Mike and I are very different people. Like everyone else, we have our strengths and our weaknesses. He maintains a BigLaw paycheck, for which I am very grateful, what with my particular weakness being a supreme inability to do so.
I think part of the reason that my sense of self imploded at the old firm was that I couldn't handle feeling as if I was set up for failure time and time again; where meeting ninety-nine completely unrealistic requests with some measure of success means less than nothing when you've met the hundredth with mere sufficiency; where extinguishing a metaphorical fire is overlooked if you're thirty seconds late for a monumentally insignificant conference call. Where the word 'failure' manifested itself in my internal dialogue.
This morning Mike called, exasperated. One partner, long ago cementing her status as a thorn in his side, trapped him in this Gotcha Paradox and he was... angry.
I never got there at Old Firm. Instead, I internalized every slight, real or not, intended or not. I validated every negative implication or imagination by dwelling on them, letting them dwell in me. In doing so, I gave those power. Toward the end, I couldn't look at some of my colleagues, those senior associates and partners who derived some pleasure in putting me in that situation, without wincing at my own incompetence. And so I gave them power.
What I am coming to understand is that whether this was really happening or whether it was all in my mind doesn't really matter, because it's how I felt, and there's no escaping that once it's taken hold.
But my husband can face this monster day in and day out, the one that bested me in a matter of months, really. And then come home and make me brownies.