Saturday, January 23, 2016

Khaleesi I Ain't

This week was slightly better than last week for me.  Super Boss was in a cesspool of misery for most of it.  

Thursday, the department director pulled me aside to talk about the overall misery in our department. He said really great things like how he doesn't want to lose any of us and he knows that Super Boss and I are doing the work of three analysts. He also was highly concerned about Super Boss and how miserable he is.  The director noted that when I'm upset that it bleeds onto Super Boss - I agreed saying we basically feed off each other's moods. He also talked about this huge deliverable we have for next week and how Super Boss's perfectionism is holding it up and in this case 80% good is fine.  I pointed out sending out not perfect work makes us feel dirty but I did agree killing ourselves over the deliverable made no sense.

First off, I know the director was operating from a human concerned place and a business results concerned place.  Looping me in was his way of pushing along work and getting a read on how bad things are. But it put me in a weird situation. I liked having a superior to express concerns about Super Boss because I CARE. Fuck the deliverable if it makes Super Boss cry in my office every day of the week.  You know? But I did get an idea of how to take a load off his plate by running with the deliverable. I am pretty sure knowing this discussion happened would upset and piss off Super Boss more so why do that?  So, guess what this oldest child, type A, highly-functioning depressive did? I tried to save everything and kept Super Boss in the dark about this discussion. 

He hasn't been eating lunch regularly for weeks. I have sent him out of conference calls telling him to get food but what he does, he goes back to his desk and works more. I have also lectured him about how blood sugar affects mood and thinking. So, Thursday I grabbed him a sub when I grabbed my lunch. I handed him his sandwich in his office and he looked like an ashamed child asking, "How much do I owe you?" I told him, "Just take care of yourself.  Put this food in your face."  I also created a report to help figure out what to focus on for the Big Deliverable.  Super Boss liked it a lot and found it helpful. 

He introduced me to the music of Ellis Paul months ago so I was listening to him in my office. Super Boss, with his awesome memory, got very confused and had no idea how I knew about the guy.  We spent the end of Thursday in my office listening to Ellis, working on the deliverable, and talking about our day. A lot got done and Super Boss looked a smidgen less miserable.

Friday morning he came into my office and thanked me for Thursday with tears in his eyes. He said that he felt so much better going home Thursday night. I asked if I could hug him but he refused.  He also confessed he didn't eat the sub I got him but he kept it in the office fridge for Friday lunch. I joked that I need to bank sandwiches for him. 

I know I can't save the entire department or stop him from leaving but it is freaky how much my mood or intention for the day can affect things.  Or maybe it wasn't me?  It could have been the music.  Yeah, it was good music... 

Friday, January 15, 2016

Without Letting Go There is No Show

This was overall a horrible week. What ruined this week was the automated billing process.  The process that was rushed through testing and built by people who did not understand the billing process and guidelines.  The latter half of that sentence? Super Boss and I just discovered that Tuesday. We had to read the project design document to a programmer out loud and define what we had just read.

Tuesday started with me testing some new coding and seeing absolutely nonsensical results in the system. I started feeling the building panic and frustration so of course I needed to shed a couple tears in my office to decompress. Then I asked Super Boss to go over one test case with me to make sure what I saw was wrong wrong wrong. We spent two hours realizing every case we tried was completely wrong.  I announced that I was trying not to freak out then five minutes later, I was sobbing. The looming deadlines, workload, and a programmer who had to debate every request we made.  Super Boss offered to let me go home and when I turned that down, offered to help as much as he can. He also suggested looping in Prince Analyst for work support. I kept working on billing, testing here and there as all the other work I needed to do piled up in my email inbox and queue in our system.  I was working and stewing in utter negativity and misery. I swung by Super Boss' office to give him an update I got from a voicemail.  What I told him, made no sense to him.  But I had just really quickly listened to the message in between all the billing crap. He reached for his phone saying that he needed to quickly check in a call.  I told him not to bother and he asked why. Then I said it.  I said the thing that broke everything.

