Hierarchies

It´s weird starting to write again after such a long time. Still, I´m glad people are still stopping by this site and some care to comment. The reason for this hiatus is that I´m working full-time. Add to that my work starts at half past six, so I get up every morning at 4:30. Guess how well a night person like me fares at that. In the last few weeks it´s been a rare occasion that I´ve been awake at this time of the day (that is: midnight).

My work is physically exhausting, but it is also emotionally draining. The main reason for that are the many colleagues (that is: superiors) I have to cope with. It would still be exhausting, though, if there was just one person. Eight hours a day I´m at the bottom of a hierarchy. I have to do what others say, ask others what to do, ask them if I can go for lunch. Sitting down at the wrong time can get me into trouble, yet simultanously when they offer me to take a seat I´m not really free to turn down that offer. I have to pay respect to a strict hierarchy and yet at the same time pretend this hierarchy doesn´t exist. I have to pretend that I pay respect to it spontaneously, without being aware of its existence. And this, complicated as it is, is not even my main job. My main job involves learning a lot of procedures and rules at once and applying them while people watch.

Do I wear this hardship as a badge of honour? It would be pointless to deny it. In a fucked-up way it makes me happy, but I´ll also be glad when it´s over. Pretty damn glad. Sometimes I don´t even know how I make it through the day. If I sound different to how I used to sound – I cannot judge that – then it´s because this work experience demands all my focus and mental energy. Everything else seems insignificant compared to the importance of not fucking up. This intense state of focus makes me feel alive, but I don´t know how much longer I can keep it up. I cannot imagine the last day will really come. When I look back at this later I will barely recognize myself, hardly remember the time. And there might well be emptiness and crying fits, just like when it started. I cannot protect myself from that because I´ve lost any ability to find calm in introspection. I can write about what I think is my situation, what I think will happen, but I do so with the same sense of urgency, the same panicked focus I exhibit at work. I always knew I was a kind of stress addict, this confirms it.

This job – without wishing to reveal to much about it just now – speaks both to my masochism and my sadism. I get ordered around by seven people at once, I have to do gross and disturbing things, it´s hard physical work and I overstretch my bodily limits on a daily basis (in order to avoid false impressions; no, I´ve not joined the army, I´m just very weak and out of shape physically). Regarding my sadism…ugh, no, that would be revealing to much. I assure you that I´m working in an honourable job, though.

Let´s stick with the masochism. What really helps me thrive in this environment is my tendency towards servitude. Forsee other peoples´needs, do as you´re told or what you´re expected to do, don´t complain, don´t contradict, always stay polite. It would seem I´m actually liked for these traits at work. It embarrasses me because that means someone has noted them. They are something I´m deeply ashamed of. I thought that these servile behaviors would be just about enough to keep me out of trouble (me, the disgraceful individual I believe myself to be), turns out now I´m suddenly a model for others. Which is terrible because it feels like I´m deceiving everyone. I´m nowhere near as angelic as this. It´s a role I play because it was the only one that would work for me in this environment.

What all this teaches me, amonst a million more significant things, though, is what I need to feel secure. I need power structures to be open and transparent. If I have to ask someone if I may sit down, I want this question to be acceptable. It isn´t at work. It embarrasses people when you ask them such things. It embarrasses them when you assign so much power to them. They don´t want to be the kind of person you need to ask if you may sit down because that kind of tyranny is frowned upon mostly. The result is that I don´t get to sit down at all, other than during my breaks. I cannot just sit down, I cannot ask if I may sit down, so I must pretend that I don´t need to sit down. The result being that my superiors tell others that I´m so busy they literally have to force me to sit down. They tell others such things about me while I´m present, as if I couldn´t hear them (though they still leave me wondering if I should, indeed, pretend I´m deaf or if I need to smile), which probably tells you everything about the level of authoritarianism at my workplace you need to know. What wouldn´t I give for fixed, transparent rules regarding sitting and standing right on the first day at work! And for everything else, too. Even facial expressions, should they matter.

What this helps me understand is what is so soothing about BDSM play. First, you can have whatever lunatically strict and detailed rules you want, and second, they´re all explicit and you don´t have to pretend you´re not obeying while you are. You don´t even have to pretend it´s not difficult because what fun would it be if there wasn´t an element of struggle? Struggle to comply, of course, not so much a power struggle. Also, of course, you don´t have to hide your feelings. You can, for example, be openly embarrassed when you get praised as a good girl (and this is just what is happening to me at work, in front of people who, to me, are random strangers). And you don´t have to hide that your back and legs are hurting from not sitting down, as this game is perfectly intended for you to be in pain. There is no danger your “superior” could be embarrassed about the fact that you don´t dare or know how to voice your discomfort. While many people wouldn´t change a thing to better suit your needs, they´ll still want you to feel comfortable in their presence and environment and they don´t take kindly to you not being alright.

This must sound like a scathing critique in disguise. I don´t know what it is, to be honest. I do not yet dare have an opinion of my work and my superiors. There´ll be plenty of time for that when it´s all over. Maybe this need not to judge is what makes me feel like I´m not actually thinking anymore even though my mind is working at a remarkable speed. The uncomfortable thing about this stance of servitude is that I cannot shed it at home. I never feel free. What is happening now is exactly what I always feared would happen if I ever had to work. I think I need some supervisor, a different authority who forces me to come down again. That being, of course, an open authority figure.

Since I just fell asleep writing this I guess I´d best go to sleep.

 

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