The Arrow

There are no answers; only choices.

Archive for the ‘boundaries’ Category

Cranky

Posted by thearrow on November 24, 2009

I hate this permanent interconnectedness through Facebook. If you wonder why I have an account, it’s because a dear friend nudged me for one year to do it. I always threaten I’ll close it but never do.

There are people out there with whom I don’t want to connect. I’ve got nothing against them, I just think our lives have diverged so radically that there’s not much we can talk about. Then, when we connect, they’ll want to know what I’ve been doing for the past X years and I just don’t feel like talking about all that ordeal again. My life has been on several different roller coasters ever since I left Romania eight years ago and, while I have found peace since Steve and I got together, I don’t want to talk about what happened with people who just pop up out the blue and cannot have any concept of what I’ve been going through. And I don’t have the emotional resources to be genuinely interested in their lives. A former middle school colleague popped up last summer; she had been living in DC for as long as I have, so thank God she contacted me only after she moved to the West Coast:). She’s a very nice person but I don’t have the energy to go through the past 20 years of my life.

And then, a former boyfriend of sorts (very short relationship) just showed up. Nooooo :). Leave me alone, people. I don’t want to offend anyone and I’m sure that’s how they’ll feel when they see my less-than-enthusiastic responses. Plus, a woman I’ve been also sort of friends with for some time but stopped calling her about two years ago because there wasn’t enough there there to continue the relationship, found out I got married (from mutual friends) and emailed me to confirm. Ugh. What’s worse, she’s in DC, which is a VERY small town anyway, and especially so when it comes to immigrant communities.

To complicate things, not all people I’ve stopped communicating with fall into this category. There are some very dear friends I’ve neglected. I want our friendships to continue, even though our lives are on different paths. I just couldn’t find the energy to connect with them. Which means I can’t issue a blank statement along the lines of, if I haven’t called you, maybe there was a reason for it (mwhahaaa).

So here I am, in a friendship conundrum.

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Posted in boundaries | Tagged: | 8 Comments »

What You Don’t Do

Posted by thearrow on May 29, 2008

I’ve come to believe that what you don’t do is just as important as what you do. It kind of goes without saying that people who express their opinions or discontent are more likely to make enemies than those who don’t, but act their way quietly. It makes sense that we react to what we see, but we should be paying equal attention to what others don’t do or say. Those non-actions can be just as damaging or constructive as saying or doing something. How people react or don’t in certain situations is very telling. If someone is being abused and you witness it but don’t take any attitude, or if someone is provoking you but you choose to respond with calm and not lose your temper. Or if someone never acknowledges that you’re already working on something when they ask you to do something else (like, you guessed it, my boss), or always being upbeat, even when you’re down.

What I’m saying is there are patterns to what we don’t do and we’re better off if we try to spot those as well, in our own behavior and others’. These patterns of absent behavior can give us a more complete picture of how someone is like.

I think I’m defined by what I don’t do/say to a greater extent than others might realize and I’ve noticed it’s a problem because people sometimes wrongly assume certain things about me. I don’t have concrete examples in mind right now and I don’t think details really matter that much. But I noticed how in my relationships I’ve had a hard time explaining stuff that wasn’t obvious, that the other person had to notice but didn’t. Everyone is somewhere on this action-inaction continuum, but some people manifest themselves less than others. To avoid misunderstandings, those of us who are like this probably need to explain ourselves more, turn inaction into words, so that it does get expressed in some way. Something like, I’m not sure you noticed, but I don’t <insert inaction stuff here>. I think it’s important to create a map of yourself, like a user guide :).

I’ve always had a problem with setting boundaries, so that’s how I started thinking about this. Not only I loathe conflicts and confrontations, but I seem to have a lot of invisible behaviors, which makes everything even more complicated.

