the depressing topics of gainful employment; my tortured year of temping; ex-lovers

anna here.  sitting on the couch, two dogs and one depressed, pensive person in residence.  with wandering thoughts.

we’re moving, my fantastic roommates and myself.  they’ve bought a house and they’re taking me along, which is supremely kind of them.  occasionally I do dishes or mop the floor or clean the bathroom (ewrgh.  should do that more often.  note to self.)  but honestly, I can’t figure out what makes them friends with me, they’re fantastic and lovely, and together, and I should really just …  well, be grateful I suppose.

the book I’ve been writing in my head, “My Tortuous Year of Temping,” is as of yet, unwritten.

it’s more like a year and a half or two years.  but who’s counting.  there have been many jobs from which I have been summarily dismissed, fired, and more so, many places I’ve worked where I thought I was going to get hired, wanted to get hired.

especially people to people ambassador programs, which, despite casual work clothes during the summer, is so corporate, so sell your soul to the devil for money, so make more money, so monogrammed, logo-ized NOTEPADS and other office supplies, that I was awed and shocked and wooed and wowed.  then they let me go because I asked where they were going to get their working women’s wednesday 57 varieties of martinis – I don’t even like martinis, and I already had plans for that evening, I was just being social.  being friendly.

and how, please, pray, tell me, how do they keep their jobs when all day long they, the Pretty Girls, PRATE ON about cosmo magazine, and the various varieties of toenail polish colors, the latest fashions, haircuts, and all else which is not work?  and despite the fact that I have to hear their ranting about stuff that I honestly don’t care about, have to hear their insipid chatter all day through my thoroughly insufficient cubicle-air-ass-dividers, the minute I think myself Equal to Them, I get shit-canned.  yes. well, there I go for thinking myself One of the Gang, Included, Non-Disposable.

Being a temp is being a disposable person.

(I know that there are huge problems with my assessment in this.  I am from america, I have multiple college degrees, which makes me among the 3% of the world’s population.  there are real disposable people, people who are abducted into the sex trade, or who work for slave wages in unsafe working conditions, or god-honest poor people who can’t get a fucking leg up despite the “trickle down economics.”  please, please forgive my white-ass privilege former middle class rant.)

I guess there is still a lot I have to learn about getting a job and keeping a job.  but I learned, that day, to keep my fucking head down and my fucking mouth shut.  and to stow being friendly, because they don’t give a shit about you.  honestly.  they can call the agency and get someone else.

I once dated this guy who was, by all other accounts, a rather okay guy, despite some problems.  everybody has problems.  but what I didn’t realize until almost 7 months into the relationship was this:  he didn’t support my dreams and goals;  he really thought of me as in-house staff – for fucking and doing the chores;  he didn’t even really love who I was, who I was becoming;  he loved his Ideal Version of Me, which of course included all his fantasies about the future, our two kids, a boy and a girl, named Mia and Michael (gawd naming children we haven’t had yet – shudder), and all of his desires pointed mostly to the following:  free sex and someone to do his laundry.

I hadn’t realized, to my absolute detriment, that I was cutting away parts of myself, the parts that didn’t please him.  I was cutting away parts of myself, parts that I valued the most.  that I’d fought the hardest for.  my desires to be a minister-clergy-oh god something-why else am I spending my days and nights reading about the bible?  he didn’t realize who I was, who I was becoming, who I was called to be by the living god.  (the living god needs to develop better, more tangible and verifyable ways of communicating its intentions.  I’ve thought this for a very long time.  by the by.)

so what I wound up doing was just not showing him the parts he didn’t want to see:  the parts of myself that I came to cherish most, actually.

Temping is a lot like this.  without the sex and/or laundry.

all of this to say:  in my year of Temping, I cut away parts of my self, my personality, desperately aiming to please and stay employed, and where did it leave me?  burned, shattered, depressed, still unemployed, sitting on the couch being depressed and anxious about it.

I got burned really bad.  it was kind of like a bad nightmare:  figuring out “who is Office Anna”?  what does she wear?  what inappropriate things does she avoid saying?  is she boring?  cause Real Anna Hates Boring People.  Hates is too strong a word.  has no use for,  has no interest in, really.

just hiding all the interesting stuff cause why?  cause you need to keep your job.  cause you need to grow the fuck up and move out of your mother’s basement.  pwaf.  I earned who I am:  the big laugh, the wicked, stiff, quick sense of humor.  the giddiness of exciting news.  the value of good friends.  the absolute necessity to carve out safe and sacred space, to be intimate and vulnerable and therefore Interesting.  to have lived a life where I have recovered from my childhood wounds.

yet, yet.  somehow I wind up being the Identified Person wherever I work.  I haven’t worked that wrinkle out quite yet.

