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Day 119: Exhausting Day of Confrontations

Posted by intrepidshe , in Healing Work 08 April 2014 · 120 views

Apr. 8, 2014 (48 Days Into Becoming):
 
I had two confrontations today that have left me feeling utterly spent. The first confrontation was barely a confrontation at all, but it was a big deal for me. The second one was a very big deal and has potential future implications at my job.
  
But first, one other big thing happened today that added to my exhaustion, but it was a very good thing. I recieved an advancement in my title. When I was hired there were insurmountable politics that led to my title being set incorrectly. The title they gave me had proven to be a barrier in numerous ways for me and for my organization. I don't want to expose my workplace, so I'll use a metaphor to explain. Imagine a police officer is given the title of fireman. When people call for the fireman, but they get the police officer, it creates a lot of confusion. Plus, it makes your company look crazy to be referring to the police officer as a fireman. That's essentially what happened with my title.
 
Well, the people behind the problem have since left the organization. A few weeks ago I requested my title be changed to match my actual position. The Board voted on it and approved my title.
 
And, it feels to me like I just got a big promotion! I'm delighted. I'm giddy. Posted Image
 
It isn't a promotion. I already had the salary and the responsibilities of my position. However, now having the appropriate title will solve some problems for me related to authority to perform my job. No more questions about whether or not I have the right to do this or that. My title wipes away all such questions.
 
Whew! I had been on pins and needles the last 10 days knowing the Board had met but not hearing the decision. The President had slipped a couple times and referred to me by my new title over the last 10 days, but didn't tell me for a fact about it until today. He was out of state and needed to see me in person to tell me.
 
Anyway, lots of Posted Image and lots of Posted Image   for me tonight.
  
As for the two confrotations:
 
My T
 
I asked her what she meant the other day about her not being the right T for me and me not seeming to be progressing. She denied saying anything about me not seeming to progress. But, about not being sure if she's the right T, she said she wanted me to know I have a choice. If the T isn't work for me, it's OK. I can find another T. She wants to remind me often that I have choice, my healing is the top priority.
 
I felt pretty skeptical hearing this explanation. But, I don't have any reason not to take her at her word. I decided to accept what she said unless something comes along to convince me otherwise. So, it's not 100% acceptance from me of her explanation; it's acceptance with a caveat.
 
She said she didn't say I was not progressing. I didn't argue with her because I have such a notoriously bad memory. But, in thinking about it right now, I realize I wouldn't have felt the need to 'prove' I was progressing if she hadn't said something to that effect. When I said I had an example to show I am progressing, I was responding to her comment. Why else would I have said that?
 
But, I don't know if it matters whether or not she agrees that she said it. I'm willing to set it aside.
 
A Hostile Male Colleague
 
Yesterday in the training meeting (the one also attended by the doctor who treated me at the end of the day) one of the men had a tantrum. He was upset about the template I was presenting and he disagreed. He expressed his disagreement with significant anger. He pounded his fist on the table and kept arguing for 40 full minutes. I explained in every rational way I could think of the reasons for the changes to the template, as well as the fact that I was not the person of authority over the decision to change it. I attempted repeatedly to redirect him to the appropriate person, but he continued to argue and pound his fist anyway. A meeting that should have taken 15 minutes, took 60 minutes. Everyone else was pinned down in the room by his tirade. Eventually someone else spoke up in my defense and said this man was being aggressive. Finally that calmed him down and we finished the meeting.
 
I was very triggered after the meeting and cancelled my next meeting. I spent an hour holed up in my office breathing and calming down. Interestingly, I was the very picture of calm during the hostility. I remained cool and composed (according to someone else in the room who complimented me for how I handled it). But, in my office afterward I felt scared and wounded.
 
I realized last night I had to confront him. I had to tell him he is not allowed to treat me that way. I had to stand up for myself and for little Intrepid who was so scared she had to hide for an hour and prevent adult Intrepid from doing her job.
 
I told my supervisor I was going to speak with this hostile colleague. And I told that colleague's supervisor as well. I also informed human resources. I said I would simply let my colleague know that I experienced his behavior as hostile and I would file a formal complaint if it happened again.
 
