“In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life: it goes on.“Robert Frost
I come with a lot of flaws, it’s true. So much so, that I am usually pointing out even the most minute flaws that others probably do not even notice.
My self esteem is a toilet.
Maybe I did not pick the most alluring career environment for someone as emotionally disheveled as I am; my armor tends to not be as thick as it should be and I know that. Another flaw. However, last week, man…last week was another hurdle I am struggling to get through.
I have seen a lot in my work life over the last sixteen years. Things that have opened my eyes thoroughly to the “shut up and do your job” mentality towards Black employees. It’s obviously an old ass concept, I am not talking about anything new, unless you have been living under a rock of ignorance. Young people make darkly humorous Tik Toks in this day and age to the very tune, but the grim reality is starkly contrast in humor.
I wish I was lying when I said that I have worked in places where the HR department accepted an employee’s use of the nickname “ni$%er lips” towards a fellow employee because we just “couldn’t lose someone with his talents”. Or the time another fellow employee, a Black female, much smaller than myself, was escorted off of the premise by multiple security guards in front of all of her co-workers without even being allowed to remove her personal effects from the floor. She apparently was not using “please” and “thank you” enough in her email correspondences.
It really is an ugly reality, but reality nonetheless. We work through it because we have to but that does not mean that the emotional burnout doesn’t happen, perhaps, a bit quicker than our lighter counterparts.
Last week I had just come back from a much needed week off with the hubby to celebrate our nine years of life together and seven year wedding anniversary. I was refreshed and ready to jump back in, happy to have the break.
Admittedly, I am not always the best at communicating all of my thoughts so when I fall into an anxiety attack, it is like trying to wrangle thoughts and speech inside a wind tunnel. I start shaking, I cannot really talk, I cry a lot, and none of it can be controlled no matter how hard I try. I hate it, but sometimes it just happens. So, here I am at the end of day Friday, getting back work I had been waiting on that should have gotten to me the day before. I am not really able to process mentally how I could get all of the late assignments completed in the next hour and forty five minutes and it hits me. The anxiety attack. Maybe I can ask for help, maybe someone else can stay on with me. Perhaps we can move some due dates. That is what I had wanted to say. But that is not what came out and the stuttering had already kicked in. Then it happened again. My Manager’s piercing, shrill screams reverbing through my headset as it did so many times before:
“Oh my god, why are you crying now? This is your role, you just need to do your job because this is what your role is!“
“Why do you have a problem every single time you get assigned something?”
“You don’t even do that much! Of all of the people on the team, YOU’RE the one that works the least and has the least amount of tasks!”
“YOU are scared to communicate with ME!? YOU’RE scary, YOU’RE the scary one! I ALWAYS get attacked, you attack me all the time!”
In less than five minutes I crashed and burned. I just wanted to understand the timelines and in less than five minutes so many degrading insults had gutted me and the attack just got worse, so I did what I always do. I agreed. I added more flaws that I would “work on”. I apologized for all the stress I had caused and ensured I would fix it.
After satisfying her with more self deprecation and hanging up, I could not help but just stare blankly ahead for a bit. What had just happened? Every bit of self love that I had worked hard on holding onto that week came crashing to my feet. This had already occurred a few times before so I had a feeling it was coming again. The first time it had happened, I had not even been at this job for two months. Again, much of the same. Why am I crying, why am I giving attitude, I do not work enough to be stressed out. A hollow deja vu.
I spent the weekend knitting, frogging, and re-knitting the sock leg that should have taken me no time at all. My head could not stop sending me flashbacks like a boomerang and concentration ended up being impossible.
“Good god, you must be one worthless, lazy fuck, huh?”
I could not keep that thought from pinging back and forth through my head. I had never been accused, until the new job, of being lazy. If anything I was always overdoing it, late night hours, weekends, working on travel, you name it.
I allowed this five minute rant to dictate how my brain would function for the rest of my weekend break. Now, Monday is here again.
I really have nothing pretty or positive of note to end this post on. Frankly, I want you to be as uncomfortable as it should make you. I am afraid every day of stirring the pot, saying the wrong thing, doing the wrong thing, and messing up tasks from nerves. It is not what I had hoped for but it is the reality at the moment. This is reality.
Remember to be excellent to each other.
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