Over the past three months, I have made some decisions that did not have good results. I take full responsibility for those decisions along with the people and relationships I hurt along the way. Sometimes the lemons that happen in life are a direct result of your choices. Can I fix the relationships, be forgiven from those I hurt, and make better choices in the future? I don’t know the answers to those questions yet, only time will tell. This particular post is to explain lessons learned from the lemonade I’ve been drinking since November and continue to drink through this weekend.
In November, I wrote a post about PTSD. I hurt many family members in writing the first version I posted because of the specifics I wrote about. This is the internet and once on the internet, no matter how much you may want to delete it, you can’t. I did revise it to be more general, but the damage was already done and I heard about it from family members. Nothing I wrote was incorrect, but how I wrote it was insensitive, rude, and hurtful. I hurt those I love and those relationships will be hard to repair.
I look back on that particular day when I was sitting at my computer typing. While the writing was all me and again, I take the full responsibility for the words that cut deep, I was not in the right state of mind at the time. I had been going through organizing old photos and came across a couple pictures that triggered some of my PTSD symptoms. My PTSD is triggered by certain sights and sounds. Instead of turning off my computer and walking away like I should have, I started typing what I was feeling along with the memories that came back as vivid as when they originally happened. Kind of like drunk dialing/texting, you should not write while you are going through anxiety and panic attacks from triggers if you have PTSD. Or if you do write, don’t automatically post it on the internet until you have come out of the anguish you are going through.
If you know anyone who has PTSD or if you have it, you understand that triggers are what sets the person off. I do not take medicine for my PTSD because for the most part it is under control. I had thought that I had given away the pictures that trigger me, but I had a few stragglers and lost control. I am not using this as an excuse for hurting so many people, I am explaining what I did and why I did it. The responsibility of the actions fall directly on me and the lemons came at me very hard and left many bruises. I now stay away from the computer when I feel anything close to PTSD symptoms. I have a long way to go to repair the family relationships.
December and January were two of the most stressful months I’ve experienced in 25 years of my career. One of the departments I manage lost two of three people. While my other department had an employee go out on long term medical leave and another employee resign due to stress levels. From Thanksgiving to the second week in January is our busiest time of year. Obviously not a good time to be short handed in two departments whose jobs are to prepare shipping paperwork to get orders out the door and bill the customers. As I wrote in my last post I was working extremely long hours, some of the longest hours I’ve worked in my career. I made a deal with my one employee that was by herself that I wouldn’t leave her if she didn’t leave me, we were in it together. We just needed to get through the second week of January then regroup.
As a manager, you have to decide what is important and what can wait, basic prioritizing 101. We promoted the employee who was left by herself in the department that handled the order processing and shipping documents. We would work 15 hour days to get orders entered and shipping paperwork out to the warehouse for morning packing and shipping. During this time, I did not mentor her or work on her management skills. It was the holidays and our goal was to get the orders out on time and keep customers happy. In making that decision, I set her and I up for failure.
I made the decisions I thought were best for the department at the time. You can’t go back and undo things, we don’t have time machines. Personally, I don’t think I would have made different decisions based on the information I had at the time. Currently, I’m being judged for the results. I should have done this and I should have done that. Of course, it’s easy to see how things should have been done when you sit down and look back on the past. Who hasn’t looked back at decisions throughout their personal or professional life knowing the choice they made was not the best?
Again, I was bruised by the lemons based on my decisions. I take it very personally, I’m a leader and anything that happens in my departments and the company are a direct result of my leadership. I failed. Due to the failure, some work relationships have been changed. Can they return to a time before the holidays? I don’t know. I’m now left with a decision on what to do about my career which has me at a three-prong fork in the road.
- If I take the safe road, I stay at my current position in which there have been some changes and more on the way. I am adaptable to changes and will make them work. I have been through a lot of corporate changes throughout my career. The biggest challenge right now is dealing with the stress so I don’t end up in the Emergency Room. My stress level is out of control and last week I came close to going to the Emergency Room, two of my employees were going to take me.
- If I take the second road, I will go back out into the job market which has its challenges and the fear of starting over again. Looking for a new job is stressful. I could write a book on some of my interviewing experiences throughout my career. For example, I was interviewing with a company located inside a mountain. During the interview, they had a fire drill. The interview continued while walking on a gravel path two miles back into the mountain with the alarm blasting. Did I forget to mention I was wearing three inch heels! During another interview, I was in a conference room with the CEO, CFO, and Human Resource Manager when the CEO started asking very inappropriate questions. I stayed the whole interview to get experience.
- The third road is the one less taken and possibly the scariest. That road is the one where I go out on my own and build a business. I have a business plan I’m working on, but I was hoping to test it out on the side first to make sure I have taken everything into consideration. It is building a business around things I’m passionate about in my personal life.
I do have choices, which is more than most people. Plus, I have a wonderful support system for either of the choices I make. I know what my friends and family would like me to do, but I also know that they will love me either way.
In prior posts, I have talked about new beginnings, taking chances, and fear. Sometimes you have to take a risk in life or you’ll just keep wondering “what if.” I took a risk and it did not work out. I declared my feelings to a friend in a letter and card. However, that friend does not see me that way and I made him feel bad. I ruined a good friendship because instead of taking his feelings into consideration, I was all about my feelings. I have now created a situation where it will be weird between us if we do see each other or talk. I’m afraid that ultimately, I will lose him as a friend. I knew in my head what his reaction was going to be, but I listened to my heart and lost one of my best friends. I am heartbroken because I really did love him and I am probably going to lose his friendship. Again, this lemon is based on my decision not his reaction. I knew the reaction, but kept pushing. Can we repair the friendship? It’s too soon to tell. Life is too short to not take chances. I don’t want to get to 80 years old and look back on my life and wonder “what if.” What kind of a life is that?
I whole heartily believe everything happens for a reason and at the time of each decision, I thought I was making a good choice. I was meant to make these bad choices to see that I am not perfect and that relationships can be changed in a blink of an eye. This year is supposed to be a good year, it is 2017 which when you add up the numbers in the year it equals 1. Years that add up to 1 are supposed to be new beginnings and fresh starts. I pray that this year turns around quickly for me. Hopefully, my instincts improve and I quit making bad choices. I am not sure how many more lemon bruises I can take, and I’m getting tired of drinking lemonade.