As many of you who have been following this series know, I have been experiencing much growth since this time last year. And the three months I have spent in Austin have probably been the most highly concentrated months of growth thus far. Even with all this growth, I knew challenges were still to come, and my first challenge, I was well aware of, entering the situation. I came to Austin and began living and working with a woman I knew in Philadelphia, a person I already knew to be a bit selfish, egotistical, and hypocritical, but we all have things we are dealing with so who am I to judge? Very soon after being in Austin the mask she wore that still allowed her to live in the realm of idol in my mind fell and it made quite the thud, I must say. Before arriving in Austin I thought of her as a very talented, strong, independent woman who didn’t take any bullshit from anyone, especially sexist men. But, what I started to see was a woman who lived in status, status that was being upheld by stepping on the back of any and everyone who would allow it, to the point where she pretty much expected anyone to do what she asked… anyone. Now, I entered into this situation on my own, so I have no one to blame but myself, this are merely my observations I am sharing with you so that you may be able to understand the journey I went through.
I’m a very hard worker and willing to do a lot to help people, both with their personal and work lives. It’s just who I am, and this situation was no different. But, I slowly started to realize the ways I was being taken advantage of, ideas that started as “we should do this thing” and then ended with “you will do this thing”. Requests that started as, “let’s work this thing” that turned into “I’m leaving, you’re fine right?”. I found myself chasing her to have meetings to help her business grow. I would have 10-12 emails I sent go unanswered, with questions about the business and planning for events and then when events would happen and problems would arise. And then when something would go wrong I would hear things like, “I don’t understand why you can figure everything else out, but you can’t figure this one problem out.” There was absolutely no communication, but tons of expectations. The growth I’ve experienced over the years allowed me to very easily recognize this problem, but earlier in life, I never did well with dealing with it, so this time, I made very clear efforts.
First I tried communication; i would try to express the problems that were coming up and my need for communication so that everyone was on the same page. I figured this had to clear things up. No. She was very much able to avoid and dominate conversations, avoiding certain topics by changing the conversation or needing to take a nap or being overwhelmed. I’m already familiar with this technique, my mother used it for years. My emails weren’t answered and often I wouldn’t even get replies to text messages, unless it was she who initiated them. So, because I have no desire to be someone’s slave, I decided to create boundaries for myself. I started recording everything I did, I started recording “missed opportunities” which were pretty much times I tried to communicate with her and was met with silence. I avoided helping with emergencies she created for herself through poor planning or not being prepared. And when I was asked to do what was described as a rather simple favor, I asked for details of time and what was expected of me as to not allow this favor to become more than it was initially described to be. This seemed to create resentment in her.
We began to see less and less of each other and I was never really able to express my feelings about this situation and of course it all came to a head. In the end, it was the complete lack of respect I was faced with that let me know this situation was over for me. When I work hard for you, even when you are working against yourself and everyone else who is helping you, when I’m there for every breakdown you have, every crush that despises you, every little crush, every break up, reminding you to take your medication and stay on task, doing everything I can to help and you feel you can be disrespectful to me, we have a problem. So, I thought about how to deal with the problem. I of course expressed a need to communicate in person about the situation, which, as you may have guessed was met with resistance. Instead I was sent an email that demonstrated one’s vocabulary, used judgmental words like “snotty” to describe me, and was LOADED with false assumptions. When I say loaded, I mean over half the email was assumption based. But, when responding I didn’t defend myself against those assumptions, because I knew I didn’t have to, I knew they had nothing to do with me and everything to do with this woman and how she views the world and more importantly, the fact the she sees herself as a victim, a victim of everyone but herself. But, finally, after all these years, I saw it all. And instead of diving head first into this learned behavior of complaining, of thinking everyone and everything is against me, of making assumption after assumption, of being a victim, of searching for people to tell part of the story to in hopes they will back me up, so I can say “even so and so agrees with me”, instead of doing all that, I let it go. I can’t control how she sees the world or how she communicates. But, what can I control? What and who I surround myself with. So, instead of arguing, I expressed myself and put in my notice.
It was the most freeing thing I could do and I was so proud of myself. I’m not even upset with her, I feel sorry for her. There are traits of hers that I recognize as once having myself, others I now want to make sure I never have and some I let go. I am always looking for something I can learn from a situation and from this situation I learned how not to treat people, how not to handle my business, to let go of my ego, and to let go when my efforts to improve a situation are being ignored. Years ago it was so hard for me to mentally let go of such situations because they just didn’t make sense to me and my dad expressed that to me, “you keep talking about what doesn’t make sense in this situation, but you can’t control that,” and he was right. I’m just happy that this was a 3 month lesson as opposed to a 2 year lesson. I want nothing to do with needless suffering and in my life, this was the only situation bringing me frustration and unhappiness. It is mine no longer. I have let go.