I decidedly dislike being in the office at the moment. Since a few months ago, when the Head of Department announced that we have to bring in more students, or there will be fewer jobs (read: redundancies), the collegiality has all but vanished from non-permanent, and from some permanent, staff.
Instead there are whispers, and there is clique-iness. Like earlier this week, when a colleague appeared at our door wanting a “chat” with my office-mate; looks at me, to say, a private chat. And they both move off together, to sit next door, conversing in low-toned Spanish. Like they have done several times this calendar year.
I am working ten-hour days. Sometimes more. But it’s not enough. I get the work done. But others have paired off; they are making plans to make themselves indispensable. Where once the Department would have gone to lunch together, now we barely talk. I feel excluded, alone, scared. Maybe they have seen that I’m not well, written me off as a colleague. Maybe they’re frightened of getting ill if they go near me.
You emanate pain. It makes others uncomfortable around you.
We must protect [minister].
Again, it is said. That same phrase. And again, and again. I’m sat with the Elders, trying to explain my needs. Ten times it’s said, and I stop counting. The message, the Elders’ task, is clear. The minister has complained to all the Elders about my behaviour and therefore (without further ado) my behaviour is unacceptable. Not hers. And she wants nothing to do with me. They will not ask her to stop ignoring me. For her protection.
The minister needs protecting from me. I’ve already agreed not to share pastoral care concerns with her. What do they think I am going to do, if I serve with her in church? I’ve never so much as raised my voice to her.
Maybe they can see the evil inside. This was the first thing I wrote on retreat last week. I am the epitome of evil. Of horridness. Of bad. There is a caged monster inside me, I can barely control.
Maybe she does need protecting from me. Maybe it is best that I am avoided and ostracized at work and at church. I wish I had some protection from me.