thoughts, I lay still and let the poison wash over me. I decided all the fighting I’d been doing to avoid it had been futile, so maybe giving it its freedom would bring some relief. Again, maybe if I honor the darkness it’ll let me go?

So I spent the entire night reliving the most cringeworthy, painful, humiliating moments of my life, watching each scene and acknowledging it’s continued sting. It felt like walking through a thrift store, cruising the aisles full of dusty, dented, useless junk that somehow still holds a degree of fascination, picking up items and replacing them on the shelves. It was a miserable experience, yet I managed to get to the end of the aisle without shedding a tear. Despite feeling the oppressive weight of humiliation and shame that each memory carried, I looked at each one and then set it aside without further judgment or sorrow.

No profound conclusions resulted and no existential clarity emerged. I did notice a pattern in the moments that rose to the surface and it’s still percolating through my brain trying to resolve into a clear shape that I can put a name to. But there’s been no epiphany.

Still, I think it helped, in some perverse way, to let my brain purge the dreck. I’m not certain that I won’t have to confront those moments again another time, but I feel that surviving that ordeal is a triumph. Even though it cost me a day of vacation time (I was in no shape to go to work today) and a day-long headache that’s still pounding, in addition to the night-long anguish, I’m calling it a win. It’s not a bright, shiny, joyous win, but a win nevertheless.

And because any positive out of all this oily, oozing darkness should be celebrated, I’m taking my courage in both hands and am publishing this very personal realness, despite feeling naked in the spotlight by doing so.

Deep Breaths and Silver Linings

Everything in the media and in our national consciousness is awful and horribly triggering this week. And this last business day of the quarter is packed with high stress and stupidity. To preserve my sanity, I have to cling to the belief that it gets better and focusing on the positive is part of making it better. Even when the margin of “better” is so thin you can see daylight through it and the only measure of improvement is “less awful”, not good, I have to hang on that hope, because reality pretty much blows at the moment.

Deep breaths really go only so far toward less awful. So here are some salvaged silver linings that, while a might tarnished, still gleam a little through the gloom:

  1. Gallows humor is still humor and the effort required to pull a chuckle out of the middle of the thorny stress ball of a given day, by folks suffering right along with you, makes the magic of that laughter even more potent than normal.
  2. People who just get you are rare blessings. I’m so fortunate that I have both friends and colleagues who get me…and don’t flee screaming for the hills because of it. 😜
  3. A casual “you’re right and you’re awesome” from my boss after a particularly heated discussion over a quarter-end deal today was exactly what I needed to relieve the weight of always having to be the adult in the room among sales guys vying to give away the farm so they get their commissions.
  4. Someone I respect and admire told me publicly that it’s ok to prioritize my emotional and mental safety over the loud and insistent calls for bravery and social activism. I have been doing so anyway. But having someone validate your needs, tacitly refuting the implication that being fragile in the face of the uproar is inexcusable weakness, is a gift beyond measure.
  5. I’m not necessarily proud of this one, but I admit that one particularly twisted and tarnished silver lining I’ve enjoyed this week is the smug satisfaction I get when a well articulated argument, laced with snark so dry and stealthy as to be confused with courtesy, sails high over a mark’s head but is recognized by everyone else witnessing it as the devastating smack-down it was intended to be. Sometimes it’s nice having a huge vocabulary and a wickedly sharp sense of sarcastic justice.

Dark Day

I can’t and won’t get into the details of what makes this sunny, warm, beautiful, Summer Friday a grim, dark day. Suffice to say my company hit a wall in dealing with an important legal matter today, and the mood among the executives is bleak. I’m fairly confident that my job won’t be impacted and that the company will definitely recover. But it’s a high stress day on top of a high stress week that followed a high stress month. This is the Monday-iest Friday I’ve had in a very long time. Hence my need to get it out of my brain and off my chest. 

The interesting thing (I can’t yet say “good thing” about any part of today) is the spectrum of reactions to the news among the leaders who know. It doesn’t seem to have had the same effect on everyone, and I m not entirely clear why that is. Some seem to have immediately soaked it in and shrugged it off. Others aren’t certain what the appropriate response is. Still others have had a fairly predictable response. 

Whatever the reaction has been from person to person, the prevailing theme is disbelief or, maybe more precisely dismay, rather than anger. I’m thankful for that. While there palpably is anger, people are still simply trying to make some sense of it before letting anger drive action. That seems a healthier pattern than I expected, I guess. 

Maybe that just shows I’ve misjudged some people. But I won’t lie: I went to my boss’ office this morning after receiving the result with the full expectation of having to ride out a wave of blinding rage. Not directed at me. I know I’m blameless in this and he is fully aware of that. But I am often his sounding board and confidante. He vents to me when he can’t say what he needs to say to others. So, I expected red-faced, fuming, barking anger. Instead, it was sneering contempt and disgust, with a side of simmering anger held in reserve. That’s something, I suppose…personal growth? Or maybe just resigned acceptance. Either way, I’m glad there’s been no shouting. 