Posted in boundaries | Tagged: , | 6 Comments »

Tell Me Why I Love My Job So Much

Posted by thearrow on April 4, 2008

Search me, but I have no idea why I still have so much enthusiasm for it, more than two years after I joined. Or, better said, why I STILL do it, knowing I have no future here. I actually do it at my own expense at this point. Instead of looking for other jobs, I continue to put in extra hours and consume myself with getting everything done. For which I can only wish myself good luck. There’s no way to more than keep my nose above water occasionally. My boss never helps me carve out time for important things, like my former boss did. Boy, was I spoiled. My former boss always checked with me about what I was working on, if I needed more time, and we always made plans together. My current boss only dumps more work on me and never really checks if I need his protection, as it were, to finalize what I’m working on. I’m terrible with establishing boundaries and saying no. So no matter who asks me to help them, I say yes. And my boss is blissfully oblivious to how much extra work that means, like other supervisors are. Or, in plain English, doesn’t give a shit.

The thing that’s guaranteed to raise my blood pressure is his eternal question, Did you do so and so? As if we had already talked about doing that. But guess what? We had not! There’s never any kind of introduction of preparation. As in: “let’s think what this entails” or “let’s do this or that.” I have actually never heard “let’s” from him. For me, this is very telling. It shows that he doesn’t think that we’re in this together and that we’re a team. It shows me he only cares about what he cares about. Whatever else I have to do (not to mention what I care about) doesn’t mean squat to him. That’s very unfortunate because we have to work closely on a lot of things.

It could be that something gets lost in translation again, but I know other supervisors in our group are a lot more considerate and thoughtful when it comes to their staff. I don’t think I was just wildly lucky to have an unusually great boss in my previous job. And, sure, compared to other awful bosses, my current one is probably an innocent child. I know it’s all relative :).

But my boss (and money) aside, I love my job. My head keeps buzzing with ideas of what we could do bigger, better, faster, more. And I keep hoping, childishly, I’m sure, that one day I’ll be able to have everything under control. That one day I’ll be able to conquer the 40-50 daily emails AND do everything they ask me to do. I know part of the reason is that I really like the organization and what it’s doing. I just hope I cared a little less and not at my expense. But no. I get up at 5:50 every day (I don’t even need an alarm clock for it!) and I leave at 7 or, at latest, 7:30. I get my one hour of peace without my boss and then the craziness starts. Well, the adrenaline starts the moment I turn the computer on. A zillion emails and too many newspaper stories to read 🙂 Newspapers and blogs are the only way I cheat on my job :)). How pathetic is that!

Where has all my self-interest gone?? Someone please kick my butt and keep my nose to applying for other jobs! All I can think of is how to clean my 2,000+ emails, put my to-do list in order, and go out and take pics around DC :). As if my life is now all set and I have nothing else to worry about.

I think this is my semi-unconscious head-in-the sand strategy. I think of what I want to do instead of what I need to do.

Posted in boundaries, work | Tagged: , | 5 Comments »

Stroke of Insight

Posted by thearrow on April 2, 2008

Or left brain vs. right brain.

Neuroanatomist Jill Bolte Taylor had an opportunity few brain scientists would wish for: One morning, she realized she was having a massive stroke. As it happened — as she felt her brain functions slip away one by one, speech, movement, understanding — she studied and remembered every moment. This is a powerful story about how our brains define us and connect us to the world and to one another.

And, I would add, a powerful argument as to why we should seek a common ground and compassion instead of conflict. I don’t know much about Buddhism, but I keep being amazed by how science confirms time and again what this philosophy and what common sense have taught us since time immemorial.

Initially found on Shekhar Kapur’s blog and then on http://www.ted.com/talks/view/id/229 (video is 20-minute long).

Posted in boundaries | Tagged: , | 5 Comments »

Mondays Are Better Now

Posted by thearrow on February 4, 2008

It used to be that Mondays were the worst in terms of energy level but, after another weekend spent hand wringing and paralyzed at the thought of never being able to get unstuck, today was a fresh breeze. I don’t even know how to describe the kind of mental paralysis that pins me down most of the time. It’s a deadly cocktail of “I’m not good enough,” “I can’t be on top of things,” “I’m not going to get it done in time,” “I won’t be able to present myself as a good candidate,” and other such crap. It’s like a dull whir of your brain while you’re trying to concentrate on what you need to do; maybe like what it could be to work in a factory, except all the noise is in your head. And it’s unbelievable how hard it is to ignore and how effective it is in draining you out.