My supervisor and his supervisor did the TYPICAL thing and said, "it's just how he is." As if to say I needed to accept this behavior from him. My response is that this is how a hostile work environment is created, by the executive team allowing it. I said I would not allow it. His supervisor's other reaction surprised me even more. He asked me if I would use an 'appreciative' approach to this hostile person. I thought, what about expecting HIM to be appreciative of me? I'm supposed to be appreciative of him, AND I'm supposed to accept his hostility because that's just how he is?!
 
HELL NO! Posted Image
 
The more time when by today, the angrier I got. I could feel little Intrepid's rage rising up inside me. I could feel the need to go to his office and knock everything down.
 
Posted Image Posted Image
 
I knew I needed to deal with this before my emotions progressed any further. If I pushed my emotions down they would come out later, probably in SH. If I let my emotions build, they would come out as rage. I needed to give voice to little Intrepid before she took control of big Intrepid.
 
I went to his office and asked him what had made him so upset at the meeting. I told him his behavior felt hostile to me. He made excuses for himself, saying basically that he HAD to be hostile in order to stop me from doing what I was doing. He needed to be hostile to get control over the situation. I proceeded to have a discussion with him about what he was afraid of, and I reassured him as best I could that there were no plans to do the things he was afraid would happen. I explained the reasoning behind the change being made and asked what he would do to address the need.
 
The thing he suggested was exactly what we were looking for from him and his colleagues. He framed it differently, but it was exactly the solution. I said, "Yes, that's perfect. That's exactly what we need." He said, "An 'administrator' wouldn't accept that." And I said, "Well, I'm telling you I do accept that. What you just suggested is what we're looking for."
 
I wrapped back around to talking about his hostility and he gave the same excuse, saying hostility happens when people disagree. I said his behavior delayed a room full of people for 40 minutes, unnecessarily. He said it was necessary.
 
In my mind was thinking, "Are you crazy?! Hostility was NOT necessary."
 
But, what I said was, "Not at all. Look at the conversation we just had in the last five minutes. We solved the problem without any hostility. We exchanged ideas and found a solution. That could have happened at the meeting yesterday and everyone would have benefitted." He said he didn't think so.
 
I said regardless, "we can do better. We can solve problems without hostility."
 
Then I thanked him for hearing me out, I wished him a good evening and I left.
 
I am proud of myself for standing up for little Intrepid. I am proud of myself for being respectful and non-aggressive in my communication when I felt so close to my point of rage.
 
I am disappointed that I didn't say to him I would file a formal complaint if it happens again. I opted not to say it, feeling that I had gained ground with him. But, in so doing, I lost some ground for little Intrepid.
 
After I left his office I wrote an email to my supervisor, his supervisor, and HR. The HR person's response was spot on. She said she appreciated me informing her, that it provided needed documentation. She affirmed I had done the right thing.
 
On balance, I feel good about what I did. I don't know how it will turn out. I don't know if he will behave better in the future. I sincerely hope so. But, if he doesn't, then I've taken the right steps to allow corrective action to be taken.
 
And, boy oh boy am I tired after the last 24 hours. I experienced an hour of being touched by a doctor just 24 hours ago. How can so much happen in such a short time??



I know what you mean about being icy calm during a confrontation but totally spent afterwards. Can take a few days, a week, for my nerves to settle again.

 

That's the hypervigilance. We've got years of holding ourselves ready for an attack, because  we've been wired to know they can happen any moment.

 

So of course at the time we handle them like a pro. Adrenaline dumping makes us so totally fucking IN CHARGE of the situation that no one can get past us.

I got into a close-to-physical confrontation with my brother, and I think my total calmness scared the poor guy witnessing it more than my brother's over the top rage. It defused but as I said, I was totall exhausted afterwards.

 

You so totally rocked this situation and have given him no comeback. As a male with a fragile male ego, recommend backing right off now, give him a break from you as much as possible.

 

He's been beaten and he knows it and feels silly.

 

He won't be able to react in the same way again to you. You've walked through the tough guy wall and seen the ordinary person underneath, so he can't sell that wall to you anymore.

 

Well done, well done, well done.

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intrepidshe
Apr 08 2014 09:44 PM

Mac,

 

I'm so glad you said that. I thought a lot about how to approach him because it would be difficult coming from a female. I am of a higher rank in the organization. It could be very immasculating. I didn't want it to be that way. I wanted to stand up for myself, but still be able to communicate with him and maybe have a better relationship afterward.

 

It helps me to hear your perspective. Thank you!