Now, all that’s left is to pick up and move on. In the biggest picture, this will be a mere hiccup. In the near-term big picture, it’s a dark mark on a year that was poised to be shining and victorious. I hope we have the leadership and fortitude to refuse to let it be a roadblock for our success. 

In the immediate, small picture that only matters to me, it just totally blows and I can’t wait for this day to end. 

The Truth Is…

I’ve been going through a period of high stress and anxiety. This often leads to a sort of recurring loop of introspection, dissatisfaction and writing.

Lather, rinse, repeat.

Sometimes the pattern is cathartic and the cycle breaks about the same time as the stress eases. This makes it difficult to determine cause and effect, or if the two conditions are even related. But my analytical mind says that even if not causally linked, the correlation is strong enough to warrant special attention.

So, lately, I’ve been trying hard to keep a part of my mind open and detached as I view the various aspects of my life and immediate circumstances. I’ve tried to simply catalog the stress, the events, the anomalies and my reactions to them. Tried to be objective and non-judgmental as I view what’s happening.

But the truth is that I can’t be objective about myself. I think that’s the very definition of subjectivity. No matter how good I may be at compartmentalizing different parts of my day, my thoughts, my responses, I am still the ultimate insider to these events and fundamentally subject to the emotions and physical responses to the stresses and occurrences.

The frustrating thing about that is that I don’t have a solution. If I can’t objectively respond to the stress, examine my circumstances or design a plan to cope with it myself, then the obvious answer is to get outside help. Yet, that would require a whole lot of vulnerability and trust. And let’s face it, that’s just another load of stress.

Again, the truth is that I have no unique, Earth-shattering, monumental problems. I have mundane, run-of-the-mill, everyone-has-them type of stresses and anxieties. I’ve got a huge responsibility at work in a high-pressure environment. I have a loving family, who nevertheless have very high expectations of me and who rely heavily on me in many ways. The love of my life lives 9,000 miles and 17 hours (currently) away from me. I’m a non-binary, gender nonconforming person who is, apparently, an enigma to many of the people I work with, causing their confusion and fear to sometimes translate into pressure and strife on top of the already high demands of my job. And I constantly labor under people’s false assumptions about me, my personality, my attitude and potential for violence, due to the strange synergy of my ethnicity, gender presentation and size.

All these are problems that thousands of people deal with every day and none are insurmountable or irresolvable. They’re nothing in comparison to the tragedies and sorrows that queer people in other countries have to deal with. They’re nothing like as horrible as freedom fighters and activists are facing in Ferguson, in the Middle East, in Uganda, in Russia and other countries. I at least am free, reasonably safe in my home city, comfortable in my home, and blessed with home and family and plenty.

So what am I belly aching about? Why should my little troubles cause so much bother?

The truth? Because I can’t think my way out of them. That’s what’s really sticking in my throat.

These are ordinary situations that should be susceptible to logic and reason. Those are tools I’ve prided myself on developing and using well. Yet here I am, stymied.

So why am I even writing about it? Back to the cycle: I’ve looked into myself and am dissatisfied with the inability to be objective and fix it, so I write, chasing that elusive catharsis and, possibly, an epiphany. I’m hoping that the process of writing out the futility will unlock some line of thought or reasoning that will lead to a solution.

So far, I got nothing.

From the gut

Stretched. Pressured. Burdened. Constrained. Laboring under expectation. Pulled in every direction. In demand. Responsible. Needled. Tightly wound. Everything is too loud, too bright, too demanding. Swirling. Dizzy. Confused. Irritated. Annoyed. Anxious. Unsettled. On edge.

These are some of the things I’m feeling right now.

“Why” doesn’t matter. “How to fix it” isn’t the aim of this post. Sometimes you just need to say some things “out loud” (as it were), to take away their power by admitting that they exist.

My life is good, blessed, full to the brim with great things–love, family, friends, health, plenty, to name a few. But, like all of us, I have challenges, obstacles, stressors in my life. From time to time, I get to a point where the stressors swamp my brain’s ability to balance them against the always more numerous blessings in my life.

That’s when I begin to feel too much. Noise and light and smells and people’s voices and insignificant irritations (wind, dust, cold, scratchy clothing, inane remarks, intelligence-insulting tv commercials, etc.) all become needles that prick at my skin and psyche and sense of equilibrium until something breaks. It’s usually my temper and it’s usually at the least significant thing.

