Thursday, January 29, 2015

Picking Up the Pieces

I had a really bad day this week.  It was all work related, and left me feeling kind of shattered where I stood.  The details aren't important, but the variety of ways in which people were hurt and reacting to it ran an impressive spectrum.  I failed someone, someone else failed and wanted to blame me, another person is coming apart and forcing me into an uncomfortable position, I goofed up, floundered, and was left staring at a pile of work I had to finish and no longer felt qualified to do.  I spent the day in tears on and off, and confronted with the reality that even when I do my best it isn't always enough and I don't really have much control over my reputation.  I'm at the mercy of my community and my own limitations.



Ian helped where he could.  He even brought the kids by the store after school just to give me a badly needed hug.  I told them that if I could do anything in the world at that moment I would just throw all of them and the dog in the car and drive to the cottage and take a nap and eat nothing but cake for a week, and Mona lit up and said, "REALLY!??!" with such hope in her voice it made me laugh.

I'm doing better today.  I'm still rattled.  I'm trying hard to shift that sense of failure into feeling humbled so that I can move forward and do better, rather than be paralyzed by a haze of inadequacy.  It's better to learn and persevere than to crumble, but crumbling is so much easier, and when you're tired so much more tempting.

But here's what I'm grateful for:  All the places I could turn to when I was feeling at my lowest are all the places that matter most to me.  My husband is always on my side.  My children are a source of joy, not angst.  I have some amazing friends who hug well.  I still have my parents, and my brothers.  My home is a safe place.  My dog is only sometimes annoying.

I am fortunate beyond measure that in my life the relationships that impact me most are all positive.  I know too many people for whom those ties are the source of their pain, and not the foundation on which they can rely.  I am thankful my strength hasn't been tested yet beyond the reach of that support.

At least I can say that on a day where I had to suffer some humiliation I was still able to put myself into another's shoes.  I was able to see how I probably appeared through their frustration and not make decisions based on my own defensiveness.  I may make mistakes, but at least I'm trying to address them in ways where I don't have to feel ashamed later.  I tried to make restitution where I could.  The hard part is knowing that in some cases that will never be enough to mend the hurt or actually make things better.  My great-grandmother used to say, "You can't un-ring a bell."  I supposed I just need to learn how to harmonize with it.

17 comments:

  1. Sorry on all counts. I usually just want to curl up under my covers and hope the world go away when things like that happen. How mature of you to recognize where things went off the track, owning up to them, and moving forward as best you can. At the end of the day you listed all the most important parts of your life and hopefully this very crappy day will only be a blip on the radar. Again, really sorry you had such a bad day. Hang in there!!

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    1. Thanks, Peg. I can add a supportive online community to my list of things to turn to. That's remarkable when you think what a nasty place the internet can be. Today is already better. It will just be a while before I get my confidence back.

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  2. Well shoot. After your previous post about your craft that had me smiling with your obvious delight and skill at your work, I wasn't expecting to read this. I'm sincerely sorry for the difficult professional situation(s). I have a lot of sympathy for you and respect for your approach to it. I experienced quite a professional flop a couple years ago that was unexpected and yet I should have known it was coming. In the aftermath, I had my own journey of hindsight in which I spotted obvious and naive ways where I went wrong. Owning up to that was hard. It was also hard to recognize that others who were higher up contributed to the failure (and had not told the truth at times) and I could not control that part of the equation. Letting go was very difficult. I have to say now that I am somewhat removed from that time, the great disaster was extremely important to my professional growth. I know I'm just a random internet person referring to something in a vague way, but don't just take my word for it - some of the most successful people have been through dramatic failures and claim them as major turning points in their careers. Heck, Steve Jobs was fired from his own company at one point. Google JK Rowling's commencement speech at Harvard. It's worth the twenty minutes or so, she has a neat perspective on failure. (It's still not easy or fun, though) Thinking of you!