Intrepid, that's amazing - how you managed to stand up for yourself, get your point across to this man and still maintain a peaceable, productive work environment (despite his hostile efforts to sabotage it).  I agree with Mac though.  BIG knock to his ego to be talked down by a woman, so probably best to give him some space for a while.

 

Regarding your T, something happened in my therapy recently that reminded me that, when we speak, the minute the words leave our mouths, we've lost control of them.  How they are understood by the other person has everything to do with their own mental framework.  My T misunderstands me quite regularly (I think), but on that occasion, I had a defensive response that was likely out of proportion to what he said.  It was a bit of a light bulb moment for me because I do think that as CSA survivors, our perceptions are distorted, so a significant part of our difficulties with people stems from breakdowns in communication.  Seen from that perspective, I am able (sometimes) to regard my misunderstandings with my T as opportunities for insight rather than failures within the therapeutic relationship.

 

Hope the rest of the week is a little calmer for you.  Take care :metoyou:

Awesome process, identification of feelings and solutions, and mutually beneficial outcomes. Clearly a beautiful experience in mastery and self-control. I don't think you let Little Intrepid down at all. You taught her that not only is aggression not necessary, neither is threat.

 

Your true ally here is HR. They clearly understand this man's hostility and the potential harm to the workplace.  

 

So,he's probably another survivor of domestic violence, but just doesn't recognize it. I could not have done what you did, could not have handled it that well, at all. Kudos to you. In the face of violence you stood steady and resolute. Intrepid. Aptly named.

 

As for your T, again Kudos. I like your ability to confront, listen, reason and let go of what you cannot prove or disprove. Carry on and see what happens. I do appreciate her giving you choice, so long as it doesn't feel like abandonment, sabotage, or that you are failing (her) somehow.

 

Congratulations on straightening out your true authority (by title change). The analogy is heart-warming.

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yarnfoolishness
Apr 09 2014 10:29 AM

Congratulations!!!!  Such successes.  :yahoo:

 

Take gentle care of you in the aftermath and fatigue.  I'm cheering you on.  :metoyou:

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intrepidshe
Apr 09 2014 01:22 PM

Thanks you guys. Your insights and encouragements are wonderful and very much appreciated.

Congratulations on the title!  Way to be assertive and go after what you know you needed in order to be effective!

 

" But, in thinking about it right now, I realize I wouldn't have felt the need to 'prove' I was progressing if she hadn't said something to that effect. "

It's possible that even if she didn't directly say "you aren't progressing" her words, phrase, body language, etc could have made you feel that that was the underlying message.   At the end of the day I think you are right, you had a difficult conversation with her where you expressed how you felt/heard and where she told you what she was trying (successfully from your point of view or not) to say.   All you can do now is either chose to trust that she is being honest with what she was trying to say/ how she feels/believes/wants for you, or not.   

 

 "it's just how he is."

The most stupid and frustrating justification for behavior ever invented.   People LEARN that they can do this because they get away with it.  I  am glad that you called out bullshit on this one and that you took steps to 1. document and protect yourself and 2. have a difficult and honest conversation with the male doctor.   I think you gave the feedback in an honest and direct way.  Now it's his choice to change and treat people with the respect they deserve to be treated with by him or not.   

 

 

Not only are these three moments really powerful on their own, it's great how you stayed connected to Little Intrepid along the way, recognized how you and she were feeling, and how you took active steps to think through the issues and ensure that you were protecting yourself and doing what was appropriate but also needed to take care. 

 

<3

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intrepidshe
Apr 10 2014 05:54 PM
Nebulas, Thanks so much for sharing your perspective and reactions. It gives me a greater sense of grounding. I spoke about it again with the President today. It was still a somewhat dismissive conversation. But it is clear that he is aware this is a problem that cannot be ignored. We. I think we are on the right path, just not where I would like to be. Little Intrepid is wrapped around my leg looking up at me knowing I've got her. That feels good.

About Intrepid She

This is a moderated PUBLIC blog. This blog is a therapeutic tool I am using to help me get over my fear of doctors, which is made difficult by a history of abuse by them, to learn to grieve, and ultimately to integrate my dis-integrated heart.

 

View postings specific to health care.

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The content of this blog is not appropriate for children or for anyone who might be triggered by reading about sexual abuse.

 

To the many others walking your own version of this path, I wish you well on your journey. -Intrepid

 

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