congodwarf, I really think that you might find the following website helpful in understanding yourself:
The Wellness Center
It gives a lot of attention to healthy ways to keep people from running all over us. But it’s a lot more than that!!
There is absolutely no reason why you should be blaming yourself for anything that took place involving this woman, but you have a habit of that, don’t you? I used to be just like that – at one extreme or the other. I would be blaming myself or really angry at other people, but not telling them.
One day something happened and I got righteously angry. I knew that I had to find a firm and fair middle ground on which to deal with the problem. I learned how to be assertive rather than aggressive (hostile) or passive (quietly sucking it up).
The best thing about being assertive is that it fits it with being a decent person! You are fair to yourself and fair to the other person.
Would you like to know what provoked my learning how to fight fairly?
I taught high school English. I did something or said something that the Executive Principal didn’t like and so he came up to the hallway outside my door during class and motioned for me to come out into the hall. I stepped outside and he began to berate me in a very loud voice.
It was an old building with small rooms. The doorways were close together. Many classroom doors were open and his voice echoed throughout that hallway. He was pitching one bitch.
One of the rules in our contract says that all complaints shall be conducted in private. So when he stopped to take in a breath of air, I reminded him of the contract, excused myself, opened my classroom door and returned to teaching my class.
He waited about fifteen seconds before opening the door and walking into my classroom to begin his tirade in front of my fifth period students! I picked up my roll book and my purse from my desk and walked toward the door. He stepped into my pathway. When I tried to go around him, he acted like he was guarding a basketball goal. I kid you not!
He finally allowed me to leave the room, but he shouted at me and followed me all the way down the steps to the teachers’ lounge. (I wanted to throw up and I wanted to be reliefed of duty for the day.) There one of the Assistant Principals, a true professional and friend, said quietly two or three times, “Return to your post of duty.”
I finally realized that he was saving my neck from the chopping block and I returned to my classroom and continued to teach.
I did tell my students not to be upset about what they had seen – that these things can happen on any job. But I asked them to remember what they had seen and if anyone asked them about it they were to tell the truth.
After I got them settled on task, I asked the one adult observer in the room to write a description of what she had witnessed and to date it and sign it. I also got her name, address and phone number. All of that information came in handy later at the hearing which I pursued.
I won two grievances against him. Eventually he was fired, but not just for what he did to me. That was child’s play compared to what else he got into.
But that was one of my first steps in learning how to be a much stronger person.