I had a pretty great morning lined up with a mentor meeting followed by lunch with a friend. The morning was still great, but it was a bit disrupted by an email I received regarding a former project. The person claimed that a document amendment process had not been followed correctly and did I have a copy of the document that was supposed to have been used for the formal adoption?
Nope. That would have been your job or the attorney’s job…yes? This person was not my client, they are part of an ongoing sabotage attempt against my client, and apparently forgot who works for who in this situation…and who is good and who is not good at their job. I called my client to check for any back story information before I responded, then went on with my plans.
I checked into the paper trail when I got back to my office and found that this person was incorrect, procedure had been correctly followed and they were only reading the new rules, not the old rules. Old rules didn’t have that requirement (which is why I wrote it in for the new rules) so this hunt for non-existent paperwork was unnecessary.
Which this person would have know if they had done their job correctly. They have every file and document that I have. I know this, because I delivered it to them myself.
Anxiety – the heart-racing, curl up and vomit kind – hit as soon as I sent my brief response referencing the relevant document sections.
One of the reasons I now work for myself is that I spent about ten years working for people who were abusive and who constantly discredited my abilities and my knowledge. It may have pushed me to be really good at what I do, but it left some scars – one of which is clearly my PTSD response when my work abilities are questioned without merit.
I’m gonna go meditate now…and hope my heart rate strap arrives soon…
I think sometimes the best way to set yourself up to not be a target for toxic people is to decline to answer the phone again. If a conversation goes the same way twice, it isn’t going to go differently a third time.
For the decade or so of my career before I started a company, I worked for companies that had abusive work cultures. I didn’t know it could be different, and I had been raised to not be a problem and not think my needs were important. I had a boss that would goof off all day, then make my work partner and I stay 2-3 hours late so that he felt like he was getting something done. We had already been working all day and had gotten our work done, so we were pretty resentful, and him taking us out to lunch once or twice a month did nothing to make up for his horrible management style and how hard I had to work to cover his mistakes.
I worked for two generations of ownership who all thought that as long as you were on salary you had to work as much as they wanted doing whatever they wanted. It was not out of the norm for me to miss lunch or to do something completely outside my job description, or to work 80-90 hours a week, once for three months straight. I missed holidays that I was owed per my position and HR refused to comp them when I could finally take the time off. My bosses were verbally abusive, more especially when I was trying to keep up out of legal trouble, and I was frequently given 4 hours to do a project that needed (and that most people would take) 2 weeks to do. The day I walked out of there on my own choice was one of the best moments of my life.
When I started a company, I brought all of the bad habits with me. I ignored my needs and a work style that fit me best and accommodated my business partner and my clients, not taking time to manage myself, my company and my work in a healthy and productive way. I felt like I was never doing enough, so I worked on projects and took very little time to work on the company.
That all stopped when I announced I was divorcing my business partner. That all stopped when I finally started doing what is best for me and the work that I love. I started taking more time to work on the company, getting template documents set up, getting my accounts the way they need to be set up and getting all of my files organized and cleaned up. I started putting down work when I was done for the day and not pushing myself to work more because I thought it (and I) wasn’t good enough or hadn’t done enough. I stopped answering my phone on weekends. I stopped saying I could do anything or that my clients could skirt all of the rules they didn’t like. I started building boundaries for the pro bono work I take on. I started setting boundaries for my schedule. I started acknowledging I have needs as a person that need to be met. I started investing in software training so that I can be better at my job.
I started doing my thing for me with my rules and my boundaries. And I’m so proud of myself when I look back at what I’ve overcome.
My experience with PTSD has included a lot of grief, which tends to be delayed in presenting itself for processing. If I’m stressed (most of the time), if I don’t feel safe (a lot of the time) or if I feel like I have to have my performance face on (also most of the time), my ability to grieve trauma isn’t there… until it is. Usually when I have other things to do, or find it inconvenient to have a tear – streaked face.
I had the weekend off. Actually off, as in no working and no grandma. I hiked, I napped, I went to church for the first time in a while, I slept… all supposedly restorative or restful things. So I was annoyed by increasingly severe anxiety this afternoon. I woke up with anxiety, it ramped up through the morning and after a four hour nap I couldn’t even make myself go to the store for some aloe gel for my sunburned shoulders.
I thought it was because I had to be back at grandma’s tonight, and I’m almost at my limit of being able to be pleasant while dealing with her situation. I get treated like a custodial parent, with a lot more worrying and nagging about how much money my family is spending (which, thankfully, we can afford, but she cannot, and she will not let up about it).
Grief hit me hard, and suddenly. I realized I was grieving for the relationship I lost when my forever turned abusive. The fingers my brother lost in an accident. I don’t even know what else… maybe the part of my brain I lost from the car wreck? I couldn’t stop crying.
And when I needed to sit with the grief and cry it out, I had to get in my car and get back to grandma’s for my shift, which has no space to grieve.
My life, interrupted has pushed off so much of what I need to do to heal, and I’m not that surprised it’s starting to bubble out at inconvenient moments. I wish it were easier to schedule, but trauma processing never is.