The Job That Almost Killed Me

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Regardless of my efforts, it was never enough. To be honest, I wasn’t sure why I was chosen to work at “Ben’s Place” as there was obviously someone more qualified and experienced than me that can get the job done assisting the mental and physically challenged. Maybe it was too expensive to do so?

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I recently moved from a small area and wanted to make sure my disabled sister has some activities to do. However, she was still on the waiting list to get the services she deserved so she ended up going to a non-profit adult day care (paying $125 a month) where disabled friends can meet up and hang out; doing numerous semi-repetitive activities to make the joyful and chaotic days pass by quickly. She loved it. I loved it because I wanted my sister to be happy.

A week after my sister joined Ben’s Place a boss asked me if I was doing anything. I recently graduated from college (B.A degree), I moved away from an abusive household, etc. I wasn’t busy really and I was discovering my new surroundings. Because I was new to the city, and got along well with the students whenever I picked my sister up or dropped her off I was offered a job. I solely wanted experience. I wanted to understand myself and others through this job. I didn’t need the income as my job was already taking care of my sister (In-Home Patient Care Assistant).

In the beginning, the boss was kind to me. Everyone was kind to me (there were 3 co-workers at the job). It was fun and creative. Upbeat music was playing every morning to bring in a happy mood. There was cooperation from everyone. Cool lessons were taught. I never got bored there. Everyone seemed very happy. But let me tell the truth about the work environment and myself.

I wasn’t ready to work. I wasn’t in the right frame of mind too. I didn’t value myself enough to quit before I was let go. I wanted others approval for the service I provided and it back-fired. I was being micromanaged. 

It was not easy working in an environment with those with different mental and physical disabilities. It was a burden to assist 10+ students to complete their life skill chores every morning.  I did this alone most mornings.

It was degrading being evaluated by a boss who expected me to know what to do. How can I know what to do from the top of my head if something new is being added by her almost everyday?

How did it went from not having to supervise those washing the windows for example (a program manager told me this in the beginning of my job) to having to because the windows were not clean enough and I have to supervise. It seems like such a simple task to many, but everyday I had to look at those stained cracked windows, “praying” that a student would complete his job to the best of his ability so I would not get in trouble.

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  • MariaMars, there was no toilet paper in the [4] bathrooms when you left.” Little did she knew that I took pictures of the bathrooms that DID have toilet paper before I left, I just never showed them because I wanted to make sure that I wasn’t going insane and actually did my job. I worked there Monday, Wednesday and Friday (3 hours a day for $9 an hour). On Monday there was toilet paper (one bathroom had 2 rolls!) on Wednesday she complained to me. On Tuesday who was in charge? Was it that person job to check to make sure before Wednesday morning?

  • “The floor isn’t vacuumed MariaMars.” (How can someone who’ve been at Ben’s Place for over 6+ years STILL couldn’t vacuum properly? WHO was in charge before I was hired?..also..new vacuums are needed even if the old ones are “fixed”).

  • “MariaMars, there needs to be a certain product used for the student to clean the stains from the table, the directions are in the back of the Art Room.” (I didn’t know this Boss why tell me after 2-3 weeks?! and I couldn’t find the directions to make the product because the Art Room is disorganized). Oh! but thanks for organizing it to make it easier for others AFTER letting me go.
  • “Alright, let’s see, the windows are not clean MariaMars.” (This student is 60+ years old, attended Ben’s Place for 10+ years and couldn’t clean the windows properly? Again who “trained”him before I came in the picture? Also, maybe it isn’t good to clean the outside windows when the sun is blazing out?..just a suggestion..)

 

 

Issues With Co-Workers

One co-worker would shout at the students to do their chores if they didn’t start immediately. This confused me because…it was my job to assist others to start and finish their chores. He was a project manager. He had bigger roles to fulfill….why dictate others to do their chores right in front of me?! What’s devastating after making a complaint to the boss, the next day there was no more “Hello, Maria!” He wouldn’t even give eye-contact. It was very uncomfortable.

