Why? Why not!?!

October 2002 Archives

Conflicted ?!?!

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This is hard... Between all I've tried to figure out on my own, and what my "real" friends are telling, and what I'm getting from my therapist, I should have it all figured out. Instead, I'm just confused. And I'm tired. And I'm tired of being confused, I'm tired of fighting, and I'm tired of trying to figure this all out.

So, here's all of the thoughts running through my mind... maybe just getting them out into "Reflections" will ultimately get them off my mind.

Before that, though, here's what happened... Over a month ago, maybe even six months ago, Nancy found a new job, and announced that she'd be leaving her job at EHS. I knew of this beforehand, and had already started making "mental plans" on what I'd do if I were offered her position. I basically had a financial limit that needed to be met, as well as some work situations that had to be offered. The main situation being that I could not possibly spend more time at work than I do now, and that help will have to be provided at both EHS and VTS for that to happen. I am not willing to give up my ideal situation of not having to come in early unless necessary, and that I am not willing to work weekends unless there are catering events that mandate it. I also asked that someone who is better at catering menu planning be available to help or even do that aspect of the job. And most importantly, I did not want my health to be jeopardized in any way by taking this position. That meant stress in particular. That also meant having time to go to the gym.

I went into the meeting with Sara and Celia expecting that I had asked for too much. But apparently I hadn't. They offered me more than what my salary minimum limit was (I never mentioned it to them), as well as offering me a "moving bonus" to switch jobs to being the Director at EHS. They also promised that after the transition period that the workload would be manageable so that I would have an reasonable work schedule. The new manager could handle the Sunday part of the weekend, and James could handle Saturdays. They also promised that I'd have all the support I needed and that they were aware that was a problem in the past. Rie "took an oath" to provide more support. And the catering help? Well, since "Julia was gonna be next door with you, so she could help! And ya know, we're also calling Danielle to see if she's interested in helping out with some of the catering planning." It seemed like all of my concerns were addressed and that plans were made to make this as easy as possible. But ya know what? I'm still not sure... so I needed to think about it. I told MG that I would get back to them. But if they were conceding to all of my requests, they really must want me in that position!

I was encouraged to talk it over with Nancy and Julia. They didn't want me to hold back on anything. And Nancy sells me that the job is pretty much a Monday - Friday job except for Parents' Weekends, Trustees' Weekends, Graduation, & Reunion. That's only 8 weekends a year... certainly reasonable enough. She also said that she didn't have to come in early, and that she went to the gym quite often during the workday. According to Nancy, she could also leave work at a reasonable time. Sounded good so far!

Then I spoke with Julia. I told her that my biggest concern was the catering menu planning end of things. She assured me that before she left for VTS, that she'd train the new manager person as best as she could. And besides, she'd just be across the fence at the Seminary. Again, I became more at ease, and it seemed like the EHS job would be a smooth move and relatively anxiety free!!!

In the meantime, MG had already begun discussions with Julia about assuming the Directors position at VTS (my current position). And then they fired James. And then there were apparent conflicts between EHS and VTS, and the timetable needed to be stepped up. Instead of Julia switching over full time toward the end of the semester, it would be at the first of the year. That still worried me, but was tolerable. The plan was for Tim to come up and train Julia somewhat about being a director, while Julia trained the new manager about being a manager. I was basically in a holding pattern at VTS, but was still going to provide support to EHS in whatever means they needed.

But I decided to take the job. The big motivators were the moving bonus (what a nice down payment on a house or a car, or a nice payment towards credit card bills), the extra support (which, with Tim already coming up to help was already happening), and the fact that Julia was going to train my manager, and that she'd be just across the fence to help me with the catering planning.

Well, stress levels continued to increase at VTS, as I was still doing the work of 1 and a half managers, heading into the busiest week in the fall -- Convocation! Well, a back-and-back promise of help -- Julia at VTS convocation, and me at EHS parent's weekend -- would ease that stress plenty. So, one afternoon, I was supposed to meet with Julia to discuss a last-minute menu change for Convocation. And she shows up late... and when she does show up, she mentions that she had been at a job interview. Holy Shit!

All of a sudden, the reality hit me that with the exception of the money, that NONE of the conditions that I agreed to for the EHS position were going to be there when I got there. James was gone, so were my weekends. Julia would soon be gone, and there goes the manager training and the catering help. All of a sudden, all of the "comfortable necessities" I requested were gone! And I told Julia that I was going to have to call Corporate for help. I don't think she quite realized how troubled I was, and how panicked I was, how serious I was, or how in need of help I was going to be. With her leaving me, I was screwed! And the first thing I could think about was impending anxiety.

