9 March: After my session last week with Marcus about most of my modules failing the organisation’s new viability test, I go home in a state of great anguish. I know this exercise is contrived, I know Marcus wants me out – how many times have I said that? This is not fair – and that is the point. I know there are modules and courses at our university that are continuing with heavy subsidies, not “available” for auditing and protected for whatever reason: hidden agendas; you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours; questionable “professional” relationships. These things go on everywhere. I am dismayed by the value judgments placed on my modules. I also don’t want to be seen as someone who thinks they are special in some way. BUT I KNOW THIS IS WRONG.
People contrive things all the time, work to hidden agendas, plan how best to subjugate the work of others. I worry about being set up. I sometimes think Marcus is baiting me, waiting for that all-important reaction that means… disciplinary action. I speculate what on earth the others in our department are doing day to day. Do they know what is going on with me? Do they wonder what is happening? Or are they just concerned with “number one”? Perhaps they network and bitch about me? Have a good laugh – and maybe Marcus is in there with them, moving it along? What I do know is that I’m isolated and I feel totally alone. My thinking is confused but at my core I know this is very wrong. I spend most of the day catching up on admin, then go home. I don’t check my emails for fear of more messages I’ll see as conspiracies or rejections. Dominic and I are not talking; he’s sleeping in the other room and the children don’t seem to notice.
11 March: I bumped into Alan today – even he seems to be trying to avoid me. I call by his office a little later and ask what is up – have I upset him? I discover he’s anxious about his reference from Marcus for his new job; it’s not been done yet. Alan does not have to say much. I know him too well now. He just doesn’t want Marcus to see him with me, and that’s fair enough. I don’t put Alan in the position of asking me to leave, I just make up an excuse and go. On my way to my room I see Gail, the wonderful Gail who gets on so bloody well with Marcus. She notices me and seems to panic as she fumbles to get her door open. She knows I’m coming her way and is almost frantic to get into her office. What would I say to her? “About your research plans, Gail – did you know that was earmarked for me?” or perhaps “It’s so nice to see that you have suddenly, overnight, changed your area of expertise…”
I get to my office and check my emails. One is from Brenda Goodie: “I suppose you have heard by now that I will be working with Gail on the new project? I’m so sorry… nothing I could do about it, decisions made at a higher level…”
I don’t reply but pick up my phone and ask for human resources. I speak to Sally Hellton. I explain I have some major problems with my personal life and work-related issues, but that I also want to undertake some postgraduate work. I would like to go half time. I want to talk it over. She agrees to see me at short notice tomorrow.
I make my way home and as I get in Dominic is waiting for me, looking very anxious. He wants to talk about our relationship, feels things are not working and wonders if we need to think about whether what we have is worth keeping. Bring it on Dominic, I really need this, I really fucking well NEED THIS. I stay quiet and do not know what to say. My world is crumbling around me. I tell him I cannot cope with whatever it is about our relationship, I just cannot cope with talking about it now.
The kids are with Dominic’s parents overnight – he felt they would be better there. I don’t want a fight. Dominic decides to go out – I don’t ask where, but go to my study and think about what to do.
13 March: Check my emails. There is one from Helen Murr:
“I have been informed you would like to reduce your hours to half time. I am pleased to say your line manager has agreed to this and I have informed personnel. Could you please confirm this in writing?”
She goes on: “I also realise that you have had some major problems with readjusting to organisational change. We do have services to help you. By the way, Marcus passed to me an email he received from your publisher about the new edition of your publication on women coming out. They did ask about whether we could contribute to a book launch at the university. Given the fact that many of your modules have been dropped on this subject we both agree it would seem inappropriate. I trust you understand.”
I dispatch a reply:
“I can confirm that I would like to reduce my hours to 17.5 a week. Could you confirm the date I can start this? I am appalled you will not contribute towards the book launch. I will pay for this myself.”
It’s Friday the 13th, I think my partner is planning a divorce, my line manager wants me out and any sense of achievement I have is seen as an embarrassment. Can my life get any worse?
Names and other details have been changed.
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