A Lack of Self-Respect

I’m hard pressed to understand why it is that I can’t seem to muster up any more self-respect than this.  Why would an otherwise intelligent man continually subject himself to the whims of a person who doesn’t value him?  How long does he go on making excuses for someone who doesn’t communicate?  Who toys with his emotions and shows no more concern for his well-being than to completely ignore him all week-end and then offer up some mostly useless excuse for why?

Anyone with a modicum of self-respect would have washed his hands of this a long time ago!  So why can’t I? 

I doubt myself.  That’s the only answer I can come up with.  I doubt my worth.  I doubt my judgment.  I doubt my sense.  Because what if I’m wrong, and this guy is the guy that I’m meant to be with and I’m just dealing with some incredibly painful, seemingly interminable growing pains at the start?  Twenty years from now, will I be looking back at this time and appreciating the struggle we had to go through to spend the rest of our lives together?

I doubt it.  I think it’s far more likely that 20 years from now I’ll be looking back on this time and kicking myself for not washing my hands of the whole thing faster.  Probably from my deathbed, where no one will be there to hold my hand and see me off.

Most of the time I feel like he’s toying with me.  He doesn’t want me.  But he doesn’t want to let me go either.  He likes having me hanging on and when it seems like I’m about to let go, he throws me another bone.  It’s cruel really.  We have these deep emotional conversations and I think yes!  Finally we’re getting somewhere! But then his behavior doesn’t change.  He still doesn’t respond to his text messages in a timely manner.  He still ignores the ones that make him uncomfortable.  And he still offers up worthless explanations.

He has all the control.  I’m not sure if he realizes it or not.  He might.  He might be doing it on purpose.  Or he might have no idea. 

But in my own sickness, I’m afraid to hurt him, so I don’t say anything, and I continue to just hide in the corner and wait for his next scrap of affection knowing it will never be enough.

Clogged

During my therapy appointment the other week, Deb offered me an additional form of communication I was previously unaware of, in the form of encrypted e-mail messages.  The idea was for me to have an outlet of some sort as I deal with the emotional fallout of my recent…  can it really be called a “break-up”(?), with The Guy.

I didn’t take her up on it.  I mean I made it available to myself, but I never actually used it.  I didn’t know where to start.  I felt – I feel – compelled to make my writing logical, and fluid, with a clear beginning, a middle and an identifiable end.  It needs to be…  Entertaining seems like the wrong word…  But certainly it needs to be interesting.  It needs to hold the reader’s attention.  So I wrote a little bit here.  Targeted, specific stories to convey the strongest of my current emotions, and the utter defeat that I feel.  But I never wrote to Deb.  I thought about it a few times, but I just didn’t know what to say.  I have no idea how it works.  Would she respond to my e-mails?  Would it just be a dumping ground for all the crap that I’m thinking and feeling?  Would it result in stored up ammunition to use against me in our next session?

I have no one else to talk to…  The couple of people I started to talk to about this, gave me songs and dances and bubbled over with platitudes that don’t interest me in the slightest.  As I mentioned on my Facebook page (and then subsequently deleted)

“The next person who tells me how awesome / amazing / special I am and how lucky somebody is going to be, damn well better follow it up with a declaration of love, and gratitude for how lucky they feel to be that person.”

I’m absolutely sick and tired of being told how  great I am and that someday, somebody will want me.  All I hear is, “I’m sure there’s someone that would want you…  It’s not me, but there’s bound to be somebody somewhere…”  The fact that it took 38 years to find one person with whom I thought there was a real possibility (and proved to be dead wrong) would seem to suggest that, in fact, there might not be somebody somewhere who will want me.  I don’t think anyone has done me any favors by ignoring that fact and pretending everything is bound to be just hunky dory.

As it happens, there actually are a few other things going on in my life right now that don’t center around The Guy and the resultant breaking of my heart.  Admittedly, my broken heart and the litany of emotions that result from it (hurt, sorrow, anger, depression, resentment, jealousy, fear, loneliness, desperation….  Just to name a few) are highly prevalent in my mind and I do frequently come back to them.  But there are other things in my life, things that are affected by said broken-heart-induced hysteria.

