February 18, 2011

Losing My Cool in the Heat of the Moment

Dear Mom,

Oh boy. If only you saw what this post originally said approximately 18 hours ago. I am all for writing in the heat of the moment and saying what's really on my mind, but this is the first time I am relieved that I didn't hit 'publish post' while I was in a fit of rage.

Writing publicly about your work life can get you into some trouble, and what I had to say last night probably would have had some negative results if anyone in my office knew this blog existed and actually read it. Regardless, I stopped myself, verbally vented to the appropriate sources, got a good night's sleep, and regained my footing this morning.

So what exactly made me so furiously lose my cool yesterday? Well, let me try to retell this story in the most harmless way possible.

It wasn't the fact that a co-worker randomly felt the need to tell me that I shouldn't be so confident that the small lump in my armpit isn't cancer (even though the doctor said it wasn't and the medication he gave me shrunk it and relieved the pain), and it wasn't even the 10 minutes she later spent researching the worst case scenerios of what 'could be wrong with me' after I had to tell her I won't be in next Friday sinceI have to drive two hours away for an appointment, and she prodded for the reason why. I can handle those things, but you know what I can't handle? I can't handle when someone inconsiderably mentions something about your death (anywhere, let alone at work). And that is what sent me off the deep end.

I was sitting in my office trying to finish up some paperwork before my workday ended in 30 minutes when I heard this person strike up a conversation with some other co-workers up front. Per usual, I tried to block it out and let the conversation fade into the background, but the last thing she said was clear as day.

"The only way you can legally smoke pot is if you're dying of cancer or something."

Ouch. That stung... but I could handle it. It probably wasn't directed towards me anyway, and chances are she instantly remembered what I have been through and felt terrible, right? Wrong. The only thing true about that statement? She instantly remembered what I have been through and felt terrible. She scampered down the hallway, appeared in my doorway, and said:

"Sam, did your mom get to do that?"

My chest tightened. Did she seriously just ask me that?

"Did she get to do what?", I asked, giving her an escape from the conversation in hopes she'd just say, oh nevermind!

"Did she get to smoke marijuana when she was... you know... sick... and dying...?"

I miraculously shrugged it off and told her I didn't know, when inside I was cursing her existence and saying things that would force me to change my blog preferences to "warn readers this blog contains adult content."

That's when she decided to take it upon herself to WebMD my pelvic 'symptoms' and shout throughout the office how I could have tumors growing on my uterus, an inflamed bladder, ovarian cysts, etc. Talk about icing on the cake; I was on a sugar high.

It took everything in me not to cry right there. I was so offended. It wasn't what she said necessarily; it was the way she said it: like bringing up your death out of nowhere nonchalantly was no big deal and wouldn't upset me; like you were just any ol' person; like the fact that you may have been offered a chance to legally smoke was a perk of dying.

I spent parts of the night crying and ranting about how I wasn't going back to work. Both Dad and Tom told me it was time to stick up for myself in order to end the constant bullying and rude comments hurled my way almost daily. I was honest with them and admitted that I didn't think I could do it. In my every day life I am certainly not a pushover-- I speak my mind and wear my heart on my sleeve-- yet when I walk into this building I feel defeated. It's not always this bad, but the difficult days are beginning to outweigh the good ones, and it's taking a toll on me. I was honest with them... I'm not strong enough for this.

I woke up this morning with my stomach in knots. I wanted to call out sick, but I couldn't because we don't get any sick days, and my college loan bills won't pay themselves. So, I pulled it together, prepared to bite my tongue, and made my way in.

When she poked her head in my office to say good morning, she commented that I looked tired. I opened my mouth to speak my usual reply for when she negatively comments on my looks: yeah, I guess I am feeling pretty tired today, but instead, how I really felt came pouring out of my mouth unexpectedly.

I told her that no, I wasn't tired, I had actually been crying since I left work yesterday because of the things she said to me. I went on to say that I don't want anyone in the office talking about you or your death in that way, nor do I want anyone trying to diagnose me through random sites on the internet because it's not healthy to work myself up when I have an appointment in a week to find out what's going on for sure.

When my word vomit finally ceased, she hugged me and said she felt awful because her intention was never to upset me or be disrespectful. I figured that was the case, and I knew she would feel horrible (which in turn made me feel bad for calling her out on it, but I refused to let that show). I made sure we had an understanding, thanked her for the apology, and moved on to another topic.

I didn't do anything crazy like throw a chair down the hallway or push her against the wall in a chokehold until she cried like they do in the movies, but I still got my point across, and it felt great. I can't believe I found the courage to speak my mind to someone who has intimdated me for months (reacting in the heat of the moment sometimes has its benefits!).

I texted Dad to thank him for encouraging me to brave. He was really proud of me. He wrote back, "Good thing you stood up to her because I was about to drive up there and do it myself! You're still my baby." It's true, I am his little girl and always will be-- but at least now around the office, I feel like I am one heck of a powerful woman. Go me!



  1. I commend you for holding your tongue and not snapping her head off at the neck! Her behavior was too callous for words! I'm so glad that you took a step back to rant and vent in private...and then confronted her!

    It still amazes me how people think that as time goes by that grief just goes away.

    Big HUG!!

  2. I'm so incredibly proud of you! I'm really, really happy for you that you stood up for yourself and finally dealt with it all. It wasn't fair to you, and you shouldn't have had to deal with that at all. BUT, since you did, you took control... and now, things should be better. :-) So glad you're happier. That's all that matters.

  3. So glad you did say something to her. Sounds like you handled it really well. People astound me with the stupid things they say. I'm considering an entire chapter in my book on just that.
    Here's hoping for better days ahead at work for you now!

  4. Good for you! I'm proud of you. I hope explaining how you feel to your colleague will help her realize the inappropriateness of her behaviour and get her to stop!

    It's not good when you have knots in your stomach just because you have to go to work.

    I hope things improve at the office. You spend way too much time there to be miserable.

    Hugs, Tina

  5. Thank you all! It was kind of funny because as I was blabbing out how I feel, in my head I was saying, "Holyyyy crap. I can't believe I'm doing this right now!" hahaha. I didn't say anything too crazy, but still, I spoke up for myself and that is so important for me. Thanks for backing me up!

  6. I loved this post! Good for you for being so forebearing - I would have definitely gone the chokehold route ;)

  7. haha I have to save some moves for a rainy day!