The Jig is Up

I have a full time job. I cannot profess that I love it, that it’s my passion, but I do care. In fact, I think I care too much. I am so driven to do well, some may say be perfect, that it’s becoming harmful. I’m not looking for attention, applause or accolades. It’s simply in my DNA to want to do so well it’s sometimes painful. I mean I’m good at my job. Been at my agency for over 15 yeas. Coworkers tell me I’m well liked and highly regarded. I’m a project manager. I put my blood, sweat and tears into my projects.
That is not necessarily a good thing. Let me explain.
The blood and sweat is from the self harm I have started doing to cope with the anxiety. Tears are from the self doubt and fear I truly am not doing a good job. I’m just putting on an act. My ability to work with people is a sham. My ability to stay organized and follow a project all the way through is a hoax.
I feel such self imposed pressure to complete the project even if I am not given the information or direction I need from superiors. I find ways to go around and get the info. Just recently I did this and was met with the stark statement of “stay in your own lane.” Not only am I confused by that statement but angered. My supervisor is not only new to my agency w 1.5 yrs under her belt, but new to politics of resource development and the world of developmental disabilities.
When she said this to me In Front of her supervisor and another supervisor I froze. Felt betrayed. My old very seasoned supervisor would never say this to me. I looked at each of them and they just stared back. I gathered my 150 page program design I have been working on for over 6 months and said, okay. I got in my car and went home.
I began to fear they wanted me fired. Maybe they were trying to get me to quit. I suddenly felt like I crossed a line that I didn’t know was there. My anxiety was through the roof. I need this job. I need these benefits for my medication.
I reached out to my boss and made an appt w her the next afternoon. My development team was setting up for an event off site. I cried in my car as I drove over to the location. I was not in charge of this task, but quickly fell into the role once we arrived for set up. This is not like me. I do not take over things. Many of my coworkers are new and look to me for help as it is, so maybe it came off naturally. I don’t really know. I feel like I can’t read situations and don’t know when I’m stepping on people’s toes anymore.
My afternoon appointment with my boss got cancelled as she went home sick. I knew for sure she was avoiding me. All the uncertainty and fear is just fuel for my chaotic mind. Thoughts racing. Heart pounding. I don’t think I slept at all that night.
The event came and went. I was on autopilot buzzing around. Solving problems. Greeting families. Schmoozing w vendors. I barely remember it. But once I got to the safety of my home an explosion occurred. My mind broke apart. My body lost control. The biggest most intense panic attack took over my being. I couldn’t breathe. I was throwing up. I was hearing voices. I was lost in a circular pattern of thinking and incoherent. My husband had to shake me a few times to bring me back to reality. It scared him. It scared me. He demanded I quit my job. We would figure something out. There was no need for this kind of reaction to a job.
Here’s the thing. I’m not so sure this is only related to the job. I did some neuropsych testing…6 hrs of it. Part of it was like an IQ test and I did not do well. I felt like a complete failure and my cognitive skills are disappearing. I don’t have the results yet, but I am terrified of what they might say. That truly my cognitive deficits are abnormal for my age or whatever. I am also afraid I’m going to get slapped w another diagnosis. Self stigma looms large in my head. I had not shared any of those fears w my husband, kept them bottled up.
Being told to stay in my lane just means I am fucking up. Maybe I’m not doing as good of a job as I think I am. Maybe I am a sham. And soon, it’s going to be presented to me in black and white.

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6 thoughts on “The Jig is Up

  1. Staying in your lane may mean she is insecure about her lack of experience. She may have realized she didn’t give you information in a timely manner and got defensive. I hope you can talk to your boss and get things straightened out. Based on my similar reaction to things and trying to do a perfect job and second guessing myself it usually wouldn’t turn out like I thought it would. I hope you have a good evening and don’t stress about a rude person.

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  2. I have those same doubts and fears: that I’m a big fraud, that one of these days everyone will find out what a failure I really am, that I’m losing my memory and cognition … and I also keep those fears to myself (other than writing them in the blog). I have been close to panic mode at times because I am sure that something will happen and the whole house of cards that is my professional life will come crashing down.

    I guess part of me still has a little confidence, and the same is probably true for you. When I take a deep breath, I can remember that something got me to this point in time, a combination of intellect and experience and survival skills. I’m sure you must have those same qualities to last 15 years in the same job.

    I think a relatively new manager thinks they have to keep the underlings in their place. I hope the comment was something that can be smoothed over in a day or two.

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  3. I also have these same fears and keep them to myself. I’ve been trying to stay in the habit of telling myself things that are POSITIVE about me though and while right now I feel like I am trying to convince myself, when you tell yourself something for long enough, you begin to believe it. I’m trying to replace these long-time negative thoughts of myself with positive ones. I think it might help. I also agree that maybe your boss was a bit on the defense. Try not to read in too much into what she says or how she says it. Just remember to tell yourself that you are a valued employee who is good at what you do. That’s another thing I do often. Great big hugs to you!

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