Ever since that very first panic attack in Florida, I need to consider the possiblility of anxiety for every single thing that I do. Even for situations as common as getting stuck in traffic, I have to have an escape plan or a means of help. I continually have to run "what-ifs" in the back of my head for each and every action I do. That was particularly the case for choosing to take the new job (evidenced by the demands I made). It was also the reason for making a choice to protect myself from my job.

Well, the next day, Celia from corporate calls me to ask me a question. I answer her question, and then proceed to ask her for help. I mention to her that none of my requests were being met and that was a major problem for me. She asked me to be more specific, and I tell her about the effect of James' departure. And she walks me through some scenarios to get around that problem. And then I tell her that there is a major problem in the NOVA area of MG. I mention to her that 4 managers had left the company within 1 year or so, and that I wouldn't be surprised if another was in the process. I told her that it was her duty as the HR Director to fix that problem, and that I have been the one catching the slack from each of the previous 4 defections, and that I simply cannot continue to do that. It was time for MG to step up to the plate for a change. She asks me "Do you really think we're not doing anything about it?" and then she asks me what I meant by saying that I wouldn't be surprised if another manager was leaving. So I tell her that Julia had recently interviewed for another job, and if she left, there was no way I could possibly cover the gap. There would be no way I could give any more of my self, and that I would not allow myself to go through another anxiety spell. Corporate needed to do something, and they needed to do it now!

Well, Celia got all in a huff, and apparently immediately called Julia for more information. And then apparently Sarra called Julia for more information, and then Marta, and then Rie. They basically overwhelmed her. And this angered Julia. Julia got mad at me. She delivered some flowers to my account, threw the stuff down on the table, threw the invoice down, and tried to leave without saying a word. I ask her if she was angry and she said that she was. I don't remember the exact conversation, but she basically accused me of betraying her. I have a really hard time with that.

Basically to bring to end the rest of the situation, before going into how I feel about the whole situation (and all of the conflicted feelings I'm having), I still have to work with Julia for another week or so (she was offered and accepted the new job). I have spoken to Julia since the whole thing went down, but only for work-related matters. Right now, my guard is up so high against her (more coming on that in a second), that I simply do not want to talk to her about anything more than what I have to. And since we still work together, it is necessary to communicate about work. But that's it.

So, where's the conflict? To me, there are lots of them: friendship vs. professionalism, intellect vs. emotion, what I can control vs. what I would like. I could really go on and on.

How do I feel? Again, I'm conflicted. I'm angry, I'm confused, I'm hurt, I'm tired, and I'm hopeful. I originally felt hurt that Julia wouldn't understand why I asked for help. She had helped me tremendously during my bouts with anxiety. She had some knowledge of what set me off, and she had seen some of the methods I'd taken to avoid anxiety. I never tried to "tell on her" or betray her trust. I simply decided that the best scenario for my long term health was to ask for help as soon as possible.

Am I expecting too much of her to realize that what I was doing was merely a means to head off any possible chance of anxiety problems? Maybe so. But then I realized that she doesn't have a responsibility to know my problems and what can cause them. I mean if she were a wife (***shudders***) or a sister, maybe so, but as a friend or co-worker, it's not her problem. So, under those circumstances, I have no reason to feel hurt.

Is she expecting too much of me to not look after my well-being?

I originally thought that I wasn't angry at Julia. I mean I had taken information that she hadn't intended on going to corporate and let them know about it. She had every right to be angry at me, even though I felt she hadn't considered the other side of the story. Well, I really was angry at Julia. I was angry for Julia for leaving me in a situation where I might potentially have anxiety problems. Or am I angry at myself for leaving myself open to this situation? Let's see, how do I phrase this one, "NOPE!!!" Utlimately, I'm angry at her for leaving me with a possibility of getting sick again.

I've said this many times, and I'll continue to say it... "I would rather be dead than have to go through the agony of constant panic attacks again!!!" It was that miserable!!! But here's an interesting twist: What if I have no problems at all? That would mean that I worried and got angry over nothing at all. What is the purpose of my anger? Is it productive? Is it positive? Is it necessary? The logical answer is NO. But if I do have problems, does that anger serve any real purpose? Again, NO.