But every once in a while I get a reprieve; I don’t know why or how. A handful of moments feel a lot more normal than others; the puzzle pieces decide to go where they belong and I can make some sense of what’s going on. I have a strong feeling weekdays are going to be a lot better and weekends are going to be more or less hell. At least during the week I don’t have time to pay attention to these demons.

And I have to say that Mondays are better because I get to go to my favorite gym class. There aren’t many things in the world I’d miss this class for :). The trainer is a 56-year old woman who has all sorts of wisecracking lines that, even if she repeats them almost every class, still crack me up. Such as “squeeze your butt so someone else will want to,” or “and now push ups; why? because I love you,” or “please admire your biceps in the mirror now,” or “black Speedo thong, this life time.” Not only she’s funny and keeps us working hard, but she can do 30 push ups AND talk to us at the same time. So after 45 minutes of abs and push ups my brain is finally empty and I can enjoy my endorphines :). I’m telling you: I have to figure out a way to stay in this country so that I can continue to take this class :).

I should also mention the Friday trainer who, when 8-months pregnant, still did some push ups and, generally, did quite a few of the exercises she used to do before, while keeping the class in control, being cheerful and making jokes, all that after teaching in a DC public school. Where do these people get so much energy from?

I’m glad I talked about my gym class and thus turned another dark post into a slightly lighter one.

Posted in boundaries, work | Tagged: | 4 Comments »

Overwhelmed

Posted by thearrow on February 1, 2008

For two years now, every week by the end of Thursday I could just cry, that’s how tired I am. But it’s not just that; I am simply overwhelmed by the number of balls I have to keep in the air at work and grow increasingly disheartened when I see myself lose track of them. Every morning the day just explodes in my face, with a zillion things to do from minute one. Why do I keep hoping that I’ll ever be on top of them? Why do I keep wasting my Saturdays trying to organize what I need to do, only to see that fragile order blown to pieces the next Monday?

This week the jet lag intensified all this. My brain just refused to function but by now I’ve become artful at pretending I work. I hate that. I know I’m probably a control freak, but I do want to be on top of things. I really like what I’m doing and I love being in the fast lane, but what throws me off every time, without exception, is my boss, who interrupts me without acknowledging that I’m already working on something. Why can’t I change my reaction? I try hard to hide it, but those who know me know I’m not good at that. I’m pretty transparent, so to speak. My boss never said anything, but I shudder thinking what grimaces he must have seen on my face :). However, for the life of me, I can’t change feeling pissed off when he throws things at me as if I was doing nothing and I’m there to just listen to him so all he has to do is push the “play” button.

I’m sure there’s some deep short-circuit between us, some difference in style. This never happened with my former boss, with whom I communicated perfectly. She’s the most considerate and thoughtful boss I’ve ever had. But I’m dismayed that, as hard as I tried, I cannot change my reaction to what my current boss is doing. I could split his head open. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t hate him. Far from it. He’s a very intelligent, funny guy and he’s proven thoughtful on a number of occasions. But this one thing about him just drives me nuts. And I wouldn’t even know how to tell him about it without offending him. For one, I’m not a diplomatic person. And then, he’d have to change something fundamental about the way he is and it’s futile to try that.

So I’m at a loss and just feel completely overwhelmed by the end of each week. I’ve started to feel fed up with my job, which is probably a good thing since I have to find another one anyway. Problem is, I’m so tired (psychologically) that it’s hard to mobilize myself for the job search.

And all the other obstacles I have to overcome make me feel like I have even less energy. Right when I need to do everything I can to push away the boundaries, I feel listless and overwhelmed. I wish I could afford to say “come what may” but I can’t. The only way to go is forward. This whole effort to stay afloat is draining me of all the joie de vivre I’ve ever had. I can’t imagine ever being cheerful again. I feel like Sisyphus except I never even get to the top of the mountain. I just sit under that boulder with all my muscles tense, in a perpetual effort to move it, but can’t inch forward no matter how hard I try.

Not trying and allowing myself to stay adrift is not an option, though. But I just don’t see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Posted in boundaries | 6 Comments »