So, instead of trying to explain why I feel the way I do, I'm just going to say how I feel. No explanations, no justifications, no he-said-she-said, no rights or wrongs. Just feelings.
I feel disregarded, unappreciated and ignored. I feel as though my job title (R&D Manager) is simply a sop to keep me quiet, and has no real meaning or relevance. I feel as though my contribution, during working hours and in my own free time, is under-valued, even taken for granted. I feel as though the amount I'm paid for what I do doesn't compensate for the level of emotional and psychological commitment I make, or the stress I feel. I feel physically and emotionally exhausted from trying to do two full time jobs in one set of part-time hours. I feel like giving up on a project on which I've simply hit a brick wall, with no support, understanding or ideas from my colleagues. I feel patronised. I feel marginalised. I feel as though I'm being treated with contempt.
But I also feel, perhaps because of all of the above, as though I'm not good enough. I feel as though I don't, and can't, and never will, measure up. I feel as though I dare not speak up, to defend myself, or my ideas, because I'm probably wrong; I'm probably too stupid to have understood some subtlety or other that my colleagues have already identified. I feel as though I have to keep trying, keep banging my head against the same brick wall, because if I don't and someone else takes over, they might solve the problems that are stumping me, and might reveal my inadequacy and stupidity.
I feel isolated.
I feel trapped, because I don't feel competent enough, or clever enough, or brave enough to look for another job. I feel trapped because I have the world's best working hours for a mother of a young child, and a flexible environment for fulfilling those hours, and I'd never find anything quite as easy to fit around school. I feel trapped because though on paper I can make myself look and sound good, I feel inadequate. I feel like a fraud. I feel as though I'm only masquerading as a physicist and am getting away with it for now, but it wouldn't pass muster in the "real" world.
I feel as though I should speak up, should say, "enough", should explain that I cannot function this way any longer. But I fear for the repurcussions. I fear being told that I'm not good enough. I fear being told that I'm not worthwhile, that I'm not needed, that my opinions are not valuable. It's hard not to feel that way when the last time we attempted to recruit someone, one of the major criteria was that, "they need to be better than you, PhysicsBear".
I spent Friday afternoon weeping.
I spent Friday night lying awake imagining resigning.
I spent Saturday evening weeping.
I don't want to go to work in the morning.
I don't want to carry on as though none of my feelings exist, but I don't want to attempt to articulate any of them when I'm simply liable to start crying if I do so.
I bet you're beginning to wonder where the positive part of this post happens aren't you?
I'll replay those last few events in a less selective manner...
I left work early and spent Friday afternoon weeping.
While at home, I received the following text messages from my colleagues, referring to two separate incidents:
"<boss> asked where you were. I said nothing. I have thought about telling him. But the risk there is that he apologises and then your venom will be undermined and you would be obliged to forgive him"
"Hi PhysicsBear. I'm guessing you feel pretty sore after this morning's episode with <boss> . Try not to let it get to you. Thank you for coming to help me and I'm sorry you got caught in the crossfire. The rest of us really do respect your skill and experience (if that helps at all)"
I spent Friday evening drinking wine and eating cheese with some of my friends, and we set the world to rights. We giggled, we bitched and we shared embarrassing stories.
I spent Saturday afternoon making paper snakes for SnakeWorld with LittleBear, and solving a Rubik's cube every time he messed it up.*
I spent Saturday evening weeping on my mother's shoulder, while she reassured me I was splendid.
I spent Sunday morning playing with LittleBear, and he made me a "certificate" that reads, "Thank you for being a great parent". (And I shall omit the fact that I'm 99% certain he did so to make up for yelling "I hate you!" at me in a fit of pique when I said we had to stop playing football...)
I spent Sunday lunchtime drinking and talking and laughing with old friends. Some of whom I first met when I was 4.
I am blessed with a lovely family, good friends both old and new, and the best LittleBear in the world. I'm going to go to bed and try thinking about those things, and not about going to work.
* I followed instructions on the t'interweb, I'm not a Rubik's maestro. See, I told you I was a fraud...