My boss has Borderline Personality Disorder – Part 2

Every month the amount of people coming to the blog to find out how to deal with their BPD boss grows. For every one of you coming here to try to find out how to deal with someone that has BPD I want to hug you! Part of that may be my overly sensitive emotions and tendency towards inappropriate relationships, but more so it’s because I can see you’re going through a difficult time with someone you’re stuck with all day. That is an extremely difficult thing to deal with.

Something I mention in my first post about this topic is that you can’t change the person. That if it gets too bad then maybe look for a new job. Which is entirely unfair. I can hear the “that’s ridiculous!” and “That’s unfair!” and “Why should I be the one to change?!” screams coming through as I read my own words. And to these I respond, “yes” and “it is” and “you shouldn’t”. So why then do I leave that advice there?

The fact is we can’t control other people. We can only control ourselves. I’m not saying that the tough manager shouldn’t be held responsible. Everyone should be held responsible for their actions. But you can’t control your boss any more than I can control you. So then the question may come up of why their manager isn’t doing something about it. Maybe you can’t control them, but certainly their boss can hold them responsible, right? To which I argue, who says they’re not?

I recently fired someone, and ya know what? It took over a year. In a large corporation an HR department needs strong documentation of what the issue is, how it effects the team, how it effects the business, and proof that the employee has been made aware and given all necessary tools to change. If that can be proven and the changes have not been made, then the person can be let go. I was stuck in a situation where the employee did not work in the same office as me and I had to rely on others to provide feedback. If they didn’t then I had nothing to go off of. I needed proof that the employee was not improving despite the additional discussions, warnings, and trainings she had received. There were people who wondered why I wasn’t doing anything, but refused to provide feedback at the same time. I was doing site visits, asking for feedback, documenting everything possible. I was assigning training classes, following up, and more. I was stuck with a system that needed people to speak to me and people that refused to speak.

The manager of your BPD manager might be doing things that you aren’t aware of. Maybe they’re tying to document and people aren’t speaking up. Maybe they don’t know. Maybe they’re in process providing new trainings and looking to see if it helps. We don’t know what’s happening behind closed doors. We can’t assume.

So along with taking ownership of your actions, make sure to document things and speak to your bosses boss when needed. Do so tactfully and in detail. Don’t speak on mental illness, that will make things far messier. Instead speak on specific examples of things that took place. It may take time to see improvement, but that doesn’t mean that the person isn’t being held responsible for their actions.

Here’s some examples of how to provide feedback:

Instead of “She just doesn’t understand boundaries” say “I stated last week that I am uncomfortable with her hugging, and yet she has continued to hug me.” Notice how the first statement is vague and could mean she walked past you too close for all we know. That will barely get a reaction from the big boss. The second statement, however, is an ethics violation and potentially sexual harassment. The person you report that to has to immediately follow up with some form of action.

Instead of “She has a bad temper” say “She began yelling at me in front of the team yesterday. I felt embarrassed and struggled to focus on my work the rest of the day.” The first statement could be her temper or your thin skin, no way for an outside party to know. The second statement is clearly her reacting poorly to a situation in a way that negatively impacted your work and employee moral. The first statement makes a manger want to say “work it out” while the second is likely to prompt a verbal warning if it’s the first documented offense or written warning if it’s been documented before.

Sometimes this still won’t make things change. I don’t know why, I’m not there. And it may still come to a point where you have to leave because the environment isn’t getting better. I get that. I’ve been there. I had a boss that had extremely high turnover and had a way of making her boss believe that it was because she had developed them for great things, when everyone who worked for her knew it’s because we’re all trying to get away from her. I attempted to provide feedback, my manager knew I might so never had anything in email. It was my word against hers and hers always won. I tried to switch teams and was told that I needed to learn how to work with others, and would not be allowed to work for anyone else. Meanwhile this boss was treating me and many others horribly. I left the company. They lost my skills and experience because of her. I was not the first, nor will I be the last. Last I heard from a previous coworker, her relationship with her boss doesn’t seem to be quite the same. She’s not on such a high pedestal, she’s not getting to run her team however she wants anymore, and her work is being more closely monitored. Enough people provided enough similar, and constructive, feedback that it’s finally being looked into. But not until after I had to get out.

Also keep in mind the potential for your boss to change. I recently called an employee “sweetie”. A habit of mine outside the office that accidentally slipped at the office. He reported it to my boss who mentioned it to me. Not only am I being more careful what I say to him, I am more careful what I say in general. I need to change to ensure my team feels comfortable at work. Whether the change is before or after an employee leaves, it is possible.

I’m wishing you all the best in your career! Please remember that things can get better and less stressful even if it requires tough choices to be made.

Iā€™m back… kind of

Sorry for my sudden disappearance. Life went a little crazy all of a sudden. And by “a little crazy” I mean we moved, I started a new job, and my husband was diagnosed with cancer all within the span of a week. I’ve spent the last few weeks trying to focus and keep things moving. So I plan to get back to posting on a semi regular basis, but things will be a bit slow.

