Wednesday, August 04, 2004

Who am I?

Wednesday afternoon. I so very much wanted to come here and write yesterday and I just couldn't form my tangled, jumbled thoughts into anything that made sense, so here I am today hoping that it will work and that I can get some semblance of order back in my head and on the page/screen.

First, a few quick statistics, for those that like numbers:

* Number of times something or someone at work had me on the verge of tears yesterday - 5

* Times I wanted to strangle someone at work yesterday - 10

* Times I felt completely worthless, both as a manager and as an individual contributor to our management team, at work yesterday - 8

* Number of meetings I've got on my calendar between now and Friday afternoon (my last day in the office before a week-long business trip) - 8
(Bonus: Number of those meetings I am the driver for - 3)

* Action items I have to complete before I leave on business trip - nevermind, I can't count that high

* Annual performance appraisals outstanding - 4 (at least they're started, though)
(Second bonus!: Outstanding peer feedback interviews required in order to complete outstanding annual performance appraisals - 4)

* Times I actually did cry yesterday - 3

OK, enough numbers, let's move on to the good stuff. Please keep in mind that TTOM is in the 'hood, so I'm in the hormonal zone - take all of the following with a grain of salt.

I don't know who I am anymore. Work, self image, and other stuff are all in such a state of flux that I feel like I don't know what I can count on to be true and real and stable. Do you know what it feels like for someone who hates change when virtually everything in your life is in a transformative state? I do, now, and it all came crashing in on me at once yesterday, sort of like one of those freaky movies where like 18 divergent plotlines all, eventually, get smushed together and you say, "oh, so that's why he was carrying the parrot around!"? That was my yesterday.

Let's back up a little, though. Rewind six months and what do we have? Who was Denise on February 4, 2004? At work, I was the "clever" one, terrible with deadlines, not good at follow through, but absolutely terrific at figuring out the best course of action when presented with a challenge. I was the one with the killer networking skills, the one tasked with representing not just VLSCI but the entire industry we're a part of in a standards group involving our key suppliers, the one that everyone in the industry knew to be a "go to girl" when you had a tough nut to crack at a supplier or a weird technical restriction that you needed some experience to frame a solution for. Other management team members included three others. Team member number one was another networker who was the "spunky" one - she never put up with crap off of anyone and, although her technical skills were not up to date, I've never known anyone who had a better grasp of our process and procedures than she does. Team member number two never met a number she didn't like. If she can't figure it out through a mathematical formula, she's pretty lost. Fanatical about follow through, she worries the details of every decision to death. Networking definitely not her strong suit - that was left to Team member number one and me. Our last team member was so laid back that I sometimes wondered if he had a pulse. He is a writer of fiction, a self taught hardware guru, and a hater of all things bureaucratic and process-oriented. He and Team member number two had some pretty spectacular run-ins. That was six months ago.

Where are we now? Team member number one was promoted and is now manager of the other three of us plus our newest member - Team member number five, we'll call him. Additionally, in the interim, Team member number two took a three month personal leave of absence, leaving just Team member number four and me as Project Managers for the department. Can't tell you how much fun that was! In any case, during the period when it was just the two of us, I picked up a lot of both of their responsibilities, many of which were areas I'd never been familiar with and nearly all of which required a large amount of mental energy from me to keep on top of. The dynamic of our team change as well. With our "spunky" one gone, Team member number two would pretty much roll right through the rest of us on a daily basis if I wasn't standing up and saying "no" occasionally (picking my battles). This is not something I've ever done and I'm deadly uncomfortable with conflict, always have been, so this is quite a stretch. Additionally, she's pushing to gain more exposure outside the department and the company, aspiring to the Master of Networking crown that I so proudly display in my office. (OK, there's not a real crown, but there could be and it would be mine if it existed!) Suddenly, I'm like dragging a calculator around everywhere and becoming the Numbers Queen and she's trying to edge me out of my area of expertise. Also, Team member number five, the "new guy" is like 30 years old, full of energy and ideas and he's clever, so he's taking that part of me away, too. I don't know where I fit and I'm afraid that where I'm headed isn't as good as where I came from.

On the self image front, I was somewhere around 260 pounds at the beginning of February. I hadn't weighed myself in months, so I couldn't be more precise than that. I was eating whatever I wanted, never exercising (why bother?), and ignoring my diabetes (if you ignore it, it can't hurt you - didn't you know that?). Chris (now-former fiance) loved me as I was, so why would I do anything to feel better about myself? Now, I'm moving my body and eating healthy food in reasonable amounts and watching the numbers on the scale slowly but surely decrease. For a while there, I was actually saying and thinking that I really did love myself enough to care, enough to do the work required to get and stay healthy. It was as though some other creature had inhabited my body. Just in the last week to ten days, though, there's this ambivalence and uncertainty that left me reeling. Who am I to love myself? Have you seen me? I'm fat, for God's sake! Pretty? Beautiful? My God, what was I thinking??? I actually thought I could lead an active life filled with natural activity? What did I smoke to make me think that it was realistic to expect that I'd dealt with hte reasons I've gained weight so many times before?

Finally, and perhaps most painfully, on a personal level, I was still engaged at the beginning of February. On some level, though, I always knew that it wouldn't work out - how could it? He wasn't going to move here and, let's be real, I wasn't going to move to Pig's Holler, Virginia (not the real name), either. It was the ultimate "safe" relationship for me because it never demanded anything of me on a permanent basis because it wasn't going to be forever. Now there's no safety net there and I could put myself out on the line and get hurt and that's scary.

In any case, it all adds up to feeling sort of adrift and a little scared. You know, though, it's also sort of exciting because, since I'm not tied to anything, I could end up anywhere, and that's sort of a rush.

Oh yeah, and one more statistic for you:
* Number of wonderful, loving emails received yesterday that made me cry because they touched me so deeply - 1

Sometimes, once is enough.

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