WWYD – Surf By Comment Shootings

A mom friend of mine, in reunion with her child for some time — yet estranged, wrote me and shared that her child had performed a surf by comment shooting on her  blog. The emotional bullets came in the form of a nasty comment left for her.  Fortunately, she has comment moderation enabled, a fact that her child may not have been aware of.  She did not approve the comment but was naturally upset and effected by it (most likely achieving the goal of the sender).

My heart ached for her. She has not heard from her child in quite some time (child’s choice, not hers) and to receive such vitriol on her blog, in a comment, was painful. Not surprisingly, she and her experience have stayed with me the past few days. I have been carrying thoughts of her around with me much like a school child does their backpack. As time permits my mind reaches into that backpack and ruminates on her situation, what I would have done, what others would have done, how it feels and more.

Does a mother respond to such behavior or is it best to ignore it?

If this has been a pattern for your child, for years, (attack, friend, pull back, attack, friend, pull back, attack, attack, attack), how do you handle it?

Is it a distorted cry for attention and connection or truly a vicious attack and an attempt to hurt the mother?

How does a mother NOT respond back to the child?  I know for certain some part of my friend wanted to reach out to her child immediately. Clearly the child is hurting and it is a natural instinct to want to comfort your child. But what does one do when that comforting is not wanted or worse yet, the comforting you extend turns into abusive exchange?  Isn’t it best to ignore?  If you have been attacked by your child repeatedly (verbally or in some cases, physically) how do you make the decision between fight or flight?

Ugh. Just so awful on so many levels.

I cannot imagine being faced with the idea of reaching out to your child, thinking that maybe, THIS time, they are ready for reunion and might want to really talk and connect while balancing the very real fear that this time your child might actually act on their threat to kill you.

If you have experienced this, what have you done? If not, what do you think you would do?

I can offer that while I have never had this level of commentary from my daughter, I have had difficult electronic exchanges. After our last (nearly two years ago), I told her I would no longer correspond via email on such delicate matters.  Too much is left to interpretation, lost and misconstrued in online communication. I gave her my phone number again.  In the future, for me, difficult conversations will NOT be conducted electronically. 

I saw that now, I feel that now, but what would I feel if I had gotten that nastrygram delivered to my blog? Might I feel differently? Its been two years since I heard from her. Would my overwhelming desire to connect cause me to violate my own personal policy?

What do you think? What would you do?

General Feeling of Angst

As the psychologist Carl Jung said, mid-life is a time to listen deeply to your heart. Whether we plan for this or not, midlife can be a period of transition and reappraisal. More inner questioning can occur.- Craig Nathanson, from Happiness and Work: Your Life Depends On It

So yeah, I am still here.  I am just mulling over lots of stuff, struggling with some other stuff, pondering life choices and rapidly coming to the conclusion I am in some sort of midlife crisis.

I could be wrong. It could just be a career crisis.  Either way, since I spend so much time working, having a career crisis is having a life crisis. And I am 42. Thats midlife, right?

I havent been blogging much lately due to the fact that I am very angsty.  This is a bit surprising since writing is generally my outlet, my muse. Writing helps me sort out my feelings. Putting pen to paper, or finger to keyboard tends to be a cleansing ritual. So lets cleanse, shall we?

Ugh.  I am incredibly unhappy professionally. I wont go into detail (too much) due to the presumed need to protect myself and my employer. I can offer that less than six months ago I was re-orged into a new department.  Very simply, I do not fit there.  In my old department I was classified as a PM II and my duties were split between technology enabling communications (developing sites, electronic vehicles, multimedia) and some degree of executive and employee communications.  I am an “okay” business writer (though trained as a technical writer) and was tasked with regularly generating memorandums, communications and such for a 2K person IT organization, its executives and more. I was also responsible for large event planning, this machination commonly known as Town Hall Meetings or All Hands Meetings.  The position capitalized on my strong PM skills, my technical background, my writing ability. I worked with IT people who by their nature are introverted and a little, well, off (no offense to any tech folks out there but surely you will agree it takes a special kind of person to write code for hours on end, fight with a bug in the program and then squeal with delight and a few fist pumps after you find the error in your code).  Our release manager had sleeves of tattoos, our VP of Operations was an odd little bird that rarely talked in large groups but in small groups could motivate you to move mountains. Staff composition was Business Analyst, Project Managers, Tech Leads, Developers, etc.

