Over the years, I’ve been fired, resigned or walked out (before I was pushed) on more jobs than there are symptoms of Borderline Personality Disorder. I never understood why this was happening to me and I always thought it was the company’s fault, the other employees fault or that the Universe hated me.
There was always a honeymoon period where I fitted in for a couple of months, then came unstuck when the first small drama occurred. This was always followed by a huge behavioural reaction from me. I had not learned how to accept the vagaries of how companies operated, the diverse range of personalities concerned and my own borderline reaction to real or perceived workplace situations. I reacted before I reasoned.
The most distressing part of this was not having a clue as to what my behaviour was, how it affected other people and how I was perceived throughout the companies I worked for. But I did my best. I behaved as best I could with the limited emotional tools I had and the maturity I did not have. I could not comprehend that other people did not share the same reality I did. I thought I was right and they were wrong.
It’s not easy getting fired from fifteen jobs in thirty years. It’s heart-breaking, soul destroying, self-harm inducing and can put a family into severe debt. I would need years between jobs to recover from the previous one because I had no insight into what was happening. This is even though I was in therapy and my therapist tried her hardest to instill in me that I needed to learn the cognitive, emotional and behavioural tools to fit in – and accept the world as being imperfect. I could not do that, I was looking for perfect employment, the same as I was looking for the perfect mother. Neither exist.
I have been in my present job working in the mental health field for nine months now. During that time I have had several potential major meltdown moments. However, this time I have always reacted differently. I have not agreed with what my supervisor has said at times but my replies have been along the lines of – seeing her point of view – sitting in those awkward dissonant feelings and weighing up the pros and cons of what she has said. I am reasoning before reacting and realizing that both sides of the coin are valid. When I do disagree with her, my therapist has pointed out, when you are a supervisor, Sonia, then you get to make the important decisions.
Recently my role in my organization has changed. I have been given extra very exciting duties to perform of which I am in charge (to a certain degree under supervision). I feel I was able to obtain this because of my new-found ability to fit in, to belong, to harmonize, to see others points of view and to work together as a team.
This has not always been a bed of roses. I have made mistakes and crossed boundaries and when this has been pointed out to me, I really have to do some mindfulness and meditation and respond appropriately with a smile on my face and an apology. Then I move on. I move forward and I get involved, engaged and engrossed in my special projects. There are no lingering borderline after-effects, no rage-filled revenge fantasies or debilitating physical symptoms of anaphylactic rage response. Even with these restrictions, I feel a sense of new found freedom.
For the first time in my life I have a career path rather than a job. While I work in a very validating environment, I also recognize that the Universe does throw obstacles in my path, every day in every way and it is my job to negotiate these cognitive boulders with my newly discovered emotional skills. I will continue to make mistakes. I will continue to take responsibility and apologize for those mistakes. My star will, I hope, continue to rise.
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Last reviewed: 17 Dec 2011