Safety and control

I’ve spent my entire life trying to obtain safety through control.  I always thought that if I could just get everything perfect, then everyone would be happy, and I would be safe.  I don’t know why I still believe this… it never worked when I was a child, and it doesn’t work now; but there’s some part of me who holds onto it for dear life.  There’s always the argument that I didn’t get things quite right last time, but this time, I will…  It will be so perfect, so seamless that no one will even notice me, and I’ll be safe.

Total and utter invisibility is always my goal.

One of the ways which I maintain my invisibility, is by working.  It allows me to pay my bills, and have the least amount of interaction with officials as possible.  It helps me to maintain a routine, and forces me to interact with people… So, for me, work is a positive in the overall scheme of things.  However, over the last year, it’s become less and less positive.  To the point where I realised earlier this week, that I hadn’t enjoyed anything about work for probably close to three years.

I should state, for the record, that I’m thankful for having a job – I know there are many people who don’t.  But, it’s now reached a point where my job is negatively effecting other parts of my life.  I could probably find a way through if the only problem were the workload issues, but it isn’t… I have a new team leader who doesn’t have any library experience, and appears to have little inclination to learn; and on Friday I was sexually harassed over the phone by a co-worker.

This combination of events means that work no longer feels safe.

My default reaction when something doesn’t feel safe, is to try to gain some semblance of control.  But here, I felt powerless… the phone call left me exposed emotionally, and the team leaders lack of knowledge makes me feel as if my skills are not valued within the organisation.  It feels like the rugs been pulled out from underneath me, and I have no idea how to regain my balance.

I’ve spent the weekend trying to get my balance back.  I’ve failed.  I’ve been rude to people who have tried to show me kindness, and gotten lost within a dissociative haze.  All I can think of, is that it feels like my coping mechanisms were fired out of a shotgun, and the pellets from the shot were spread far and wide… I’ve been running around here and there trying to fix things… but instead made bigger messes, and caused more hurt.  This, of course, triggers another round of self-loathing, and more shots to be fired…

I entered the weekend feeling unsafe and out of control… I leave it in much the same way.

Now playing: Hootie & The Blowfish – Let Her Cry
via FoxyTunes

14 thoughts on “Safety and control

  1. I’m so sorry that you’ve had such a rough weekend. I knew you were already struggling, and you certainly didn’t need anything else to add to your stress. I’m wondering if your workplace has policies regarding sexual harassment. Policies that are actually enforced, because I realize that there’s a big difference between having policies and having those policies enforced.

    I know that in the past, work has been somewhat of a coping tool for you, and now you must feel completely destabilized by the changes that have taken place, and even more destabilized through the inappropriate behavior of a coworker. I really hope something can by done about that. You *deserve* a safe work environment.

    The most important thing right now is for you to do whatever is necessary in order to feel safe again. I think February has been a tough month for you.

    I honestly believe that those of us who come here and care about you understand that you’re going through a rough patch, and we’ll respect and support you as you work to regain your balance.

    Take gentle care, CG…. and please know that I’m wishing you positive support and healing.

    ~ Mareeya

    • Hi Mareeya,

      There are workplace policies, but I’m also aware that this is an old boys club, and so those policies are fairly meaningless. The last time he harassed me, the person I told responded with something inappropriate to excuse his behaviour. It becomes my fault for not being part of our culture that thinks the jokes are funny.

      Thank you and take care,

  2. Hi CG, I am sorry everything feels so unsafe at the moment. It’s totally understandable you’ve used old strategies – control and perfectionism are two of my “favorites” as well. I hope it gets better, I really do. I wonder if it can, though, while ur still at ur current workplace? They’ve been giving me the sh**s for ages (because of their impact on you). Is it possible to find something else? As scary as that might sound, it could be a good option? ((warm safe hugs)) if wanted

    • Hi Kerro,

      Because so many of the problems are within me, I don’t know if changing jobs will do anything but transfer the problems to a new place. I’m not sure, will see…

      If only control and perfectionism worked… 🙂

      Take care,

  3. CG,

    I’m sorry. I understand this situation far too well. I let an emotionally abusive manager beat me down so far I essentially had a nervous breakdown. I ended up losing my job. I wish I found another job before I fell apart.

    On the one hand, I understand what you’re saying about the problems existing within us. I couldn’t stand up for myself. I just fell apart. But, what your co-worker is doing is wrong! No one -issues or no issues- should have to endure that sort of harassment.

    I wish I had an answer for you. I do know it is very important that you keep paying attention to how your job is affecting you.

    Please take care!

    • Hi rl,

      I’m so sorry that you went through such an awful experience. Some people shouldn’t be allowed within management positions, and it sounds like your former boss was one of those people. It’s awful that you lost your job because of the abuse.

      While I know what you’re saying that no one should put up with abuse; I also know that some people would have seen what he said as harmless banter. I didn’t tell him to stop, I just avoided answering the questions and tried to steer the conversation back to work. I talked about it with Allison today, and she said that the part that I remember clearly, was sexual harassment. I know the conversation went on from that point, but I dissociated and have little memory of it.

      I don’t know what I’ll do about it at this point. I know that I should report it… isn’t that what responsible citizens do? I just don’t know if I have the ability to do so.

      Take care,

  4. I am sorry to hear things are not going well for you and work is being difficult rather than a safe place.

    You will know the situation better than I do, but don’t be afraid to move on if people are making things unsafe for you. Even if you have your own problems others don’t have to make it worse either directly by harassment or indirectly by not helping.

    I hope this year gets better for you. Take care and look after yourself

  5. I can only echo the sentiments already stated here. Strangely the last time I was employed by the library, it was also a boy’s club. My boss was too casual and inappropriate and one of the men in a higher position yelled at me in front of everyone so badly that I had to run off to the restroom to cry. Yes me, I cried, it was that bad.

    I do recognize that today, the person I am now, wouldn’t take that crap off of him BUT it’s different when you’re in it and you have to work there so please don’t think I’m simplifying it because I’m not. I don’t work anymore so my point of view is *very* easy and I know it.

    I just wanted you to now that I understand that’s all.

    • Hi CI,

      I’m so sorry that you were subjected to such unprofessional, and abusive behaviour. I’m really glad you’re not in that situation anymore; and know that you would stand up for yourself, should it happen again. That’s a huge sign of your healing progress 🙂

      Take care,

  6. This is rough; I am sorry you’ve been treated like this. I hope you find some support from those in management. A clueless manager and abusive coworker … these shouldn’t be your responsibility.

    • Hi Eliza,

      Thanks… I sadly think that this is the reality in many workplaces. Despite awareness courses, and the like; there is still a part of culture out there which encourages this sort of behaviour. I know it comes from a certain part of the drinking, pub-going, rugby based culture – part of the springboard for the harassment was the start of the rugby season over here.

      Take care,

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