I have been working on a professional certification in Trauma Informed Organizations from the University of Buffalo. I want to champion this cause for people like me. You know; the overly sensitive ones. Someone who seems to be fine and then all of a sudden, they seem out of it, depressed and short tempered. And you cannot figure out why they are “over-reacting.” This person goes into a tail spin over a simple comment. These are people who seem to be worriers and drama queens. They can be a co-worker or someone who is a customer. It can be terribly difficult to work with them, or try to provide a service for them. If you are a fixer type personality, this kind of flighty reactionary personality is very trying.
The first thing I got involved with is the ACE study. Here is a link to information about the ACE study and the findings: http://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/acestudy/about.html This information was so connecting for me. I took the test and have an incredibly high score of 8. I came from a white affluent family with no apparent (to the world) issues. But the truth is my parents were alcoholics, abusive alcoholics. And my sister has mental illness and she too was abusive. I have come to terms with the history, but it affects me often in how I deal with things as an adult.
On top of this, I am an empath. That is someone who is very sensitive to how others feel. In the Woo Woo World, we are considered seers and fortune tellers. We are able to “read” people. The truth is it is a skill set necessary to survive in a family or any dangerous environment. You need to be able to “read” people to see if there is a dangerous threat coming from them. I read eyes very well as they really are the portal to the soul. For some of us, it is not desirable as you cannot turn it off. I can sense people’s real feelings sometimes before they can. People love to come to me to tell their tale only because I am often able to dig in and see things they may not.
But I am also affected very much but the climate of the people around me. For example, right now at work the climate is one of fear. When people are fearful, they turn nasty and Nasty is what it has been every day for the last month. The Mothership has ordered an “Engagement” with a consulting group, Fazzi, to come in and look at the organization. We were told heads would roll. So far, two people have been let go. The Admin team is sweating bullets and so they are sending terrible fear throughout the organization. One VP announced her early retirement already. It was a wise choice.
Two years ago, we bought another agency and we were supposed to be one organization by now. All of their executive team left and what is left are a few directors who are in a tenuous situation. The bigger issue is that they have not played well in the sandbox. One of the things this engagement is to discover is where services can be combined and supervision eliminated. Finally. This was the plan all along, but our touchy feely board did not follow through with the combining. Two years ago, the then CEO told me that I would be in charge of education. The person at this other organization was not scheduled to be let go because she only works part time. But she is to report to me. She is a NP. I am not. She does not want to report to me. Bottom line and she has made it very apparent. It has caused some major compliance issues because she does not embrace our way of documenting. There is a lot more to this. There are little battles of strategic survival all over both agencies. This is just one situation in a sea of pissing contests going on right now.
The result for me right now is I come home from work totally exhausted. I have been keeping to myself as much as I can. There are a lot of projects that I am responsible for that require cooperation from many people and it ain’t happening. Part of the issue is the uncertainty; the other part is the underlying flow of fear. I sense it and it has triggered me to be in a hyper arousal, hyper sensitive mode. By the end of the day, I am so worn out from just trying to keep it together. My mind knows there is nothing I can do about it. I do not have the ability to control anyone else, only my reaction. But clearly, I am not controlling myself either. I slipped up at lunch recently with my fellow HR managers. We go out to lunch periodically, and to have not gone would have been worse. So we were talking about how tired and cranky we were and I said, “I know, I went home and sat out in the garden last night and just cried.” Later, one manager came over and was totally freaked that I would be crying over my job. I do not have the desire to tell her all about trauma and my history. Crying for me is a release. The breathing and shaking all release pent up chemicals and relax my muscles. She is trying to be a friend, but I know she wants to fix me.
This type of stress is very prevalent in companies that are looking to “squeeze the buffalo on the nickel to save a dime.” (That’s a father-in-law comment) The admin team and CEO could have presenting this engagement in a better light. They should have waited on the terminations for a few more weeks. Since these two were not administrators or even supervisors, the fear now has extended to all ranks. They announced they are changing the pay structure for only the field nurses. No more pay per visit, which has been a money maker for some. Yet, they have not implemented it so the fear of loss of personal revenue is floating around. They are putting together two new teams and are pulling existing staff from the field to do this without filling their positions in time. It is so simple: hire the amount of people now you need to take out later, train them, get them up and successful, and then form the new teams. But no, that would make sense. And let’s do this during the summer when we are short anyway from vacations. The list of incredible poor planning is extensive. If they could see how their lack of governance has affected the organizations and instead used mindful awareness of being trauma informed, it might change how this would all be going down. Trauma informed does not mean to pussy foot either. It means to eliminate unnecessary fear and ambiguity. It doesn’t change what will happen, only how it is communicated and presented. Have a clear plan, have boundaries and guidelines, and people will know what to expect. It is much easier to deal with than fear.