Safety First…

In response to the Daily Post, “Safety First”, Share the story of a time you felt unsafe.

I have felt unsafe on many occasions in my life, mostly due to feel mentally and emotionally unsafe in response to the people around me. This caused by being around people that I can’t trust or can’t relax around.

courtesy of clipart/jonata
courtesy of clipart/jonata

I understand that I cannot control others’, nor their actions and expressions, but I can control with whom I allow myself to interact except for while I am at work. I limit contact with people who are erratic, narcissistic, and those who do not value me or Boyfriend. This is one of many reasons I sought out and accepted a new job almost two months ago. I could not trust the people with whom I worked and had to depend upon over the past two years, as workers and as people. You can tell when someone is phony and/or untrustworthy when they smile at you and then stop/start talking to someone else as you leave/enter a room. Or when they only engage you to get information for their benefit, but not for the sake of conversation. You can tell that someone only talked to you and appreciated your “friendship” when you were both in frequently proximity, but you don’t hear from them when you no longer see each other at the office.

courtesy of clipart/doctormo
courtesy of clipart/doctormo

I felt unsafe, rather vulnerable, often as a child and teenager because I was teased and had few friends. The friends I had were also people who were teased or had few friends, and would sometimes leave me for other friends with parents that were more lenient with their rules or bought the newest, coolest gadgets.  I rarely felt physically unsafe but the stress and emotional strain was not easy to deal with for years and years, and I was outnumbered, which I was lucky to not have been physically threatened. As an adult, I try to pull from the lessons these experiences taught me, especially to be myself and to seek out people who are respectful and accepting of me and my uniqueness. You don’t have to agree with me but be open to new ideas. I would rather have a small circle of people I can trust than a large circle of people who I call into question. It’s best to be safe than sorry!

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At a loss…

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Helpless.”

I can handle myself, in my humble opinion, and I have stood up for myself on many occasions in my life and in my career. You learn how to do that growing up and working in Chicago. I am usually a problem-solver and I have learned how to handle difficult, angry, sometimes psychotic, somewhat hostile people, coming out physically unscathed, though often mentally exhausted.

Helpless, I am not. At a loss for words or actions, yes,  especially when dealing with people while on an uneven playing field. This happens when I am dealing with narcissists, people with stubborn and/or irrational thoughts (who may or may not be family), and people who receive the perks of favoritism and a friendly relationship with authority. In this case, you just learn to cut your losses and keep your mouth shut if possible. The words will either fall on deaf ears or blow up in your face. You are going to get trouble if you try to fight fair with a dirty fighter. It can be best to wait until others see the truth on their own, in the right “AHA!” moment.

Take it from me, you will not get into the heart or mind of someone stubborn or set in their ways anymore than you will someone who is intoxicated or intent on not seeing the truth.  Some people, especially in a work environment, are willing to take drama  from someone who always has something to say, jumps up first, and then wears him/herself out to play hero so they can keep doing what they want. in other words, they get the job down but create drama along the way that is brushed off onto someone else. I have worked with someone like this. She volunteers for everything, gets overexerted, has to take time off because she gets sick/kid gets sick/something came up/etc., asks you to cover and then takes credit later, possibly throwing you or someone else under the bus for the accolades.

I realize that when you work with a group, not everyone will view life through the same lens. You will agree on some things and disagree on others. You will learn what to leave out of pleasant conversation at lunch so you don’t offend anyone, as I have, though it’s perfectly ok to offend me.  I don’t expect that everyone will like me, or even get a long with me, however, I expect you to engage me in a bit of conversation if I am sitting at the table with you and another person. No one should feel like they are not at the table, or that they are observing strangers, as I have will at lunch with colleagues.

courtesy of quotesthoughts.com
courtesy of quotesthoughts.com

Rather than feeling helpless, or more like at a disadvantage, I try not put myself in that situation again. I do my work, I will speak to this person through email/text, and I will avoid any chance for phoniness that is not required by the department.  Funny thing is that I have been an advocate for youth and adults for years, teaching them how to be assertive and how to advocate for their needs. Yes, you should stand up for yourself, especially against blatant injustice, violence, mental anguish and other varieties. You should protect your body, mind, property, and self-respect.