Another co-worker in my opinion didn’t want me there. She and I knew it. Female co-workers are very vindictive and passive aggressive. They smile at you but deep down there is a form of unwarranted jealousy that exists within them. She probably thought I wanted the +40-year-old divorced project manager she flirts and talks to most of the time. No, I am just charming and it threatened her. I am 28 years old with no children and that threatened her. I am fairly pretty (many say I should model) and that threatened her. I wasn’t like the stereotypical black woman and that threatened her.

I read people very well and knew every bit of body language she showed towards me. It was really hard to work there because of her. She also micromanaged me too but I couldn’t mention it because she is the boss’s daughter. She also rarely eye-contacted me some days. I took it as: we’re not friends, I don’t like you, back off…and I did. I think she prevented me to work in the evenings after requesting too (because I wanted to help ease her workload/hours..) But she didn’t want me near him because he worked in the evening too.

The 3rd co-worker was the only one that didn’t give me a hard time. I could tell that the other 2 didn’t really like him but they needed him because he assists the more severely disabled. He actually had credentials and past experience to do his job. He was more expressive and passionate with his job; creative and sensitive. He was annoying but respectful.

The workplace was very disorganized and dirty. I saw roaches and ants most days. There was expired food that was sometimes served. Communication was sometimes an issue. I didn’t feel apart of the team. There was exaggerated emphasis on “assertiveness” towards the disabled I had to adopt. Favoritism was obvious. There was not enough workers who specialize working with certain disabilities and rehired those who left the job for perhaps the same issues I have. And I wasn’t trained immediately after I was hired. I WASN’T GIVEN THE SPACE TO GROW AS AN EMPLOYEE.

 

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So why did the job almost killed me?

Situational depression from job loss.

P.S: I DON’T care about people’s ignorant opinions on depression and suicidal thoughts. The boss and co-workers never knew that I tried attempted suicide 3 times in my early 20’s, went to mental facilities over 4 times, received intensive therapy and took medication. Depression runs in my mother’s side who suffers from psychosis but that’s another blog day. THIS ISONE TRUTH ABOUT MARIAMARS:

She wanted to kill herself from job loss. 

The day I was let go, I burst into tears in front of the boss from absolute confusion and stress. I couldn’t find the ingredient list needed to make a plant-based product for a student to clean the table because the back room was very disorganized. I told her this and she states “Maria, come sit down, we need to talk, Maria, now it’s time to do your job right…” I was in great fear after hearing those words. “But, I couldn’t find the list…” She gave me the look and decided to bring up the difficulties caring for my sister as if it was the reason I didn’t do a good job. The conversation went manipulative in my opinion. Suddenly, I was spewing reasons why I couldn’t work (i.e. hip dysplasia) and how hard everything was. But instead of working for a solution I was asked if I wanted to be let go and I said yes.

I didn’t want to leave the job. But I felt pushed too. 

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Being compared to her daughter’s past self was one red flag. She mentioned how she use “to be like me”, not assertive enough when managing others. She was quiet like me. Her daughter even use to disapprove how she treated the disabled vocally. Somehow, my qualities (i.e. silence, patience, et.) were invaluable when she told me this. She expected me to change my personality (how I interacted with others at Ben’s Place) to her fitting. I noticed that some co-workers mimicked her communication style. It’s unconscious conditioned behavior that leads to nowhere.

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I cried a lot privately at work and was spied on once before and I was gossiped on. Gosspi is very contagious and negative. Actually and admit I’ve done it also. However, I learned to never complain to a co-worker about the stress I go through at work because they’ll pass it on to others with ill intentions towards me. My weaknesses are their weapons and disappointments to pick on.