Most times that breaking of temper manifests in me shouting or throwing something in the solitude of my car or office or bedroom. Aside from the occasional snapping at a sales guy or speaking more sharply than I intend in making a point, I am usually pretty good at not taking my temper out on others, especially innocents. But the irrational temper tantrums nevertheless happen.

They shame me. I despise that loss of control. Worse is if someone does get an unintended blast of that temper; I’m doubly ashamed of the lapse and the unwarranted discomfort inflicted on the innocent. So I actively suppress my emotions and consciously control my reactions. But I don’t always succeed.

There’s no neat and tidy resolution to this post or the conditions I’ve described. Taking time to be silent and solitary is rarely possible as, like most of us, there are people who depend on me and who need my time and attention. Sleeping more is a pipe dream for the same reasons. Vacation, travel, spa days, all suffer the same shortcomings: time, money, competing priorities. And drink and drugs (of all kinds) are out of the question for me.

So, this is my stop-gap, to vent my frustrations into the ether via this blog. I’ll survive and get past the fug of this bout of stress-induced meh. It does help to just say it to another person, to know that there’s at least one other soul in the universe who knows that a struggle is happening, even if no one can do anything about it.

Therefore, consider this my confession to the sisterhood of unresolved frustration: I’m irritated and fighting to not let it rule me, even if the irrational 2 year old in my head is screaming to throw all the things in reach and take temporary satisfaction from the shattering.

Butch hissy-fits aren’t pretty

I haven’t blogged in a long time. Tons of good reasons and even more excuses as to why. But now is not the time to get into all of that. There are things banging around inside of me that need to get said, explored, examined, tested & debunked. Again, though, this isn’t that post.

Actually, at nearly midnight on a weeknight, when I should be resting for another long, challenging workday ahead, I shouldn’t be blogging at all. Rest & recharging should be my priority. I’m instead lying in the dark fuming about something I shouldn’t even be upset about.

My bed was stripped & linens washed without warning while I was at work. I didn’t see it before I went to get ready for bed and had to scramble, at 11 o’clock at night, to find bedding & make the bed.

Yeah, I know: lucky you to have someone do something so thoughtful, so what’re you complaining about?

I’ve railed and ranted inside my head about why this pisses me off. I’ve internally lived out the most likely discussion that would occur should I address this irrationally irksome situation to my well-loved family member who precipitated my thoroughly bad humor. And I’ve had a stern, frank, bracing argument with my inner-complainer about why this is not the battle to pick and how trivial and unworthy of my energy this issue is.

Yet, here I sit. I’m still ticked off that this stupid thing happened. I’m still baffled at the rudeness and presumption I feel has been shown by someone I never expected had the capacity for such carelessness. And now I’m also ashamed at myself for feeling so strongly about something so minor, insignificant and, in all likelihood, unintentional.

Honestly, how was she to know that her helpfulness would so thoroughly piss me off?

So what’s my real problem? I miss my Lulu so badly that suddenly losing the scent of her hair on the pillowcase stabs at my heart so painfully that it’s either rage or bawl like a baby. Neither is a rational, sane, mature adult response to so small a thing. Yet that’s where I am.

I know that it had to happen eventually. I was planning to clean up the room, do laundry & all the rest of my neglected chores this weekend. But I’d also planned to hang onto that pillowcase for a little while longer. And now that I don’t have that option, or the scent of her hair to fall asleep with, I’ve lost a bit of my grip on rationality.

Sometimes being a strong butch really bites.

A Lament (because venting prevents violence)

Gut-boiling, teeth-grinding, head-pounding anger is something I try to avoid at all costs.  It is impotent to resolve its cause and damaging on so many levels.  Ordinarily, I much prefer reasoned argument, persuasion, logic, compassion and active listening.  These things present better opportunities for peaceful, equitable resolution.  They are tools with purpose and utility, where blind rage and seething indignation is useless.

However, there are those times, thankfully rare in my life, when my sensibilities are so outraged, my logic and intelligence so affronted and my sense of justice so injured that such anger is the only response available to me.  Active, purposeful efforts to control emotion, maintain objectivity and professional decorum are unavailing against an avalanche of injustice.

This week has been full to bursting with professional injustices that have me overwrought.  I am so disappointed in the lack of leadership and support from my boss, a colleague I’ve so long respected and admired. This, I think, is the greatest blow of all that have fallen this week, that his heretofore unassailable logic, intelligence, professionalism, fairness and personal integrity are utterly absent. I expected to rely on him to provide guidance and a calming influence in this struggle, while supporting me and the decisions I have to make to manage my team. That is the role and duty of a senior executive. I have never before doubted his leadership and it is a bitter, burning disappointment to find cause to doubt in the midst of a storm.  I am angry…and sad…and frustrated that the vacuum of personal integrity of certain business leaders is condemning me and my team to a Sisyphean labor of futility.

Positivity and hopefulness have never felt so out of reach.

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