Last Friday, I sent out a summary and thank you email to the analyst group regarding the billing process since so many people helped out and a lot was accomplished. Super Boss replied with the following c.c.ing every manager in our department:
"Chokmah - I think the biggest thanks goes to you. You’ve continued to improve the benefits billing process and to make sure it gets executed in a timely manner each month since March 2015. It has not been an easy road and you’ve battled some of the toughest obstacles in getting benefits payments, transitioning to automation, sending out correspondence, and reconciling data issues all while responding to a multitude of questions and complaints from employees and retirees in the process. The amount of problems encountered in the benefits billing process has felt never-ending and yet each week that goes by I feel we are getting closer to a stronger process and a better product because you are committed to making this work. There will always be issues that we didn’t expect or that are beyond our control and we will continue to adjust our procedures to account for as much of them as we can. I think your summary below is a testament to that. Please enjoy your weekend Thanks for all you do"
Plus, he texted me saying that he loves my billing fierceness. Aww! I cried between both of these because my heart was totally overflowing. It was so nice to know that all I do is seen and appreciated.
Then Tuesday night happened and I was very confused and angry at Super Boss. I really hate emotional whiplash! If I notice something odd with the billing process, I usually email our IT analyst c.c.ing Super Boss. Our IT guy is awesome and also drives me nuts. There is a little language barrier since he's Indian but he has worked magic for us in the past. Tuesday afternoon, I fired off an email regarding something I noticed. As usual, we were about three emails in clarifying the problem and troubleshooting. Then Super Boss responded to both of us declaring that he's stopping this conversation and we need to start logging errors and fixes in a shared Excel workbook now. Since email is such an awesome communication medium, I felt like I was being reprimanded. So I called Super Boss asking if he's mad about something. He said he wasn't but there have been so many fixes over the past two months, we need to keep track of what we're changing. I agreed but I still felt like I had done something wrong. So, I sat in my office trying to not be upset. I decided that I needed an explanation so I spoke to Super Boss and he explained many logical reasonable things but I was still upset and felt like I had no input. I told him that he had said he liked my fierceness last Friday but this sure doesn't feel like that. Since I could not figure out why I was so upset, I decided to put on a normal face and ignore it. Cut to me still being really upset at 11:30 at home, crying while I emailed Super Boss saying that I thought he could have communicated the change better rather than being imperious and condescending.
Wednesday morning I had therapy before work. My therapist helped me figure out why I was upset - stupid triggering stuff. I was not reacting to the situation, I was reacting to my feelings and similar situations in my past. The thing is, I left my session feeling validated but with no plan on what to do at work.
When I got to work, I spoke to Super Boss about cancelling a couple meetings we had on our calendar for Thursday. I tried to make the discussion quick and short but he could tell that I was still upset and he told me to come into his office. So I had my say that I don't like being treated like a 5 year old, that I have 40 years of experience on this Earth and would like to be treated as an adult. Then, I finally got the answers I was looking for. I didn't get them from being sweet and nice, I got them by snapping questions at Super Boss. It turns out the whole change in troubleshooting came from complaints from IT. I think he didn't tell me about it because he didn't want to upset me but knowing about the complaints actually helped me SO MUCH! Sure, it isn't awesome to know that a group in a dept is frustrated with me, are worried I am screwing things up, and I have hurt our IT guy's feelings too. But I am self aware enough to know I have been an absolute asshole to IT guy at the peak of my frustration and I know how we're fixing things isn't working.
With all those issues out in the light of day, with me feeling like a cloud had been lifted from my heart, I was standing and pacing happily in front of Super Boss's desk gushing, "Oh my God, this is so what I needed to hear! Treating me like an adult, see? Thank you." I paused when I saw Super Boss' face. It was a shade of pink and his eyes looked like they were crossed so, I asked, "Are you feeling better? Is that okay to ask?" He looked me straight in the eyes as tears ran down his face saying, "No." So, I sat down saying things like, "Oh buddy, what's going on?" He brokenly responded as he reached for Kleenex, "I hate that I upset you...I don't want to hurt you..." I told him that my upset feelings were nothing and I am feeling a lot better now. He protested through tears, "But you were crying in your office!" I told him that bout of crying was nothing on the grand scale of things, they were just tears they didn't hurt anyone. I also told him that we don't work in a vacuum and we can't control how others react to us. He started chuckling asking me how did this conversation turn into me comforting him.
So Wednesday was a bit of an emotional mess in the morning. But I felt better about the billing issue upset and scared/horrified that I made Super Boss cry. When I was trying to cheer him up, I kept telling him that my feelings don't matter or should not matter. So we have this weird super protective thing going on and each ripple of emotion impacts both of us. I have been asking my family and friends about how to make him stop caring or at least interrupt the emotional feedback loop we get on. When it's good, it is so good. But when things go bad, man...