• Cate

Under Pressure

I’ve spent the last year and some change sharing my story and attempting to explain what it’s like to operate from a place where unresolved trauma is getting in the way of your life. It is self defeating. It’s frustrating. There’s no one way to get free.

I haven’t talked a lot about the kind of abuse you might deal with in the work place. Because it is abuse. I’d like to share some of the experiences I’ve had over the last few years. Maybe it’s the industry I work in. I have no idea. But this is what I’ve experienced.

I work in hospitality, hotels to be specific. I love working in hotels because you encounter such a diverse pool of people. I’ve met people from all over the world. I’ve learned so much about life and people through hospitality. If you’ve worked at the front desk, you tend to classify people by types.

My first is example would be working the overnight shift in a fancy hotel downtown Minneapolis. The arrangement was sketchy at best. It was me and one other person sharing the night shift.

We oversaw a 20 floor, 282 room hotel with over 100,000 square feet of banquet space. Just the two of us, all night long, 7 days a week. Now if you do your math correctly, you’ll realize that means each of us worked 2 days alone and 3 days together.

There was no lock on the front door and the only security was on loan from the skyscraper across the way when we called for help. It would usually take them about 10 minutes to respond.

I was nearly assaulted by all manner of people. I had to knock on a lot of doors to quiet down people partying in fancy rooms. I’ve had things thrown at me, been chased down with a bottle (that time at least I had the police with me and one picked me up while two moved in front of me). I’ve been snuck up on and cornered by men with that look on their face, thinking I was there for their amusement.

But you know, as interesting as the guests get, it’s not really their fault I was by myself in the middle of the night. Eventually, the other person quit and then there was just me. I was scheduled for 3 months straight without a day off.

When I begged for a day off, I was told there was no one to cover the shift. Who would do the night audit if I didn’t? They couldn’t just train someone so I could have a day off, then that person would quit because no one wants to work overnights. They were gaslighting me.

I was trying to get promoted into accounting, so I didn’t want to quit, but it was killing me. I was so exhausted, I couldn’t think. I was honestly a real bitch during that time. I was barely hanging on. But bitchy for me really isn’t that bad. It just means I’m not cracking any jokes and I’m not laughing at any either.

I finally did get my promotion. But they wouldn’t let me take it. They said I’d have to work overnights until they found a suitable replacement. They hired 2 people, but that wasn’t enough. They finally hired a man, whom they gave a better title, parking, less responsibility and more money.

I had to work an additional 3 months and train the entire night staff before I was released to my daytime position. After about 6 weeks, I went to the general manager and asked what could be done. He said “suck it up buttercup, this is what you agreed to when you took your promotion.”

My most recent job that I left, I had raised concerns over being asked to do things well outside of my job description that would leave me with little time to accomplish my job. Also, my boss was trying to make me hide $50,000. My request was sent to ownership. The owner turned around and handed my letter to my boss.

My boss then took my ability to work from home. She took my laptop. She took my salary. She took my title. She popped into my office at random to make sure I was working. I always work very hard, striving to produce accurate results, whatever the task.

I’m cheerful and friendly, outgoing and helpful. I try to do my best to do things as correctly as possible. And I can’t really stay mad at anyone. I just can’t. I stay mad for about 10 minutes and then it burns away and I’m cheerful again.

These are just a few examples of many episodes. Once I became more whole, more healed, I realized that I was allowing these people to treat me this way before. I was putting up with the abuse. But in the last example, here was a time I stood up for myself.

I didn’t yell or scream. I didn’t quit in a fit of rage. I didn’t do a bad job. I did the best job I could do and got as much done as I possibly could anyway. I was cheerful and helpful anyway. And though it made my life very stressful, I tried my best to stay brave until I found a new job.

At first my new job seemed like it would be great. Everyone was so nice and helpful and friendly. But once the newness wore off, I started to see that instead of working together, many times, everyone was working for themselves and it was causing us to break apart. We were saying no instead of coming up with solutions. I am just too inexperienced to know what can be done in those situations.

I became overloaded. I was given so much work, I couldn’t keep it all straight. It was a high volume of work and I was not yet skilled enough to handle it. I expressed my concerns to my boss. She said that I should be able to handle it.

The next time I went to my boss, she told me that everyone else was just as busy and there wasn’t anything to be done. But my name was on every group for the next two weeks and I knew that wasn’t true. I started working nights and weekends to try to keep up. One group upset my balance and it all came apart at the seams. I got a stomach bug. I was working from home for an extra day.

When I met with my boss, she told me that she was shocked that I didn’t just know how to do my job by having seen others do it in hotels for all of my years. Why should I need training if I could maneuver the computer system?

This was going to be my workload. I was going to need to learn to handle it better. It wasn’t really fair of me to act like poor me every time it got stressful. I was going to have to not even think about my life outside of work while I was at work. She gave me a chance so I ought to be grateful and work harder.

I guess I don’t really understand the mentality of someone who lives and breathes work. I guess I don’t really believe in it anymore. If this is how we treat each other, over a job, then what is it for? I don’t want to live my life to be treated like an idiot. I don’t want to work in the evenings instead of enjoying my life and my children and my interests.

I don’t want to be paid as little as my employer can get away with to get me to do as much as they possibly can while treating me like garbage. Who wants that job? But there’s this expectation that we act a certain way so we can earn money so we can afford the things we buy but don’t enjoy because our time is spoken for. Sometimes, to me, it seems like we’re all playing pretend. How much of what we do is more important than finding balance? Why is money the key motivator?

I ask these questions because I don’t understand. I began to think about things differently as I have been evolving throughout this journey. I can’t see things from the same window I used to look out from. I can only see through the one in front of me now.

Looking back at some of my posts, I can feel the raw pain I felt in those moments. When I read my journal, my heart breaks for past me. But I can’t be that me anymore. She is my past.

The intense pressure I’m under now gives me pause. I feel like this is meant to be teaching me a lesson. When life repeats itself, what is it telling you? It’s telling you to do things differently. You have to figure out how to do it right before the cycle starts over or you live to repeat the same patterns until the end of your days.

What am I meant to learn in this situation I’m in right now? What’s the answer here? I haven’t worked it out yet. I have other news too but it deserves its own post. I think I’m meant to do something new. But I’m not sure what that is supposed to be.

Maybe the pressure is meant to craft a diamond. Maybe when it lets up, I’ll know what I’m supposed to do. But there has to be something more than getting pushed around by your boss. There just has to be something, right?

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