Sunday, April 15, 2007

Super SOX Girl

Thank you, Juliana, for making me a superhero! My new adventures are beginning a lot sooner than expected. I got my dream job in L.A., and I start May 7th. That means instead of moving in 4 months, I'm moving in 3 weeks.

Lucky for me, my new company has hired these amazing people who will pack up my stuff and move it for me. I didn't even know that was possible. I kind of feel like a superhero right now, because I really feel like I've come into my own in the last 3 months. I don't know if it was because I got angry, turned 35, got treatment for PTSD, learned to love my inner child, did affirmations, read the right books, or the coming together of 2 years of effort to get right with myself, but something worked. I know I have a long ways to go still, but it sure feels good to know I've made so much progress.

I have devoured a lot of books since the beginning of the year, so many that I haven't wrote about most of them. Here is a quick synopsis:

Play Like a Man Win Like a Woman: What Men Know About Success That Women Need to Learn by Gail Evans- It may become apparent by the books I've been reading lately that I was experiencing some career distress. I wouldn't say that it was because I'm a woman, but I would say that I was making a lot of mistakes in managing my career that a lot of women, according to the books I read, make. This book is about the rules of the game (i.e. the business world) that you may not have learned, and how to play the game as woman. I wish I had read this book while I was still in business school. It was very helpful. Gail Evans acknowledges that women are expected to know how to behave "like a man" in certain situations, but also have to be aware that there are different expectations for how women conduct themselves, for example, in negotiations...

A Woman's Guide to Successful Negotiating by Lee E. Miller and Jessica Miller- I don't think you could read this book and not benefit from it in some area of your life. There are chapters devoted to negotiating with family members, your significant other, for your pay, for a car, for real estate, and in a divorce. It focuses on using a collaborative style of negotiating, and talks about mistakes that women often make and how women can have an advantage in negotiations. These books are (I hate to use this word, sorry!) empowering, because they acknowledge that women can be at a disadvantaged in a man's world, but that's not a situation you have to accept. Women can learn to negotiate and manage their career as well as anyone. It's not like all men were born effective negotiators and businesspeople. They learned how, and women can too.

Secrets of Six-Figure Women by Barbara Stanny- This book claimed that just by reading it and deciding to make more money you would. It was right.

Dynamite Salary Negotiations by Ron and Caryl Krannich, Ph.Ds- I'm not as enthusiastic about this book, but it has some excellent tips on how to present yourself to potential employers and your current employer- in terms of how you will benefit the company and why you are worth such and such salary to the company, instead of focusing on why you deserve such and such salary. This is a good book to prepare you for salary negotiations.

I read somewhere that it is common for those of us who were sexually abused to struggle in our careers because of our low opinion of ourselves. It really hit home with me lately that if you don't value yourself, it affects every area of your life. I'm good at my job and the approval and success I've had professionally has been a source of strength and stability even when I felt like a failure in other aspects of my life. Still, I felt like I wasn't doing as well as I should, and I realized it had to do with having low expectations for how I wanted to be treated, and insecurities about going after what I want. Yes, if you ask for something, you may not get it, but it turns out that disappointment is not as bad as not trying and being angry at yourself. When I started trying to find a better paying job, there were people who told me I couldn't make as much as I wanted and my expectations were too high. I wasn't even convinced that I could make that much, but I ended up getting 2 job offers for even more, and you better believe it felt good.

I even managed to fit in some of my more traditional self-help books:

Toxic Parents: Overcoming Their Hurtful Legacy and Reclaiming Your Life by Susan Forward, Ph.D.- highly recommended for anyone from a dysfunctional family. It talks about how controlling, verbally, physically, and/or sexually abusive, substance-abusing, immature and/or neglectful parents emotionally damage their kids, and how, as an adult, you can recover. It also talks a lot and quite specifically about how to deal with your parents now that you are an adult. You think when you are a kid that when you grow up it will all be different, but even if you are estranged from your parents or one or both has died, they continue to be a part of your life and how you feel about yourself. This book gives helpful advice on how to manage those relationships and feel good about yourself regardless of how your parents act. There's also an excellent chapter on dysfunctional family systems. This is important because families are not just a collection of individuals; they have their own dynamic that you have to work with.

The Intimacy Struggle by Janet G. Woititz- Originally written for adult children of alcoholics, Woititz expanded to book to include everyone who grew up in a dysfunctional family and who, as a result, can only guess at what a healthy relationship is supposed to be like. It talks about myths that adults often hold in relationships that stem from childhood trauma, such as- "If you find out that I'm not perfect, you will abandon me." This comes from a fear of abandonment, which she says cuts deeper than mere rejection for someone from a dysfunctional family. "The abandonment you feel relates more to the time when your parents were inattentive and you felt so isolated that you believed you would either no longer exist or would die." (page 17) In addition, it is common for adult children to be perfectionists or workaholics because we think we have to earn people's love and respect, the way we tried to be good for our parents so they would love and care for us. We never feel good enough, though, just like we could never be good enough to make our parents act differently. The book also addresses the fear that being vulnerable will always lead to pain, that conflict and anger always leads to violence and abuse and so cannot be expressed, guilt and shame, issues with trust and boundaries, and the fear of being found out (i.e. if you really knew me, you wouldn't like me anymore.) This book made sense to me, and I got a lot of insight on why I feel so much anxiety about relationships.

Right now, I'm reading The Survivor's Guide to Sex: How to Have an Empowered Sex Life After Childhood Sexual Abuse by Staci Haines, on the recommendation of a friend of mine. (I owe you that Tori Amos CD!) It was kind of embarrassing to buy from the bookstore, but well worth it so far.

So maybe it was all the books. And my latent superhero powers. Onward!