I remember the day I hit my breaking point. I hesitantly entered the conference room and there he was: a Napoleon in khaki pants, glaring at me with laser beam eyes — his face full anger and disgust. After a fun-filled abuse fest that lasted an entire hour, I decided to shuffle ball change out of that dank old TV station in Nowheresville, NJ, never to look back.
Working for a sociopathic narcissist has its benefits if you are fresh in your career. Primarily that afterwards, any new boss will seem nurturing and sane by comparison. Secondly, sociopathic narcissists are usually quite intelligent, so it is possible to learn a lot from them, if you can handle the heat. Most importantly though, working for a sociopathic narcissist prepares you to become someone’s bitch. And I hate to say it, but becoming someone’s bitch pretty much sums up parenthood.
Here are 5 ways working for a sociopathic narcissist helped prepare me for motherhood.
1. Sleep Deprivation
A lunatic boss will often have you working against your will into the wee hours of the morning. There were many nights when I simply caught a couple zzz’s on the couch at the station instead of driving all the way back to Philly. It happened so often that I kept a change of clothes in our female news anchor’s dressing room for these instances.
A baby will have you working those same hours. You will get not a wink of sleep, and you will feel desperate and exhausted – but you will still have to power through the entire next day, feeding, changing, rocking, and hopefully catching a nap on the couch…and that’s assuming your baby doesn’t start crying just as you are dozing off.
2. The Art of Redirection
I learned to keep things in my back pocket to distract my boss when he would summon me with screams or when he’d burst into my office with his hair on fire about something someone had done that was apparently my fault. I used to think it was magical, the way I could redirect him with some big news about someone important doing something awesome. But in reality, a lot of important people knew how crazy he was and just felt bad for me, so they’d throw me a bone.
With a child, you also need to master the art of distraction and redirection. Little Tommy wants to stick his fingers in the electrical socket, so you pop a balloon in his face, make him cry, cuddle him and start anew. See? The art of distraction and redirection is a parent’s most important tool.
3. Endure Screaming
No, thankfully my boobs didn’t leak when my boss screamed at me, but it did make my heart race and my ears hurt.
No one likes to be yelled at for any reason, but after being screamed at over and over by a grown man or woman acting like a tantruming child, your sweet baby’s shrills will seem like a lullaby.
4. Always Be Prepared
I learned that if I were not fully prepared for the unexpected at an event or meeting, I’d be publicly humiliated, my job would be threatened and I’d be metaphorically dipped in honey, chained to a flagpole and have a swarm of bees set loose on me. This will teach you to start asking questions before you jump into anything.
When you have a baby, you need to do the same. “What if there’s an earthquake and I am stuck on the freeway with my infant?” You will stock your car with diapers, water, formula, a stroller, blanket, and snacks for yourself. Look inside your diaper bag right now. Do you catch my drift? Are you truly prepared? I can assure you, I am.
5. Learn Who to Trust
This guy would do everything in his power to turn people against one another in the workplace. I’m not sure how he thought this benefitted him, but it was his favorite pastime. We found ourselves splitting off into two different factions: the “This Guy Is A Fucking Lunatic” group and the “This Guy Is A Fucking Lunatic But I’m Scared So I’m Going To Be His Minion” group.
The same applies in motherhood. There are the mamas that build you up, and there are ones who live to see you fail. You’ll find your mama group faster and easier than most if you’ve worked for a sociopathic narcissist, because you’ll be a pro at swiftly and accurately recognizing the difference between the ones who have your back and the ones who are waiting to stab you in it.
Whether you are parenting a sleepless infant or a sassy teenager, if you have endured working for a sociopathic narcissist, you are applying all of the skills you might not know you even had. You are prepared to endure the unexpected. So, look back on those traumatic experiences with fondness. Give a mental nod to that asshole you used to work for and thank him or her for teaching you to be who you are today…and then mentally flip them off and hope they twist their ankle.