232. Realizing Options

Spend most of the day, including our otherwise good trip home from Char’s mum, being angry.

I had received money from Big Photographer Client 3 weeks late and he didn’t seem to care – except for making new demands about what I should do in my spare time as ‘customer service’.

I was ready to quit, even if I have no replacement customers for 75 percent of my income.

Then I remembered I had promised myself to devote all energies to find replacement customers but I couldn’t wait – I couldn’t stand it anymore.

It felt as if my pride was more important than money – family – everything. I kept hearing some inner voice: ‘you’re betraying yourself, letting yourself be sold cheap to this man’. And it was deafening.

I was always taught that one ‘should take care of one’s soul – never let oneself down’.

But where does that adage square with the ‘never let your family down’ (by not earning money even if you could)?

Or with the plain and simple: ‘Would you like a roof over your head or not?’

We are not there yet, of course, but in theory we could go there quickly if I don’t make some responsible choices. Then we’d eat off Charlotte’s savings and her maternity insurance/support payout which is not that big.

It’s not yet a choice between soul or roof – soul or family.

Not yet.

So does that give me the right to choose it now? Choose myself?

What if I feel so dreadfully strongly that I must get rid of this customer because he really, really makes me feel dreadful?

Well, in some instances there is clearly not a choice – if he doesn’t pay. If he is engaged in criminal activity etc.

But now? Right now? Because I feel my soul is being sold out?

Char said to me: “Maybe you shouldn’t take this so personally.”

And I remembered (before arguing with her) that that was what I had decided in June:

Use this waiting time to train myself to become stronger mentally – and that is the definition of that strength …

Don’t take it personally.

I had not decided to sell my soul.

I had not decided some fuzzy new-age ‘change my mind and the problem can go away forever’-thingy.

I had decided to get out of a bad situation as quickly as possible and until then make the best of it.

And so I remembered. Always good to remember.

But it wasn’t enough. I had let this man take strength away from me, because I had not been vigilant. I had allowed myself to get carried away, for whatever reasons, by this wash of emotions. Real, yes – and rather dreadful. But not enough to warrant drastic action. Not yet.

Except that I needed some drastic positive action to balance the scales – to feel strength again. For that strength was what I felt this customer (de facto primary employer) do to me.

But I could change the situation outside and move away from him right now with all the negative consequences – because I am not ready financially.

Or I could change myself. Not just with mental martial arts training, as I decided in June. Not just passive defense. But active offense.

Doing something that made me feel stronger again, not the opposite.

So, as said, I mailed him.

And said: “I’ll do all you ask of me as ‘extra service’ – and by the way  … would you like this and this and this, too?”

But at the same time I made clear I would only work a very few hours on it this week. And then finish. And that’s going to be the precedent and I will say it to him after I start again at the office. Anything aside from the hours you pay me for, I will give you – but only x hours a week.

Sounds banal, huh? That I have not set this limit before and checked out if he would try to call a bluff and fire me.

But I was afraid of losing the money, I was distracted by Jay’s birth and aftermath.

Now I feel ready to take the next step, aside from that little email that stated clearly that I did have the surplus to do extra service and it did NOT hurt me to do so. It did NOT take anything away from me.

But obviously it will – in time, if I don’t reign it in. So that, as said, is the future strategy. And long overdue.

I’ll tell him I’ve now set this and that limit – like 1 hour extra every Friday. Then if he fires me I will be able to tell Char I tried, because I know she doesn’t want me to sell my soul all the way either, to be abused. She has been that herself in a good many jobs. She knows.

She will, I believe be willing to risk the certainty financially – as will I – if Big Client fires me because I want give him unlimited potential extra service. (He never said as much, of course – just hinted he’d fire me if I didn’t deliver something extra.)

Well, that scare I decided to face tonight. First with my tactical action to get the present anger out of the system and feel strong again. Change myself so I can endure this situation a bit more – because that is for the best.

Next I will have to run the risk and tell him I have set limits for future ‘extra’ services of this kind, aside from what I do for him during office hours on the website.

He will most likely try to cajole me – on a spectrum from veiled threats to trying to make me sympathetic to his needs in his business, maybe even pity. I know his nature by now quite well. He is that kind of person. And he needs what I do on the website. And will have great difficulty finding someone as cheap and as loyal and skilled as I. So I have leverage, too.

I just have to believe in it.

And then I will have to drop any discussion – in order to stop the cajoling right there and then. Never Any Discussion. Because then I open the door for abuse. And I already know his type (much like my former employer when I was in the health sector):

He is a man who deep down cares mostly if not exclusively about himself. You can give all sorts of reasons – my kid, my ability to make money with other clients, my health, etc.

He will try to make it seem like he cares and then he will make demands again, or shrug off any reasonable arguments from my side that he should not abuse my time. He has already done so on a number of occasions since February. So now I know what I am dealing with.

Including my own feelings, I guess. But that makes for a stronger ability to make choices in my favor.