I fit.   Life was good.

I was reorged into another department and it was painfully evident to me I did not fit. At first I changed my clothing (bought more conservative things). Then I pondered ceasing coloring my hair. I bought a new notebook, started wearing the corporate pin on my lapel and did my best to be like those around me. I tried to conform (and I must admit I suck at that).  Within less than three months, my new boss critiques my introverted nature, my apparent lack of social skills at the water cooler (I thought I was paid to work not gossip?), questions my work product (which had been stellar in the other department), tells me I am not getting a merit increase (although my performance review warranted it) due to the fact that I make more than my new peers in my new department. Blah blah blah. There is more but you should get the gist.

It’s ugly. It’s stressful. I feel as though the writing is on the wall and if I don’t read it will be printed for me on a nice piece of pink paper in 25 point bold face hell-vetica font  I have been with my employer for six years and in recent years (like many companies in my industry) they have struggled. Layoffs and outsourcing is a weekly occurrence.  Add that to existing writing on the cubicle wall.

I am looking for a new job while I struggle to keep the one I have.  The market is not good in my area. There are quite a few postings for PM jobs but due to job changes the past two years my resume looks weak. I had been studying for my PMP certification and then put it on hold (for reasons I cannot even remember now).  Not having obtained that certification is working against me in this market. I am also rather limited in my ability to cast a wide net. I drop my youngest son off at school 3 days a week and must work in the general vicinity.  Small area, not many jobs, no PMP?  Daunting.

And yet, while I struggle with all of this, I realize I am not even sure I WANT to do what I have been doing. I crave something more creative, more useful, more appreciated, more than just my paycheck.  Dream much? Career crisis much? Yeah baby.

And I think about going back to school. Sadly, I don’t really want to go back to school for career changing purposes but rather to learn, to be stimulated, to complete that which was left incomplete oh so many years ago.

And I stop. And I start. And I stop.  I search monster.com. I ponder a career coach. I even think about looking up my old therapist.  Is this why seemingly responsible middle age men go out and buy corvettes and cheat on their wives?  Is this midlife crisis or is this Suz being Suz? Perhaps this is just a crappy job situation and that given time it will pass?

I am not convinced.  There is more to this here. A deep longing inside me that is looking, wanting, hungering for something. I don’t know what it is.

Then my childhood teachings, that Irish Catholic guilt bullshit speaks up and yells at me. Tells me I should be happy with what I have (I am) and stop the pissing and moaning. That voice tells me to be happy I have cooked carrots on my plate even if they make me vomit when I try to eat them. That voice reminds me there are hungry people somewhere else in the world that would welcome the chance to eat my cooked carrots. That voice tells me I am being selfish and wanting too much.

Is that what I am doing? What I am feeling? Pissing and moaning?  Lets put this in context here. I have a great partner (fabulous really), a wonderful lovely, eclectic home. I have two fabulous sons. I have food on the table, health insurance and savings.  I have my health (for the most part…I am still struggling with vertigo and migraine issues).  My life really is very good.  I am very blessed.

Then why the longing? Why the confusion? Why all the angst? More important than why, is how am I going address it.

As for adoption? I don’t have the time to think much about it. No really.  My mind is so consumed with work related angst I cannot go well, THERE.  It makes things worse, not better. My daughter’s birthday is also approaching and facing the painful reality of knowing where she is, knowing what her email is and NOT being able to even wish an effing happy birthday to her is seriously messing with my mind. I am pissed at her, pissed at adoption, pissed at myself. Again. I am angry and in pain. Yet, as a blogger friend suggested in her own recent post, I haven’t got time for the pain.

I need to accept the things I cannot change and find the courage to change the things I can.

I am working on it.