Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Chapter 8: In which Beanie begins to get her groove back, but only part-way

"Who knows what you have spoken to the darkness, alone, in the bitter watches of the night, when all your life seems to shrink, the walls of your bower closing in about you, a hutch to trammel some wild thing in? So fair, yet so cold, like a morning of pale Spring still clinging to Winter's chill."


“'What do you fear, my lady?'   'A cage. To stay behind bars until use and old age accept them and all chance of valor has gone beyond recall or desire.'

-- J.R.R. Tolkien, The Two Towers

I was accused last week of having been "domesticated".

The person who spoke these words quickly backtracked, citing only respect and regard for what I knew and what I had accomplished. 

"Still", he said, "you are not a follower.  Why aren't you leading these people?"

He does not know my history, nor of the heartbreak that has crippled my mind and my spirit this last year. He does not know that I'm normally leading these groups.  He just reported what he saw there and then.  I'd lost my edge.

Obviously, I saw more than a little truth in his words, as they are still on my mind now.

As if to prove him wrong, though, I spent the rest of last week in a whirlwind of meetings, with late night strategy sessions that included generous helpings of scotch, cognac and harmless flirtation, and resulted in at least three separate plans to take over the world.  I gave talks, told jokes in public, and found myself, more often than not, dragged to the back of the room during meetings, with one person or another whispering details into my ear about the motivations and machinations of the other players in the room.

In short, I was in my happy place.

This week, I am back to my real life, resplendent with personal and professional dramas, petty intrigues, heartbreaks, and administrivia.  Still, I sort of felt like last week let me start to get my groove back.

That is, until Monday afternoon, when the character from the beginning of this chapter called to tell me that he was likely going to work for my main competitor in this little game of professional Risk. 

The blood drained from my face.  I gulped.  I tried not to cry.  To put it bluntly, I felt like I'd been lured into getting naked in a public restroom, only to have my clothes stolen.  My voice instantly betrayed my feelings.  Many apologies and explanations followed:  he'd only found out that morning, he said, and this didn't change anything we'd discussed strategically, and of course he would keep anything confidential, strictly so. He pleaded that he had called me first, before his own loved ones, because he didn't want me to feel like I'd been played.

But it was too late.  I felt like I had been played. Worse, it was my own fault.  I know better than to show my hand too early, my spider sense had been tingling the whole week, and I ignored all that in a heady rush to be the first to have new information, to out-compete and out-perform someone who had challenged me.

I think he was/is sincere:  I don't think he meant any harm, and I'm looking forward to continuing a fun and challenging friendship.

But maybe I have lost my edge. Time will tell if my trust has been misplaced.  At the very least, I dodged a dangerous bullet.

I used to be a fairly astute business strategist.  In fact, if you look at my LinkedIn page, those are the first two words in my description:  "Business Strategist". Whether or not I am still that woman remains to be seen, as I'm getting ready to embark on what will likely be a 2-year project to define the next major portion of my career.  In the last eight years working in the non-profit sector, I haven't had as much chance to use that strategic edge as I used to.

I wonder if there is still enough of Eowyn in me to slay the monsters and protect what I've worked so hard to build.  Should be interesting.  Might be dangerous.  Hope that it's at least a little bit fun.


bhd said...

There are so many things I want to say to this post, but my heart was torpedoed by your words and I think I should just stfu.

toperi: the art of imbibification.

Anonymous said...

Your essence is undamaged.

Go forward knowing you have already risen after the fire (more than a few times I might add), and persevered.