Friday's Truths

Friday’s Truths: Hard lessons

This has been a week.  No.  Really.  It has been a WEEK.

I move into the weekend tired and beat down.  Yet, I’m motivated and a little renewed as well.  For as hard as this week was, some lessons came from it.

Sometimes you just have to let the shit hit the fan…even if it means you ain’t gonna smell so good.

My boss came down on our team this week.  Hard.  We had our asses handed to us.  And it was deserved.  I knew it was coming.  I could see it coming for a couple of months.  The problem is that there was nothing I could do about it.

No amount of coaching, requesting, or cajoling could help.  I tried all of that.  I stopped just short of bribery – because managing shouldn’t be about having to bribe your team.

So, I let it happen.  I guess it was the only way to get my point across.  The only way to make an attempt to fix things.  And, yes, I allowed myself to slack off as well.  I tried to turn it around on my own, but there is only so much a person can do before feeling completely tired of even trying.

I had to let myself get burned so that I could rise from the ashes and, hopefully, get the response and respect I deserve.  Finally, all of the coaching and requesting and cajoling made sense to them.  “Carleen was right.  We should have listened.”

Every one of my requests was answered this week.  Quickly.  Efficiently.  With questions of clarification if needed.  I felt like I could, once again, lead by example and get my act together once more.


Someone who isn’t so damned close to the trees can see the forest.

Our new director started this week.  Years of experience in the RPO industry, but new to our company.  Incredibly smart.  Ridiculously insightful.  But knows that she’s the new kid on the block and respects the expertise of the people she’s being asked to lead.

And she does lead…not in an “I’m in charge now” way.


Instead, she tells us, “Hey, I’m here to support you.  If I can take some of these tasks off your plate, then that’s what I’m going to do.  Talk to me.  What do you need?”

This is a good start.  It’s rejuvenating.  I hope it lasts.

Our VP just got loaded down with responsibilities.  It was to be expected – she’s good at what she does.  She’s a good manager.  She’s a great coach.  She’s a friend.  Her sales skills are off the charts – she’s really helped to bring business to the company.  She, too, respects the expertise of her team.

But she just got too busy.  She couldn’t be as involved with us on the day to day.  We had to be too self-reliant.

It was killing her.  She so wanted to be in the mix, knowing every bit of what was going on.  But she just couldn’t because she was being pulled in so many other directions.  So, we got a director.  Someone who could help our VP and be that extra layer of support.  That person who could be in the mix and involved with us in the day to day.

So, we’re already seeing change.  Already, there are new policies in place; new SOPs to follow; new ears that can listen to us; new synapses that will spark and fire when we need innovative, customer-focused, streamlined ideas.

Because, sometimes, we’re just too damned close to the trees.

It just takes one person’s insensitive proclamation of wicked asshattery to show you how many wonderful, caring people are in your life.

I had someone tell me this week that I am not the same person because I’ve been in a “grief coma” for a number of months.  “What’s up with that?”

What’s up with that?

My first reaction was to lash out.  To say to this person, “Imagine, just for a moment, that the personification of everything good in your life was ripped away from you and you were left – essentially – alone in the world.  Imagine, just for a moment, that you had to learn how to be without this person – because without her, you simply had no definition of self. Imagine, just for a moment, that every single thing in this world reminds you of this person – this person who you had to watch leave you; who you had to tell through your tears that it was okay to leave you.  Even though it wasn’t.  Now, tell me ‘what’s up with that?'”

But I didn’t let that reaction out.  If I had, I probably would have been fired.  Best case scenario is that I would no longer be considered a formidable, respected employee.

Instead, I cried.  And I said, “Well, I didn’t think I was until you told me I was.”  And I cried some more.  At work.

I don’t cry at work.

I cry in the privacy of my own house.  Or I cry with friends – as I did with so many lovely people at the GCLS conference – who cry with  me.  Who share in that grief.  Who know they will not fully understand the depth of my grief, but who can empathize.  Who have felt loss and know that the grieving doesn’t stop when the funeral is over.  Who understand that I still have “I can’t wait to tell Mom” moments – just to realize that I can’t tell Mom.  Who don’t judge my tears and consider me weak or flawed or different because of them.

And so, because I can’t share that experience with Mom, I share it with friends – yes, on Facebook.  (For all of Facebook’s faults – and there are many – I would go stark-raving mad without it.  It’s all I have to keep me connected.)  It’s on Facebook that I find the people who have my back.  Who are there for me.


Some I’ve known for years and years, some are new friends, some I’ve never met.