Gotta be honest… looks like a sock to me

Knitting knitting knitting “ah crap”. That is basically the story of this damn sock.

So in case you’re not following, I am knitting socks right now. Knitting is a coping tool for when my brain monster is taking control, so I’ve been doing it a lot lately. I decided to try a sock again, I’ve never successfully finished one but I was feeling hopeful. Upon finishing the ribbing I noticed a mistake in one of the rows. Looks wonky but not overly noticeable so I kept going. Then I finished everything before the heel, success! Furthest I’ve ever made it! Oh wait, my repeat pattern has a mistake a few rows back. I’m really bad at ripping back and picking up stitches so I’ll let it go.

I finished the heel flap yesterday, so proud of myself! And it was done without mistakes! Yay! Started the heel turn. Got to row 9 before I realized I’d done the whole fucking heel turn wrong.

I burst into tears. Hubby was wondering what was wrong. I held up the sock and said it was all screwed up and I should just give up. He said it looked fine and asked what was wrong with it. I pointed to the mistake in the ribbing, the one in the ankle, and then to the heel turn which would fit only if my heel slanted to the left.

Hubby looked at the sock thoughtfully, examined each part I had pointed to, then calmly looked at me and said “I gotta be honest with you. It looks like a sock to me.” šŸ˜

So I went to bed and am trying again today. I had to rip out the heel turn, but couldn’t successfully pick up the stitches in the heel flap, so had to rip back all the way to the last row before starting the heel. Now to start the damn heel again.

Round 1 goes to sock, but Round 2 shall be mine!

Socks to the rescue!

I’m breaking down, so I am knitting non-stop. I’ve never successfully made socks, and am trying again. Usually I wouldn’t try a new pattern when breaking down, but my current feeling of constant failure requires a victory. So far I’m doing well and it’s definitely helping. If nothing else I’m proud of the fact that I’ve gotten myself to a point that I can fall back on a self care technique.

If we were having coffee…

If we were having coffee we’d be sitting on my couch under my favorite quilts drinking white chocolate mochas that my husband went and got us from Starbucks. Assuming you have bribe money to get him to go to Starbucks for us, it’s a bit cold today so we’ll probably need to pay him pretty good to leave the house.

If we were having coffee we’d be sitting and sipping somewhat quietly as we listen to the History Chicks. I recently stumbled on their podcast and can’t turn it off. We would listen intently until suddenly we’re joining the conversation. Cause Beckett and Susan can hear us through my iPad right? If you haven’t heard them before I highly recommend it! If you even vaguely possibly enjoyed some aspect of history, then ignore the child in your brain yelling “but I don’t want to memorize dates for a test!” and put it on. You’ll thank me.

If we were having coffee we would just be relaxing. Last week was a hard one and this week doesn’t look too promising. But today is good. It’s quiet, just the right amount of cold outside (if you don’t listen to my husband), and nothing else need exist. Just us, coffee, and podcasts.

If we were having coffee…

If we were having coffee we would be drinking it and munching some bacon. Hubby’s making bacon right now and the whole house smells yummy.

If we were having coffee you would notice that I’m making my way out of a depression. I still have those days of “I can’t do this anymore.” But I also have days of “wow, I accomplished things!” So I’m clinging to those days to get me through the tougher ones. I’m crafting more and talking more, but still fairly exhausted most days. I’m getting there. And I appreciate y’all being around even when I struggle to write.

If we were having coffee we would color or knit or something else that keeps our hands busy and our minds light. Bring whatever craft you want, but don’t worry if you don’t have one. I have a fairly large collection of colored pencils, and tons of yarn. Maybe we’ll learn to finger knit together!

Broken Heart

I was 13 and you cancelled our plans again, and it broke my heart.

I was 14 and you took me to dinner because my brother told you you didn’t spend enough time with me. You promised to do better. You didn’t. And it broke my heart.

I was 15 and hadn’t seen you in months and you heard from a family member I was in therapy. You called to find out why, saying you feared that you had “screwed me up.” You didn’t understand my depression or how to even try to speak to me about it and it broke my heart.

I was 16 and you tried to make decisions for me on driving, school, and work. You felt being right was more important than acknowledging your x-wife might have better ideas. It broke my heart.

I was 17 and angry with you. Speaking less, doing less, avoiding you more. And you didn’t notice. Didn’t try to bring back the communication. And it broke my heart.

I was 26 and hadn’t seen you in 2 years. I decided not to be angry, just to accept. The decision broke my heart.

I was 30 and trying to give you time to spend with your grandkids. We were pushed away by your new wife who told me to leave. I saw the look on your face as you felt hopeless to stop her. That look broke my heart.

Last week I cancelled our plans, as infrequent as they are. You had been drinking and I was exhausted. I choose to stay away. You say it broke your heart, that I would cancel on you. But why should it take you this long to feel our distance? Why have you not seen the countless ways you have not been my father these many years? And why, upon hearing your pain, is it again my heart that breaks?

