“I destroy my enemies when I make them my friends.” — Abraham Lincoln, sort of…
Abraham Lincoln actually did say that – but it’s a bit out of context. He was responding to a woman who posited that he was not being hard enough on the newly conquered South. She made the assertion that he should not be attempting to rebuild the South or to refer to southerners as he had – as men who were blinded by circumstance. He was a learned man – though an autodidact – and he paraphrased the Holy Roman Emperor Sigismund. What Lincoln said in response to her query was, “Why madam, do I not destroy my enemies when I make them my friends?”
And so he did.
I’m an extremely fortunate man. I’ve said this before, and I say it often enough that I would not blame you for thinking that I am trying to convince myself of the truth of the statement through repetition, but it is true.
I’ve been stressed out, tired, grumpy, and unhappy lately. When this happens to me, my desire is to turtle. I want to shut out the rest of the world and just sort of lick my wounds until I feel ready to face reality again. Of course, this manifests itself in even further enhanced grumpiness as every little incursion into my world even from those that I love is an invasion into my need for isolation. I snap at my kids; I snap at my girlfriend; I snap at my colleagues.
I’ve been doing this all week, since I got back from my trip to the Middle East.
At first I could blame jet lag. It was almost certainly a factor. I wasn’t eating, my sleep was off, and I was just generally miserable. But I think it goes deeper than that…
Everything in my life right now is in flux. I just settled my accident case – though not satisfactorily – this is one instance where being a Caucasian male definitely works against me. My project at work is being transferred away, and I’ve been wanting to find a new job for quite some time.
My back was aggravated by the air travel – I can’t sit for long periods of time without it causing my back problems – but it brought one thing into sharp focus.. job stress is FAR more harmful to my health and my back issues than even sitting on a plane in coach for 20 hours.
Job stress is killing me – possibly literally.
I like to think of myself as being reasonably grounded, as being Zen in places where others cannot be. I like to try to react unemotionally but with empathy, or at least compassion. I try to be rational in all things, and yet, in this instance, I am most un-rational.
I seem to have an expiration date when jobs are involved. For the first six months or so in any new job, I am in love all over again. Even if I’m doing something very similar, I have many new things to learn, new people to meet, new technologies to play with, and new experiences of nearly every type. Eventually the newness wears off and I develop confident competence – I become an expert and I begin to take on leadership roles, and that works for another year or two. I invariably come across and begin to resent those that are either not competent or who lack the ethic that I bring to task. At first I silently compensate for these low performers, but eventually I begin to resent them, and that’s when the downward spiral begins.
In my current job, I’ve been spiraling for a bit more than a year now. For awhile I was able to achieve some sort of emotional distance, but eventually even this failed me and I find myself where I am now, angry and feeling exploited. I began to stop compensating for the lack of ability in my peers and rather than reacting as I expect, those further up the corporate totem pole bring their ire to me directly – the things that I was doing to compensate for the lack of ability or focus in others are no longer getting done, and despite the fact that these things were never my responsibility, the fact that I am now no longer doing them becomes my fault and my shortcoming.
The injustice of this only serves to further increase my anger and unhappiness.
And now, recent market changes have made it economically irresponsible for me to leave my job and seek employment elsewhere, so, as you might imagine, I’ve been feeling a bit trapped.
And what do I do when I feel trapped?
I pull in and react to the rest of the world with anger and resentment.
I could rail at the gods. I could pull back and say to myself and the rest of the universe, “this is unfair! Why me?!” I could blame others – the colleagues that I have been carrying, the management who is laying the blame at my feet, the Universe itself for being a cold, uncaring place. I could lament my misfortune and no one would blame me for it. My friends would support me, “you’re right, that’s unfair! You deserve better.” And I would be grateful for their support.
But that’s not the way out of this.
It’s in my nature to take charge of things. It’s in my nature to automatically pitch in and take over when things are faltering. It’s part of who I am to sacrifice my own time or my own desires in order to bring the team across the line. And I do it, over and over again. And I’m unlikely to stop – and even if I did, that wouldn’t make me happy.
The problem is that I can’t do it forever. Not without developing resentment. This is normal. This is not a violation of Zen principles – to deny my own feelings would be turning a blind eye to the most important thing in my universe – Me. And while martyrs get nice things written about them more often than not, martyrs also tend to die miserable deaths, and I’m not quite ready to lay down and die yet, so I need to take care of me.
So, how do I get out of this, you ask?
I turn my enemies into friends.
I’ve made no secret of the fact that I abhor my boss. She’s incompetent, lazy, bigoted, and just plain mean at times. She is not a leader, and in my opinion, does not deserve her position. She is barely capable of holding on to it, and if I were willing to sacrifice my own position, I could certainly bring her down. But I won’t do that.
I’m going to make her into my best friend.
I am going to do everything in my power to force her to succeed where she is floundering now.
I am going to change my world.
Now, while this is something of a personal epiphany that I’ve had, and while I’m arrogant enough to think that it might be worthy of reading, it’s really not got anything to do with the focus of this blog, which is BDSM specific – for the most part.
So, to bring things back into focus, I’ll extrapolate from D/s philosophy and put this into terms that almost make sense in that context.
I’ve been beating my head against a brick wall by trying to Dominate my boss and my colleagues. I’ve been trying to expose – bluntly at times – how fucked they really are if they don’t do as I’ve been suggesting. I held my head high, knowing that I didn’t create the situation in which they find themselves so thoroughly fucked – I just did nothing to prevent it.
And even though I know better – I tried to pretend that those two things are not the same thing.
Just as a lie of omission is still a lie – to allow something to occur through inaction when I could have prevented it is the same as causing it myself.
And so.. I was Dominating nothing. I was allowing things to happen when I could have controlled them. The proper thing to do for me – the proper thing to do to respect my own very nature – is not to get out of the way and let bad things happen, but to control them to create the best possible outcome that I can, and I was not doing that. So – things were falling apart, and I have been extremely unhappy to watch it unfold.
You’d think that I’d have some sort of schadenfreude inspired glee at watching things fall apart, but really it’s just made me a mess.
I don’t care who gets credit for things happening as they should – I never really have. So – I’m going to fix it, and in so doing, fix myself.