for those of you new to family systems therapy, or therapy at all, the Identified Person, in family systems, is the person who has the problem:  the drinker; the wounded one;  the one who comes home drunk and angry and beats everything to shit and then passes out, remembers nothing, and then asks “what’s wrong with everybody?” the next day;  the one who everybody complains about;  the loser who can’t keep a job who lives in her mother’s basement;  the victim;  the one who you can’t make cry or rage, or hit anything.  that person.

so the identified person is sort of a concept like the scape goat (from leviticus, I think, the scape goat comes, but who fucking reads the bible anymore?).  the one upon whom everyone else dumps their problems.  everyone else blames the identified person for all that goes wrong within a family, and they are free to live happy, blame-free lives.

that’s how it works:  I blame the identified person for all that is wrong with my life, and…  it’s like putting all your socks in one bin so you can have the other bins empty.  “I am blameless, perfect, happy, while my sister – she is the fuckup.  she can’t get anyting right, ever.”  that sort of thing.

all of this stuff, this family systems stuff appears in employment situations as well.

I have been a high school teacher and a hospice bereavement counselor.

in those positions, I was the youngest person on the staff, and the only person who was unmarried and had never been married (e.g. married and divorced.)  ergo, by default, I was the youngest sister.  which is the position I have in my family.  I have two older brothers.

I got fired from those three jobs.  all three.  because I hadn’t really started therapy before I began teaching (big mistake — therapy should be free and mandatory for all education professionals.  what they deal with).   AND at Hospice, I was the One With Energy and Ideas , the one with a Fresh Perspective.  then I became #1 on my boss’s shit list.  there’s a story in there, but maybe it’s a story for later.

so much trauma.  I’ve been fired for about half of the jobs I’ve had.  I’ve had more jobs than I can count.  It’s hugely problematic.  because I am a white woman.  because I am unmarried and can’t fall back on my souse or my duties as a soccer mom.  (apologies to the archetype of Soccer Mom.)   because there is a safety net out there, but I’m kind of embarrassed to use it because who deserves a handout?  — people with far less privilege and whiteness and middle class family background than I have.  my family would never let me go hungry, ever.  that’s not the kind of people we are.  but having the ovaries to ask for help — there’s the rub.

I will also say here that September 11th 2001 fucked me up.  in a bad way.  in a post-traumatic stress, wow I need someone big and strong to protect me, and it’s certainly not going to be my government.  I need to be held as I weep for the souls in the bodies which died.  weep for the unending spiral of violence which will ensue, weep for the lack of wisdom and foresight — weep that the rest of the world sees America as a spoiled child — weep weep weep.  weep because I feel so alone and so small and so helpless, and why the hell is this happening now???

and then grow a backbone…  fast.  to deal with world history for the past 100 years.  to deal with America’s ill-fated quest for empire, to deal with global economy and why other countries view America as a spoiled child, yet people from third world countries still want to come here and make or break, because the squalor they would live in here is so much better than the squalor they live in now…  at least our water is drinkable.  my roommate is fond of saying that the water in toilets in America is more potable (more ready to drink, more safe – I’m not sure what potable means except that it’s often a jeopardy category “potent potables.”  they’re being funny.  I’m being stupid.  whatever).  The water in American toilets is more potable than 80% of the world’s drinking water.  gives you an “eeew” and a “god that’s just horrible why don’t we do something about that except I don’t know shit about ending the many injustices of world poverty” kind of feeling.
welcome to my years at seminary.

with more anxiety.  because of a whole new world of Things I Don’t Understand but Hopefully Will by the End of the Dark, Long Tunnel.

how can those years be so formative for me and so traumatizing, still?

it’s been four years since I graduated.  seven years since The Event.   still, wounds festering.  I hate anniversaries.  I hate september.  the whole month, now because of one stupid day in it.

I used to love Fall.  I grew up in a place where there were lots of trees which would change color, and just build something brilliant to look at.  lovely, really.

okay.  I think that’s enough ranting for now.  thanks for seeing me through it.  comments welcome.

1 thought on “the depressing topics of gainful employment; my tortured year of temping; ex-lovers”

  1. I think you’re amazing, fyi. I was so nervous about meeting you and Willow, because what if you didn’t like me? I’m all awkward and angles, and sometimes people don’t like me because of it, because I don’t fit.

    So yeah, I was nervous, because I had already gotten so invested in the idea of moving up there, and then there Willow was, painting her pony and being Willow and then there you were, with your enormous laugh and your generous spirit, and I was kinda staggered by the force of you and your presence. (I mean that in a good way, not in the ‘holy crap, how do I get away from this person way’)

    I can’t imagine people wanting to strip away parts of you, because after being in the same house with you for less than three days, I can’t wait to get to know more about you. ♥ Oh, and I’m really really glad you like me. Just, you know, for the record.


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