If we were having coffee…

If we were having coffee I’d be complaining that it’s not cold enough here to be fall. I want to knit for winter, but can’t bring myself to knit because it’s not fall weather yet. šŸ˜­

If we were having coffee we’d be calmly hanging out in my living room. It’s a lazy day. Even with the caffeine I’ve got no energy, and no desire to get energy. The whole week has been go go go and I’m very happy to be lazy. Except that I’m hungry and don’t want to get off the couch to cook. So you’re totally going to bring over some food, right?

If we were having coffee I’d ask how your week was. I feel like I’ve been too trapped in mine and have ignored you. I don’t want to ignore you, you are all so special to me. So comment on your week, good or bad, I want to hear from you. šŸ’•šŸ’•šŸ’•

Diagnosed Workaholic

My first session with my current therapist was just over two years ago and after explaining how I had been “coping” for years and what was happening leading up to my pending breakdown she looked at me and paused, and then she simply said “you realize you’ve been self medicating with work for the past nine years, right?” Yes. Yes I did. The fact is I didn’t know how to cope so I worked too much in order to distract myself from myself. When I was forced to slow down, I couldn’t handle it. I was a workaholic. I’m not saying that to downplay actual addictions, but addiction runs in my family so I have always been excessively carefully with the actually addictive things, so I ended up turning to work instead.

The last couple of months at work have been nuts. I’m working crazy overtime and barely keeping shit together for my department. I had to cancel my last therapy appointment cause I can’t take time off work, and I still haven’t been able to schedule a new one. I’m too exhausted for crafts or games or anything that I used to do after work. I’m barely blogging, sleeping is hard, it took me a week to finally sew buttons onto my sons sock for sock puppet eyes. I wake up already exhausted, run on coffee and soda energy all day, and lie down with an exhausted body and overactive mind as soon as I get home.

But I realized today that in the last two weeks I’ve had almost no panic attacks. I have not had the constant urge to self harm. I have not cried myself to sleep or stared at nothing in the overwhelming emptiness of my lack of self. I have not begun screaming at someone out of uncontrollable anger held too long. My emotional extremes aren’t there. Today it occurred to me that I am doing almost no self care at all, so why am I suddenly stable? My meds didn’t change, so it can’t be that. Then my therapists words echoed in my head. “Self medicating with work.” Am I doing it again? Am I so overworked that my disorders have taken a backseat? I don’t know. But two years of practicing self care has at least taught me a couple things.

First, work does not define me. I have to keep reminding myself of that, and I do. No matter how much of my day is stuck on work right now, it does not define me. Second, it is important to not judge. I don’t need to judge my overworking nature at the moment, I simply need to be aware that it is there and that it will not last forever. That I need to keep working to build in more self care while I can. Third, I can’t make this permanent. I need to allow myself to slow back down as work slows back down. I can’t allow myself to get so used to this that I don’t stop.

I choose to be aware of my situation and my past so I can move past this. I choose to be healthy, even if it means that feeling good might not be from feeling good or from healthy practices.

Long forgotten happy place

When I was a kid my favorite uncle worked at Home Depot. My mom and I would occasionally go visit him and pick up a plant or paint sample while we were there. I fell in love with the store. I loved walking through the kitchen section and feeling the differing types of tile, looking at the carpet samples to determine what kind will be in my home when I grow up, studying every type of door fascinated by the ones with windows or fancy knobs. But my favorite aisle was the one with wood. Nothing but boards in various sizes, all with the most spectacular smell. I could loose myself in that aisle forever.

Over time I forgot this happy place of mine. My uncle went on to another career, we bought our plants elsewhere, didn’t paint as often. And the joys of this magical place got lost somewhere in the back of my mind. Not too long ago I had to get something from Home Depot. It was late, an hour before closing, and quiet. So I decided to wander a bit. I began to remember how much I loved this store, but as I went into my magical forest aisle it wasn’t quite the same. So I continued to wander until I reached the far edge of the gardening section and became lost in a sea of half grown trees and giant bags of soil. My new aisle, my new happy place.

Today I needed a break. I needed to calm my mind of the anxiety of the week. Week? Actually no, let’s try month. So I went to Home Depot and picked up a new pack of key rings and then went into the forest in the far corner. As I wandered I found myself at the clearance rack, a metal shelf unit covered in half dead plants marked down 50-75%. As I stood there I longed for these plants. But I rent an apartment, and my tiny patio and window sills have more heat than light from the sun, so plants don’t grow for me right now. I had to leave them all behind as I knew they wouldn’t flourish with me. So I spoke quietly to them. I told these plants that they were not forgotten, that I loved them, and that when I have a house and a garden I will fill that garden with clearance plants and bring them back to life. The plants can’t hear me, but that’s okay because I needed the reminder that all living things can come back to beauty and life if cared for properly. Some day I will save those plants, they will not be forgotten, left to die on a shelf.

I loved my moments in my forest today in the back corner of Home Depot. Then of course I hit the grocery store on the way home for a giant bottle of wine cause let’s face it, it’s been a shitty few weeks. So cheers. Here’s to half dead plants, half forgotten happy places, and half empty bottles of wine.