August 25, 2021 – Under my skin.

Why is it that certain people get ‘under my skin’. It’s much like the splinter that became lodged in the nailbed of my right thumb a couple of weeks ago. They both involve ‘pain’, but with the splinter it’s physical, and with people it’s emotional. It doesn’t matter where I go, there’s always ‘one’. The fact that I’m an overly sensitive and admittedly ‘thin skinned’ person probably doesn’t help matters. I am fully aware that things or comments that others might be able to take ‘with a grain of salt’, I carry around like a 50 pound bag of barley. I often wonder why I turned out this way and whether it’s possible to change. I’ve been this way for as long as I can remember and am not even sure if change is possible. The incident that occurred yesterday, running into a former co-worker who I was not on good terms with, really got me rattled. During dinner yesterday, my husband noticed the far off look in my eyes and how withdrawn I had become and kept asking me, “Where are you at?” “You know,” I’d remind him, “I’m still thinking about ‘her’.” “Still?!” he’d reply, completely exasperated, “Don’t give her another minute of your time. She isn’t worth it!”

I know this, of course. She isn’t worth my time. I’ve got much more important things to worry about (moving, money, family, mortality) than a former, crappy co-worker, and yet I cannot seem to release the grasp she has on me. How dumb is that?! For the four years we worked together, she always knew how to ‘push my buttons’. I think she must have put a diagram together (like the ones pathologists use during an autopsy) to figure out where precisely the buttons were and what emotion(s) they triggered. Each time she’d take a jab at me or make an underhanded remark, I’d instantly react. In fact, right before the Pandemic entered the picture and ‘life as we know it’ changed overnight, things had become so hostile between us that I was considering quitting. I had actually started documenting all of the remarks she made and the various interactions we had because they were so far fetched, and I wanted my boss to know what was going on ‘behind the scenes’ because he seemed clueless about the situation. Fortunately, due to the Pandemic, I lost my job and didn’t have to interact with her any longer.

When I go over the events in my mind, what seems to stand out the most are all the times she questioned my integrity. So many of the responsibilities or privileges I initially had (involving cash) were slowly revoked. The first thing that happened was the money envelope that we kept in the locked cash drawer (at the receptionist desk) for ‘flower purchases’ was removed and placed in the safe. The next thing that comes to mind is when we’d have our monthly 50/50 Fundraising Raffle. I used to count the money and once it was counted, divide it in half (half going to the winner of the raffle, and half going to our organization). She took that away, too. For years, I was able to enter the main office and access the office supplies whenever I pleased. Because my boss (our boss) had me working on so many projects, I often needed to utilize the paper cutter, laminator, and an assortment of paper and office supplies which were stored in the main office. The time sheets were also located there. Before I knew it, the office was only accessible to those individuals with a key and I didn’t happen to be one of them.

As time went on, more of these restrictive measures were implemented. Shortly after I lost access to the office, I was told that I no longer had permission to access the safe either. None of it made any sense and it infuriated me! But the straw that broke the camel’s back was when she walked up to my desk rather nonchalantly, looked me directly in the eyes, and accusingly said, “Do you ever use the company credit card to make personal purchases?” I wanted to reach across the desk, put my hands around her throat, and squeeze until she turned blue and her eyes rolled to the back of her head, but instead I replied (taken aback), “NO!” I know my face turned red because I could feel the heat rise as my blood boiled. I had never even helped myself to a spare penny in the junk drawer, and now (of all things) I was being accused of thievery. And the thing was, she never made those remarks when other people were around, only when it was just the two of us. She definitely ‘watched her step’ and was on her best behavior when our boss was in the building.