In the meeting I had with my boss last week, the one in which she offered up a different (but equally problematic) cubicle for me to try on, she also told me that I really needed to think about whether this was the right job for me.  She said that I seem to get really frustrated a lot and…  Actually I don’t remember exactly what she said, but the implication was that I’m not being nice enough to people who come to my desk.  She asked me when I started, and when I reminded her of the date, she said, “Ok, so you’re about halfway through your process.”  We had been discussing the fact that I’m process oriented (something I was very clear about in my interview) and that we don’t have enough processes for how we get things done for people to know how to ask for things.  Process was, I’m quite certain, a misspoken word on her part.  She meant probation.  The organization where I now work has a six month probationary period.  And as much as I’d like to come up with a better explanation, I can think of only one reason for her to mention that in the context of that conversation.

Now, in addition to all those feelings I just listed above, I’m also feeling threatened, and vulnerable.  I suspect she is thinking about firing me, and my only option is to stuff down all my feelings and pretend that everything is great and wonderful in my life, and welcome each new frustration– er, interruption as if it’s the greatest thing that could have happened to me.  I’m supposed to never let on that anything is bothering me…  Even though, everyone else does at one time or another.

In a recent ill-fated text conversation with The Guy, he made a comment about me “snapping at folks”.  I don’t believe I am.  But if I am, I’m unaware of it.  What I am aware of, is that I’m struggling with a lot of negative emotions without possession of any coping skills to make it better, and in spite of that, I have been very deliberate about not taking that out on other people.  There was one instance when I vented some anger about a specific thing to but not at my manager, and I do admit that I was wrong about the thing I was angry about, and wrong to vent in that moment, but I also give myself credit for the fact that it was an isolated event (to my knowledge) and that I’ve actually done a pretty good job of containing my feelings…  Or so I thought.

But now I can’t help but wonder.  If my boss is telling me that I’m not being nice enough to people, and The Guy says I’m snapping at folks, and I’m not aware of it….  Well, what does that mean?

I admit that I’m not happy right now.  I have lots of very good reason not to be.  I also admit that I do not possess the proper coping skills to compartmentalize and separate my personal problems from my work life, which, admittedly, would be better.  But from where I’m sitting, there’s a huge difference between not being happy and bubbly when I talk to people, and being aggressively angry with them.  I am under a lot of pressure and stress right now.  I get that my stress is not someone else’s problem and I don’t mean to make it so.  But who is to say that “how can I help you” spoken without a smile is less appropriate than “how can I help you” spoken with one?  I may not be happy to speak to someone at any given moment, but I still give them my complete attention.  I still acknowledge and fulfill their request as efficiently as I can.

I’m actively searching for some affordable and feasible anger management or stress management programs.  I can, and might, write a whole separate post about the anger management thing.  It’s a very touchy subject that stirs up a lot of feelings on its own.  But if what I’ve been interpreting as emphatic passion, on my part, is being seen as anger to everyone else…  maybe that’s something I need to look at.  There’s no question that I experience a considerable amount of stress.  I imagine the two are related…  But it’s a lot harder than you might expect to find what I need, when I need it.

So, I’ve thought about writing e-mails to Deb…  multiple times.  But…  It’s like my fingers are a funnel.  They take the big, wide-mouthed vessel full of emotions,  a vat of roiling, battling, conflict, and as the emotions roll around and around in the vessel, making smaller and smaller concentric revolutions, they reach the narrow mouth of the funnel, only to find that they all want in at once.  And the battle is amplified there as everything tries to escape at once.

My funnel is clogged and I don’t know how to clear it all out.

Because There Are More Problems in Life Than Love

I’ve been at my new job now for about three and a half months.  Long enough, I think, to have a feel for how the foreseeable future will go.  I’m disappointed, to say the least.  I was so optimistic when it started out.  I wanted to believe that I had found a good place for me.  It was presented to me as an incredible opportunity to help establish the Facility Management department for this new organization and really build something that could be great…  Not unlike the opportunity I thought I was presented to build something really great with The Guy.

