Sunday, May 2, 2010

But will I still respect myself in the morning

Yesterday, some pretty weird shit went down.

To recap: last month, I quit my job. Yeah, I know, I'm tired of hearing about it too. It's not like I am the first person to have an asshole boss, and walk out.

And it's not like he is the first boss to call an employee and apologize for being an asshole, and ask said employee to come back on whatever terms they need/want.  Which he did, last night. He may be the first boss to wait 6 weeks to make the call...........but you know, Maui time runs differently.

For the past 6 weeks, I have never once second-guessed my decision to leave. I missed working with my friends, I missed the customers, I missed the money A LOT. But I never, not for one minute, thought to myself: "If he would only apologize, I could just go back to the way things were."

Because this was not about an apology. But I got one anyway. I heard what he had to say, and thanked him for taking the time to call and tell me he was sorry. I also told him that it wasn't about an apology, that it was much more then that, and that I didn't quit in some kind of weird power play. I wasn't looking to come back. But he persisted, and finally I said I would talk to the girls at the restaurant. They are my girlfriends after all. And talk to the guys behind the line, and behind the bar, and ask them what they thought. So last night, I drove the famliar route down the mountain to the little town by the sea, for a staff-only, no asshole bosses invited, meeting.

We decided that really, even though it's not about an apology, he needs to make a public one. His brother suggested a letter to the editor. I said I thought an ad in Maui Time would be more apporpriate. A big ad. And a sign in the restaurant window. And a staff meeting where he stood up in front of everyone and not only apologized to me, but to the entire staff for being such a horse's ass to his employees, and promising to do better. To be kinder.

And it was funny. And we had some drinks and smoked some smokes and talked and hugged and laughed and caught up. And they all asked me to come back, in the kindest and sweetest ways. It is a family. (A crazy, fucked up family. So, you know, a real one.) I left saying that they could put me back in the schedule. I mean, I was home. it was familiar and warm, and I knew where everything was and no one was yelling and it was as though I was sitting in my own living room. How could I walk away from my home? And my family?

But then I got in the car and started to drive back up the winding road, to my little paniolo town perched on the side of the sleeping volcano, past fields and horses and there was my real home, with my darling husband and beloved children and silly dogs and horrible landscaping. And I started to remember. Last month. Last year. And then.......15 years. Another house. Another man. Different but equally silly and ill-behaved dogs. A house on the side of another mountain. I have been here before. At this all-to-familiar crossroads. It is at once a wonderful and terrible place to be.

And I don't want to stand at this intersection anymore. Ever again, actually. But this is real life, and there is a good chance that I will have another asshole boss, or an asshole co-worker, and I will hate my job and want to quit. It happens no matter where you are, no matter what you do. You can't avoid the assholes, they are literally everywhere. As they say, everybody has one. In fact, I have interacted with a few since leaving my job. So whether I go back or not, I will still have to deal with assholes. I might as well go somewhere familiar.


All night I have been sitting here thinking about whether I can go back. And more then ever before, I am remembering WHY I made this decision to begin with. It was the only control I had - the only way to ensure it never happened again. I was proud of myself, proud of my decision. It felt right. And now, sitting here lone in the dark, contemplating gong back to work for this man takes away from that feeling.

And frankly, in the face of his apology, this feels even more like an abusive relationship.
"I'm an asshole, you know I'm an asshole. I didn't mean to upset you."
"Whatever you want. All the time you need."
"I'm so sorry, it won't happen again."
"I want you to come back."
"You are a part of the family."
"I need you."
"I miss you."

It was a sincere apology. It was. But I have heard those words before, from different men. And I have returned. To different situations - personal and professional. And it was not different. Things had not changed. And I felt really shitty about myself. Really weak and pathetic. Each and every time. Powerless and humiliated.

Listen. I don't want to be a fucking martyr. I am not trying to make a big, dramatic statement. I am not trying to prove some bullshit point.

I don't know if I can do it. I don't know. It's not about the all-too-familiar apology. It's not about the money.
It's about me.
I liked the me who left.
I don't know if I can live with a me who goes back.


Elly said...

Wow, what a place to be in. I'm glad that you, in the very least, got an apology. Hope you can come to a decision soon, hey. Happy thoughts!

Cara J. said...

I don't think you need to feel bad about yourself because you decided to go back. For a few reasons:

1. You left in the first place, and you didn't leave pitching a screaming fit. You were assertive and left with dignity.
2. There are as many good reasons to return as there are bad ones that may crop up again.
3. You didn't go groveling back for your job. The proverbial olive branch was offered, and even then you didn't jump to return. You expressed reservations and explored your position with the other staff.

The way that you have handled yourself through this whole thing has been superb. You are right, there will always be assholes to deal with no matter where the place or time, or what the job is. You have demonstrated that you can tolerate a lot, but that you have limits.

Some of the best advice I ever got about about dealing with someone who consistently takes advantage of your or is abusive regarded the setting limits and sticking to them. You need to decide what is/isn't acceptable behavior on his part, then you have to tell him what it is, and the consequence if that line is crossed (I'm gone forever, apologies or not). Then you have to stick to it. If you follow this I don't think you have to worry that you are compromising your integrity by going back. You already have shown that you have the strength of character to walk out in your own defense once. It is fair to accept an apology and try again, as long as your limits are clear both to him and to yourself. BUT that last part is the most important, you have to decide before that first shift what you are willing to tolerate and what you are not.