Some things won’t get fixed until the Band-Aid is ripped off. –Richard Moran

I have some generalized bitching to do. It does tie into BJJ (doesn’t everything, eventually?), but feel free to skip it.

I am under a lot of stress right now. Part of it is resulting from the necessity of dealing with seemingly endless truckloads of nonsensical bureaucratic red tape. I have little patience for this type of thing at the best of times; and when I’m stressed out and short-tempered, I just want to start cracking some heads together. It might make them pay better attention, at least. These people are not LISTENING to me.

I tried half a dozen times to sign up for paperless e-delivery of my credit union statements (which are being mailed to me in the form of a murdered tree every month and taking up a ridiculous amount of room in my file cabinet). It didn’t work. I emailed their help line. And again. And again. Finally got a response after a month- consisting of a copy of the same instructions from the website. The ones I already followed six times and had it return error messages. I called my financial advisor. It took another week and three rounds of phone-tag to get him on the line. First he gave me a number that went to a company that had no idea who I was and what I was talking about. I called him again. Then we did a conference call with the company that handles the e-statements. It was like a 40-min call… during which I’m standing in the driveway shivering in the snow because I can’t get cell service in the house. We had to explain to the guy numerous times that no, I was not in front of the computer, and no, he could not fix this problem by reading me the instructions off the website. He was no help, but we ended with him promising to e-mail me a paper form that I would fax in. Do you think this form ever appeared in my e-mail box? Of course not.

My workplace has begun rolling out the BMI sanctions. Everyone is supposed to attend a 10-min “health screening” so that they can record your weight and height. I e-mailed human resources to ask if the screeners were qualified to write the waivers for those of us whose BMI’s are skewed due to excess muscle mass. She responded with an explanation of what the “health screenings” consist of and what they are for. I responded with a polite version of, that’s nice, but you did not address my question. I explained the waivers and asked what those of us in that situation are supposed to do. She responded with an explanation of what a BMI is and that the company’s focus is to encourage people with out-of-range BMI’s to diet and exercise so that we can promote a heathier workforce.

Sometimes I feel like I’m talking to brick walls. I think I’m going to start inserting random profanities, nursery rhymes and cookie recipes into my conversations and e-mails just to see if I get a reaction. ***ANY*** reaction.

This is the person in the human resources office who was assigned to answer employee questions about the BMI program, and she has never even heard of the waivers. This does nothing to reassure me that the company is going to handle this competantly. I’ll be damned if I will submit to a “health screening”. Once they have those numbers, I can’t put the genie back in the bottle. I’m confident that they **WILL** be misused, and then I’m stuck with all the stresses and headaches of trying to do damage control with the not-listening, red-tape bureacracy after the fact. It’s better that they not have the data. Problem is, refusing to get on their little merry-go-round is going to gyp me out of hundreds of dollars in health insurace premiums. Financially, the obese people who submit to the screenings will end up paying less than me. This is exactly the type of shit I knew I’d be wading in the first time I saw the news about the BMI program.

My boss took me into her office this morning to chew me out about something that had happened at 7pm on 2/3. Obviously, I had gotten out of bed, driven to work, done this wrong thing, drove back home and went back to bed, and then reappeared at work three hours later at my normal time pretending that I had not been involved in this nefarious activity. I explained this to her, and she looked at the time stamps and acknowledged that there was no physical way that I could have been the person responsible for this error…. then proceeded to explain why it was wrong and what a hassle it caused and what should have been done instead. I repeated 4 times, like a robot, “That’s a good thing to explain to whomever did this. I didn’t do this.” I controlled my words, but I’m afraid that a little emotion may have crept into my tone of voice after the first couple reps. Then she told me that my quarterly review would be next week. Wonderful. Thank you. I can’t wait to hear all about my errors *and* my surly attitude.

I could go on… this is how my entire month has been, seriously, I have eight or ten ongoing situations on the burner here that are playing this same movie. but I am just feeling my fuse getting shorter and shorter, and I need to do a reset and get a grip before I start painting walls with blood around here.

