Avoiding the Hole

In the recovery movement, there is a story. It goes something like this:

  1. I walk down a road. I fall into a hole. It is not my fault. It takes forever to get out.
  2. I walk down the same road. I fall into the same hole. It is not my fault. I get out a lot quicker.
  3. I walk down the same road. I walk around the hole.
  4. I walk down a different road.

I did step 3 a couple days ago at work. A co-worker I will call “J” told me not to put items on the furniture. Okay. Whatever. Then she told me to tell my other co-workers the same thing. I said, “No. Absolutely not. I do not tell my co-workers what to do.”

She said, “You’re not telling them. You’re guiding them.”

I said, “There is no difference.”

She said, “Yes, there is. But if  you don’t want to follow the policy…”

I said, “What policy? There’s a policy? I have never heard of this policy.”

I stew for about a half hour and then go to the available manager and ask about this policy that no manager has ever informed me of. The manager tells me there is no such policy and that if there were, it would be written down.

I go back out to the floor and tell J, “There is no policy. Be careful.”

J says, “Just because this manager doesn’t know doesn’t make her right.” She is questioning the policy and procedural knowledge of an actual manager. This is so not my fight. I reply, “I don’t care.”

I spent the rest of the day almost giddy with relief. Why? Because J had been making overtures at becoming a real friend of mine. She even called us “sisters” because we had both lost husbands named Barry. I was on the verge of investing serious time and energy into developing a friendship with her. She had been very kind to me, but I felt like she was a little bossy.

I realized that she wasn’t simply “bossy.” The woman has zero boundaries. She feels free to tell me what to do, which I can listen to or choose to ignore. But when she started telling me what to tell my co-workers to do, then she was acting as my manager and putting me in a managerial position with my co-workers (“co-worker” means “equal peon” in my lexicon). The fact that she does not comprehend that there is no distinction between “guiding” people and simply telling them what to do is just plain scary.

To understand my relief, you need some context. I spent many years in a close friendship with a narcissist. It took years for me to realize how profoundly disturbed that friend was. Getting out of that relationship was very painful.

I got out of this relationship before I invested any time or energy into it.

Is there any real way for me to walk down a different road? I don’t know.

I still have to work with her. I know it is highly unlikely I will ever be forgiven for fact-checking her.

But I don’t care. These are her issues and there is no reason whatsoever to make them mine. This is going to be awkward, but not nearly as bad as it could have been. I know what’s mine and what is not and that is the foundation of my life.

About cdhoagpurple

I live in Michigan. I was Greek Orthodox (and previously Protestant), but now am more Buddhist than anything. I am single now (through the till-death-do-you-part clause of the marriage contract). My husband Barry was a good man and celebrated 30 years in AA. I am overly educated, with an MBA. My life felt terminally in-limbo while caring for a sick husband, but I am free now. I see all things as being in transition. Impermanence is the ultimate fact of life. Nothing remains the same, good or bad.

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