Happy Foto Friday, Everyone! Today we continue the series of photos taken while my husband and I were on a cruise of the Mediterranean. These were photos taken during our day trip to the south of France where we toured Eze and Nice.
I’ve posted a lot about my job. Earlier this year, I had to conduct my annual self evaluation, which factors into my salary increase for the year. I’m required to rank my performance across institutional metrics and submit the justification to my boss and human resources for their input. If the agree with my responses, my boss will submit the requested increase in salary which will be approved that fall.
I struggled this year. I wanted to write an honest evaluation, one that called out the conflict I have with another colleague. I wanted to explain why my attitude has declined because of her behavior. I wanted to explain that I’m a nice person who works hard, but that I’ve been saddled with this woman who was, in my opinion, dangerous. Not in the violent sense, mind you, but in the ruining people’s careers and livelihoods because she feels justified in doing so.
But I didn’t write that. I didn’t mention it at all. Growing up in, and subsequently breaking away from, a dysfunctional, alcoholic household leaves little in the way of patience when there’s an obvious pink elephant in the room. It felt like stifling my karma to ignore it. But to do so would potentially backfire, so I said nothing on the matter.
On the teamwork metric, I emphasized my work with others, figuring if my boss intended to contest this skill, I would let him make the first move. He didn’t. I also took the opportunity to indicate the shared tasks assigned between me and this shunned person were completed from my end, whereas she hadn’t. I never mentioned her by name, sticking to passive voice statement of fact.
In the end, the boss didn’t feel like going there either. I’d like to think he was grateful that we didn’t have to deal with it. His review was glowing, and had nothing but kind things to say. Last week my raise came through and it was nearly a full percentage point higher than the standard from previous years. It was much higher than expected and I was very surprised.
At the end of it, I marveled at how much I stressed this process, worrying I’d somehow be found out as the asshole fraud my abusers have always trained me to believe I am. But, I see how the expectation to sell myself short can be so damaging. My takeaway was to continue my practice of self-care, because the precedent we set for the way we treat ourselves is the standard by which others learn to treat us. And it’s so important to be your own biggest cheerleader.
The notice to renew my driver’s license came in the mail and was greeted with an immediate groan. Ugh! Another thing for the “to-do” list. The hated Department of Motor Vehicles, with their apathetic employees, their unending queues and the Lyndon Larouche campaigners waiting outside to ask for your $200 donation to their cause. The last time I’d been to the DMV was uncomfortable to say the least. Had it been five years? I suppose it was now time to go back.
I decided to go on a day I had off from work, spending more time than I care to admit making myself camera ready. After all, this image would follow me for the next five years, and be viewed countless times as I produce it for strangers. My husband, who renewed his own license a few weeks prior, tipped me off to the kiosk where I could renew by myself without having to bother anyone else, an introvert’s dream!
However, I go through the whole process only to receive an error message. I needed to go see an attendant. After checking to make sure I had no outstanding warrants or suspensions, he noted finally that the error was from the facial recognition software. Apparently, I’ve lost so much weight (about 20 lbs) since the last time I renewed my license, that the software didn’t register me as the same person.
It was really uplifting news to receive, knowing how hard I’ve been working to improve myself and be fit. It’s nice to have documentation, at least from a computer software, that I’m different now, so markedly changed, that I literally couldn’t pass for my old self. Win!
So, I know already this is going to sound like a whiny, first world problem, but man oh man do I HATE having to go to the mall. I remember days when I was a kid, a trip to the mall, walking around the stores, that was like heaven on earth. Probably because shopping was something that I couldn’t do anytime I wanted, like I can now. And with the advent of online shopping, the brick and mortar stores are having trouble figuring out where they fit in.
As far as I can tell, this has lead to the creation of a shopping experience, where you’re guided from door to register by your personal shopping consultant, whether you want it or not. Just getting into the mall is problematic, the dozens of kiosks you have to pass just to get to your store of choice, where you’re constantly solicited to buy flat irons, facial scrubs, bamboo pillow or a shower liner, none of which I’m interested in nor am I articulate enough to adequately say no to. These salespeople must sense it too, because they do not want to take no for an answer.
