Chapter 4

So I move on to junior high school. I remember the school and basics of these 2 years but trying to remember names of a lot of people and details of day to day life is not so easy. I still do not understand why but I will write what I can…

I do not remember the fist day of junior high school but I remember some of my classes especially orchestra. I wasn’t the best violin player but I did enjoy it. At some point pretty early on we were asked to volunteer to play the string bass. I volunteered and was put in a room with book and a bass. I was given the basics and since I already knew about playing a string instrument I was left to my own devices. It took a few weeks before I rejoined the rest of the orchestra. I did enjoy it. By the second year I was in the youth string orchestra… top players of all the junior high school students. It was a way of getting away from my regular life and do something I was proud of.

I also ran track. I was a distance runner…mile, 2 mile, mile relay and the 2 mile relay. I wasn’t the best but I did my best and really enjoyed it. I also did basketball for either 7th or 8th grade…I do not remember. I was on the B team…again I wasn’t the best but I tried. I was trying to find ways to be out of my house and doing something structured. I also tried out for the cheerleaders but I wasn’t in the girly popular crowd so that was a no go.

I took a home economics class. I learned to sew in this class…that I still do to this day. It was helpful for what ended up being a part of my longest career choice so it was a plus in my life. I made a skirt and a book bag. I cannot say I learned to cook there…my step dad taught me how to cook. He was instrumental in my ability to do just about anything in life. He taught me just about everything that would be useful in my life. Step dads are much more valuable than they are given credit for. (at least the good ones…there are bad ones too)

I had some friends in junior high school although I only remember a few names and only 1st names for all but a few of them. It started to become more clear in junior high school that I was more of a tomboy than a girly girl. I was much more interested in jeans and t-shirts and playing sports with the boys than to wear makeup and skirts. I was interested in boys not girls but didn’t feel the need to doll myself up. I wanted the boys to like me for me. I have always hated being fake. What I find interesting is the boyfriend I had through junior high school was my neighbor and he would figure out later that he liked boys…So not sure what to think about that. I wish him all the happiness in the world but does make me wonder about the whole tomboy aspect of that.

During the summers (when I wasn’t at my grandparents farm working) my step dad and I would do a garden and raise rabbits for food. The first time I had to kill a rabbit I was to hit it in the head with a hammer. I didn’t hit it hard enough and it started squealing and going in circles. I had to grab it and hit it again. (that was very hard for me) But I survived and I never had to hit one twice again. When I went to gut it I found some babies in her. So I grabbed a dropper and some towels and nursed them. 2 of the 3 survived.  We raised them to eat them later. He also took me fishing and taught me how to be a lead on a John boat going down a river and navigating the rapids. We used the rabbit manure for the garden. (Best fertilizer I have ever used) We would spend a lot of time at the 80 acres his family owned north of town. I loved this land. I think those 80 acres gave me a refuge from life. I loved walking in those woods. I used to sneak out there and just walk the woods when I needed to think and get away from my life.

In the fall my step dad would take me to the 80 acres to pick persimmons and to did sassafras roots for tea. That is my favorite tea of all time… he would give me swig or two of apricot or blackberry brandy just to keep me warm. It would get pretty chilly out there. Never got me drunk or anything like that so don’t get any ideas on that. My mother and I never got along and my dad was vacant in my life so he was the adult I connected with. I am glad that he taught me what he did during my formidable years. All girls need to learn a few things so they are not dependent on anyone for anything.

I did have an 8th grade graduation party to try and get more friends before we went to high school. A few people showed up but it just wasn’t my thing. I had fun but sucking up to people was not something I was comfortable doing. I wanted the boys to like me but couldn’t bring myself to be more girly to do it. I am not weak and cannot play weak to win a boy over. Made my life difficult but well adversity makes people stronger in life.

If I remember correctly it was during these 2 years of school that I met my biological. I last saw him when I was about 2 or 3 maybe. Either way I didn’t remember him. I found out that my sister had been in touch with that side of my family the whole time. I never saw any of the birthday cards or anything. Being that I had a strained relationship with my mother I was vulnerable to any sort of affection from him. I had fun during that visit. Asked for him to get custody of me even my sister went along. His wife Donna was so nice to me and I loved the way she was with my brother that I had never met. I was so hopeful just to be sent back to my mom. Dad did not fight for me and he just sent me gifts after that. Money does not buy love. So both of my parents didn’t want me and it made me feel alone. I did like the thought of the large family I had on my dads side. They were all so close and I didn’t have that in my life. It was like a slow torture…

I think this is why I was so attached to my step father. He showed interest in me and my life. He showed me parental love and taught  me like a parent does. It was also during this time that I called my step dad “dad” in the middle of a conversation with my step-sister while we were cooking in the kitchen. BIG MISTAKE! Next thing I know there is a butcher knife stuck in the wall beside my head. She threw it at me… needless to say I never called him dad again after that. I am sure she wouldn’t mind at this point but after that I was respectful of her feelings and never did it again.