"Because you have a damaged stupid analyst working for you who probably misunderstood." Super Boss hit the roof, yelled at me saying that I need to "cut the crap" and he started hitting the furniture in his office. I was scared so I got angry.  He was already angry.  We wound up yelling at each other.  He didn't yell mean things he yelled that when I say stuff like that, do I know how that makes him feel, and I need to let people help me. Then he got a second wind of frustration yelling how we have a team now that is not at all trained and kinda broken. So, me being in a completely rational state of mind picked up on that snapping, "Yeah, this team is broken." and left his office slamming the door.

I sat in my office with my door closed shaking and crying. I knew exactly why I had such a visceral reaction.  Remember how I have learned about triggering? But man... Super Boss? Someone I so completely trusted? That added an extra layer of upset.  I tried using all my tricks to calm myself down, the breathing and visualizations but it didn't help. I decided to work anyways so I called the programmer to discuss some system fixes. Crying on the phone is completely acceptable, right? Afterwards, a co-worker came into the office with a request and asked me how I was doing. Yeah, that question got an awesome response. But this co-worker just is so warm and loving, she held my hand, rubbed my back, and told me that everyone in our department has felt the same way. She let me cry, apologize for crying, and cry more.  

I calmed down and asked Prince Analyst for help on part of the billing process. I wound up crying in front of him while I showed his what to do.  The programmer came down to work with me on system fixes.  I cried in front of him too.  Our department director swung by and guess what I did?

I emailed Super Boss to stop by my office when he had time. He showed up a couple hours later.  I asked him to close the door.  I stated that I did not think his behavior earlier was professional or acceptable.  He had tears in his eyes, nodded, and apologized. I told him the message was appreciated but the method was horrible.  He asked how he should react when I say such horrible things about myself. I replied that if someone is upset and vulnerable, yelling feels like an attack. I added that he knows my history and what followed an outburst like his for me was punching and kicking.  He apologized again and pointed out that even though he isn't showing it but he is incredibly upset about how messed up billing is.  That made me feel a lot better and a little less crazy. He also stated, "You are smart." I thanked him and he said, "That isn't a compliment, it's a statement of fact."
We called in the programmer and had a big meeting of the minds where it looked like Super Boss' head was about to explode. He turned purplish red and put a shaking hand to his brow. When we realized the programmer inverted the process logic. To enroll in billing we need four weeks of no earnings, to unenroll we need a week of regular earnings. Swap that, that's what we got.  CHRIST!

Around 7:30 at night, Super Boss and I were talking in my office.  He asked me what would it take for me to believe in myself.  I said jokingly, "Well, I have this great boss who tries to build me up..." He smiled and said, "What if I'm not here?"  I picked up a picture of my mother's family and told him a story about my Grandpa. I ended begging, "Just please don't leave." He shook his head and took a shaky breath letting me know that it's getting harder and harder to find reasons to stay.  Ugh, ugh, ugh!  Of all the days to hear this... I told him that I can't imagine this job without him and he said he couldn't imagine this job without me. 

I wound up getting home at 9 and called my mom crying. This job is a great fit but on some days it feels like it's going to kill me. Last year I felt like it could be a lifer job but now I think I can barely make it until 2018. Exiting stage left possibly sooner if Super Boss leaves.

He went to an all day seminar Thursday and came back extra solicitous. I had a very trying day with more things broken in the billing system and covering the department in his absence. But it was manageable and I just was exhausted. I had to tell him at one point that it isn't his job to make sure I'm happy.  He explained that he had a good day and he knew I had a tough one so he was just trying to share the good in my direction. Super Boss also said he has been so upset this week, he almost cried on the train home. . The seminar had shown him that here is so much more he could be doing as a boss.  He was in tears when he said that. So, I told him my friends and family all think he's amazing and would love to meet him. After a long talk, his good mood came back and he got a couple really good laughs out of me.  After a big guffaw from me, he couldn't stop smiling like a fool. 

Friday was a pretty good day with just three billing issues needed to be fixed. The programmer promised us magic. Super Boss was a bad joke machine. I decided to make a list of every single billing issue I have logged. Man, looking at that made me feel so much better! Bonus, the majority have been resolved.

