Back in my Corporate days I used to have a Nemesis.
You know, that one person that doesn’t like you and makes your life miserable for some unknown reason. It used to make me feel so much anger and frustration. It was one of the cases where when you enter the room and that person sees you, he stops smiling and the energy change. I've tried to understand why he didn't like me. I was too rigid doing my job? I was not interested enough to go drink with the other managers after work? Simple dislike due to Homo/Transphobia? At some point I even stopped trying and I was just hating him back, which of course made the situation worst.
Being part of the high leadership of my team, I even tried to change Country and position in order to have a career, that, at that point it would have been impossible for me. Long story short, a couple of years later after my transfer, he became once again my boss, and again, my career was over. I left the company soon after that.
I used to have nightmares about this situation. Different scenarios, but in all the cases the end result was always me yelling all of my frustration against this person, and he looking at me with disgust and yelling back at me or simply ignoring me. And all the time I was waking up with a sense of frustration and rage that was following me for the whole day. Those nightmares kept coming long after I left the Company.
A few days ago, I was visiting the local Farmer’s market with my husband and I felt a strange feeling, the one you have when you know you’re about to meet someone you are not sure you want to meet. Within 30 minutes I saw this person walking with his family. I haven’t encountered him for years, but just the sight of him made my guts twists and twirl, and I felt a clear sense of rage mixed with fear that was spread in my whole body. I could clearly feel my cheeks getting red, the heartbeat getting faster and my mouth drying.
We were far enough to avoid being seen, but I’m pretty sure that even if we would have been face to face, we both would have pretended not seeing each other’s.
‘It’s HIM’ I hissed to my husband, ready to flee, despite al my muscles being tense and rock hard. My husband simply took my hand and smiled at me, telling me ‘Who cares? It’s all in the past now’.
The past. This amazing four-letter word. It was the word I needed to stop for a second my reptilian brain to overcome my reason, and start focusing on my breath. I observed him while it was crossing the road in front of us.
He was carrying his kid, trying to cover him with the grey coat he was wearing. His spouse right behind him, was looking at the boy and trying to make him smile. It’s a cold day for an early September, maybe the kid is cold… I started noticing the cold soft wind on my face, despite the sun, the city was starting to look winter-y… long shorts, the first wool hats and slowly I was detaching from the negative feeling that were arising within me, I wasn’t surrounded by the thoughts of my past. I was present.
I’ve been practicing Mindfulness for a while now, but deep down I always feared the possibility, In the event of facing my demons, that the old me would have popped back stronger than ever. And in fact it did, but this time my mind was ready to face the situation (with a providential help from the hubby), to avoid being overwhelmed.
Tonight, I had a dream about that person.
My parents were managing a furniture store, I was on a bench in the park outside and I could see my father talking with my former boss. They were closing a sale and discussing about the price. I find myself thinking ‘He doesn’t know that salesman is my father, I should stay here and mind my business… or maybe I can go to them and ask my dad to make him a good price’ so I jumped up and joined them, my boss couldn’t see me as I was coming from behind him, but when my father looked at me I said ‘please Dad, treat him the best you can, he used to be one of my team’.
My boss suddenly turned to face me. His face went from surprised, to annoyed (to see me I guess 😊), to surprised again and finally, an awkward little smile popped up. He thanked me and we started chatting a bit, unsure at first, but slowly getting more friendly and we ended up saying goodbye to each other with a smile.
I woke up with a ridiculous smile on my face and a great sense of peace and warmth that I’m still feeling while I type this log.
I don’t know if this is really what would happen in a possible encounter, but perhaps, I will meet him again, and that time I will smile and say hi. Not because the situation between us have changed or because I expect to have the same reaction he had in the dream, but because I’ve changed.
For now, boss, I wish you success and happiness, wherever you are I hope you’ll wake up with a smile tomorrow.