Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Passover ruminations

I had a very low-key Passover. Polar opposite of last year, which I spent with Ivan the Terrible pretending that someday he'd make me a stepmother. So this year, I went to one seder, and spent the rest of the time reflecting.

One of the things I thought about was work. What went wrong at my last job, and how I need to change to prevent those things from happening again. I knew that some people from my last job loved me, and many couldn't stand me. Funny thing -- those that couldn't stand me were all pretty much insecure, in different ways. I could do a bunch of character studies and bang out some funny nicknames, but I don't think that's necessary. The bottom line is, they were insecure and I rubbed them the wrong way.

What did I do that rubbed them the wrong way? I was a know-it-all. I thought I had the answers and knew more than everyone there. Those who were secure in their own knowledge and expertise were delighted to have me on board -- they were able to learn from me. Those who were not secure got sick of me very quickly.

I can't change whether people are insecure or secure. What I can change is how I interact with people. If people seem to not like me at my new job, I need to back off and not try to tell them how it is. I need to let them show me what they know and befriend them.

I had thought I would do this at my last job when I was transferred, but I didn't work at it enough and my essential know-it-all nature surfaced and annoyed the hell out of the haters. I was also always too stressed and frazzled, which is why I'm working on mindfulness so that I can manage stress better and not let it affect the quality of my work as much.

I told that to my therapist today and gave him an example where my stress led to poor job performance. I had a client who was a heavy marijuana smoker, as was his wife. They lost a 2-month-old baby to crib death, and then had a miscarriage. There are many indicators that marijuana use is linked to problems with pregnancy as well as SIDS. I was trying to refer him to a higher level of care so his parole officer wouldn't arrest him. I told him that he needed to commit to treatment. He said his marijuana use wasn't hurting anyone. I told him it could be linked to the loss of his children.

Naturally, he flipped out and told my supervisor that I said I blamed his children's deaths on his marijuana use. Which wasn't exactly what I said, but the executive director used that as an example of my "unethical" behavior.

My therapist didn't think that was unethical. He believed I was trying to help the client and struggling to do a good job while coping with work stress. It meant a lot to me, hearing him say that. It helps to know that good and intelligent and psychologically savvy people believe that my former coworkers were wrong about me.

But that still means I have to manage how I interact with them. It's not manipulation -- it's common sense, and it took me more than 40 years to come around.  I used to think that if I was right, people should just agree with me. But it's not that simple, and I need to accept that and adjust how I approach things and people.

In 2009 I spent most of Pesach with Dov and Tovah in Israel. Tovah recently told me that their children still ask when I'm coming back. I hope the Malchicks are asking Ivan the Terrible the same question.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Interview week

I've been on four job interviews this week -- two today; I spent hours on the subway going to Brooklyn and Queens -- and I have another tomorrow. Three of those jobs were mine for the asking.

One job paid nothing: it's a substance abuse treatment facility using a medical model (including outpatient detox), and I suspect that the nurses aren't offered a pittance for their services. The interviewer did say she'd hire me for part-time work -- $15/hour for individual therapy, $45/hour for groups.

One job required work on Friday night and Saturday, and I'm not ready for that. I don't know what kind of Jew I am, but I don't think I want to start out working on Shabbat. I was offered quite a low salary, since it's a startup (an established mental health clinic is starting a substance abuse program), but it would be a good learning experience. Except I don't think they'll want a shomer shabbos therapist.

The third job is located a glorious 1.5 hours from my apartment. It's also based on a fee-for-service model (if your clients don't show up, you don't get paid), and I'd have to work in 2 locations -- including doing some work with children, which I have no training in. (They seemed to think I'd be fine.)

So none of these three offers are really right for me. The other job is interviewing other applicants, and they won't make a decision until mid-May. I'll see how I like tomorrow's opportunity. Fortunately the interview's at 2:00pm, so I can sleep late and have a relaxing morning.

I should be proud, or flattered, that I'm getting this much attention, but I'm just exhausted and frustrated. I know I could do an amazing job given the right opportunity, and now I'm afraid that won't happen. But I'm not ready to settle. I'm still getting phone calls about jobs I won't even bother interviewing for -- for example, they don't offer LCSW supervision. I'm still responding to job ads. I've been to numerous job fairs and networking events. I'm not giving up yet.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Not all FaceBook friends are really friends

The Great Invalidator (TGI) was my FaceBook friend. We met sometime last November and had the following conversation:

TGI: What do u do for work?
Ayelet: clinical social work
TGI: If my ex keeps acting like a bitch I may need your services!!!!!!

Charming. But many men complain about their ex-wives.

A: I'm not a magician ;) Divorce is tough. I work in substance abuse.
TGI: I'm happily remarried - I'm the substance she abuses!!!!!!
A: ha ha
TGI: Will u do me a favor and marry her? ;) please!!

That's just not funny. And as a married person, he's the one who should be helping me out, right? But whatever. We continued to communicate sporadically, and every once in a while he'd start "poking" me incessantly.

Today I'm in a really awful mood. The kind of mood where I start thinking about going to a store where chefs buy knives. I can't even blog about it now. Maybe tomorrow after the job fair I have to attend. But I got sick of TGI poking me, and I felt resentful about his "joke." So I decided to tell him, to get it off my chest and clear the air.


A: I need to tell you something. When you jokingly asked me to marry your ex-wife so you wouldn't have to pay alimony, it really hurt and insulted me. I felt like you were trivializing my need to get married by joking about it in a way that would make your life easier. It felt very inconsiderate and selfish. And I guess I'm still upset about it.

