Being Sensitive With THEM
This is Week 12!
We had so much fun with US this week….Christmas suppers, Boxing Day visits, late night gab sessions, all with the people who I love to call ‘US’. In fact, I had so much US this week, Finding 52 has had to do another leap ahead with this singular weekly post, cutting to the good stuff, and bringing Week 12, straight from the hip…here are my thoughts from the week that drudged up some nasty bits of Being Sensitive with THEM.
The icon I used this week, was a poem my mum wrote out.
Displayed it on our Christmas tree….
I am not sure of the author, if it was not her own work, but it dates back to before she was married, a time in her life I know very little about. She did not speak about her college or school memories. Only once did she bring it up, prompted by attending her 25 year high school reunion. She was not reminiscing about friends or events that helped shape her view of the world. She was warning me! She advised me to be nice to all the nerdy boys in my school, for those were the ones from her school, who were the most successful in business careers and had turned into stable husbands and doting fathers.
Well, mumma….. I think I was already pretty nice to everybody, AND, I was not really looking to settle down after Grade 11, so what she really meant was, be nicer to my brother….he was a bit of a nerd and did make a lovely husband and father, so she was right about that!
Speaking of being right, look what my younger daughter gave to her dear Ma this Christmas…..
She informs me this is not binding on the relationship between her and I, it is only true for the grandmother she never met. 🙂
My week to be Sensitive to THEM could not have come at a better time. I am reminded that this portion of the month is set aside to go beyond the scope of my closer connections, and broaden my focus into career and community circles. My learning from the last 3 weeks has been:
- Don’t be SO sensitive, people are just people.
- If I am offended, I can chose my reactions.
- Messes are not Failures, and Pain is not a Mistake.
I SURE needed all these lessons this week. I was fighting to keep my job!
It was not a down-turned economy threatening my employment, like so many other people currently in my city. It was not an illness or poor performance standards that came calling for my resignation. It was not a booming voice from the heavens, demanding my undivided attention to remain at the keyboard to blog, and only blog, for the rest of my days, nevermore to wear heels or pack a lunch, that bid for my quitting papers this week.
It was a person. One ‘customer’, if you will, who was dissatisfied with how I assisted him 7 years ago and has gone to every boss, manager, customer service department, and executive board, to complain about my service.
I just want to make sure you caught that….. 7 years ago….back to 2008….this is how long I have been poked and prodded by one review or another, written up explanations and statements, attended mediatory sessions of his complaints and rants, which only resulted in his further dissatisfaction, to finally end up here….this week….actually on trial to defend myself in a business transaction that happened a lifetime ago.
The first day of ‘trial’ was ‘fun’. He got to tell a lot of lies, in an attempt to prove that I had been untruthful, something my line of business takes seriously and would actually be adequate grounds for dismissal. I kept telling myself, it’s not personal, people are just people. Since I believed his complaints to be inaccurate, this sensitive approach seemed to work fairly well. I did not get upset or feel offended.
The second day was not fun. This would be the first time he would actually get to hear my words, see my face and get explanations from me, so I had to prepare extensively with legal representation, in order to have the ability to handle a possible attack from this person who was very determined to have me fired. I was doing pretty good with it all, careful to guard my reactions when his questions were designed to trick me to admitting the guilt he wanted to prove. Halfway through the day, I felt fairly confident I would come out in the good and true light I consistently presented.
Perhaps his lunch was ‘off’, or maybe he did not eat so he could remain hungry for my blood, because when we came back into session to complete the day, I was on the hotseat! He started making rude noises after I answered, as if I had said something disgusting toward him. He scoffed at my responses, like they were idiotic and remarked that school children would be less obtuse. He started to raise his voice with impatience if I wanted him to repeat confusing or complex questions meant to trick partial confessions out of me. It was getting messy…..it hurt…..so I kept repeating to myself…..this is not a mistake, I am not a failure….but I still felt like murdering this man!
After all, I had already taken the advice of our complaints department a few years previously, and ‘admitted’ officially, that I had not done my best work with the incident in question, took my negative paper in what they said would be a great strategy to make this person go away for good. He did not go away. He was encouraged by my admission and appealed that more needed to be done. I was ticked off! Not only was I coerced to sign this paper in a bullying type manner by people who I worked among, but it also did not reap the intended results. I no longer trusted my colleagues and had residually bad feelings about my unjust treatment. But back to the trial….
With smoke about to billow from my ears, tears filling the corner of my eyes, I asked for a small break from my testimony and set off for a brisk walk down a quiet, side hallway.
I know I cannot let him get inside my head, cannot let him under my skin, should not fall for the tempting emotional reactions he is fishing for with his unprofessional behaviours, yet, I am losing my grip. Old voices agree with my attacker, becoming a full, finger-pointing chorus of guilt and inferiority.
How am I supposed to be sensitive to him…..to this? I am innocent of his complaints, and have had this hanging over my head for more than half of my career, have eaten crow for this, have lost sleep over this, have compounded heartache and heartbreak from other stressful life events with this. C’mon AJ, get your grip, or so the pep talk was sounding inside my head.
After another few hours of tough questions and earnest answers, it came time for the closing remarks. Not only did the person on the attack concede to some of my versions of events, the judicator commended me for my reasonable and responsible earlier admission, a factor that would go favourably for me in the ultimate outcome.
At the time, that forced admission was a tremendous assault on my character, a dig at my work ethic, an offense to the core of my being and one of the hardest things I had to do in my career, because I knew I was NOT guilty. It was a BIG hurt, a BIG mess, and was unresolvable for a long time….how did it transform into the thing that would now likely save me?
Whether this situation is finally over, I will not know for a while. I leave that judgement to the person in charge of weighing this issue and in the care of the Divine.
After a great, big cry and deciding to have a good night despite my less than ideal day, I laughed with family, ate good food, enjoyed fond memories of the boys not with us, and went to bed feeling loved and well.
My final lesson in sensitivity is this:
The hurtful people and situations I encounter in my community and career that cause me to distrust my calling, would have me stop believing in the good of what I do, that convince me to harbour bitterness for the people I serve, are in transformation. It stings less, knowing this.
My difficulties today, might save me tomorrow.