My kingdom for some confidence
I am seriously screwed.
Work has weighed heavy on my mind this past week (even before the daughter debacle of '12). The director resigned suddenly 2 weeks ago, and I am going through some PTSD from the time I started at the publishing company and my boss quit 6 months after I started and forgot to tell me. Everyone took their hatred and frustration of her out on me and life was not pleasant until someone offered to be my supervisor, ensuring my employment. I had been a confident, assertive, outspoken, positive, loud teacher for 7 years prior to that and had to give up that profession for my (a) daughter and (b) sanity. As the yearbook sponsor, I attended everything (to make sure my staffers were there to wrote copy or snap pictures). I was involved in the union and had an air of confidence about me. (With teenagers, you can't let 'em see ya sweat!)
After leaving teaching, I went into publishing for more flexible hours. After 18 yrs in the industry, I felt I had a handle on things, held myself with professionalism and confidence, ran meetings, arranged receptions for hundreds of doctors, traveled to medical meetings, organized books with 300+ chapters and the same amount of contributors. I was a deadline machine. (One author referred to me as Dances with Deadlines.) I loved my job and the confidence that came with it, and the doctors never knew if I lacked confidence because I never let them see me sweat. If you ask them today, any one of them would tell you I was in total control of their projects and they appreciated my confidence. I was quite a force at church with my hands in every details, lector, Sunday school teacher, choir, welcoming committee, communications committee. You name it, I was at church as much as I was at home. I was a whirlwind. At the same time I was raising 2 daughters who adored me and respected me and were aware of my omnipresence. I had learned my job well when it came to teenagers never seeing you sweat.
And then 2003 happened. I was laid off from the aforementioned publishing position. I had no idea the implications. I interviewed for a few jobs at the company before I left but nothing happened. In the next year I had a handful of interviews at the company and we (my peeps and I) could not figure out why I wasn't being hired with 18 yrs of experience. I marked it up to being too expensive when they could hire a college grad for next to nothing. But after a year of futility we discovered I had been black balled by one of the vice president, a woman I had absolutely no association with in my time there. The only thing we could figure out was a conversation I had with her in the vending room when my daughter had gotten invited into a sorority... and her daughter didn't. Of course, I didn't know it at the time nor did I know she didn't get into mommy's sorority (double whammy). From that, she directed everyone NOT to hire me. Unbefuckinglievable. Next followed 2 1/2 painful years of freelancing and applying for jobs with nothing coming to fruition. Finally, in '05 I was hired as an administrative assistant. I made half my previous salary and had benefits and no real responsibility. I sored into the moderate level of Sudoku.
During those 2 yrs of unemployment, I was demoralized, humiliated, bored, lonely and abandoned. My ex gave me no support, comfort, confidence, help, perspective. None of the things I had given him over his many voyages into unemployment over the years. (And there were A LOT.) Somewhere along the line, I must have been to confident and intimidating that my ex never touched me, had sex with me, noticed me, wanted to be with me, but he also wouldn't move out. By 2006 he had spent the year working out of town and I liked being alone. And I was tired of being ignored and taken for granted so I got the nerve up to leave him. However I knew I couldn't afford to do so in the big city and opted to move to the college town where my daughters lived. Within 2 months I got a kickass job teaching sex ed where I learned how to talk to teenagers in jail, rehab, and detention about every aspects of sexual health. Talk about having confidence and never letting 'em see ya sweat!!! Within 4 months I fell madly in love with the love of my life. 2007 was the year of my lifetime. I was as high as any one human can be. Confident, assured, happy, in love, vibrant, and did I mention happy?
2008 brought an end to the relationship. It seems the love of my life was a functioning alcoholic who loved to verbally abuse me every time I visited. Before that, I was confident that I would move to the east coast to be with him one day and start a new life. But bit by bit, he chiseled away at my confidence and literally made me shake in my boots. He sailed and I didn't swim. So I took swimming lessons for this man (as my fan club already remembers). I lost 60 lbs and owned the world, but there were many memories of being scared to death of this man, and deep inside, I knew it had to end. Which it did. I was so devastated that I had to quit my job and move back to St. Louis when my lease ran out and rest up at my sister's place for 3 months. I could barely get off the couch. My world had crashed in. If you've been here long, you remember all too well the Fall of '08.