When I started my job, my boss was in the middle of moving a big group of people from the main site of our parent organization, into our satellite location.  I understood and accepted that in the middle of this project was not the place to involve a new employee who didn’t know how anything got done in the organization.  It would have taken my new boss longer to introduce and explain things to me than it would take to do them herself, so she did.  She did give me small tasks along the way that contributed toward the project; tasks which gave me enough insight into what she was doing to see that there were some definite inefficiencies.  One of the matters that was focussed on in my interviews was the fact that I had ten years experience in Facility Management and had done a number of large scale project moves for my previous employer.  I’ve dealt with multiple outside Facilities Groups, IT groups, outside move coordinators, moving companies, furniture companies, etc., etc.  I know a thing or two about moving a hundred or so people all at once, and I know what’s pretty standard operating procedure for moves like this, because I’ve seen the same tactics and techniques used, over and over again, among all those different entities, without fail.  So when I saw that my new boss wasn’t using these techniques in this large scale move, I saw an opportunity to make some suggestions and utilize my “expertise” to help make things easier and more efficient in this new organization.

When my new boss asked me to create a spreadsheet for the telecommunications group that would be dealing with the relocated workers telephone needs, I asked her why were were starting from scratch, and after explaining to her the industry standard of a single spreadsheet with all the information for the move, which is then shared (after being frozen – no more changes) with all the functional groups, thereby reducing the likelihood of human error, her immediate response was, “Oh we can’t do that here.”  When I asked why not she said, “They won’t go along with it.”  Then, as I was recreating the wheel, because “they won’t go along with it”, I pointed out what I felt to be some missing information from the spreadsheet she had me making, and her response was, “I don’t think they need that.  I don’t want to confuse them.”

(As a quick side note, in my early 20’s I worked for about 3 1/2 years in the telecommunications industry.  A lot has changed in the ensuing years, but I know a bit more than the average Joe, about how these things work.)

The day that the phone tech came to do the phone work, it was a complete cluster #@(%, and when it was finally sorted out, the tech told me, next time if you could include blah, blah, blah in your spreadsheet, it would help clear this up really quickly.”  In case you really didn’t already see it coming, “blah, blah, blah” was the information I told my boss I thought we should add and she said she didn’t think they needed.

I could now go into a whole long list of examples of what’s been happening in the three months since, but really that one sentence summed up the whole thing.  She doesn’t think this, or she believes that.  I make it a habit not to question the advice or opinions of people who know more about the subject at hand than I do.  If the opportunity presents itself, I will ask clarifying questions to educate myself, but I do not question their judgement.  My boss questions everything.  And she makes decisions about things that she is not an expert on, frequently.  One such instance of this, resulted in me, as the person who is actually managing the project, and on her orders, questioning the judgement of the person who knew more than I did about the issue at hand.  I was forced to ask the contact for a new quote for something because my boss didn’t think the dimensions originally quoted were necessary.  The contact was offended by the inquiry, gave a very gruff explanation to both myself and my boss, about why the dimensions she had quoted were the recommendation, (all things, by the way, that I had already told my manager) and in the end, we left the quote as was, but not before I alienated the contact (who happens to be the property manager for the building we’re in – someone I have to deal with frequently) and wasted everyone’s time unnecessarily.  All because my boss wouldn’t accept the judgement of someone who know more about a thing than she did.

Last December, while I was unemployed, and finishing up what turned out to be a single semester of college classes, I was diagnosed for the first time in my life with having Attention Deficit Disorder.  I was quite surprised by the diagnosis, but it also explained a lot of things that I’ve struggled with my entire life.  Like the fact that I am incapable of blocking out distractions and annoyances.  I overhear conversations at restaurants and comment about them to my table mates only to find that they don’t know what I’m talking about.  I hear absolutely everything that goes on around me.  Always have.  As it turns out, this, among many other things I’ve experienced are classic ADD symptoms.