I started researching forms of platonic love.  Because I figured out that it isn't just me who feels like Super Boss is family, it's mutual. I'm pretty sure it's philia that is picking up storge aspects. Outside of my family, I have never seen a man cry as much as Super Boss. That isn't a judgement at all. In fact, I feel honored and touched that he has that trust and comfort with me. He is so buttoned up and shut down usually, the contrast is striking. He doesn't just care about my happiness and well-being, he really cares about my interests and opinions. I don't know if it's healthy professionally and I'm pretty sure the way we took Tuesday out on each other is because of this philia. But on the flip side, it's helps us look out for each other. His birthday is Tuesday. I have planned a surprise lunch for him. I have lied to him flawlessly about the bogus meeting on his calendar. Ha!

Sunday, January 10, 2016

First Week in January in Retrograde and a Full Moon

That is what this past week has felt like! To kick it off, I was a huge asshole to Awesome Roommate over the weekend when I interpreted her wanting to spend time with me as her using me for my car. I apologized to her Monday because I knew snapping at someone and fuming silence isn't deserved. It took my brother and my therapist to clue me into the whole maybe she likes me and wanted to hang. That made me feel like I had kicked a puppy.

I cried in my office almost every day this week. Just a general feeling overwhelmed and that I am screwing everything up wave of emotions. Super Boss cried in my office too. I did not know how little he has told his wife about our work. When he told her about screaming employee, during their holiday vacation, he got angry and upset all over again. I have gotten past being upset because I have told the story to so many people and the story I tell is not focused on how much work and emotionally difficult he was. It's more about how here's the asshole who broke our system but our system is mean so as long as we get our money, it's all good. I get to not cancel health insurance. Super Boss was also upset that he hasn't had time to properly train the new hire analysts, Prince Analyst and Worker Bee Analyst. I tried to point out that both he and I started the job being thrown in the deep end and yes it wasn't optimal but we learned. Sometimes when we have these talks, it feels like we are basically saying, "We don't want to raise our kids the way we're raised" - ha!

Our IT department has built a billing automation process that I had no time to properly run through the paces in the test environment but now the deadline has passed and it is in production. A lot of the new features I like but the week between Xmas and New Years I had to ask for bug fixes every single day. This week in an hour meeting that stretched into four hours, Super Boss and I discovered the process built into the automation is not the process we have developed over nine months. We discovered this a week before I had planned to run our monthly billing so we flipped the fuck out in a meeting. I made an impassioned speech about all the work I have done for months and the trust I built with employee now the system would force me to produce crap. Our reaction was so strong, IT decided to allow us to use our monthly process. The meeting had Super Boss yelling then ending with hysterical laughter as we talked in circles enough that we got back to square one. Worker Bee Analyst tried to be helpful suggesting that we needed to list out the pros and cons. God bless him for not running screaming from that mess of a meeting!

Friday we discovered another group of employees that need to be exceptions to our billing process. It made sense to me and we needed to get our director's approval. Cut to me listening to Super Boss list out all the new steps I need to do from now on and I wound up exploding at him,"It isn't that easy!" I took a beat and apologized. The rest of the quick drop into director's office, I was blinking back tears. I am the only person who reconciles accounts, calculate bills, answers phone calls, and terminates benefits. Sometimes I feel like the only thing keeping the whole process together is my will and the hundreds of little checks in my brain that only I know about. Adding to that burden felt initially overwhelming so I had a good cry in my office and with a co-worker. When I broke it down by steps for this month, I got everything done in an hour. Worker Bee Analyst got to see me cry and he was really, really great saying that he and Prince are here to lift the burden. Aw!

I also asked Super Boss about the progress on the Senior Analyst hiring. I pointed out that position is my only hope of getting away from billing. They are at the end of reviewing resumes. So, I think I could be interviewing in the next couple of months. Obviously, if I get the job, I would have to train someone else to do the billing. If I don't get the job, someone else will be my boss.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Brother Blood And Water

This year my family grew because I found another brother.  He has completely changed my life. Even though we don't share DNA, my family and I think the world of him.  He has cheered me on when I was exhausted and emotionally spent.  He has offered advice, an ear to listen, and a heart that hurts when I do.  Sure, he gets a salary to manage me, has an office next to mine, and I see him almost every day.

