Having a bad week at work is the surest way to find out what you're really made of, and I feel like I am made of marshmallow and depression, fear and loathing, anxiety and angst and crippling self-doubt, all wrapped up in the skin of a woman who is suddenly so frail and tired.
I always thought I was a strong, powerful woman, but there's only so much I can take. I'm smart and funny, capable and quick, but the one thing I really need to be to get through this is of course the one thing that I have never been, not really: confident.
My career has been built on the bricks of hard work, fast learning, interpersonal relationships, and Microsoft Office, but everything is collapsing around my ears like a house of cards on a rickety table in a stiff wind. I love what I do – or at least I think I do – but I don't know how much I enjoy it any more.
I feel like my department is being run by an old-boys' network of accountants and thieves, jokers who keep trying to trump policy and procedure with fake made-up rules and strawman logic. Bullies are terrible leaders, always obsessed with the bottom line but with only misappropriated ideas about how to get there.
Except: I'm not Tiger Woods, and I don't live my life in a Nike commercial. “Just do it” doesn't cut it when the Prime Directive makes no sense, and no amount of managerial gerrymandering can polish a turd. And anyway, clichés are for the uninspired, and threats are for the weak.
And yet, I am in a position where no matter what I do, no matter how I move my pieces, the endgame is the same. I can't win, and I can't resign, either. The White Queen is trapped in the corner with nowhere to go and no one to protect her.
There are only so many times you can be told how “valuable” you are, how much of your “contribution” to the team is “net-positive,” before you feel you have no choice but to stand up in the middle of a meeting and punch a couple of Directors and Vice Presidents square in the mouth.
But you can't, because you have that Other Opportunity hanging over your head, and it you know it would look bad when they're doing your background check and they find out that you are an H.R. nightmare because you knocked your boss's teeth down his throat. No matter how much he deserved it, the snivelling little shitweasel.
So there's nothing else you can do but cry, and feel weak, and call people names that don't mean anything anyway, and after three consecutive days of people reminding you how small and wrong and dispensable and replaceable you are, you begin to believe them, even when you know you're not. You're none of these things, but they'll have none of it.
After three days of being told of precedent being set in conversations that never happened, of manufactured memories, you begin to feel the piss and vinegar pouring away in tears that will not stop. All the spit and sand are gone in racks of sobs that sound so small and insignificant.
Then, when you finally discover, after more than two months of waiting and wishing and hoping and actually praying – praying! something you haven't done voluntarily in so long you can't even begin to guess how long it's been – that you didn't get that other job ... then there's nothing left.
I'm numb, cold, so shell-shocked and disappointed that I don't even know if I remember how to feel anything any more. Except worthlessness. Fatigue. Apathy. Fear. Instead of a Pawn becoming a Queen, the Queen has become a pawn, and ... there's nothing left but marshmallow mush.