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    1. Thanks. You're right, owning up is hard. Part of my problem in one case is that apparently I did something wrong but I can't figure out how. If I can't do that, I can't prevent it from happening again. And from the other person's perspective it looks like I tried to pull a fast one and get away with something, which isn't true, and painful to think someone believes that about me. Possibly several people do whose opinions matter. I can only just keep going and hope enough people see how hard I try to do the right thing every day to balance it out. But people believe what they want to believe, and it's easier for most people to believe the worst.

      Sorry for your own professional flop in the past. It sounds complicated and painful. I appreciate your relating it to my bad day so I don't feel so alone.

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  3. Failure and mistakes are necessary but painful. I hate them.

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  4. So sorry to read this, Korinthia. I'm glad though to see that, once the storm has passed, you are handling it with the same level-headed, rational, positive approach that I've gotten accustomed to. It's another battle scar, and I think you'll come out the wiser and stronger for it. Don't let yourself crumble!

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    1. Thanks, Sumitha. Sometimes it's just so draining to work with other people and to have all the responsibility. That's the part I miss about working for someone else--it's nice to have a place to hide, and right now I feel so exposed and raw. One person on my bad day just needed to yell, and after I quickly found a solution to her problem she still needed to vent, so I had to just take it until she calmed down and agreed that it was all fine now. But boy, I was not in a good state to serve as a punching bag. Normally I like seeing all the people, but now I'm wary every time I have to talk to someone. It will pass, but probably not for a while.

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    2. Ouch, that is even more sadder to read. I highly recommend a binge watching session on Netflix -- it provides the same reprieve as any other addiction without the ill-effects on your health. And in most cases, when you want to break the addiction, you just go to Wikipedia and read the plot summaries of the next few episodes -- their dry writing and spoilers will make you never want to watch that series again -- instant rehab :) Some awesome series to do this (IMO) are - House of cards, Orange is the new black, Mad men, Sherlock... You should try it (if you already haven't!)

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    3. PS: Ignore that if you'd rather just process the situation quickly and be done with it... I generally need a little distance before I can start processing things and this helps me get out of my head and step into a different world for that interim period.

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    4. Oh, I'm a big Netflix binge watcher. Enough of my work requires waiting for things to dry that I usually have some show up on my computer. Seen all of the above, plus American Horror Story, The Walking Dead, Gilmore Girls, How I Met Your Mother, all the Star Trek series.... Currently on The Fall. (The ones I keep waiting for are The Good Wife, Northern Exposure, and The Wire, but I may have to get those elsewhere at some point.)

      Doing better this week. It helps to have lots of other people come in and say how much they like the work I've done for them, but amazing how many of those it takes to balance out one harsh word.

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    5. 3-to-1 if you go by the Losada ratio (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Critical_positivity_ratio) -- in this case, since it went a bit deeper, probably a whole lot more :)

      Good to know you are doing better this week. You'll soon be fresh as new. And thanks for your netflix list - I've seen a few of those but hadn't even heard of a few others. Will give them a shot. Between the list of (3 hour long) Bollywoood movies that my sister suggested last weekend and these, I'm now set for the next few months :)

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    6. Hm, well if you're looking for recommendations I wouldn't bother with How I Met Your Mother. When I'm working I can't have anything too absorbing on since I have to pause it a lot and not look half the time. American Horror Story and The Walking Dead are only good if you are a fan of horror movies. (I once sat through an entire 24 hour horror movie marathon in a theater, so binge watching AMS Asylum didn't phase me.) You'd like Gilmore Girls, and Parenthood if you haven't seen it. Friday Night Lights! For science fiction I would try Firefly. Have you watched Buffy the Vampire Slayer? And Black Mirror is amazing. Watch that before all the BBC stuff gets pulled as they are hinting will happen.

      The lesson here is I watch too much TV.

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  5. Aww. I'm sorry you had such a bad day. There is nothing more frustrating / upsetting then getting used as a punching bag when you've tried your best to help someone! You have a great perspective, though. And I like that your dog is only sometimes annoying and that's a blessing. :)
    -Lisa

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    1. Egads, the dog. There are moments I love him SO MUCH and others where I wonder if there is still a way to back out of this deal. But Ian reminded me that many people have to deal with difficult relatives and such, and we really don't, so the dog is it. We have to learn to be patient with our weird little traumatized dog.

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