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After job loss I felt so much anger. I didn’t want to leave the house for days. I felt very useless, ugly and confused. I self-harmed on my legs. I held a knife towards my neck. I thought about killing myself and wishing the courage to. I had a purpose and it died. To this day, I still don’t want to purse a career as a ESE teacher because I am that terrified to work under someone who may try to get me fired. I have small panic attacks when I think of Ben’s Place & the co-workers becase they terrify me. I want to stay away from that place for good and have been for weeks. I wondered if all that kindness in the beginning was sincere? I didn’t want to believe that the people who work with the underdogs of society could be passively cruel.

I realized the job itself didn’t almost kill me, but my attachment towards it almost killed me. I measured my value and self-worth based on how others treated me there. I’ll explain more later.

(to be continued…)

 

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The Psychology of Religiosity

 

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Your mother was your first “God”.

 

Psychoanalyst Donald Winnicott emphasizes how a mother’s responsiveness to the baby’s needs determines the quality of a separate individual. According to him the quality and nuances of adult subjectivity and the subtleties of mother-infant interactions provided a powerful perspective for viewing both the development of the self and the analytic process.

In the beginning, the infant believes that his or her needs and wishes emerges from the integrated drift of consciousness or subjective omnipotence. If the baby is hungry then he makes it happen by crying and the mother’s breast would appear, thinking that he created the breast or the object of his desire. The mother overall “brings the world” to the baby and her responsiveness is what gives him the “moment of illusion”. The mother is in charge giving the baby a holding environment which is a physical or psychological space.

The mother doesn’t have to attend the infant’s needs all the time. In matter of fact, after the mother regains her sense of self after temporary suspension of subjectivity, the infants notice the “failure” of the mother to “bring the world to him”. It’s somehow painful and disappointing for the baby to experience. Technically the baby depended on the mother but for the first time he realizes the *feelings* associated with dependency. The baby also realizes that others have their own desires and wishes and must depend on those people fulfill them. Self-awareness is born.

Psychoanalyst Heinz Kohut stated that the narcissistic experience begins with the infant’s blissful state, which is inevitably upset or disturbed by the expectable failure of its mother’s ministrations after the mother naturally retains her self-awareness again; leaving the child alone for long period of times.The infant finally understands the difference between subjective omnipotence and objective reality but most couldn’t cope with the reality.

The infant then tries to restore the disruptions by creating two systems of “narcissistic perfection”. The infant first creates a world where everything is pleasant and good within the self and everything outside is bad and dangerous. Kohut states how this is the beginning of the development of the “narcissistic self”. The child creates another system where he attempts to restore the pleasant and good feelings by projecting it onto someone else, creating a “perfect” object (i.e. priests, gurus, etc.).

Most people usually search or found their “perfect” object in religious or spiritual institutions like churches, temples, mosques or ashrams; to cope with their psychological “disturbance” from being separated physically and or emotionally from the mother. Some also use objects to continuously express their “moments of illusions” by using objects like rosaries, angel cards by Doreen Virtue (lol!), crosses, crystals, pictures of a deity, statues, bibles, dolls, etc. to feed their unmet narcissistic needs.

Religion (and by the way the definition of religion varies and everyone is “religious”) is a cultural object and people use it to deal with things they cannot control in their lives. According to the Introduction from the book Going into Pieces Without Falling Apart, the problem is that we have not learned how to give up control of ourselves.

Gurus, spiritual teachings, angels, star-beings, Buddha, Jesus, etc. are cultural objects that can “help” the “religious” deal with everyday issues by creating “moments of illusion”. They are basically pacifying through life with these objects. During “moments of illusion” the person believes that prayer, worship, etc. connects with God/Source…or the mother. They gain faith/hope/etc. but not a healthy dose of objective reality.

I think most religious people are afraid of the unknown or feelings of emptiness and believe it can be healed through religion. Even the object of meditation (i.e. Theravada Buddhism), makes the person connect with feelings of emptiness, imperfections and regrets without self-judgement…but are they moments of illusions too? How do we know emptiness exists? How do we know self or even no-self “exists”?

Can a person of religious faith get pass the “failure of the mother”?

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“The Devil Is A Lie”

Those were the last words my aunt from my late father’s side spoke to me via. text before cowardly cutting me off from her life.

