They conveniently found an open slot for me in about 20 minutes, so I took off for his office. We spent some time talking about how things are going. I explained my situation and my withdrawal symptoms (to running out of anti-depressants...not cocaine!). He agreed, I was definitely going through withdrawal. He asked about work and how things are going, so I told him my story from last week when my boss came in and spent 30 minutes telling me about how much I disappoint her. How angry she is that I didn't work on a project she gave me to do. Then when I showed her the project with the notes she gave me in her own handwriting, she was mad that I started working on it without permission. (Go figure that one out!) Then I told him how she finished the whole thing off by asking for a hug. What did the doctor do? He chuckled. Then he explained something to me...he said I'm exhibiting the symptoms of battered spouse syndrome. No, I'm not being physically beaten up by this lady, but mentally...definitely so. He said that as I was explaining things, he said he knew I was going to finish the story with her doing something nice, because that's what those kind of people do.
Here's what my friend Wikipedia says: "The syndrome develops in response to a three-stage cycle found in domestic violence situations. First, tension builds in the relationship. Second, the abusive partner releases tension via violence while blaming the victim for having caused the violence. Third, the violent partner makes gestures of contrition. However, the partner does not find solutions to avoid another phase of tension building and release so the cycle repeats. The repetition of the violence despite the abuser's attempts to "make nice" results in the abused partner feeling at fault for not preventing a repeat cycle of violence. However, since the victim is not at fault and the violence is internally driven by the abuser's need to control, this self-blame results in feelings of helplessness rather than empowerment. The feeling of being both responsible for and helpless to stop the violence leads in turn to depression and passivity. This learned depression and passivity makes it difficult for the abused partner to marshal the resources and support system needed to leave."
This is exactly what happened to me. She builds these things up in her mind and got mad. Came in and yelled at me. Told me I was incompetent, I don't do what she tells me to do, accused me of doing stuff without permission, I ignore chain of command, I do whatever I want, I don't communicate, I don't collaborate, I don't work well with others, I don't work as a member of the team, I never go beyond the bare minimum, etc. None of this is true, of course. If I look at myself critically, I know she's wrong. I am THE PERSON people come to for help. I am THE PERSON people come to for ideas. I am THE PERSON who volunteers to do something new. I completed her project the DAY AFTER the she assigned it. She gave me back her feedback TWO MONTHS later and forgot that this had even happened. I could say more about my abilities, but let's just leave it with she's crazy. But anyhow, she comes in and screams at me. During the screaming, she tells me that she just wishes I would stop doing these things that make her scream. It's my fault she's mad and has lost her temper. And how does she end this tirade? She wants to hug, because she still loves me and thinks the world of me. I'm an excellent administrator. One of the best employees she has. I just have to stop making her mad.
Anyhow, I drop off my prescription and went back to finish out the rest of my day at work. On my way home, I swung by the pharmacy to pick up my refill, and as I'm leaving a friend calls to check in with me. (He works there too, so he knows what's going on.) We have a long conversation about how things are going. After the conversation, I decide I'm too lazy to cook, so I swing into a nearby restaurant for dinner. The waitress takes me to my table and I sit down...I'm starving. I've had an upset stomach all day because evil boss was in the building. I'm really really hungry. Oh wait...who's that two tables away? Yep...it's her.
I decided to be engrossed in my phone so I didn't look up until she and her minions had finished eating and were leaving. It gave me the excuse to not have seen her. But of course she stopped by on her way out. She said I was looking sad. (I wanted to say: "Yeah, because I was hungry...but once I saw you my stomach was tied back up into knots.") I made up some excuse about bad news from the family. She said she was sorry to hear that, but hopefully I'll feel a little better because she told the waitress that she'd cover my tab.
See guys, she's not such an evil boss. I've been wrong. Deep down, she's really nice. She saw I was looking sad and paid for my meal. What a sweetheart. We're gonna be BFFs, she's gonna braid my hair! We'll get manis/pedis together! Kumbaya my Lord....Kumbaya....
Oh wait...battered spouse syndrome!!! Here's the thing, while evil boss is a batterer, mentally, not physically, I am not a battered spouse. Why? Because I know she's wrong. I am not accepting her description of me. I reject what she has to say. A battered spouse takes full responsibility over the abuse, and finds it difficult or impossible to blame the abuser. I blame my boss for the situation. I have done nothing wrong. She is full on crazy. I could go on (yes, it IS possible) to explain more or what she has done and said to me and others in the past six months, but it's unnecessary. She's crazy. Here are a few areas of concern though: A battered spouse fears for her safety. I don't fear my physical safety. This woman is not going to hit me. I don't fear any physical abuse from her at all. But she will continue to scream and holler and place blame anywhere but at her own feet. She will pit people against each other. She will lie. She will distort the truth. She will keep us all on our toes wondering what's she's up to, worrying about who's reporting things to her, and worrying if we will have an office tomorrow. Worrying that she'll take away our secretaries (mine is gone already). Worrying if she'll take away our responsibilities. (I have a friend at work who has ZERO responsibilities. She's not allowed to even answer e-mails. Any e-mail she gets that requires an answer, she has to forward to someone else. She can't visit schools. She can't work with teachers. She's sitting in her office all day working on her PhD classes. This is evil boss' leadership style. That's who she is. She isn't going to change, and she isn't going away. I do fear my ability to deal with her. I fear for my mental health. I'm not not in a place mentally to deal with her crap.
When I encounter people like her, my instinct is to just do my work and avoid any contact. She's made it difficult for me to avoid her. I'm two doors away from her in the office. She has apparently decided to keep me on her shortlist for a promotion I applied for that I no longer want. I applied in October, didn't get a second interview. She has re-flown the position twice now and still hasn't hired anyone. And when she came in to yell at me before New Years, she listed for me all of the reasons why she didn't promote me. (Again, most were fake.) But nevertheless, she said I wasn't getting that job. ($13,000 raise btw) Funny thing, last week everyone else that I know who applied for the job got letters saying they were no longer being considered. I didn't get one. I checked with our HR department to see if it was a mistake. They said no, my name was not crossed off. Here's the deal, If she offers it to me, I have to take it, or I'll never get another promotion. I will kill myself politically, and let's face it, I have 18 more years until I can retire. I can't sit at this entry level administrative position forever. That's how things work here. If I get that job, she'll make me go nuts. I'm sure of it.
I also feel the need to point out, I'm not her only target. Pretty much everyone is a target, except for her minions. I'm not feeling singled out in the least bit. She's an equal opportunity abuser. I have seen her make multiple people cry. Do I believe she is all-powerful? Yes and no. She can make or break my career. If I try to take another position, I have to tell her before I apply. She has told us that if we don't, she'll make sure we don't get the job. She's done it before. Again, that's how things work here. If you're an administrator and you apply for another job, you better tell your supervisor ahead of time, or you're not going to get that job. So, if I apply elsewhere, I have to tell her. Many times when you do that, it makes her mad, so she sabotages the person when she's called for a reference. Also, she's our superintendent's fag hag, so, it's not like I can go over her head to complain. There are people above her who are afraid of her. She's just one of those people who do what they want, act the way they want, and constantly get promoted. The only light at the end of this tunnel that I can see for now is that she normally only stays in a job for 2-3 years. That means I only have 1.5-2.5 more to go!!!
FUN FACT: Did you know that there are quite a murder cases out there of women suffering from battered spouse syndrome who have used that as a defense and were found not guilty? Just sayin....
No, you don't need to scour the news for a shooting. I'm being facetious!