I went to Victoria’s Secret, simply to purchase more of the same exact style bra I already own. I just needed to find it. But no! First I was assigned one sales person who insisted on sizing me. Yes, that’s not necessary, I just need this one, in nude. No no, she would insist, I need to look at all the multicolored bras in various sizes and shapes which would definitely show under all my clothes. I’m then handed off to the next woman in the fitting room, who in spite of me telling her that the original sizing was off because I know what size I am, insisted on giving me the same runaround. Only after insisting I needed the size I wanted, did she finally give it to me to try on.
There was a coordinated handoff with the saleswomen, panicked calls over the headset system for the first one to come back, and of course, she tried to upsell me on panties and get me to sign up for the credit card. I was so put off by the whole experience, I almost stormed out. Then I had to remember who helped me at the register, where the poor woman who barely spoke English thankfully checked me out without any other conflicts.
The whole experience was extremely off putting, and I realize that the corporate mandate for the customer interaction is scripted and has specific points that had to be met in order for these women to “do their jobs.” However, I think that they fail to see how unnecessary the whole thing is for people like myself. From now on, I’ll be sticking to the online shopping as much as possible.
I posted before about my friend who passed away earlier this year. Today, I had a very vivid memory of her and I wanted to share it with you guys. For those who may not recall, Nancy was a precious creature, too kind for this world, warped by the horrific abuse she’d endured at the hands of her birth-givers not to be a monster like them, as they no doubt hoped, but instead the majestic unicorn of sweetness and light that changed my life forever.
Her abuse left her with crippling OCD and social anxiety/phobia. She couldn’t drive a car for fear that she’d get into an accident and hurt someone. She couldn’t touch things that had been on the floor or by other people. Her symptoms were always worse when she was stressed out, and sometimes even the most innocuous thing could set her off. She often battled her disorders without medication, because her doctors felt that she needed intensive psychotherapy or that she was med-seeking, so she went without.
One day, after getting the necessary medications she needed, she agreed to come over to my house, in my car, no less. I was so excited. I drove her to my home extra carefully, taking a route with less traffic so that she wouldn’t be afraid. To my elated joy, when she got to my house, she met my cats by kneeling down on the floor to pet them. One sniffed at her hair, and she laid down on the ground to let her. I was shocked. Normally, something like that would have set her into a major panic attack and I was scared for a bit.
I pointed it out to her, and she said, yes, normally she couldn’t do this, but this (my house, my cats) was a safe place and she felt okay. I came to understand her more than ever that day. I understood it wasn’t the actual dirt that she feared, it was the mental contamination of every day’s stress that weighed her down. And, that being in a truly safe place, with loving people (and animals) let her feel free enough to be herself.
I think about that day a lot. She never did make it to my place again, and since she passed, I’ll never see her again. But that moment, that freedom, that honesty, that peace, is something I’ll never forget. I hold her in my heart always and seek those places in my own life where I can truly lay myself down.
Part of my recovery from my ongoing mental health issues has been to let go of the resentment I have toward the people who contributed to it. While my anger and rage have a place and a need to be expressed, there is peace in letting that go as well, once the expression has been found.
So, although I am way late in figuring it out for myself, I hope I can someday have a conversation with my son to give him this insight. Maybe he’ll be battling bullies on the playground, or a mean teacher who singles him out. Maybe he’s got a jealous friend who by virtue of classroom assignment can’t be escapee.
We don’t always get to choose the people in the audience of our lives. Try to see the value of everyone placed in it, whether you want them there or not. Some will be easy lessons, some hard. Try to embrace the finiteness of it, and it’s slings and arrows will wash over you like rain. Hopefully the only harm they ever cause you is trying to stab at your shadow as you loom over them, brilliant in all your splendor.