I was not having it yesterday. The triggering conversation I had with my boss and the emotional fallout from it absolutely exhausted me.
I thought sleep would help, but it didn’t really. He empowers me to make departmental decisions and all morning I was asking his opinion or avoiding him and it wasn’t going to work. So I asked him if we could talk.
See, he’s someone I trust. He knows about my past and my struggles and I consider him a key reason I’ve managed to heal and find a home in this city. He’s seen how broken I am firsthand and still promoted me. He’s never broken my confidence and at some level I know I can trust him. So I decided to try.
Note: I never would have had this vulnerable of a conversation with anyone else or if I didn’t trust him. But I think it was a good step forward.
I asked him if we could go into the boardroom. I had written what I wanted to say, and referenced it as I went.
Let me start by saying I don’t want to be treated with kid gloves – I’m not telling you what I’m going to tell you to ask for preferential treatment in any way. I am telling you this for context sake.
I want to confirm that I heard you yesterday. I understand what you were saying and appreciate you letting me know how my actions were perceived. As much as I struggle in my relationship with Owner2, I know his opinion matters – regardless of if it is justified.
My greatest issue right now is differentiating situations from my past with the present. I don’t know where my triggers end and actual feelings begin. The conversation we had yesterday managed to hit a trifecta of problems for me. I wanted to clarify that I heard you and appreciate what you said, but that when I ‘shut down’ or stop talking it’s because I’m overwhelmed.
I stop hearing or listening and say things I just think you want to hear from me. I bring this up because I trust you and I want you to know that. I need to get off that “whatever you want Owner1” train and back to making the executive decisions you hired me to make.
This is a reality of who I am and it is going to come up. I’m working on it, as you know. My personal baggage came through and I own that. It isn’t your job to frame things for me a certain way – but it is a reality of my life that occasionally affects me here.
The whole time he was doing really soft (and very therapist like) mhms, and I understands. And nodding empathetically. He said he appreciated me bringing it up and said what he said last summer – as long as I’m growing in my role and benefiting the company and doing my best to heal he’s there on that journey.
I then told him I felt ashamed of my reality – and really vulnerable sharing with my boss (also a CEO and Owner) what I was sharing. I re-emphasized that it was not on him to change how he approached me and in fact I would be mad if he gave me preferential treatment.
His response melted my heart a bit.
“PD, here’s how I see this. We all have areas we need to grow in, me too. And we can react negatively and dip into this anxious part of ourselves. But then we return to neutral. You went above and beyond into self awareness and growth and even above that came to help give me context. I don’t think that’s shameful, I think that’s admirable and I respect you for it.
I will admit I handled it poorly too, so hopefully we can come together in a different way next time.”
So, gap bridged, for now. And I’m really proud I didn’t apologize because I think my reaction was warranted on some level. I also am feeling proud that I faced my fears to have this conversation with him.
And grateful. I am lucky as a survivor, PTSD sufferer, and human to have a boss that allows for this kind of communication and alignment.
I’m not 100%, things are still off, but at least I feel stable at work. I’m buzzing about bossing people around again and both Owner1 and adult me are happy about that.