Tough day today at my job. My self-confidence was smacked down to the ground. It felt like that, literally. My face hit the proverbial pavement, in the torrential rain we had here today.

My boss uses passive-aggressive tactics to undermine his staff on a routine basis, and today was a whopper example of that, directed right at me.

I’m using harsh language because his behavior didn’t just feel abusive, it was abusive.

He has been told by higher-ups that he needs to change his management style. He has asked me why morale is so low, and I’ve told him. His own boss sent him and another person at his level to a mediator because they didn’t get along. Then, all of the rest of us were dragged to a “staff day” so we could try to create a better team.

He has everything he needs to make positive changes in how he interacts with people, but he is refusing to do it. I don’t know what’s stopping him, but based on some other factors — he’s more than 100 pounds overweight and doesn’t do anything to take care of himself, and he looks sad all the time — I think it’s something very deep he’s grappling with.

The only thing that has kept me even mildly afloat today is the realization that I didn’t cause his behavior. In years past, I would have thought that, believed that. Today, I know it’s not true. He is in control of his own behavior, not me.

Trauma therapy taught me a lot, including recognizing that people do mean things because they choose to do them, not because I cause them to do them.

I hope I can remember that lesson when I see him tomorrow.

A room of my own (at least in my head)

This month has been filled with contradictions for me. On the one hand, I took action and continue to pursue what I started a couple of weeks ago. On the other hand, even while taking action I feel like a blind person groping in the dark.

What is going on here? Why can’t I seem to connect with what I want to do with this life of mine?

For the past 18 months, at least, I have been grappling with some excruciatingly difficult personal problems. Going through trauma therapy brought me to the brink of emotional disaster. I didn’t think I would make it out of there, but I did. On top of that, my marriage started to fall apart, a process that had taken a few years but really hit bottom at the end of 2011/beginning of 2012.

I have been working very hard on my marriage, attempting to rebuild a connection with my beautiful husband of nearly 15 years.

As for myself,  I’m all over the place. I’m rushing around, trying to find or create some path for myself that feels right, especially in a professional sense. I’m 50 years old, time’s wasting, I want to do something meaningful with my life, finally … it all crashes down on me on days like today.

I need time. I need space.

I don’t have that luxury right now. So I grab snippets of time and space (at least inside my own mind) during the day: on the subway, in my office at work on a break, in the park at lunch, at the gym on the rowing machine, at night if my husband goes to bed before I do.

It isn’t really working. I think I need to take some vacation time, and soon, to clear my mind of clutter and create a room of my own, inside myself, in which to contemplate my present and my future.

I wish I believed

Have you seen this ad, on display in London? It’s sponsored by the National Centre for Domestic Violence and lets passersby get involved (virtually) in a domestic dispute to make the perpetrator — a male — leave the woman alone. It also touts the benefit of an injunction/court order to stay away.

I wish I believed that an ad like this could make a difference, but I don’t. First of all, it’s just a novelty that’s far removed from reality. People don’t really want to get involved in what they perceive as “none of my business.” Second, a court order of protection is just a piece of paper. How many times have we heard in the news about a woman being killed despite having a court order?

In my own case, I had many family members — on my ex-husband’s side of the family, not mine — who knew about the abuse he inflicted on me and on our daughter. And they did nothing about it. Devout religious people on that side of the family abandoned her, abandoned us. Even relatives with whom we had been close did nothing to intervene or help after I moved us both out of that horror show of a house.

My own lawyers — even when it was clear that he tried to break into my apt. after I moved out  — never suggested a court order of protection. I can only conclude that they didn’t believe it was worth anything.

I don’t know how to solve the problems of domestic violence and child sexual abuse. All I know is that they will never be solved by a piece of paper. It will take a worldwide movement of women and men with the fortitude to say “No” to the subjugation of women (yes, I realize that sounds sexist, but let’s be real about these things).

I’ll do my part and keep talking. Are you with me?

A light? Please?

These past few days have been rather dark for me. Leading up to them, I had been feeling generally hopeful about my life and my future, believing that I could make some changes and have a better professional life. (My personal life … I’ll save that for other posts.)

I know it’s just a cloud that will pass by, but I am feeling right now as if there is nothing I can possibly offer, in a professional capacity, that anyone would find valuable. I don’t want to be stuck in this unfulfilling and often hurtful 9-to-5 situation. I have worked for myself before, and I did OK. But times are different now, and what I was doing back then simply can’t be done now. I’ve accepted that reality.

My confidence has really been shaken: by my current work environment, by the executive coach who noticed the disconnect between what she perceived as my strength and the ridiculous situation I’m in at work.

My plan is to get a different 9-to-5 while I build something for myself in my “off” time: so I can be an independent worker and not have to rely on anyone for a paycheck except me. The job applications are out there — four officially, one unofficially, just in the past month.

I’m plowing ahead, mostly in this darkness, groping for something that I’m hoping will appear if I keep looking for it. I’m doing exercises from books, like a skills inventory. I’m addressing some emotional problems I continue to have as a result of the trauma. I’m doing everything I can do, but so far I’m still in the dark.

Anyone have a light?