How can you psychologically prepare yourself after finding your father’s relative via. Facebook after 10+ years one day at the public library? You’re never truly prepared for a life changing moment like that but you hope that family would unconditionally accept who you are including your flaws and all because blood is thicker than water right? Right? Well…I was lying to myself.

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I let myself down for believing in a “‘no one gets left behind” definition of family but my aunt let me down even more after I expressed my sadness of how my deceased father neglected me in social media. I had a sensitive moment, (we all do) wounds rose from my psyche and instead of compassion and understanding from her end, I was ignored, erased and crucified.

My father died when he was 39 from cardiac arrest. It was the result of smoking and bad eating habits. It hurts to this day never knowing what our relationship would be like if he stayed alive a bit more till I found him on Facebook, just to say to him that I love him. If he was still alive, maybe he would have given me the space to be angry for all the years lost. Maybe he would allow me to cry. Maybe he would finally give his side of the story on why there was a huge fallout between him and my mom that partly influenced  her moved from California to Florida; taking me and sis with her without telling him. There are so many secrets that I’ll never know.

He’s not here anymore but in my aunt’s eyes my anger towards him hurt her and she forever carries that hatred in her heart toward her niece. That’s her choice. She had the privilege to grow up with a father. I didn’t. Why couldn’t she see a young woman crying for help that day? Who cares if the feelings were made public for that brief moment…in reality I was in pain because I’ll never get to see him again and the reality hit me harder than a ton of bricks since finding my father’s family. At least she had many good years with him before his untimely death. She’s so lucky. She got to see him laugh, make his music, talk and hug him. She got to say: I love you.

I didn’t.

I’ll never forget the real evil my aunt spewed to me that day.  “The devil is a lie.” The “devil” drove her apart from me. In other words, narcissism. Mind you, I did apologize to her after stating what I said but she never forgave me for expressing abandonment issues to this day. It’s scary that a 50-year-old “woman of God” could be that way but she was never meant to be in my life I guess. We all don’t need passive aggressive abusers in our lives…even if they are blood related.

Time to move forward.

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Oh, and father, I forgive you. I always did. Rest in peace.

The Fragmentation of Youth

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The experience of being a “young a heart” human is a sensitive journey. This world is a big stage; an endless maze full of imperfections and complexities. Being “young at heart” sounds romantic, but the journey is melancholic because there is so much uncertainty if how you are living has purpose and meaning according to the “adult”. The uncertainty is infused with judgments by the older generation who expects us to be “grown” in this system called World.

My Definition of Youth

“Youth” isn’t solely a physical experience, it’s a psychological and emotional journey full of trials and tribulations. To survive in this world full of “adults”, one has to dream, play and believe in themselves.

Play, Pleasure and Wounds

I was 21 years old when I had my first alcoholic drink. I remember the taste of strawberry rum so distinctively. The result of drinking alcohol that first time wasn’t based on mere curiosity.

His name was “Austin”. We meet during a bus ride in Saint Augustine, Florida one afternoon. He was 18 years old at the time. He kindly complimented my newly dyed light brown hair and there, I wanted to be friends with him instantly. We agreed to meet at his apartment to hang out and I was so excited because he seemed awesome to be friends with.

When we got to finally hanged out the next day all he wanted to do was lay on his couch and watch reality television. I was disappointed. I wanted to play! Well what was my idea of play? Being. Just being yourself and expressing all sorts of elements of that self, perfect and flawed. But with being comes with surfacing wounds and I wasn’t prepared to see Austin’s and even my own.

The next day he wanted me to smoke marijuana. I was shocked and declined. He smoked without me and boasted how he got another newbie high for the first time and laughed. I asked myself if that girl was like me, a late bloomer who didn’t know what “play” really was all along.  Later that week, I was introduced to rum. While he looked at me and smiled, I reluctantly yet slowly drank it. It tasted good honestly. It wasn’t so bad. He laughed and perhaps felt relived.

