What I can control and what I cannot…

I work with a very “group-oriented”, social services department. I realize that I work in a “person-centered field” and that collaboration and brainstorming with co-workers comes with the territory. I know that it takes discussion to continue developing a relatively new program composed of several moving parts, and I also know that, in general, I am always very different from everyone else… with whom I work and otherwise.

courtesy of Lazur URH
courtesy of Lazur URH

After several years in a job that allowed me to self-schedule half of my workweek, gave me daily opportunities to make my own decisions, and afforded me the option to complete paperwork in an office full of people or in a quiet library between appointments while dressed in normal clothing, I am still adjusting to the constant group-think, public declaration of personal goals, people having to express their offense and displeasure with life as it crosses their path, provided that you agree with them. It isn’t just that I have a different upbringing, or that I have different political views (which I have learned not to express so as not to offend anyone), it is partially that I am more introverted than most of the group. I like time to myself to work, think, re-charge after a stressful case. I need breaks so I can come back to something when I am ready. I like to be able to get lunch on my own to read or write for a few minutes, but I can’t do that here without having to make up the time.  That is not how it works at most jobs, but it is definitely not how it works when you wear a uniform, drive a marked vehicle, your work is tracked and you, specifically, have to answer questions about how you spend your time while other stop off to run personal errands, spend their time on Facebook, and take many personal calls.

courtesy of Palomaironique

Our new fiscal year is coming up, and the boss decided that we should discuss our program goals and individual goals recently during our weekly meeting. In my opinion, your personal professional goals would be better discussed during your upcoming employment review. I felt put on the spot when answering this question, especially being next to last, and due to previous conversations regarding my time management, my commitment, my interest in the job, and why I needed clarification on different policies/protocols after almost two years. I feel that we are all good, hardworking people, but I don’t trust everyone and I believe that some co-workers have an agenda. This means that you get shown up when they have the opportunity, and you may just get thrown under the bus. This means that some people get to ask questions but they can be annoyed when you ask, and they get special recognition for being perky and outgoing, even though it causes chaos at times. I still have a hard time forgetting that one of these people accused me of making a “racist” statement, which was judged so based on their own ignorance.  I was asked to justify a vague reference to something I might have said but was not allowed to know what I said or who was accusing me. I had to apologize for what I may have said and for my poor joking skills, explain that I have always had diverse friends, and promise to be careful of what I say in the future. Mind you, these people would consider themselves open-minded, liberal people.

I know that I can only control myself, my actions,  and my attitude. I have no control over others’ attitudes, actions, agendas, or how the wind is blowing. I am who I am and I can only be me to the best of my ability. I have done the best I can to adapt to circumstances I cannot change and cannot communicate because people see what they want to see and they ignore what is not advantageous to see.  I am trying to cope the best I can and do what I can to manage my stress, but would welcome feedback and suggestions. Any thoughts?

© 2015 blogdaysofchrell

Families are Complicated

CHGO sign 05-25-13Families are complicated. Mine, as well as my Boyfriend’s family are no different. I love my parents and my brother as individuals, though it can get complicated when you get us all together and add my parents’ dog to the mix.  When we are together too long (sometimes more than an hour), it doesn’t always end well. Poor Boyfriend has witnessed more than a few tense moments due to conversations about politics, sports or misunderstandings between my parents about who should have wrapped which gift. Visits or phone calls usually go better one-on-one with Mom or Dad or Brother because it is easier to tailor the interaction to the person but that doesn’t work for holidays. I try to hold on to as many good memories as I can, yet sometimes the less than pleasant memories hold on, too.

Boyfriend and I have not gone home since summer 2013, when we moved from the Chicago area to the Great State of Texas. I am feeling a little excited though mostly cautious, not only about the 20+ hour drive each way with our beloved cat, but also the complexities of visiting my family and extended family, staying with Boyfriend’s family, and attempting to connect with old friends. It will be an interesting week of social exchanges, though I’m sure the week will not be without challenges. A positive is that my Brother is bringing his girlfriend home for Christmas, and he is usually the diplomat who tries to get everyone to get along.

The key to a successful week of visits and co-existing, I think, will be to have a plan of what we want to do and with whom, keeping in mind that I may not see my family for a while and that nobody is going to change just because we left. In other words, I will have to pack the patience and have one expectation – that Boyfriend and I will spend time with our families, good or otherwise. I am hopeful, always hopeful, that both families will accept this as a chance to enjoy our company for Christmas, especially after a year of holidays that we missed. I hope we can laugh and talk and just be people: no power struggles, you did this, he did that, how come you haven’t called, and he’s your only brother, blah, blah, blah. I will try to stay in the now without writing a narrative of what should happen, and I will review my coping skills because I will certainly need them.

Deciding to take this trip was not easy for us, due to our past success rate at holidays and the real possibility of snow and ice in the forecast. I know that I can only control me and that I have no control over others, especially those who hide ugly statements in jokes, give you back-handed compliments and smile while saying that you don’t get her humor, even with the proverbial knife in your back. I also have no control over passive-aggressiveness doing battle with intermittent explosive disorder and selective Tourette’s syndrome. I have no control over the weather either.  Life, however, is short. People get older, time keeps going and regrets are a heavy burden to bear. At least our beloved Cat will on the journey with us to offer comfort and love along the way.

© blogdaysofchrell 2014