I would never have this amazing apartment and awesome roommate if Super Boss didn't suggest for months that I try to live in Boston.  He told me over coffee how he found his former roommates when he had an apartment in the city. When I thought I was going to be evicted, he shared the story of how he had to find an apartment in a week a couple years ago. He helped me develop the questions I used to vet Awesome Roommate.  It was so great to have him as a resource and me admitting to ANYONE that I am not confident or know something is rare and a bit difficult for me.  You know what he did when I signed for this apartment? He offered me a rug from his place.  It is now in my bedroom totally tying the room together. 

He spent months meeting with higher ups, developing strategies with our director, and composing memos to make sure I got a raise. The scope of everything he did trickled down to me recently. There were business reasons, of course, to ensure a higher salary but to him, the fact that I was reaping the reward made him happy. He cares so much about my happiness, it sometimes gets overwhelming. When I am bogged down with stress or work, and when he is under the same burden if not more, he takes the time to acknowledge my accomplishments and makes me smile with a joke or quirky tale.

He has seen me cry and I have seen him cry.  We have confided our worries to each other and have shared frustrations. When I share stuff with him, I am so acutely aware that he cares, I worry about overwhelming him. So, I try to break it down in parts by letting him know X is something I know he can't help with but I needed to verbalize it. But Y is something we can work on.   He tends to forget the stories he has told me so when I remember some detail from a month's old anecdote, he is flummoxed and demands, "How did you know that?" I like to allude to long dormant superpowers but ultimately reply, "Because you told me." 

He values my mother's opinion and perspectives which is when it can get weird hearing her words coming out of his mouth.  On the flip side, I tend to echo his wife too. We echo each other's anxieties which is affirming but doesn't feel so hot.  Because I can logic away my worries but if he also is concerned about my safety and disgruntled employees, the worry is real.  He has ordered something like this for the analyst team.  Every week he checks with me to see if I have been threatened.

I know he will eventually find a new job but I don't think he'll disappear from my life when that happens.  For just as he has shown me such generosity and compassion, I have tried to do the same with him. We'll celebrate November 22 and January 19, our birthdays, from now on. Together.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

The One Where Chokmah Learns About Triggering

Monday, I had a good talk with Super Boss recapping what happened last Friday.  He was livid with the co-worker who suggested that I ignore policy and help the screaming employee. He was also incredibly upset that I felt so burdened and wrong when I have to cancel insurance coverage. He got it, but assured me that I am a good person and don't deserve the vitriol directed at me.  He also pointed out that if I am so upset and no one is around in our office, I could reach out to the company's EAP services.  So I did that Monday.

Here's the issue, I thought the whole "trigger" thing is for people who have PTSD and that the term has been co-opted by super sensitive teens who don't want to think upsetting thoughts.  The EAP counselor pointed out that it's more about how my body responds to something I perceive as similar to a past trauma. The adrenaline that surges through me on a call with a screaming employee, the shaking hands, tears, and sleep difficulties all come from the same place.  The memory of what follows after the screaming.  We also talked about ways to calm myself.  It was good.

Tuesday, my therapist helped me talk through strategies if someone unstable shows up for a drop in. Tuesday afternoon Super Boss and I called back screaming employee now that I had completed a reconciliation of his account. Super Boss and I tried to explain how the employee fell behind to his wife but she kept interrupting, screaming at us, and getting totally confused about numbers. So screaming employee tag teamed in to do more screaming, threatening of lawyers, and nasty needling saying how we must be so proud of ourselves. The weirdest thing happened. I felt calm but Super Boss, who is usually cool as a cucumber, snapped at the employee, was shaking, and flushed.  Remember how I had guessed he was a fellow survivor of some childhood badness? I think Super Boss was triggered. So, I went into Big Sister mode, leaned over and whispered, "This is where it helps to get angry." The call ended with Pissed Employee calling our department director who was home sick and Super Boss going back to his office.  I tried finishing up some work and I got three separate calls from Super Boss where he let himself get angry.  There you go guy - process your shit!

