It came in a flash.
I realized how much power I have, and I realized that I don't have to continue playing the role of the victim.
I recently received a poor work evaluation. I was shocked by this; blindsided. While I have PTSD, and anxiety issues, and don't socialize well, I am also tasked with enforcing policies and executing suspensions of access on violations of policy. This has produced an environment where I have been getting a lot of complaints.
This was addressed over a year ago with my supervisors and a faculty member "Betty". At the conclusion of that meeting, we all agreed that communication channels would be opened, that Betty would communicate any complaints to me, and that I would work on my communication skills.
I haven't received any complaints from anyone since that meeting, which made receiving this negative evaluation a punch in the gut. Where was all this coming from? What the fuck is going on?
In the middle of this, I am faced with the sad fact; I lack social skills. I don't understand office politics, and because I'm not sociable at the office, I am missing out on key information. Well, after admitting my faults to myself and my supervisor, it occurred to me that I *DO* have integrity and I *DO* have honesty, and those are both assets that I value, and I know others value.
So I put those to work, and as a result of multiple conversations, the negative work evaluation was REDACTED! and I wound up receiving an apology from my supervisors.
It turns out that "Betty" has been rumor mongering. She's warned at least one student about me before they met me (this student confided this to me a couple weeks ago), and Betty has been receiving 'complaints' from her favorite students (graduates), but not relaying them to me. Betty has also been violating the policy I am tasked to enforce by giving and granting special privilege/access to equipment I am responsible for. The department I work for realized the issue; I am tasked to enforce a policy that several faculty members disregard. This puts me in a precarious position to receive complaints that I'm not made privy to.
I have frequently felt isolated and scorned over this past couple of years because of this complaints business, and my having to enforce policies on people who are in violation of it. Familiar refrains of childhood - being isolated, bullied, and picked on because I wore glasses and hearing aids.
Then it hit me yesterday. There is one rotten apple in this bunch. Betty. Betty is the most powerful faculty member at this department. Betty has been usurping my responsibilities and putting me in a position of being a fall guy. But when I closely look at the behaviors of all of my other coworkers; they have been quietly supportive, and willing to accommodate me and my shortcomings. I am, in fact, surrounded by grace.
Betty was there during my job interview, and I instantly recognized the look in her face towards the end of the interview; I knew the job was mine. And it was her decision to make. Betty was responsible for my hire. A strange emotional familiarity has been with me regarding Betty. I realized a few months after my hire that Betty has an emotional make up that feels incredibly familiar; and the reason why it feels familiar is because she reminds me of a couple of my aunts and my mother.
I had a powerful revelation - I am more powerful than Betty is. I can rest assured that I am supported by my supervisors, and my other coworkers want to understand me and work with me. Betty has not been supportive, and seems to want to live with her delusion that I'm a horrible person that can't control his emotions.
This back-stabbing, unsupportive, gossiping behavior that Betty has demonstrated at work is the same time of unsupportive gossiping that happened in my family of origin. Rather than reach out and intimately interact with me to find a real connection, my family rejected me by becoming aloof, unsupportive, and gossiping about me behind my back. And they had good reason to, they're all traumatized by their childhoods too. I grew up in a really messed up family.
With this awareness, I can now go to work, knowing that I am supported by my coworkers, and knowing that I can continue to strive to be magnificent in my dealings with students who choose to disregard policy; and start to play the political BS games with Betty. Betty has not shown integrity at all, I have. Betty has not been honest with me. I have. To a fault. I shared a lot of personal stuff with Betty about where I'm coming from, and how hard it is for me to find rapport with students. But now I know that Betty has been polluting this from the beginning, and now the battle lies squarely between me and Betty.
It's a battle of perceptions. Betty wants to present this picture of a maniac who can't control his emotions, who is out for "retaliation" (her words). I am simply doing my job, while Betty has been causing disruptions, and then noting these disruptions as *my* fault.
I discovered something else. I'm quite intelligent to be working through all of this, and very brave to be opening myself up the way I have at work, making myself vulnerable for attack. Instead of being attacked, I've found support from my supervisors.
Betty is entirely in the wrong here. I know this, my supervisors know this, and they apologized for it. I have the power to transform perceptions in the department, and it depends on every interaction I have with students and coworkers.
I don't have to feel like a victim at work anymore. I now see that I am supported, that others want to see me excel, and that they're rooting for me. I can trust that their intentions and motivations are well, and that my true power is in my ability to mold perception with every interaction I have.
I am far more powerful than Betty is with regards to how people perceive me. I don't have to play the hapless victim anymore. I understand the political dynamics at work now, and I think, that with my intelligence and good humor, I can beat this.
I will begin anew this fall, as Betty will be teaching a class in the area I manage. It will be interesting to see how this plays out; as Betty continues to hold onto an illusion that I'm an uncontrollable emotional mess, while others see something completely different.
I have the power.