This is relevant to the story because, in my job, I’m sitting in a cubicle, something I haven’t done for 11 years.  Not only am I sitting in a cubicle for the first time in over a decade, but it’s a pretty small one.  There’s not much storage, and by the nature of my job, I’m responsible for lots of little things.  And I literally mean things.  Sitting on my desk right now, are five iPhone5 cases, waiting for someone to ask for them.  There’s a box of AA batteries, because randomly and frequently, people come to my desk to ask if there are any AA batteries anywhere, but my boss doesn’t want to add them to the community supply room because they will disappear.  I have a box of badge holders, and after-hours access cards, because people randomly stop by asking for one or both of those things.  I still have all the old files from the Project Manager whose desk I inherited.  He’s the one who managed the development of the space and operation we’re currently running, and he was expected to hang around for a while, only during the three weeks between my accepting the position and starting my job, he announced and then left to take a new job at another division of the organization.  I haven’t just trashed the files because I can imagine there is bound to be some valuable information in them, but I haven’t had any time to review them and find out, either.  Clutter is the enemy of the ADD mind…

Minion to do my bidding.

In addition to the clutter, there is also a nearly never ending stream of noise.

On one side of my cubicle is my boss, who frequently calls out my name to talk to me over the cube.  She asks me for information, or how to do something or, if I have done something, or to please do something.  She frequently asks me to go check something, or go find out something.  Quick, little things, that generally shouldn’t take long (unless someone sees me walking around and wants to take that opportunity to ask me a question or request some service I don’t have a chance of remembering when I get back to my desk) but which are interruptions to whatever I’m doing at the moment.  And as a person with ADD, returning to a task after having my concentration disrupted, and picking up where I left off is nearly impossible.  (I’m aware that lots of non-ADD people have similar issues, but not many ADD people don’t.)  Most of the time, these requests from her, seem very much like she’s trying to wrap up whatever she’s working on and this little piece of information is crucial to that, but having to go and get it would derail what she’s doing.  I totally get that, because I tend to put off going away from my desk to get information, so that I can finish things that I’m working on, and wouldn’t I love to have a minion that I could send out to do my bidding.  But see, unlike the minions who spend their “downtime” playing games and pulling pranks on one another waiting for some instructions, I am actually diligently working on my own tasks and projects that were given to me by the same boss who is now sending me on her little gofer runs.  When I return to my desk after, I’m lost and it takes a while to get my concentration back…  if I can do it at all.

On the other side of my cube, is a really sweet woman who I have a lot in common with, in terms of our backgrounds and how we came to be where we are in life.  I like her a lot, I enjoy my conversations with her.  She’s one of the reasons the office celebration of my birthday happened.  And when her birthday came up a couple of weeks later, I made sure that we did something for her.  Everyone loves her.  She’s awesome!  And, she has zero internal dialogue.  Absolutely everything that enters her mind, comes tumbling out of her mouth.  And she does it at a normal speaking voice.  She would do it whether anyone was around or not.  People frequently come to her desk to talk to her, both about work stuff and not.

The office is a former factory, and it was decorated with an industrial look in mind, only, usually when that’s done the ceilings are much higher.  This building was finished with only slightly higher than standard ceilings, and zero ceiling tiles.  Maybe this doesn’t mean anything to you non-Facility Management types out there, but one of the biggest reasons to have those tiles, is to absorb sound.  It prevents the noise from the air conditioning units and duct work above from carrying into the work space, and it prevents the sound of the voices of all the people in the office talking at the same time from reverberating around the room.  WE DON’T HAVE THAT!!!

There have been a couple of smaller moves that have taken place sense I started my job, and I have had nothing to do with any of them.  Well….  That’s not true actually.  I’ve not been involved in the planning of them, but my boss has happily handed off the menial, manual labor tasks that related to them.  For example, I got to order, assemble and distribute “welcome kits” of office supplies to the desks of the new occupants; something that took hours of my time, caused me to sweat like a pig in work clothes and environment (something I absolutely HATE and makes me very cranky) and in the end proved to be a waste of time as the people we were moving in were not new to the organization, already possessed most of what we offered, and most of them discarded the items the day they moved in.