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Insecurity and Self Doubt

I have had a lot of things going on in my life. Work and home. I have remained strong for the most part. I have a lot of self doubt. And that is all on me. I try not to let others know how insecure I am. Sometimes it takes over and I think the worst of others and what they are thinking of me. I am trying to be a mentor and guide for others and it makes me feel like a failure when I think that I am not good enough to even be a mentor. I know I have a lot of knowledge to give but I keep getting knocked down and made to feel like I am incompetent. It is hard when the people you trust and look up to are the ones knocking you down and talking to you like you are stupid and have no idea what you are doing.

We all have moments of weakness and self doubt and insecurity. It is how we deal with it. I have recently been under a greatly increased amount of scrutiny in my job. I am trying to deal with it in a positive manner but have become very worried. It seems to me that they are telling me that everything I am doing is not good enough. I put in 12-14 hours a day Monday through Friday for many years now. I have given up my life for this company. And for the longest time I was praised at how well I was doing a great job and just needed to continue doing what I was doing. Then something changed and I was all of the sudden no longer doing anything right.

I have taken some time off over the past couple of months. Which is when all of his comments started. I have been dealing with employee shortages and people quitting and not showing up or calling in sick and all of those things without him knowing details for a very long time. He had to deal with it for 2 days here and 3 days there…(he would text me almost all day on at least one of those days off complaining about my staff). So I really didn’t get to take any time off because he wouldn’t leave me alone long enough to spend time with my family.

His comments were worded just so that I have come to think he was going to fire me. Or worse try to make me quit by forcing some issues with me. I have a strong personality and so does he and for years that has led to a great collaboration us. At this point it has become a bit of a power struggle. I had an employee that left me 2 times. The second time he left it was right after I went to bat for him to get a raise. (and he got it) He then puts in his notice right after. And this was the second time. On his last days he would not be respectful addressing myself or the owner. Calling him buddy after he was told that the owner did not like being called that. Another manager hired him back after myself and the owner was against it. I have repeated stated that he is an awesome young man. He is great with the customers and he is a very likable young man. I have also stated that I do not wish to have him back at my location. He is not loyal to me and has stated that he wants my job. The owner has stated that he wants to put him at my store and that he has grown a lot while he has been gone. He is now married and is now more grown up. That being said. He is not loyal to me having left me twice now and the second time right after a raise.  I want people that are loyal to me in my employ.

The owner put in my store on my last two days of vacation and the people on my payroll got their hours cut in the process. This does not make me less paranoid about him trying to out me. But I am not sure how to deal with this. Go in and be honest or just go with the flow and not say anything. I have a hard time not standing up for myself and what I do not want but this is a touchy subject with him. So I have a decision to make.

I have enlisted the help of a close friend and coworker to help me streamline all of what I do to make the owner happy again. It doesn’t seem to be working but I know I am not horrible at what I do. I am pretty darn good at what I do. So I have to figure out what the owner is saying…looking between the lines…

  • Why is he looking so hard to find something wrong?
  • What is going on in his world to cause his mood change?
  • What is going on in the business to cause his nervousness about the smallest of details in my store?
  • Is there anything I can do to relieve him of some of this stress?
  • How is his personal life?

Well he has had some issues in his family that has caused him some stress. The company has purchased another piece of property that the company now needs to make payments on. He is part of a 3 person incorporated ownership…so he does have others he has to answer to. All I can do is keep running my store and do it the best I can and take his advice to heart and try to make sure that all of his suggested that can be implemented are implemented as quickly as possible.

Now I do have a lot of insecurity that I am making the owner happy like he was just a few short months ago (where he was saying that I was awesome). And I am not sure if I will have a job for much longer. I cannot seem to make him happy about anything but… I have been doing this since 1994. I have spent the majority of my life in this industry. And more that 18 years with this company. And I still have a lot to learn. And I have a lot of self doubt that I can continue with this company that now seems to no longer appreciate the time and effort I have put into making it what it is. I made this my life. Big mistake on my part for sure. I have always had a need to prove my worth with long hours and extra stuff. Doing more and more and more…

I have decided to spend less time at work. And only give what I can without losing myself in the process. This will be very difficult since I have made my job who I am. I have to go on a search of who I am and figure that out. But first I have to stop working so much to figure that out.

Do only what you can because the extra really isn’t appreciated in the long term.

Keep your head up…

I have busted my butt for many many years. I love the company I work for and live my job. But, sometimes you but your butt for a company and they take advantage or neglect to even notice all the hard work you do for them. I have been with this company for 18 plus years…and I generally just let things slide and roll off my back but recently I was compared to another manager just like myself within the company as we were equals and I stood up for myself saying that we were not equals although we are both part of the same team. And we are…we are all part of a big team. But my knowledge about our industry and abilities within our industry is far greater than that of the other manager and I stated this. 

I am not trying to be arrogant. Although it usually doesn’t go over well when a woman stands up and states that her worth is greater than she is being given credit for. I know my self worth although I do not normally say anything I feel that I should stand up for myself.

I was right! 

The owner is finally taking notice. Confidence is all people need. It took a lot for me to actually say anything. For years I have been told how I was as good as other people and although I knew that I was better than some I was afraid to say anything. I didn’t want to seem arrogant or cocky. I didn’t say anything with attitude or anger. I was confident and matter of fact about what I said. Like he should have known. It has helped and I am even happier at my job than I was before. I didn’t think that could happe. But it has.

You have to stand up for you! If you don’t then know one else will.