Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Presumptuous as Hell

When you work for city or state government, it's often perceived that your salary is decent, your benefits excellent, and your job security rock-solid. I'm happy to report that my salary is excellent, my benefits are decent, and my job security is pretty good for someone who's not in a union. I can state unequivocally that I love my job.

Either that love shines forth from my LinkedIn profile like a beacon or people see where I work and think, "I could do that." I get a lot of requests to find people jobs. Once the landlord of a newly housed veteran asked me if I had any positions open for a friend of his, a social worker who didn't like her job. (I had called him becaues he was having some issues with his tenant.)

"Does she have any experience working with homeless veterans?" I asked.

"No, but I bet she'd really like it," he replied. After a moment he added, "You know, I know another guy who's really smart. He's not a social worker, but he's very smart and capable. Could you use a guy like him?"

For what? was my initial thought, which I kept to myself. I wanted to stay on good terms with the landlord, so I let him know the drill: sign up for a list and wait, wait, wait.

Anyone who actually works for the city knows that getting a city job is never a simple matter, especially for unionized positions. It often requires getting onto a civil service list, which is a matter of timing and luck. And people on those lists might wait years to be called for a job interview. I was lucky: I responded to a job ad for a newly created position within a newly created department, and waited only 16 days between interview and job offer. (And then waited about five more weeks for my start date, which felt glacial to me but for government jobs is blinding speed.)

Apparently many people subscribe to the belief that if you're the recipient of good luck, you should pay it forward by helping them get a job. I don't think they intend to be rude, but it's rather presumptuous. The morning before I spoke to that landlord, an acquaintance on Facebook accosted me:

Hey! I'm looking for a job. You should just hire me it'll be fun

He's the brother of someone I used to supervise. We talked about getting together for a drink, but it never happened. He's cute, but not very bright. Even if I were looking to hire, which I emphasize I am not, I wouldn't hire this guy. But I'm working on my tactfulness, so I didn't overreact.

Not in a million years ;) You wouldn't like working for the city. Tons of bureaucracy

That's diplomatic, right?

Aww boo but ok. What agency are you with ?

Persistent little bugger. But I told him which agency. He responded:

In the Bronx? Why can't I handle that

Not in the Bronx, that was my last job, which he would have known if he were actually paying any attention to my Facebook feed. Still, I tried to be diplomatic, because karma.

My program isn't hiring right now. I'm not sure if the agency is looking for case managers, but you have to take a civil service exam and be on a list for years before they call you

I hoped that would discourage him, and it did. Haven't heard from him since.

At least this guy has met me in person a few times and we used to work for the same agency. Recently I got an email from someone whose connection request I had hesitated to accept.

I hesitated because he's fairly junior, and at this point, not to brag, I am not. I was wondering if he was just connecting so he could mine me for contacts and job prospects. Against my better judgment I connected anyway, and the next day he sent me this:

Good evening Ms. Survivor, I'm very interested in clinical work with veterans. I was wondering if you know of any clinical positions available. Thank you, {name redacted}

I don't think he realizes how incredibly rude this is. I don't know anything about him aside from what he's posted on LinkedIn. If I were going to recommend someone for a position, it would only be someone whom I know well and trust not to make me look like a bad judge of skill or character. I can't say that for him.

I'm genuinely happy to help people I know and trust. Recently a recruiter emailed me asking to discuss a position as Deputy Director of Behavioral Health, offering a six-figure salary. Even though I love my job, I figured I had nothing to lose by talking to him. Turns out the job isn't right for me, but it's perfect for a former colleague; I called her and sent her the recruiter's contact information.

But I don't know this new connection. I've never seen his work. I don't know if he's a good person. Why on earth would I risk my reputation to recommend him for a job? I thought about responding to him along the lines of,

Listen, this is not how you network. You don't send an email to someone who doesn't know you and ask for a job. You get to know a person, and they get to know you, and then if they feel comfortable recommending you, they will. You come across as horrendously unprofessional and presumptuous.

But it's not my job to fix him, and I think that just ignoring his request will send the right message. If it doesn't, I can always block him.