These are the people who lifted me.  These are the people who told me “of course you were changed” and who praised my restraint and were ready to react for me.  These are the people who matter.

I will never stop grieving.  I will always have “I can’t wait to tell Mom” moments – some of which will find me actually getting up from my chair to run upstairs with the news.  I will always shed tears.  I will spend the rest of my life searching for my new definition.  And I know that definition will be in constant flux.

But, I also know that I have people in my life who do not subscribe to wicked asshattery and who will be there to cry with me.  And I know that I love them.

15 comments on “Friday’s Truths: Hard lessons

  1. bevprescott

    Here’s a big virtual hug from me to you. You’re an amazing person.


  2. Carleen, I envy your relationship you had with your mom. I wish I had attended a con one year earlier so I could have met her too. And I’m sure I would have, from what I have been told. I’m sorry for the f*ckwad’s comments at work, like Colleen said, they had no right to say that. I’m glad that you can feel the cyberhugs when you need them. They aren’t the same. Nothing will ever be the same. But they are something and freely and compassionately given. I’m so glad I got to meet you at Dallas. I look forward to reading your blog, so just let it loose on here. All these readers, as much as possible, we’ve got your back.


  3. Marianne Banks

    I especially loved your comment:”sometimes you’ve just got to let the shit hit the fan…”. Grief is like that and if grief isn’t allowed to happen, in its own time, it comes out sideways. I only know you on FB and while I hope to meet you at an upcoming GCLS conference, I haven’t met you yet and so my viewpoint is limited. That said, what I’ve seen on FB makes me believe that you are a courageous woman who has waded into that river of grief fearlessly. Of course it would change you, it should change you. We are put here to grow and change. I wish you the best.


  4. As your honesty and emotions roll off the page to me – I can feel your grief and outrage that someone could be so insensitive. I once had someone ask me (years after my daughter died) “Aren’t you OVER that yet?” Fortunately – I was NOT in a work environment and was free to let loose. “Are you f’kn kidding me?”
    I would love to wrap you up in a hug.


  5. I have been amazed at the comments and reactions of people who have never experienced a loss. The loss of a valued member in our life (including pets, lovers, parents, siblings, etc.) so profoundly changes us, but with no visible cues to see the change many in our society are unable to notice. When I run across those who speak asshattery I wish I could react with a strong punch to their nose and them ask them for the next few days why they act as if it still hurts…..I wouldn’t ever hit someone for that but once I have recovered from the emotional response they bring me then I reenact the encounter to make me smile. Society is so ill equipped to deal with love and loss and I am sorry you were exposed to the comment, especially at work. I HATE crying in front of others. Btw, your tears show that you haven’t and aren’t in a grief coma.


  6. mary phillips

    You have so eloquently shared many of the feelings I have had. Thank you and I hope to be included in your circle of friends.


  7. You touch on several points that I’ve felt after the death of my Mom- albeit many, many years ago and my only words of advice is…TELL YOUR MOM! Trust me on this! She is still here for you Carleen.
    I still feel my Mom’s presence daily- you just have to open your heart and accept the small little signs that she is still here. The signs really are there! She may not be able to “answer” your questions or give advice, but it is very cathartic to have a conversation with your Mom and then have her respond back in your dreams. I converse with my Mom all the time and deep in my heart I can hear/feel her responses. Your Mom will always be with you-I emphasize ALWAYS. Open your heart/mind and let her back in 🙂 Sending Hugs your way. It IS a difficult path you are traversing!


    • Thanks, Conky.

      And I do talk to Mom…all the time. At home, in the car. I’m at the cemetery every Sunday to tell her about my week and to make sure she and the rest of the family are behaving. 🙂

      And, yes, she speaks to me in various ways. I can feel her.

      But, as you know, it’s hard. Particularly when people tell you that you shouldn’t be grieving and shouldn’t be changed.


      • Shouldn’t be changed? wow! Kinda makes me feel sorry for them that they don’t have someone in their life that it would totally devastate their world if that person died. I felt as you do…My world was my Mom…everything I did was FOR HER. To have that rug pulled out from under you is entirely LIFE CHANGING! Gotta wonder what type of person you work with that doesn’t understand that.
        Grief is a long process- I still have my days where I’m a basket case…and my Mom has been gone for 31 years! Your Mom hasn’t even been gone a year. I don’t even recall the first year after my Mom died, I was in such a fog. I just functioned, I didn’t “live”. It was all I could do.
        Things will get easier, I promise. But dealing with insensitive people will always be a hurdle. Sorry they had to say that and make you question your own grieving process. They had no right to do that.


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