I found a job back at the university and returned to the college town to start all over. Joined a choir. Thus started the next 3 years of employment hell. I had 2 jobs at the university that reduced me to a puddle of whimpering fears. I had the distinct pleasure of working with an absolute sociopath who came and went as he pleased while I answered his phone and did his crap jobs while he reduced me to tears on a daily basis. It was so bad that after 6 months, my boss couldn't even give me a performance review because he never bothered to train me! A day before my boss retired she finally reviewed me after working there for 18 months and gave me a mediocre on all points. I was laid off 3 weeks later when I came back after my daughter's wedding. I was devastated and could barely lift my head off my bed for weeks. Next came the worst job I have ever endured, back at the university, as an administrative assistant again. After 4 months I was told I was skating on thin ice because I asked too many questions. WTF?? Could it be because they never trained me or told me what to do??? After 7 months I was fired for helping a student. I dragged my humiliated body back to my condo and took to my bed, sobbing in the dark for months. I will admit I considered not waking up but (a) promised a friend I would call him if I wanted to hurt myself and (b) thought of my daughters at every twist and turn as a reason to hang on. While I did see a lawyer to consider filing a lawsuit (the most assertive thing I did in the 17 weeks I was unemployed), in the end, I did not handle this latest session of unemployment well at all.
At the same time I was in a relationship with a man for 3 years that I knew should have ended after 5 months, but it took me 3 yrs to get rid of him. Seriously, folks, why does it take that long to get rid of another functioning alcoholic who is no good for me? Am I a magnet for people who take advantage of me and my sweet nature? I could never be mean to him and tell him to hit the floor running because I would not be #2 to alcohol. I was a chickenshit through most of that relationship and am so relieved that I finally got rid of him. (He recently e-mailed me that he has found someone else. Even HE has more confidence than I do!!)
That brings us to this current job. While it does not have benefits, it is a good job that I enjoy with people I really like. After 2 months the director informed me that we should meet once a month to talk about... ME. What a concept. In all the years I have outlined above, not one person, supervisor, dept head, manager, had ever pulled me aside, and said, "Let's talk." I was overwhelmed with joy and fear. Finally, at 54, I was going to have a mentor. I resented all my past supervisors in every job and career for not developing my business sense, my organizational skills, my understanding of the way I function. In that session she explained things that I had been too scared to ask about in team meetings. (Remember the aforementioned job that chastised me for asking questions???) Over the past 8 years I had learned to keep quiet, never speak up, have no opinion, assume you know what's going on and scramble afterwards, take notes. And all of a sudden I am encouraged to ask questions, speak up, be noticed, know what everyone's job was so I could be an authority on the company. It's enough to take my breath away every time I think about it.
Today I was asked to attend a meeting with the company. When we got the announcement that the director had resigned, one of my first thoughts was "I bet they ask me to replace her at the meeting coming up." But along with the invitation to take part in this critically important, terribly hectic meeting came "grave reservations" as to my confidence level. The new director does not want to see a "shrinking violet" with these doctors. They do not want a secretary taking notes and staying quiet. Oh crap, 9 years of learning my place down the drain. I am scared shitless. I do not have a confident bone left in my body and fear her "grave concerns" are justified. I am not who I once was. I have been stepped on, spit on, stolen from, crushed, hurt, torn to shreds, left to rot, pummeled with bad luck, hard luck, no luck. How does one come back from that? I'm asking you, seriously, how to I become the old me in a matter of 2 weeks and not let 'em see me sweat?
I am definitely a shell of my former self. If you knew me 20 yrs ago, the me you would describe is not the me I am now. Clinical depression and life's curveballs have really thrown me for a loop in the confidence department. Most weekends, I sit in my dark apartment. I never socialize, don't attend church, rarely go out with my children, avoid relationships, can't tell my kids what I think or feel so I don't burden them, don't go to the movies. Who am I? I don't even recognize myself from the woman I was prior to 2003.
I'm sweating as I type this. How do I get through the past to get over the past and enjoy the present?