I hate disappointing and upsetting people. So much so that I will continue in jobs and relationships that I should long have drawn a line in the sand for and shouted “stop!” and “I’m leaving now!”
Back in August I had been working with someone on a project that was launching new products into a market I knew little about and had no contacts in. I had been doing this since the beginning of the year after leaving my business and had been paid on average around £500 a month, just enough to get by on but I was hoping for a properly paid job when the products were launched and the orders started rolling in. There was no sales collateral so I created it. I had no contacts so I started calling people and talking to them. Eventually one kind soul explained to me the reasons why these products would not fly, too expensive, too niche, not available as part of a portfolio of products and no recognisable name. I was told in August there was no money to pay me but it took me three months to stop making the calls for them and even now I feel guilty about not doing it.
My financial situation was desperate and I was running out of credit fast so I approached someone I had recently met to ask if he had work I could do. That’s how I got the job in the pub. He also ran several other businesses and in the early days we spoke about me moving into a new business he was planning to launch in February.
At first this seemed like a dream come true, the universe working for me, all things coming together, that kind of thing. At first my mistakes seemed small and the normal ones that people make when they are in a new job but it became apparent after a while that something else was going on, I just couldn’t quite get my head around what it was. It is rare that I can get through a shift without having an error pointed out to me or being told of something I have not done well enough or missed the last time I was in. I can’t remember the last time our conversations had any input from him about what I had done well. The other business ventures are no longer spoken about. I seem to infuriate him and I can’t get it right no matter what I do.
This is sadly familiar territory for me. I am anxious before I go into work and then during if I have to work alongside him and as we get towards the end of the shift I begin to go through the evening to check where/if I have fucked up and what to try to do about it. I realise that am used to having these feelings. Used to walking on eggshells around someone and trying to placate and please them to avoid their disappointment. To being watchful and maintaining hyper-vigilance in order to try to forsee trouble brewing and to sidestep and to protect those who need protecting from it. I fawn and freeze in response to aggression and anger and displeasure that is aimed at me. I seek not to disappoint. Their disappointment feels dangerous to me. If I have not lived up to their hopes and expectations I feel a failure, even it those hopes and expectations aren’t reasonable or backed up with supportive and encouraging behaviour from them. This pattern is played out particularly around men and particularly around men in a position of power over me. It was this way in my marriage and I now recognise that it went on in my childhood too.
I know that I am being bullied but I don’t know how to stand up to it. Part of me agrees with his damning assessment of my performance and another part of me wants to tell him to stuff his fucking judgement right up his arse and yet a third part says just get a new job and I am stuck somewhere in between all of this. I see it being played out in his treatment of the younger staff. If they can’t take the pressure he ups it, stands over them, points out continually what they are not doing right until they begin to try to second guess what he wants, lose their focus, become clumsy and forgetful and have an awful experience. In the past he has said that I protect them, I realise that I immediately thought that was a fault of mine, now I see that I am protecting them because he is a threat to their well being as surely as he is to mine.
I work between 5-7 hour shifts with no breaks and no refreshments offered and recently have been told not to have lime cordial in my soda water as that was stealing from him. Tonight, however, I have decided to take a flash of tea in with me and to take a break at a convenient time. There are smokers on the staff who take cigarette breaks. I will take a fresh air and tea break. It will be good for me to do this one small thing to put myself back in control of these hours.
I am disappointed. Not because I have disappointed him but because I have left a very long relationship because it had these attributes and I found myself in another one. I have taken myself and my old unhelpful patterns with me and not learnt new coping skills. The universe is not looking after me and conspiring to bring good things to my door. There is no pot of gold at the end of a rainbow.
I am the one who has to look after me and I will, starting with a cup of tea.