But what about now? Does that anger serve any purpose right now? Surprising answer coming up... YES!!! Didn't see that one coming on, did you? Well, it turns out that in all of this, I was at a VERY HEIGHTENED STRESS LEVEL. I was at a level where I might have even had anxiety problems a mere year ago (or as recently as this past summer, in fact). I probably displaced my anxiety into anger. As bad as it feels to be angry, it sure beats a panic attack.

I'm really conflicted by tthe fact that you choose your emotions. It doesn't sound logical, but it's true. Think about it. When you get pissed off for being stuck in traffic, it's not the traffic that pisses you off. You choose to be pissed off because of the traffic. If the traffic pissed you off, you'd get angry EVERY time you were stuck in traffic, and that's just not the case.

Anyway, I chose to feel hurt, I chose to not feel hurt, I chose to be angry, and I chose to not be angry. Is that healthy? Is it mentally healthy to waffle that much? And why can't I just choose to put this all out of my mind? Mainly because I have trouble dealing with that which I cannot control (aka "control issues").

I can't control that Julia's angry at me. I can't control that Julia doesn't understand WHY I asked for help. I can't control that which is unknown. That's what this is all about -- the unknown. I don't know if Julia will ever understand why I did what I did. I don't know that I'm going to have anxiety problems. I don't know that I'm going to have no problems working at EHS. And I cannot control any of it. It sure would be nice if I could, though. But that's not the way this world works.

But, I can control what I choose.

Did I cross a line between friendship and professionalism by asking for help, even though in reality, I was asking for both professional help as well as personal help (my sickness is not solely a work-related sickness)? Maybe so. But I chose to do that. I took control over a situation where I needed help... and asked for help. Is that a bad thing? Nope. In my mind, I did what I needed to do... I think different people would do what they thought was best. So, should I feel badly about making that choice? Again, no.

I also am struggling over the idea of being self-centered and selfish. Was I selfish by asking for help for me? Is it selfish to look after yourself? Is Julia being selfish feeling betrayed? Isn't she looking out for herself? Just like I did? I can't figure this one out! I guess it all depends on which side you're looking at.

I am also having trouble in distinguishing between thinking intellectually and thinking emotionally. Intellectually, I have this all sorted out. I understand why Julia's leaving, and I'm happy for her. If I had 2 kids, they'd be the most important things in my life as well, and I would do whatever it takes to better things for them and spend as much time with them as possible. I appreciate that in Julia. I also understand where she might be angry at me for "telling on her to corporate". I have no problem with the intellectual side of things. But from all you've read above, emotionally, I've got a lot of figuring out to do. I'm not used to thinking that way, and it's not as easy for me.

I'm trying to figure out what I'd do differently. And I'm really saddened, because I'd probably do the same thing. Mabye I'd try to make it perfectly clear to Julia that I was going to ask for help. But the need for help was still there. As selfish as it may seem, I think it is the right decision for nearly 700 students, nearly 200 faculty and staff, and about 35 employees. Even though I can see both sides of the story, I'd have to do it again. And I'm not sorry. I have the right to my feelings, and I have the right to protect myself. And I don't believe that anyone trying to protect himself is necessarily being selfish. The mrere fact that you have to protect yourself FROM SOMETHING ELSE is justification enough for me.

So, where do I stand right now? I don't feel good. It doesn't feel good to be misunderstood. It doesn't feel good to have someone angry at you. It doesn't feel good to be on the defensive. But as I mentioned before I have no control of any of that. And for me to worry about that which I cannot control is futile. I have to move on. That's the only choice I can make.

So, where will Julia's and my friendship go? Who knows? I really appreciate all of the help she gave me when I was sick with my anxiety. She's also given me lots of "sisterly advice" that can only be deemed priceliess. I do not want to give that up. I'll try to talk to Julia sometime before she leaves, but again, I cannot control her reaction nor her feelings nor her response. I'm prepared for the worst (another side effect of the anxiety), but will hope to salvage the friendship we once had. But right now, it's not in my hands. All I can do is try.

Well, as you might be able to see from the title, I've been busy. I haven't had the time to update "Reflections". But that doesn't mean that nothing has been happening.

Next time, I WILL discuss my new job, and my conflict with a co-worker who I thought was a friend.

But right now, there's no time... The Aqua Teen Hunger Force will be on soon!! (I'm not kidding, they're really funny as hell!)

Oh yeah, watch the series 24. It's 24 episodes which take place during each of the 24 hours of a certain day. I can't watch enough of this show. Right now, I'm 2/3 of the way through the first season, and have no idea how it's gonna turn out. On the edge of my seat! Watch it!


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