Today, only three of us were in the office; me, Super Boss, and Baby Analyst.  All three of us wept in my office by noon today.  Super Boss looked like he had been up all night stewing over pissed employee's situation.  Screaming employee's wife had been calling all over out department to try to get another answer.  We had to call her back and her story oddly changed this time around.  Our department director didn't want to reinstate the benefits but warned us that the company manager might overturn any of our decisions. I accepted it but thought it sucked.  So Super Boss asked me to check out if there are other cancelled benefit people in the same boat as screaming employee. Only two others so Super Boss asked me how I would feel if we reinstated benefits for all three. I hit the roof but for a split second and asked for the rationale. Super Boss came up with a flimsy one and this is when he started crying saying, "This sucks" over and over.  Into Big Sis mode, I wound up calling him kiddo and pointed out that this is our first month implementing this new policy. We called the director to make sure he'd okay it and we discussed with the Benefits enrollment department.  Amazingly, the department was so helpful and sympathetic! We got a better rationale thanks to them.  Talking through the next steps, I wound up blurting out to Super Boss that I was beaten for most of my life and told that I was a worthless piece of shit but staying calm in the face of screaming hostility I feel powerful and fully myself.

Super Boss reacted fine but I panicked.  Within five minutes, I regretted saying anything and apologized for the overshare. I also dismissed Super Boss and instructed him to go back to his office and work on anything else. So I sat in my office crying.  Baby Analyst stumbled in and got concerned. I explained the whole change in policy.  I also took a deep breath and asked her not to look at me differently but I am an abuse survivor. This job makes me feel smart, accomplished, and powerful but the screaming phone calls make me feel like the four year old being kicked and called a mother fucking bitch.  That I don't want to feel that ever again.  I looked up and Baby Analyst's face was soaked with tears.  I gave her a big hug and told her that it's okay and I joked that I broke her.

Super Boss and I in the afternoon called screaming employee's wife to give her the good news from my office.  I started dialing, my hands were shaking, and I felt the tears in my eyes. So I had to hang up and announced that I was upset.  It looked like Super Boss had been crying in his own office and he asked me why.  Crying, I explained that we found an exception for these three employees and it's not like I don't want to find an exception for the other 57 employees we terminated benefits for.  I got that feeling out, he agreed, I took a deep breath and declared, "Feelings are for the weak."  Called screaming employee's wife who was a complete asshole.

Now,  I have four days of no work.  Happy holidays y'all!

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Therapy Blog Basically

I had a good talk with Super Boss Monday about the Friday phone calls when I was home recovering. He apologized and we set good boundaries.  I was told it's okay not to respond to work texts or calls if I get them and he ordered me to stop checking my work email when I went home. I felt supported and good.

Prince Analyst suddenly had a big change of heart work-wise.  I think someone in his life gave him a stern talking to. He kicked ass on the project he had been dicking around with. I also had a talk with him where I told him, "When you see me doing work and tell me that an intern should be doing it, I feel like you're saying the work is beneath you."  Check out that therapy fu phrasing! He set me straight by complimenting me but when he compliments me, it always feels very smarmy.  He said, "I absolutely do not mean that. I just see an intelligent woman who should be doing much more challenging work." Ugh, get me a squeegee! I explained to him what he sees is not the months of work, I have done, the four queries I needed to build, and all the process improvements I had to develop that lead to a simple mailing.  I let Super Boss know I had this talk and it turns out Prince Analyst later in the day apologized to him!

Worker Bee Analyst saved my sanity this week. He took a huge reconciliation off my plate, ran with it, improved it, and totally delivered.  I high fived Super Boss one evening saying, "Good hire!"  Oh yeah, I was able to leave work before 6:00 three times this week! Having a fully staffed team is already easing things for me.  Baby Analyst helped me a ton with my billing mailing.  She had great ideas on how to improve things, made me smile and laugh a lot during a really stressful time.