I was hoping he'd apologize.

TGI: 5 months later and u r still upset over a harmless joke???

I apologize if u r overly sensitive and I hurt your feelings - but u need to grow up!

That is not how friends talk to friends. Even if I thought a friend was overreacting, I wouldn't go ballistic like that. If I don't think a joke is harmless, then he's invalidating me by saying it is. Not to mention I don't need to be excoriated for being sensitive right now, when every day and every minute is a struggle.

I didn't respond, so he wrote me again:

TGI: U may defriend me for this - but u need to stop playing the victim and taking everything so sensitively - that is a joke I've made to 30 ppl - the other 29 found it hysterical - u seem to have a persecution complex. Just be yourself and Mr. Right will come calling! Stop over analyzing every innocent comment!

I ignored that too, and he wrote again:

TGI: Hope u realize I was trying to help

That I didn't ignore:

A: I believe you thought you were.

That wasn't good enough for TGI:

TGI: Again - I said I meant well - its not that I thought I meant well - I did mean well - whether the message was received or not is up to u

By the way I spent an hour on the phone the other night with a FB friend that i never met that is lonely and I was able to raise her spirits some.

If u ever want to talk, I'm a good listener. But to accuse me of being insensitive to you for a comment I made about 5 months ago, is not good for u. I'm an honest person and the worst thing is to hold something in for months and then blurt it out of nowhere - it just serves no constructive purpose!

I don't know why I thought I should bother trying to explain my feelings to him.

A: I tried telling you how I felt about something and you blasted me. That's not being a good listener.

He didn't get it.

TGI: What u told me was ridiculous (u should have said it 4 months ago) the fact that it still bothers u now is problematic - sometimes a person needs a jolt to get out of a bad place!

If u wanna call - I'm all ears!

Why would I want to talk to him at this point?

A: You're a very judgmental person. I don't think I want to talk to you about this. I'm going through a very hard time right now. I tried not to let what you joked about bother me. But today everything was bothering me and I decided to get it off my chest. Had I known you'd be a judgmental invalidating jerk about it, I wouldn't have said anything. And your way of "helping" does more harm than good.

He's pretty defensive, as well as judgmental:

TGI: U called me a jerk? No wonder u are alone - please to do contact me again! I tried twice to reach out to you tonite and this is the response?

And there it is -- more judgment. I guess not all FaceBook friends are really friends. I unfriended and blocked him earlier today, then relented and unblocked him. I shouldn't have.

However, I do realize I'm rather hypersensitive right now. I went ballistic on Rabbi Zohar recently, after I felt like he was also trivializing and invalidating my feelings. He told me to email him my three main challenges in life and he'd tell me how to deal with them. So I did:

1. Get married
2. Lose weight
3. Be less depressed

He wrote back:

1. Why? Men are jerks.
2. Smoothie diet.
3. OK, that's the real challenge. And in fact...

He wrote quite a bit for #3, including a recommendation that I check out Zelig Pliskin's "Gateway to Happiness." But I was furious because I felt he was trivializing something that was important to me. Probably the thing that's most important to me in the world. So my response to him was rather hostile:

A: You are full of shit.
RZ: Ouch. What exactly do you mean by that?
A: You mock me. Why do you think I put getting married first? That is what I want more than anything. And you made fun of me. Hence, you're an asshole and you're full of shit.
RZ: I apologize. It was not my intention to make fun of you at all nor to mock you at all. Did you read this part ? - "Please don't get me wrong, I am not ignoring or minimizing your first two challenges, but I personally think #3 has a way of helping with 1 and 2 that puts it in first place. I'll address the other two after I hear back from you."
A: No, because I was so incensed by the way you minimized what was important to me. I suppose once I have disposable income again I can pick up "Gateway to Happiness.' But I've tried similar regimens that haven't really worked, like "Feeling Good" by David Burns.
RZ: You can also find it most shuls and Jewish libraries. Pliskin is quoting from a large number of sages, which is Torah, and the Torah has the unique ability to help us connect to the soul, which is a source of infinite joy.
At this point I doubt we are going to have any effective communication. I wish you only good things.
A: Just remember that I sent this list to you before my grandmother died, and you responded after.
RZ: I am very sorry about your loss. May HaShem give you comfort at this time.

So maybe I am being too sensitive. But right now, I'm an open wound inside, walking around with a mask of normalcy. Which probably means I'm going to alienate some people who don't know me well enough to hang in during the tough times.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Just like me

I've been advised to keep an open mind when dating, and not to judge people too quickly. So when an out-of-towner emailed me on Jwed, even though I hadn't liked his profile before, I decided to rejoin and get to know him.

This may have been too open. After saying he'd call Monday and Tuesday nights, and not calling because he "wasn't feeling well" (how difficult is it to make a phone call if you have a cold? and if it's not a cold...), he finally called last night. After 11 p.m. And when we talked... he had too much in common with me. A lot of employment volatility; when I told him I was looking for a new job, he remarked ruefully, "I know what that's like." Apparently after trying and failing at several careers, he's now making a go of being a silver and stamps dealer.

He also suffered a similar educational experience to mine at The Bad Place, so bad he was considering suing. Unlike me, however, he's carrying a lot of student debt. His ex-wife's parents apparently disliked him as much as Ivan the Terrible's disapproved of me. He alluded to various other problems but didn't want to go into detail. So I'm wondering if he has bipolar as well, or some other emotional issues.

To a large extent I can relate to him... and that worries me. Because I want to be with someone stable. But is it fair to expect more stability from a partner than I personally have?
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"