Sometimes protecting your pocket trumps your self-respect until you can find another place to fill your pocket. I tried to be open with a boss earlier in my career when she asked my opinion and encouraged me to express concern. This lead to me receiving a memo the next day asking me to decide if I wanted to remain employed with that agency. When I stated that I did, I was told that my decision would be considered… so much for open and honest communication. My legitimate safety concerns were held against me, so I left. Fortunately, this was at a time when I had few financial responsibilities. Your best option might be finding the right person to advocate for you, or both of you, maybe a person with some authority or opportunity to put a bug in the right ear.

What are your suggestions for dealing with a difficult co-worker, someone with a “hero” complex, or someone who charms people and takes advantage of it?

© 2015 blogdaysofchrell

Recovering From The Chaos…

The past few weeks have been… interesting.

First, I had the long-awaited visit from my mother and my aunt, which went well for the most part. My mother and my aunt are the middle and youngest children, respectively, and they are very different in their opinions. Yet, they are both very talkative and competitive of each other, but neither would admit to this. Both women are in their mid-to-late 60’s , overweight, and they love me dearly. I was glad to see my mother and my aunt, but I  was disappointed when my mother became somewhat jealous of me and my aunt talking, as I enjoyed hearing stories about my uncle and eight cousins that I had not previously heard. My mother would interrupt, add to the conversation in ways that didn’t may sense and would throw zingers at both me and my aunt, which Boyfriend witnessed, rather than telling us how she really felt. There were even moments when my mother channeled my father’s impatience, disagreeableness and negativity, which surprised me. Boyfriend and I tried to plan a few things to do and places to go that would allow us all to spend time together, see some sights and eat good food.  The high points, for me, were their appreciate for Boyfriend and for his patience, good nature and how good he is to me, and learning about my family. The low points were two arguments with my mother because she said I was being negative.  To me, sometimes an apple is just an apple, not the most beautiful, tasty red apple ever! All I did was share my account of an event, so I walked away for a few minutes to collect myself, and the second time, when I actually told her how I felt, and she threw a fit in front of the Texas State Capital because I was being real rather than in the clouds. I love both of my parents but I continue to have trouble with the fact that they take it personally if I happen to agree with the other parent on something about which they disagree. Thank God for my aunt, who was not only understanding but able to somewhat mediate and salvage the day. Overall, it was nice to see my mother and my aunt after not being home to see the family for almost two years, and it felt good to share some of my life in Texas with them. My mother and I have talked since, and I think we now having a better understanding of each other.

Next, Boyfriend starts getting calls from relatives about his mother and some problems caused by his older brother. His mother and brother, as mentioned in a previous post, are both narcissists, and are enemies and best friends depending on the day. Boyfriend limits contact with both of them but did talk to his mother for her birthday (in March), Easter and Mother’s Day. The calls from relatives came somewhere in between, and culminated in Boyfriend’s decision to fly home for a few days to see for himself about his mother’s health and the accusations about his brother’s, um, shenanigans. The stories changed a little once Boyfriend started investigating and he found out the truth, which he already suspected. Let’s just say that, due to my dealings with these people over 12 years, I have much respect and admiration for Boyfriend being courageous enough to ask tough questions and stand up for himself in the presence of a women who does not deserve the title of mother due to her blatant favoritism, manipulation and standard  narcissist behavior, and he still put a plan in place for his mother to be cared for and helped. I don’t think I could have done it, but Boyfriend is the strongest person I know.

This has been a lot of stress on both of us. Then, there is work. Boyfriend started a new job about two weeks ago, and they were kind enough to allow him the time to go home. I had several days off recently while preparing for and during my family visit, and I have felt emotionally drained from everything.  While I am grateful to have a job, but it has its own set of challenges. Working as somewhat of a team has it perks and its drawbacks. Sometimes it is nice to have someone there to help with complicated cases but you don’t get to make decisions on your own, and you have to do what the team agrees with. Also, it is tough when each person has a different relationship with the boss, and there is some favoritism from time to time. I realize that I have not handled my stress the best as of late, but it makes things even tougher when you don’t get the same benefit of the doubt or the same information as others do. I know I must do better and work harder, and accept things as they are.

While it has been hard for Boyfriend to be gone due to concerns about how he would be treated by his family, I am glad to hear that he gained support from a few surprising sources. I hope that, in between his chaos, he got a little time to himself that is hard to get living in a 650 square foot apartment with me and the Cat, and I was glad to get a little time to recover from my chaos by talking on the phone to family and watching a few favorite movies, You’ve Got Mail and keeping the Faith. The best recovery for me, though, will be picking Boyfriend up from the airport tonight.

© 2015 blogdaysofchrell