Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Why did I tell my mother about my blog?

I got a wonderful phone call last night from my dear friend Alona. She's part of my essential support network, which helps me monitor my behavior and cope with my illness and my life, and a loyal reader. Every time she calls me, and I start to tell her what's going on, she says, "I know -- I read your blog and I wanted to see how you were doing."

She and her husband, a lawyer, think it's possible -- just possible -- that the faculty is meeting with me to clear the air and tell me all is forgiven. Maybe they want to create a reconciliation between Dr. Jerk and me.

If not, her husband definitely thinks I have a lawsuit on my hands.

But they don't agree with the petition idea. They think that the entire school doesn't need to know why I'm leaving, if I leave, or how poorly the faculty has treated me. Alona went through a similar crucifixion at her last job, where the higher-ups treated her horrendously and unjustly. She didn't spread word among the staff about what they did to her; she found another job and left with her head held high.

So the petition's out. Even though Little Marty thinks I have nothing to lose, I can't employ the petition on the off chance that the faculty wants to reconcile, not pillory me. Because then the other students would know that I went through this.

Then I got a not so wonderful call from my mother. I love her dearly, but I can't talk to her about many things, because I get so exasperated. She just doesn't understand how I feel and react to things. So listening to her, even though her intentions are the best, can be very painful. I feel like she's constantly second-guessing me, telling me how to think and feel -- and the way I think and feel is very much influenced by my illness. Not having this illness, and not being a psychiatrist or psychologist, she doesn't understand my reactions and is always telling me how I should react. I hate that.

I refused to talk to her -- when I feel bad enough, I exercise my option to hang up the phone -- so she sent me an e-mail:

It's understandable that you are concerned about the meeting. But a follow-up meeting was to be scheduled, and now it has been. Do see whether Dr. Roda can see you before the meeting. Use the cognitive therapy techniques that you learned at the Ellis Institute to get into a frame of mind that does not see the worst possible outcome.

I do not think that a petition signed by students is a good idea. Escalating things is not a good idea, especially since you don't know what is on the faculty's agenda.

This program selected you. It is in their interest to see that their candidates succeed. The faculty do not want to think that they made a mistake in accepting a student into their program.

So Dr. Jerk is a jerk. There are many in this world. And the whole world does not have to like or respect you. You can thrive without their love or respect. Just get through this, and then you'll have options. But don't go in with your guns blazing. That's not a winning position. See that things are deescalated and that it turns into a win-win situation. Then if you want, you can get out of there.

Love, Mom

Hm. She has a point. I prefer reading her emails to talking with her on the phone; she can present her arguments, I don't have an emotional reaction while reading them -- and I almost always get emotional when we talk on the phone about stuff that's bothering me and how she thinks I should react to it -- and I can take or leave what she has to say.

If she had told me on the phone not to go in with "guns blazing," I would have probably gotten very angry. Of course I'm going in to the meeting calmly and not antagonistically! Does she think I'm a toddler? But all the meetings I've had with the faculty have been horrible; they lobbed personal attacks and severe judgments at me -- all of them unjustified -- and I had to sit there and absorb the abuse. That is NOT going to happen tomorrow. I'm going in with a prepared statement, and if I need it, I'll use it.

My good buddy Boaz also shot me a note:

I'm sorry that you have to go into that meeting -- but in all honesty, what can they say? That you've proven more than capable of doing well on your exams, you're completing your coursework with alacrity, and you've missed one lab? Big fucking deal. I would almost take the offensive, here. They have to give you solid, specific feedback and information, not vague feelings and characterizations. This isn't about you as a person -- it's about you as a student, and their judgments can't deviate very far from the facts on paper.

Maybe I'm just being righteously indignant on your behalf and I don't know anything. That's more likely.

No, I think he's right. And that's the attitude I need to adopt. That I deserve concrete evidence of my malfeasance before they kick me out.
Copyright (c) 2006 "Ayelet Survivor"


  1. I think it's smart to leave out the petition. You don't need to share your problems with the faculty with the entire student body. Alona and her lawyer husband sound like smart people. I hope that they're right about the meeting; it would be an awfully nice conclusion (be"H) to this whole mess. And yes, if they're wrong, you probably DO have a lawsuit on your hands.

    Often it's a lot easier to control one's reaction when reading an email than when actually speaking aloud with a person. So I'm glad your mother's email went better than her phone conversation, but I'm also not surprised.

    Jake sounds like he is a little bit righteously indignant on your behalf, but I'll agree with him that they need to give you concrete feedback, not vague garbage that doesn't really tell you anything other than that they're out to get you.

  2. I'm not up to speed on the whole tale-- though I think I get the jist that there's some big rhubarb going between you and the faculty/administration, and that may result in your ouster.

    I think I have to agree with everyone about leaving out the petition. Even if every student signs it, it really holds no real weight legally or within the framework of the institution. In fact, it may just raise the stakes and force the administration to take a hard-line to save face and show that they cannot be bullied by the students. Faculty and administration are the 800-pound gorilla in the building. You may very well have a lawsuit on your hands-- I don't know the particulars-- but why escalate things? You can always bring a lawsuit later if you get ousted and you didn't have a petition.

    When I was in graduate school, we had a situation... I can't even recall what it was about, frankly... but the student government carried a no-confidence vote against the President, and the whole student body assembled in the cafeteria to call fo his ouster. Nothing came of it, except maybe more friction between the students and administration.