This photo is where I’d *like* to be…but Covid. Sigh.
Today, I got paid for the first time as a project manager.
Three years ago tomorrow, my then-supervisor put me on administrative leave, pending a pre-disciplinary hearing. The timing is not lost on me. He said my job performance was bad. He put me on leave midmorning, and that night I came back and cleaned out my cubicle. I knew I couldn’t stay, as whatever “improvement plan” he would devise would be torture. So I quit at the hearing. I wrote a letter of resignation, and turned it in with the building key. With the union president (!), we negotiated 3 months’ severance. It held us over until I got another job two months later.
Now, the backstory. He and I disagreed about how much one person could actually do, with him trying to add permit tracking to the already full load of crafting ordinances, briefings, resolutions, meeting scheduling, handling projects and purchasing, contracts and records management for the department. He laid off my immediate supervisor and kept me, something I advised against, as she had years of contract experience and had been the admin side of the house (ordinances, etc.). That’s where it all turned: when I said no.
I met with him 3 times to show him how much time I actually spent on work. He finally backed down, but that’s when he stopped showing up for our one-on-one meetings where I really needed answers. He started walking out of those meetings to meet with other, more important people. He verbally abused me, both publicly and privately. He was, and is, a narcissist. Granted, he was nervous in his new directorship position. But any mistake I made reflected poorly on him, he felt, and he accused me of trying to undermine him. He gaslighted me (gaslit?). He belittled me and ridiculed me to co-workers. He asked me to take on other one-off tasks I’d never done before, assigned them to others as well, and then lambasted my effort. Keep in mind I picked up some all new duties and nobody trained me. The process kept shifting, unbeknownst to me, and so I failed regularly. It was the most humiliating time ever, professionally.
I am far enough beyond this season to be able to talk and write about it rationally. I felt gutted for a long time. Narcissists can do that to you, I learned. They poke at your strengths. They second-guess you, inciting you to do the same. The start off treating you like the best thing since sliced bread, then all of a sudden, you’re human asbestos. Bad. Toxic. Trash. You try to figure out what went wrong. If you’re an empathetic sort, like me, you try to fix it. You apologize, you joke, you offer affirmation and kindness. Instead, you get more and more discouraged, spiraling down into anxiety, depression and feeling worthless.
But God. I’m a project manager now. In a couple of weeks, I’ll complete a master’s in public administration. I work for a different agency now, and my boss is amazing – kind, patient and a believer. I want to encourage you today. Maybe you’re in a similar season. Or maybe the season is just mundane, a “life is so daily” kind of thing. Hold on. The dreams you have matter. Pray. Seek God’s face for wisdom and grace. Serve. Love. It isn’t over yet. God is faithful and He’s with you till the end. He plays for keeps. Don’t give up. When the time is right, you will soar.
Those who live in the shelter of the Most High
will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
This I declare about the Lord:
He alone is my refuge, my place of safety;
he is my God, and I trust him. – Psalm 91:1-2