And speaking of manual labor, there have been a number of things that I am responsible for that were not discussed in my job description, or in my interviews.  Things that, had I known, I would have thought twice about taking the job.  For instance, I’m responsible for receiving, sorting and delivering the mail every day.  I’m also responsible for receiving, opening, sorting, recording, and distributing any and all packages that come in.  I’m responsible for keeping the office supplies inventoried and replenished, and as if that weren’t bad enough (at least it is to me,) the supplies are located in ELEVEN different places in our four story building, because on a whim she decided we needed office supply way stations spread around the building so people didn’t have to walk so far to the central supply room to get them…  in our four story building.  These tasks can take anywhere from half an hour to six hours depending on the day and what we’re receiving.

I am the highest paid mail room boy in the area, but my job description doesn’t even mention it.  Meanwhile, my job description does mention lots of other things which I’m still held accountable for, but barely have time to get to.

The presumably unintentional understanding (at least I assume it’s unintentional) that is established every time someone new comes to work in the building is that if they need anything at all, just ask me or my boss.  Every new person get’s a tour of the building, and that tour always includes the locations of our desks and the introduction that we are the people who “take care of everything in the building”.  I have heard more than one person tell the new employee “If you need anything at all, these are the people to talk to, and now you know where they sit.”  The problem is, we don’t really have a viable alternative to offer them.  (Speaking of industry standards, I don’t know of another Facility Management operation anywhere, that doesn’t have some sort of ticketing request system for people to submit there service requests on-line.)

Because we are introduced this way, and because we don’t have an alternative to offer, people – especially brand new people – really do just come up to our desks and interrupt what we’re working on to ask for what they need.  Mostly little things that simply aren’t that urgent.  More often than not, they’re things that people should be asking their immediate supervisor for.

I really like the people I work immediately around.  I haven’t been able to say that for a very long time.  But it’s true.  They’re all friendly people.  They’re all nice.  I had barely even been working there for a month, but when word got out that my birthday was happening, a bunch of them took me out for drinks after work.  I genuinely like them!  And I completely can not function around them, work-wise.

In the earliest days of my employment, I told the chatterbox behind me about my ADD.  I didn’t do it to make her feel bad, or to complain about her.  In fact I don’t remember how it came up, but I told her about it and she acknowledged it in the context of the conversation.  She knows it’s an issue.  Not long after that, I told my boss the same thing.  I told her that I’m really struggling to focus and concentrate in the environment.  In a subsequent conversation I reminded her of the ADD, and the difficulty I’m having being able to focus on my work, because of all the noise, and the constant interruptions.  She asked me what I thought the solution was, and I told her, unfortunately, I thought I probably needed to move.  She told me that if I moved then she had to move and asked me to give her some time to think about a possible solution.  I did.

Last week, in the middle of a meeting with her, I asked her about it again.  “I know we’ve discussed this before,” I said, “and I know you’ve heard me, but I can’t tell if anything has come of it.”

Before I could say anything else she said, “This is about the noise and distractions.”  She didn’t sound angry, but she didn’t sound particularly positive or helpful about it ether.  In the end she offered to let me “try on” another specific desk in the same suite and see if that helped.  If it did, she had no objection to me moving into it.  But in proof that she doesn’t really understand or get what I’m telling her, the cube she offered up, is right by the entrance to the suite, along the main route from the opposite side of the suite to the shared kitchen which is three desks down from the cube she offered me, and not enclosed in the least.  Plus it’s just outside of the office of one of the loudest people in the whole suite.  I haven’t tried it out yet, because my laptop has been on the fritz and I’m not going to move my whole desktop and two monitors for a “try on”.   But IT will return my laptop tomorrow and I will try the new desk, so that I can speak with authority about whether or not it helps.

 

…and Other’s Require More Effort!

I hadn’t really intended to resume writing at this site just to disappear for a month, but the last several weeks have been tremendously, and unexpectedly busy.