Wednesday afternoon I had a little freakout and luckily Super Boss was around to help me talk through things.  It feels really weird being the more experienced analyst and the go to person for my co-analysts because my ego loves it but my brain keeps reminding me that I barely know anything.  I just generally felt like I was being a fraud know-it-all and it was exacerbated by a training Super Boss set up with me and Prince Analyst where I kept being referred to as an expert or someone who had so much experience. I did kinda but do I solidly remember it? Nope.  Super Boss told me he struggles with the same feelings of fraud and moments of panic. That helped a lot.

Thursday morning was really weird. Prince Analyst came into my office saying "So..." and he closed the door "Soo?"I gave him a look and asked him, "What's going on?" He informed me that from what he has heard that Super Boss is going to be offering me the Senior Analyst position. I squinted and corrected him saying that I applied but haven't interviewed. He replied, "Oh, I just thought from the way he talks about you..." I asked for an example. Apparently, Super Boss talks about me and him in the same breath and then Prince Analyst and Worker Bee.  He begins a lot of sentences with "Chokmah and I..." Aw! But I explained to Princey that it's probably leftover speech patterns from the 8 months when it was only us. Yeah, my company isn't a freaking royal court and no one at my level gets magically appointed to a job without following a staffing process. 

Friday felt like everything fell apart. I discovered a billing system error first thing in the morning. Luckily, it had not affected many people but there was huge fallout. Super Boss and I spent three hours in my office trying to fix things. He uttered two phrases that perfectly sum up how I feel about this damn billing: "I feel like my brain is going through a million things." and "I'm not stressed but I feel like I am going to cry". Yup, welcome to my life. In the afternoon, I had to deal with a screaming phone call from an employee where all the talking points and tactics that I have been taught did not work. I also had a co-worker point out to me that I can ignore policy and fix things for the employee. Which is basically the entire reason why the billing process was a wreck for years and would undo months of my work. My heart wants to help the employee but I can't. So, I got incredibly upset. I cried in my office, cried on my drive home, cried to my mom, roommate, and brother. Sometimes I feel part of the work I'm doing diminishes who I am and is immoral. But it's company policy and cue the Nazi jokes about "following orders". This is how I felt Friday but I feel better now.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Tough At First But Eventually Better

This week started fairly well but Thursday and Friday had hiccups.  Thursday, I found out the IT director has drastically reduced testing time for the new billing process and I have one week to complete until the deadline to go live.  The meeting where we found this out, I alternated between hearing screaming in my head, laughing hysterically or getting snippy with the programmers.  The good thing is most programmers are on the spectrum so they didn't pick up on my tone.  Super Boss tried to help me after the meeting to scope out the steps and order.  Making lists made me a bit saner.

We had a new analyst start Monday.  He is Awesome Worker Bee.  From day one, he has been looking for anything he can help with. He is incredibly enthusiastic and nice.  Meanwhile Prince Analyst is outright lying to Super Boss about the "work" he is doing and he was out for two and a half days this week. He was sick to be fair but we really needed his theoretical help!

Today, I worked a half day. In the afternoon, I had a neuropsychological assessment.  I requested it since it had been over ten years from my last assessment and I would like to know how I'm doing.  It could help me with strategies for work and life.  The test took two and a half hours.  Parts went really well and other parts I burst into tears because my brain just could not pull up what I needed.  Since the test is extended highly complex thinking under pressure and observation. I knew that I would be a complete vegetable after the testing so I went home to crash. I crashed and also could not stop crying because being reminded of being different or less than plus the performance anxiety stirred everything up. I know I have vastly improved and kicked ass on a bunch of stuff but my emotions didn't know.  I was home, in a safe space, so I let myself feel sad.

I texted Super Boss thanking him for his help this week as a kinda I survived and adios for the weekend. This kicked off 8 texts messages and a phone call about an emergency upload where I had to try to remember a password.  That went incredibly well with my recovering brain and memory. I got really upset and angry. I asked for one goddamn afternoon off and I can't get that. Super Boss and I are going to have a chat Monday.