They’re getting fuzzier, but I still remember them. Those days when I was legendary for losing my temper, for shooting off my mouth, for pissing people off.
I once dropped the F-bomb during a staff meeting in front of a state representative who was cheerfully explaining why we were going to fuck all of our special education students over with the new high school exit exam format.
I once launched myself across a table at an administrator who suggested that I’d over-declared on the number of hours I’d spent developing the senior project for the entire school. I wasn’t planning to lay hands on her, I just got so angry while I was explaining–in detail– the seven layers of hell they’d put me through that I just sort of took over the table.
My finest moments came right when I started the blog, when I invited everybody to come look. It appeared NOBODY had come to look, so I sounded off frequently when I was irritated. The post labeled “Dear Library Nazi” was a particular hit. I learned to keep my opinions to myself. (In my defense, the woman walked into my room to chew me out over things I had no control over, in front of my students.)
I learned to temper my online presence– and fix my goddamned temper. Grown women did not just launch themselves into the stratosphere like that–not if they wanted to really be heard.
It hasn’t been until the last five years when I’ve realized that zero-to-bitch is not my default position. I was driven there by stress that I can’t even believe I lived through. People–women in particular– were bailing from the campus like flies from a reanimated corpse. We had a string of leadership mishaps–and when we did get a good leader, the poor guy was beaten into the ground with politics. I had two small children and two adolescents–and two of those kids had special needs, one was being bullied, and EVERYBODY even the baby had after school activities. My staffroom was toxic as hell if you didn’t have a penis. I particularly treasure the department head bitching about how he needed to get married so he could have a baby so he could go on part time and have the whole world work around his schedule, because God knows, he needed the fucking break. The kids ping-ponged through our rolls like acid dropping weasels through an electrified labyrinth, and while this happened we would attend staff meetings where we were constantly harangued for not marking our roll sheets accurately–this, while kids were being moved in and out of our classrooms while we were taking roll.
I could go on. I mean, I did go on. Circumstances were not ideal, and I was not quiet about it.
I’ve forgotten how many times I didn’t lose my temper. I’ve forgotten what it was like to deal with stress and not turn into a major bitch.
I didn’t even realize it had happened again until I got a call from a co-worker now, letting me know I went from zero-to-bitch on an edit.
And I am appalled.
Six years of building up professionalism in this business, of building friendships and relationships and of seriously learning what it was like to deal with professionals and good people doing good work– and I was the one to blow that?
I realize– retroactively, because for me, that’s always the case– that I was stressed, and I”m only now coming down. I just hadn’t realized how badly I was dealing with it. I hadn’t realized I was taking it out on other people like that.
I apologized, of course– and have done what I could to correct the damage. Part of it was just poor communication–I thought I was being concise and efficient, and it looked like I was being heinously flamingly bitchy.
But I still have that sort of sick feeling in my stomach. I remember waking up and remembering the events of the day before and thinking, “OH Jesus. How bad is the fallout going to be?” In this case, not so bad–I mean, I feel badly, but I hope I haven’t destroyed that relationship at this point–but I didn’t miss that feeling. I didn’t miss thinking, “Oh God, I’m supposed to be a grownup, what sort of tantrum did I throw now?” I didn’t miss wondering whose feelings I hurt.
I really was proud of not being that person– that fly-off-the-handle fuck-it-all flaming twat that would rather be right than behave right.
I don’t think I am, really. I think maybe I can avoid waking up without that feeling for a few more years now. I would, in fact, be super happy not to ever feel like that again.
Let’s hear it for putting the days when I was a bitch behind me. I won’t be sorry to see them go.