I am realizing that besides the prevalent theme of “HELLO YOU ARE NOT LISTENING TO WHAT I’M TELLING YOU, DUMBASS”, the thing that’s tying all these incidents together is that I am having a repetitive and compounded defensive reaction to what feels like me being invalidated.

I am well aware that my poor self-esteem is at the root of this emotional overreaction. It’s like, “I have a mental soundtrack playing 24/7 telling me how much I suck; I do *NOT* need *YOU* to tell me more about how much I suck!!!!!!!” It’s even worse when it’s something that I know is a false accusation, like the work thing that is really not my fault and the BMI that really does not mean I’m a fat lazy sow.

There are a few things that need to happen here. These are destructive patterns, and I need to do something differently in order to disrupt the pattern. First thing: I need to notice when this song starts, and just take a moment to tell myself, “Here is that pattern again. Here is your blood pressure rising. Here is the defensiveness. It’s okay to feel this way. The manner in which you have been habitually responding to it have not been working out very well for you. Now just take a moment to consider before you react.”

I think one thing that I need to resolve to do is to stop the cycle of repeatedly explaining things to people who are not listening to me, and wasting my time, and getting more and more frustrated. Next time I find myself there, I think I need to get over the reticence about appearing impolite, and the aversion to causing a confrontation, and just look them in the eye and say, “I’m sorry, you must not have heard what I just said to you.” and pause long enough to let them grasp that we’re breaking the script. (I consider myself a good communicator, so the failure to resolve these incidents heaps another spoonful of “you suck” on the pile. Didn’t I explain it well enough? This must be my fault too. The objective reality, I think, is that yes I did- the other person is not listening, which is their failing and not mine. But even if I can truly internalize that (which is a struggle), I still have to resolve the practical aspects of the issue somehow.)

Another thing that needs to happen is that I need to explore methods for resisting feeling invalidated by other people. Why is it- KNOWING that my body is healthy and that I diet and exercise more than 97% of the population, I still fly into a head-exploding, defensive rage at being told that I “need to diet and exercise” by some human resources drone who doesn’t know me from Adam? And whom I know for a fact is simply wrong? Why can’t I just blow her off? Well, because her judgement- anyone’s judgement- is automatically regarded as more valid than my own. Which means that if she says I’m a fat lazy sow, I really must *be* a fat lazy sow. If my boss insists on correcting me on someone else’s mistake, well, maybe I did make that mistake after all. Or I might do so in the future. Or I should take the responsibility for it even if I didn’t make it. Not only do I suck, my perceptions are wonky and I can’t trust my own judgement. That’s a sad and SCARY place to be.

This is giving other people way too much power over me, as well as using up a lot of my energy and just making me feel like crap. And I’m not getting the objectives solved (“What’s your objective?” my former shrink liked to remind me, when I got too sidetracked by trying to wring justice out of my exchanges and forgot the original point of said exchange).

This definitely plays into the most destructive block in my training- my defeatist attitude. Fortunately, I train with mostly nice folks and I don’t have a lot of people telling me to my face that I suck. Occasionally I have a situation such as Hostility Boy treating me with unveiled contempt, or getting plowed by multiple white belts in succession, or having a brand new no-stripe white belt offer to show me how to do some BJJ, which makes me feel invalidated. This is part of the angst of being forced to wear belts as well. Wearing a colored belt is making an assertion to yourself and others around you that you have a certain level of skill. It is sort of INVITING challenges to your feeling of validation, especially if you have a hard time keeping up competitively with those of your own rank or lower.

Might write more on this later. It is definitely a big issue that I need to do something with, for the sake of my training, my career and pretty much all other aspects of my life. But right now I need to gird up and make myself tackle one more set of phone calls to some bureaucrats.

Dang. I have way too much practical crap to deal with right now to get sucked into one of these big navel-contemplating self-help projects. But isn’t that the way it always goes.


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