However, I was bitter inside. I felt like this sort of “play” was the only way to connect to him and feel more “youthful and free” and I hated him for that, especially myself.

“Austin” had a very tough life as a victim of sexual abuse. He was ganged raped at a party. He almost succeeded in a suicide attempt. He was also a drug user. I later found out that his 60-year-old roommate wasn’t his father or grandfather but a sugar daddy who financially supported him and his drug habit. Keeping an eye out for him while he stole cough medicine at Winn-Dixie to get high was also a memory that stuck with me.  He admit to me once that he got his friend pregnant. He told me that her mother walked in screaming when they were having sex. The mother thought he was gay. I concluded he was bisexual.

I also concluded that his “youth” was fragmented.

I remember my first hangover after drinking that rum. I was giggling and laughing all the way to our trip to Wal-Mart. He just looked at me and smiled at checkout, like I was this fresh flower ready to be more tainted. Psychologically, I thought that I was finally being a “true youth”, against the system called World, having REAL fun by rebelling. In reality, I voluntarily enter his own system of self-abuse and mimicked it for my own selfish pleasure. Later that night, I violently purged in the toilet, feeling more like a diseased rose that wanted so much of his validation.

We did played at the parks, climbed trees, walked through the forests, watched the stars at night but there was this big gap in these experiences. Ironically, I didn’t feel youthful at all because alcohol was always involved. I felt like I was giving what the adults what they wished for. For example, Austin and I was drunk at a playground one night and a man and his wife watched in confusion. The man looked excited when I was dancing sexually in my own space, my own tainted dark galaxy. He wanted me in that moment but he couldn’t for obvious reasons. All I was at that moment was a potential object of pleasure. He didn’t use me that night but I noticed that Austin’s version of play became a game of pleasure for the adults and for those who had hurt us in the past. Play and pleasure co-existed to feed our wounds and entertain others.

Austin’s game of play reminded me that those who had hurt him will always win, tainting his youthful heart, entrapping his mind and people around him, including me. Instead of being a good friend and encouraging him to get help, I decided to play for my own selfish needs and hurt myself in the end. All it took was three horrible vodka hangovers to decide to not be his friend anymore. I couldn’t be in his abusive cycle anymore. I remember sending a long Facebook message mirroring his issues and why I couldn’t be friends and with anger he told me that I was being (in short)–childish.

Maybe because my tone in the message was too judgmental. Maybe at that moment, I acted more “mature” and self-aware than him that possibly enraged him. Whatever the reason, me deciding to not play his game turned me into a “child” again in the adult world and it disgusted him and I was afraid again; very uncertain and lost. But I was free again to be myself.

A few weeks after I cut him off we oddly made up and forgave each other. I knew it wasn’t sincere though but didn’t care because within that summer I moved to Palm Coast and began a new chapter of more difficulties and significant changes. From a distance one day, he admitted on the phone of taking pictures of me I was passed out drunk in the nude. I didn’t even remember taking my clothes off. What’s worse was that he shared them to one of his roommates who wanted to “meet me”. I felt slimy and betrayed but it could have gone much worse. That last I ever spoke to him he cried in tears revealing he contracted HIV and wanted to commit suicide. His last words to me: “I love you Mary, bye”. It was just surreal.

Conclusion

My previous definition of youth is incomplete because honestly, I don’t really know what it means to be “young at heart” anymore since meeting Austin 7 years ago. The youth in the past and now are equally fragmented because of the system called “World” where we are expected to either achieve what they want or be shamed to self-destruction. It’s all a game in the end of the day.

As a 21-year-old at the time, did I really cared about 18-year-old Austin? I mean, technically we BOTH were by legal definition adults but he was a baby; broken and crying for love. I thought I did care but in truth I was just trying to discover my missing youth through him but I came out more terrified than ever of my own wounds in my own life. But at least I learned that being young is not a nice journey at all. It’s raw. It’s collective. It’s eternally fragmenting. 

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