This should teach me not to accept connection requests from junior-level people I don't know. If that sounds horribly pragmatic, well, it is. I got another connection request a week ago from a psychiatrist who's worked with veterans for 25 years. Hells yeah I accepted! But no more brand new starting out unknowns.

I've been used by enough men in my time; I don't need to extend exploitation into my professional life.

Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Saturday, July 09, 2016

Aunt Luba drops a conversational cluster bomb

Two nights ago my Aunt Luba called to let me know she was sending me a sizeable check. Not because she thinks I need it, but because she loves me and wants me to have something before she dies. So the government won't get it, I guess.

We talked about my estrangement from my mother because she still lives with and adores the degenerate pervert. "I can't go to family events and see her," I said.

"You know, I was abused as a child, too," said Luba. "And had to see that person at family events."

WOW. During the ensuing shocked silence, I struggled to think of what I couldn't ask her. Who it was, of course; when and what happened; and if it happened to my mother too.

I bet it happened to my mother too. That's what the Prominent Sex Addiction Expert thought. Incest happens not only because fathers/father figures commit it, but because mothers/mother figures don't stop it, don't see it as wrong, or don't "see" it. They don't consciously ignore it--they're too emotionally distant to acknowledge it.

This verges into psychoanalytical territory, an area that is somewhat foreign to me, but it must be true. Because that's what happened. My mother knew the degenerage pervert tried to have sex discussions with me. He even tried in front of her. She told him to stop, but I don't think he stopped. She knew what was going on and she ignored it. Maybe not consciously. I'd like to think not consciously.

But if she was molested, or incested, then I can see why she doesn't think what happened to me was abuse. My Aunt Katya agrees with her.

Katya called me, and I spoke with her. We've always had a good relationship; she's always supported me. So I thought I could tell her what the degenerate pervert did, and name it as incest.

She said, "Oh, c'mon!"

That's a punch in the throat.

I tried to explain the terrible developmental consequences that kind of pornography exposure has on a teenage girl. She said, "Well, it might have felt like abuse, but it doesn't sound like abuse."

I feel very alone right now. I participate in a Tuesday twitter chat (#sexabusechat) which helps, but I desperately want a support group of women survivors of incest.

I went to a meeting of Survivors of Incest Anonymous, and the rigid 12-step format felt uncomfortable. As did the mandatory praying and chanting. (Well, you don't have to join in, but the chanting is all around you.) You can't talk about each other's experiences--you just listen as everyone speaks. I tried to say, "Like many of you, I have family issues" but was cut off: "We don't discuss what other people share!" But that's what I wanted.

Although listening to the others, I was relieved to learn I'm not the only person in the world who doesn't talk to her mother and sister. And none of them judged me. Which had to be validation enough, at least for then.

PSAE suggested I go to a survivors' weekend, which might be a good idea. It's a shame that there are survivors in my own family but I can't talk to them about it. I wasn't even sure I could blog about this. Some people would probably say that's a violation of Luba's privacy. But even though it's her story to tell, this kind of secrecy is what allows the abuse to continue. What allowed abuse to become part of my story and damage my life.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Thursday, July 07, 2016

I feel like an elephant: another poem

It's hot, and I feel like an elephant,
massive and lumbering.
Elephants are emotional
creatures, loving touch and contact
with their own and other species. Elephants
are loyal, weeping when bereaved. Elephants enraged 
can charge and stomp, but never unprovoked. 
At least I hope it's never unprovoked. When I stomp
I'm usually not as destructive externally.

I feel like a hippopotamus, 
clumsy on land, barreling along
on stumpy legs. But hippopotamuses 
are elegantly graceful in their element, which is water.
Mine is supposed to be air, but somehow
I'm rarely graceful in it. So I wish
I were more like a hippopotamus.

I feel like a whale. Or I wish I did.
Whales are incredibly powerful, with
an amazing sense of smell, sense of self.
Whales can swim with their eyes open in the ocean.
I can't do that, it stings me.
Whales travel in pods, whereas I seem to run through friends
too quickly, either discarding those
that ultimately annoy more than companion, or 
detaching, sadly,
from all those who join new pods.
Facing the constant hunt and chase and acquisition
of new whales who can resonate at my
own frequency, just like the whales who drifted away
to love and cradles, backyards and the suburbs.

Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Amputate: a poem

I wrote a poem, and I hope that doesn't mean I'm manic. It's about nobody in particular.


I should amputate
the traitorous parts of me: the arms
that reach for you, the
fingers that want to trace
your jaw and cheek and
all your beautiful bones, the
heart that wants to beat in unison
with yours.
The tongue that seeks your shoulder, chest, your neck and
every inch of skin; the hips
that sway in your direction when
the traitorous eyes enrobe you in their gaze.
I should amputate the thighs
that wrap yours cozily, the fragile cheek
that presses on your beard.
My lying mouth
betrayed me when I said
I didn't need you, didn't love,
and since I cannot amputate
you from my treacherous heart,
my heart should be the first
to feel the blade.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Saturday, June 18, 2016

How I paid for my date

A few nights ago I went on a date. It was my first week back at work, I've been tired all the time, but I've also been bored and lonely. The three weeks of recovery from surgery were spent primarily lying in bed watching "Mad Men." Which was an excellent choice, since it has relatively few laughs and laughing hurt the first two weeks. But I was by myself, mulling over my choice to discard yet another friend I was sick of and my recent diagnosis as a sex addict.

It's an accurate diagnosis. The process I went through to hook up with a cub--posting a clever ad on craigslist, weeding through the responses, meeting up and banging, then feeling ashamed--is very similar to the stages of copping and using drugs. It's a huge distraction from loneliness and frustration, because it takes up so much time. (This article explains the cycle very well.) So phone sex and other addictive unhealthy non-relationship-building sexual activity was out.

Going back to work was good, albeit exhausting. Going to volunteer meetings (even during my medical leave) was also good. But trying to date is necessary. If I want to have a healthy relationship, I need to practice appropriate dating behavior.

So I went out with a guy. He wasn't very attractive in his photos. I thought that would be an excellent way to keep my expectations and hopes low, and force me get to know him as a person.

Except he wasn't interested in getting to know me. Maybe I'm still too swollen after abdominal surgery, but the second he saw me, his face settled into lines of resentment and disappointment. He was too polite to just walk away, but it was clear he wanted to.

I thought if I could get him talking, he'd relax and enjoy the date more. He might have, but I didn't. I asked him as many appropriate questions I could think of--about his job, his children, his car, his family, his politics--and he was animated and eager to discuss them. But when he was finished, he was finished. His face resettled into resentment. I had to come up with another topic.

He didn't ask me a single question about myself.

He also didn't ask me to suggest a restaurant until we were in the car and had driven past the places I usually like to go. Why not ask me before picking me up, or actually make plans ahead of time, like a gentleman? Yes, we're in my neighborhood, but I don't know what you're willing to spend or what kind of food you like. And I really don't think well when I'm put on the spot. I'm the least spontaneous person you'll ever meet.

But mainly, the date was painful because the responsibility for conversation rested solely on me. A few times I thought, "I'll wait a few seconds and he'll say something." He's apparently a champion at conversational chicken, because if I didn't speak, he didn't speak. This happened to me before when I had coffee with a guy I suspect has Asperger's--he could speak at length on a topic he was interested in, but he couldn't start a topic; it had to be suggested. That was another exhausting date.

It's a shame he was so disappointed in me, but I was annoyed that he expressed zero curiosity. Why even go out at all? I would have rather he stood me up. Mediocre chicken teriyaki--and being expected to try his sake and sushi, even though I hate both--was so not worth it. Even the green tea ice cream was a chore.

Maybe I should forget about spending time with people outside work and volunteer activities. (At this point I volunteer with three organizations and could potentially add a few more.) I'm no good at keeping friends, I'm obviously shit at romance. Maybe I should just be a hermit, and come out of my cave just to work and volunteer. Because I'm no good at organizing fun outings, and I don't know how to make new friends.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"