With Upcoming Program Closures Announced, How Confident Should I Feel?
A few years ago, a co-worker said, “We could come into work tomorrow and the job might not be there for us! That’s why I always try to put family first!”
My job of fifteen year was there for me before I got married and gained the sense of support that I somehow seemed to lack prior. It dug me out of poverty!
Perhaps my coworker said what he said because he could see how committed I was to the job. Many colleagues notice that I am driven to go the distance for our program participants. I try to disclose my history to most. I know the grapevine still exists.”
Perhaps some coworkers have learned to respect the lived experience that makes me feel passionate about the work I do!
Regardless, right now, the program’s budget sits in the executive management’s hands. They have announced that they are going to have to close programs to balance the budget. Therefore, I find the words of my coworker playing in my mind.
Recurring Dreams and Anxieties:
There have been a lot of nights over the past fifteen years I have awoke to recurring dreams of being asked to leave my job early. Often, I am forced to move and try to start over again working for much less money. Some nights I am sleeping in shelters and riding bikes to interviews. Others I have some cushion and my wife behind me. Maybe I start out with enough money to buy a house, but have to work a low wage job.
I may be a licensed professional with twenty-five years of experience, but clearly the thought of finding a new job is very intimidating to me. I have published a memoir along with hundreds of posts, many published on professional sites, about my mental health.
Perhaps it makes sense that a part of me is afraid that I will never be able to find another job again.
Eighteen years ago, I thought I was a targeted individual and under state surveillance via a mafia entity. The only job I could get was an arranged job at an Italian Delicatessen. This lasted over a year and was extremely difficult. At age thirty, I had to bike twenty miles a day and take the rails for two hours just to get gaslit and harassed by teenage co-workers from wealthy districts.
Signs of Getting Scapegoated Still Exist!
With fifteen years of experience I am one of the most tenured staff in the union, and yet I frequently find my work scrutinized because I have a different perspective. Maybe this triggers my sense of paranoia. Even when a client responds affirmatively and shows growth, I may get challenged.
I have written my own therapy platform to support what I do. It is significantly different than mainstream treatment. Although many colleagues will acknowledge that my presentations are impressive in person, in public there is silence when I am scrutinized. I don’t blame others. I am not always able to disagree without hurting others. But still I am sensitive.
I speak at local conferences and agencies to train others with my therapy platform! But on the job, I still experience doubts and challenges. In fact, this week it was particularly bad.
Earlier this week I got a rare chance to talk to my manager as I was negotiating a paid role for peer counselors on the unit. I let my manager vent and supported him about the threat of programs getting cut. At one point he said some people with a lot of tenure might get cut. I walked away wondering if he was referencing me or himself.
That night I woke up screaming. A long dream through which I constantly evaded death finally ended with someone ambushing me through a doorway with an odd-looking shotgun. I was shot as I reached to grab the barrel.
I woke up the next morning convinced that I was going to lose my job to the point where I processed this as a real possibility. Although I have a clean record and a union job, the potential of trumped up complaints keep me in fear.
Back when I was working at the Italian Deli, the only way I was able to get employed again was to maintain the faith that it was possible despite the potential of surveillance. I went to many interviews without getting hired.
I thought about another job I have had my eye on that I have recently heard is hiring. I thought about the potential of a private practice. I thought about a long-time dream of mine, getting another grant to help create an outreach program.
I told myself that if I am frustrated that I am not supported at work, that maybe it is time to move on.
I remembered that I believe in a power that is higher than the CIA or the mafia. I used the belief in this higher power to remain open to the many potentials that a job change might mean.
I found myself thinking about how Malcolm X knew he was going to be assassinated and kept on doing what he was doing without letting it make him furious. I thought about these things and worked and worked my way through another day.
Managing Stigma with Grace:
Part of leading the life we are meant to live means being awake to all the complexities, twists, and turns that life brings. Now, thanks to my understanding of life’s messages and cues, I can be prepared for what is to come.
Instead of being victimized and scapegoated, I chose to have a good day.
Clearly the power of stigma still lives inside of me and the wider society. However, when I am wise, I can benefit from the experiences.
I choose to put the energy out into the universe that there is a plan for me. This takes the sting out of stigma and is key to overcoming it.
I am a vessel! I give what I can and I pray to get what I need in life.
I will continue to serve to challenge stigma in this way in whatever capacity that opens up. Maybe we will be okay. No matter what I will find a way to maintain my work.
I will remain hopeful and positive about my colleagues and see what happens.