It really bothered me because she was one of those people who acted or behaved differently depending on who was in the room; she was extremely two-faced. The other thing that really troubled me was an odd, ongoing relationship she was involved in. When I first met her, she would literally run and hide when a particular male individual entered the building. He was 25 years her senior and she’d informed me he’d been ‘stalking her’ for years. When someone tells me that another individual has been stalking them, I take those accusations very seriously. As a result, I became very protective of her and if he’d approach the desk and ask about her whereabouts, I never let on that I knew and would give him the runaround (as well as a dirty look). In the ensuing months, however, I began to question the relationship between them and wondered whether his continual pursuit had more to do with her ‘mixed signals’ and less to do with him being a crazed individual. Did he bring her gifts? Yes. Did she accept them? Yes. He brought her chocolate and flowers and stuffed animals and jewelry, and she never turned down a single one.

When he’d stop in, 50% of the time she’d hide, and 50% of the time she’d come out of her office and excitedly call out, “Hi, Honey!!” and proceed to give him a great big hug, making sure to press her ample chest into his. Huh? Did I miss something??!! I don’t know about you, but I’m totally confused. It was always that way with her, you never knew where you stood. She seemed to get a kick out of screwing with people’s heads. If I had to put her into a category, it would be under (excuse my French) ‘Mind F*ck’ with a subcategory of ‘pot stirrer’. Still, knowing all that I know about her and how she operates, you’d think I’d be able to rise above it all and not get so wound up by the mere sight of her. But I can’t, or I won’t. And why is that??!! Believe me, I have spent hours trying to figure out why ‘that splinter remains imbedded in my thumb and continues to ooze’. Do I get some strange pleasure out of this ‘pain’? Why can’t I seem to let it go? I’d be lying if I said she’s the only person who has managed to rattle me, but there are others. Oh, how I wish this wasn’t the case, but there are so many! Before her, at my previous job, there was another female co-worker who I butted heads with. Wait. I stand corrected, there were three.

Before ‘the three’, I had issues with the dean at the college. And before the dean, it was the dumb-dumb who worked out of the building (with three restrooms) across the parking lot, who used to come over to our office (with one restroom) and take a sh*t every day. Ack! I lost so much sleep over her!! It got to the point where just the sight of her made my blood boil. And again, I have to ask, “Why???” By now, it’s probably more than obvious to you that I’m the one with a problem, and I completely own it. I just want to understand why I have this problem. Why do I hang on to things people do or say and allow those actions or words to keep me up at night? It’s absolutely ridiculous and yet I continue to do it!! I’ve tried to allow things to ‘roll off my back’ but they never do. They become imbedded and fester for (in some cases) weeks or months or even years. That is why I’ve mentioned (and am quite concerned about) all of the ‘ghosts’ I’m likely to encounter when we return to where we used to live. I wasted a lot of time and energy yesterday after running into one of my more recent ghosts. It gives me a stomachache when I consider how great the odds are that I’ll be running into one (or several) once we relocate.

It is for these reasons that I’ve decided to become a hermit. I’m going to drive my car out into the woods, build a ramshackle fort from fallen branches, and live out the remainder of my life in complete and utter solitude. And if for some reason I need to go into town to acquire supplies because I haven’t learned how to differentiate between edible and non-edible plant life and am starving to death, I’m going to put on a t-shirt that says ‘Does not play well with others’ and wear it proudly. I am happiest when I’m by myself so this seems like the best solution. I’m not sure how my husband’s going to feel about my plan when I tell him in the morning, but hopefully he’ll understand. Of course, he may even want to join me because he’s pretty fed up with humanity and lets me know on a regular basis. If the aliens who have been observing us from afar ever had any hope for us, I’m pretty sure it’s completely gone now. They are probably shaking their enormous heads in disgust and (through mental telepathy) telling each other, “I told you so.” I cannot say I blame them. I have little hope myself because I cannot even figure out how to ‘fix’ my own issues, let alone those of the entire planet. Sigh.

Hey! On that ‘positive’ note, I am going to bid you ‘adieu’. It’s going to be another long, exhausting day tomorrow and I need to get some rest. Much love to you, my friends, and may your day(s) be ‘issue free’! Thanks so much for stopping by.

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