My new job keeps me very occupied, which means that, unlike my last job, I have not had any time for messing around at work,  (well…  I say I haven’t had any time for messing around at work…  I have managed to find a few minutes here and there for some “messing around”…  But that’s another story for another time, or maybe not…).  I certainly have not had time for writing blog posts!  On top of that, my evenings and week-ends have been pretty hectic as well.  Making time to write blog posts has been nearly impossible!  When I’m not working, which has been mostly on Saturday’s I’m hanging out with Lil’B, or other friends, or shopping, or whatever…  And when none of that is going on, I’m often engaged in the ongoing text-a-palooza with “A Guy” that has been, in equal parts, ripping my heart out, and showing me a world of possibilities I never believed existed for me.  He is less so “a guy” now, and more so “the guy”, though it’s still really complicated and not without its share of frustration…  But I’m getting ahead of my self and it’s much too late to get very far into that tonight.  Besides, I’m still processing and not sure what or how much to say.  So apparently I’m just a big tease…  But then again so is he…  Er, what was I saying?

There are a lot of things to write about and I really must make the time to get it in, but for now, there’s this…

In the early middle of June, I went one Saturday afternoon to K’s house in Berkeley, for her son’s graduation party/barbecue.  At the end of the party, I was in the kitchen packing up the things I had brought along, when K’s father, in from Arizona for the event, said, “Kevin?  Is that your car out front here?”  I confirmed that it was and he said, “cause this guy just smacked your car!”  Now my car was parked at the curb, at the edge of K’s driveway, with at least 20 feet of open curb between my rear bumper and the corner.  Remember that.  It’ll be important in a second.

K and I ran out to the street to see what had happened as the late-model Honda Accord drove away from the scene.  he drove halfway down the block, turned around in a driveway and then parked his car at the curb.  Seeing K and me standing there, he strolled slowly, and with empty hands, back to where I was standing, behind my car and examining the damage.  The first words out of this guy’s mouth were, “Oh, sorry.  I thought I had enough room to park there.”

I turned around and looked at the expanse of curb behind me and said, “Um, I think you had plenty of room to park there”

We surveyed the damage to my car and it was minimal.  I told the young man, “It doesn’t look to bad.  I’m sure it won’t be too complicated to fix, but I should go ahead and get your information.  Do you know he actually rolled his eyes at me, and then sauntered back down the street to his car to get his insurance information?!?

My Honda Insight, Damaged Bumper, Taken outside K’s house, Berkeley, CA

A week later, I had dropped my car off at a body shop to get the damage repaired, and I was on my way to the Hertz Local Edition lot to pick up my rental car.  When the driver pulled into the lot, I saw it right away.  The car of my dreams…  all most.  They had one white, Convertible Mustang on the lot (I don’t care for white cars, but otherwise it was great!) just waiting for someone to pick it out and drive away.   I was meant to be that someone.  My whole life a Mustang has been my dream car, though I never really thought I would be a Convertible guy.  Since it was an insurance replacement (my insurance policy covered $25.00 a day), they were offering discounted rates.  I don’t know what the Mustang would normally cost, but with the insurance company discount, it cost only $40.00 a day including Taxes.  My portion was only about $15.00 a/day.  When the lady at the counter told me that, I had only one response:  “Why not!  It’s time to kill the dream, anyway!  Let’s go for it.”  I thought the likelihood of it living up to my expectation was pretty low, so once I had driven one, I wouldn’t be so excited any longer.

I picked the car up on Friday morning, and I already had plans to go on a photo expedition on Saturday, with K.  (In April, just before starting my new job, I went to Albany, NY to visit my sister and her family, finally getting to meet, not only the new baby baby, but also, the nearly three-year old I hadn’t gotten to meet at that point.  Before going on that trip, I bought a fancy pants new digital 35 millimeter camera and I’m itching to learn all of its secrets.)  Naturally, while we were out, I had to have some pictures of the Mustang.

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The Mustang which did nothing to destroy my dream!

I had that car for a week five days, three of which were rainy, which I thought was completely unfair of Mother Nature.  The rain tapered off on the third day, but it was still a bit cold.  I didn’t care.  I had a Mustang for only a few days.  I was not about to lose a single precious moment in that car!

Driving the rented Mustang with the top down on the first available opportunity.  It was about 60 degrees, but I didn't care!
Driving the rented Mustang with the top down on the first available opportunity. It was about 60 degrees, but I didn’t care!

At the end of the week, I did not want to give it back which meant…  There was only one thing to be done:

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SOME dreams do come true.