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Seriously, I’ve let it happen again!

I was asked to be part of a project that would benefit folks with disabilities. Of course, I jumped at the chance to be part of that and be able to help other parents.

I was told right from the start that my organizational skills were needed, that they couldn’t do it without me. (That seemed to be ‘pouring it on a bit thick’, but okay.)

Right away, I was given a number of tasks to complete, which I did, even though some of them required more information than I had available to me, I did the best I could by putting together templates I could plug information into when it was available.

I was told repeatedly that the project was moving quickly and the “parent organization” thought at this rate we could be ‘up and running’ in 5 months. There was constant talk of obtaining a 501(c)(3) status, “start up money”, etc.

I knew there were legalities involved with becoming a nonprofit, as I’d researched the process when I started my own project a year ago. I knew it was very involved and would demand a lot of attention to detail. Myself and another individual began compiling as much information as we could.

As things progressed I was given a leadership position and I started working on a first meeting agenda while the individual who’d brought me into the project put a poll together for a first meeting date.

A scheduling conflict for the Executive Director threatened to prevent the Board from meeting this month and the suggestion was made to move the meeting back a month.  I asked, if all the Board members were available, but the ED wasn’t, did she need to be present for the first meeting, seeing as how it would need to address the “nuts and bolts” of structuring the Board, determining procedures, etc. I thought I was being practical, seeing as how state law indicates an ED “can be” included in Board meetings, but can not sit on the Board and does not have a vote.

This triggered all the same accusations I’ve heard a million times in the past. “You can’t expect everyone to have the same work ethic you do”, “I’m not going to be ‘shut out’ by you, this is my baby”, “You’re creating too much stress and will scare people away”, etc. She went on to tell me I had no right to create an agenda for the meeting and accused me of being hysterical.

It appeared, that the very skills I’d been asked to bring to the project were now threatening to the person who wanted me involved because of those skills. It was clear to me that I could not be frank and ask questions, trusting that my intent (the success of this project) was clear. There was no trust in this relationship.

I told her then and there that I would not accept being treated that way, would not accept calls accusing me of things I’d not done, questioning my integrity. I had contributed too much to this project to be treated that way.

I told her I was “out”. (We had a history that had been a ‘red flag’ for me right from the start, but I thought this was a new endeavor, perhaps things would be different.)

Subsequently, I learned that she had been messaging with another Board member (who forwarded the messages to me) about me, telling untruths and raising doubts about me. She also contacted a gentleman who’d offered to help us with the project, whom I’d emailed to introduce myself, and asked him to forward to her my personal email as she wanted to know what it said. Again, she called my integrity into question.

I was asked by more than one person working on the project to not leave the group because they believed they needed my organizational skills and there was no one else involved who could contribute what I’d contributed. One person told me the whole project would go down if I wasn’t involved.

I don’t appreciate guilt trips, so you can imagine, that didn’t sway me. I also don’t appreciate people suggesting that I should accept abuse and disrespectful treatment, swallow it and continue, letting others take advantage of me.

I’ve been told by several people that the ED is young, inexperienced, immature and obviously intimidated by the very skills she wanted me to bring to the table. She felt threatened, wanted to control every aspect of this endeavor and is obviously unable to allow others to have ownership of this project.

She “apologized”, but saying things like I am sorry if I messed up a bit today“, and “I apologize for my poor choice of words regarding you “shutting me out.” It was probably un-called for” seem like “back-handed” apologies, at best. No ownership is evident in those statements. 

I feel like I’m reliving the childhood abuse again and again. This whole encounter with her seriously triggered my PTSD. Why can’t I just be accepted for who I am? I’m tired of defending myself to people who see me through the filter of their own insecurities.

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