My Fair Lady PHŒNIX ~ How to come back after 17 years
The internet is a vast way to lose myself, for it is easier to bury who I am under the glitch noise it presents than ever try to explain how I lost everything to begin with. I’m going to brave-it-up in this article and explain how I forgot who I was in order that I can rise from the ashes of those memories like the Chinese Phoenix, the Feng. In order that I can Feng Shui myself forward, I want to shake off the dirt.
In the previous article I explained how I was plucked out of the Internet to join a hi-tech enterprise. In this article I hope to address the very serious hurdles within myself I had to overcome in order to believe in what I’m capable of once again. Without ever owning this self-belief, I would never be able to rise. But it doesn’t come without substance, that was shown to me a few weeks earlier when I was talent spotted in the bizarre series of communication via the web with my new future employer: Mr Christian Kussmann, Geshäftsführer Owner, at Advanced Thermaltech, ATT.
A trip was arranged to a city 6,000 miles away from Los Angeles with what I thought was initially to sell me the idea of moving to Austria. Every courtesy was extended to show us areas to live, culture to enjoy, and sightseeing tours to wow me in this fairytale land of castles and mountains. That was the easy part. For the test was running both ways, I was surely thrown in at the deep-end of activity at the company, to witness first-hand if this was indeed territory I could see myself in. And also, I guess there has to be some confidence testing that I really was who I said I was, out of the Internet.
So here I was in this Enterprise, engaging with the familiar details of shop floor activity, and relaying some observations and suggestions to that funny look on Christian’s face. I am an awkward person at the best of times, and I kept wondering if I was coming up with ridiculous suggestions or that I was failing some hidden test. “The truth is,” he explained to me, “is that I still cannot believe you are here…” and I corrected him to never say the words cannot believe again. This was something I always checked myself with, if ever I was about to slip up with something like that, I trained myself to instead articulate that I was “amazed” or “proud” of what I’d achieved. So, there was already something I felt he deserved to know about me that at least got me to survive thus far. 17 years without a career. Always claim responsibility for what I sowed. This is the first habitual step in remembering belief in myself.
That was two weeks ago, I realized I was on a mission to recapture the essence of that self-belief again, in order to step up to the challenge of this career. The second step in recovering that belief in myself was the reflections I received from him, he found it strange that I could talk so plainly about technical jargon, and yet, when it came to introducing myself I was shrinking. Pointing this out to me was a serious personal development challenge.
I had been in hiding for so long, I did not own deeply who I was, and now he had pointed it out to me, I battled inside to step up to the Game of Thrones. Friday, we drove to Germany and after a two hour meeting I watched him procure a workshopping session to engage new business with a Global Auto Supplier; Monday I accompanied him again with a Japanese Auto Company; Wednesday, they came from Germany this time; Then finally on Thursday an audit from an aviation connection in France. By now I was growing accustomed to the activity and this particular audit meeting became the hinge pin in my mindset that I needed to feel for myself: I was capable, and I no longer felt like just an observer but had something valuable to contribute.
“This girl,” said the auditor “is newly starting with your company” he lectured to Christian “it will take what, 2 months? Before she understands what she is doing at your company” using me as some example for some kind of inefficiency at my chosen new start-up company. Inside, I felt compelled to look after myself and nip this deflation or diminishment in the bud:
“Actually, I’m very familiar with ISO Quality Documentation, I’ve implemented ISO 9002 SOPs, Risk Assessments, COSHH, and safety improvements in a medical production facility in the past, and I happen to have an advanced composites engineering degree…” the guy from Bonn, stood corrected “Alors!” he shook his hands in admonishment and then followed some acknowledgement to Christian he was in fact, hiring the right people. Over lunch the Aviation Vice President checked out my knowledge with some production hangar photos from one of their advanced composites facilities. And in this event I suddenly realized I had nothing to hide anymore.
17 years ago, I made a mistake in my final extended year pursuing my Masters degree in Engineering. I graduated pregnant, and in the tumultuous suffering of being independant from any parental support, surviving on my own and showing my bump, I missed my Masters degree by 10 points. But that was only the start of my downfall. The baby daddy and I both had the same degree, and he got the job even though I had the higher degree of qualification, because, he was the guy and after-all, and a pregnant woman could surely not work on the shop floor.
I was left to fill in my maternity months with accountancy work and sales engineering right up until the time the baby was due, and it still got worse from there. I had missed the entry point of the career I wanted and missed the degree I was working for for years, to settle for a second best bachelors of engineering upper division honors degree. So, I pretended motherhood was the career. But it was a thankless, abused role I took on, with a baby daddy who accused me of ruining his life. For the C-grade student that he was whom I carried on my team could not hold down the jobs he took on and I was left working from home, sewing hotel drapery and holding the babies by now.
Such is the path of a woman I had been beating my way through thorns to survive. I had put myself through University without debt, by consulting on-the-side with other factories. In my desperation to have something back for myself, I set up a designer retail business only to come home and cook dinner in high heels, whilst I was accused of paying more attention to business than family. And while I was tied to the shop, in those last few violent months he conspired with his parents to take the children away, and kidnapped them from me when they were only 4 and 2 years old. The courts were not in my favor, and after a year of traveling 280 miles from the Isle of Wight to his parental home with numerous incidents of him obstructing my visits and continued violence towards me, the court awarded him full custody.
In my broken state, I had lost all hope of anything, let alone returning to any career. I was a woman who had lost her children by decree of a court system, and felt branded unworthy. The shameful poison I swallowed after being character-shredded in court put me to sleep for years and I lost any belief in myself. To numb myself and try to forget was easier than to explain to anyone how I lost everything and feel the pain.
12 more years went by and I drifted with the currents of opportunity, skirting around the attractive fields of advanced technology, like a sleeping moth story forever missing the moon. For the problem with trying to forget one part of my life, eclipsed everything else. But now the moon moves away from the sun, and in this one opportune moment and shining so brightly I fly to it like the Feng, the Chinese Phoenix born from fire, who flies toward the sun.
The Solar Eclipse happens on my birthday 21st August across the US, and in my state of California. I have never been one to believe in astrology or patterns of fate but this Leo is rising with deathless enthusiasm to fly East and meet her new career one week after her own birthday.
In times of trauma the Feng hides, but when the Feng comes out, it is a great sign of prosperity. Like the Feng I have scanned horizons far and wide during my hacker years learning everything I can, inciting the strategy for my future team.
The Phoenix became the emblem of the Empress of China, embuéd with the character traits of divining opportunity. And I realized the beloved empress traits were the real source of this imaginary creature’s power. For in a man’s world, a woman’s survival comes from her ability to overcome patriarchal walls and boundaries by strategy. Before I can jump off this precipice I must first believe I have the strength to fly. And fly over the walls built around me by scanning as far as possible into the landscape and future, and marking out my goals like the fabled Chinese Phoenix.
It is said sightings of the Feng marks places of gold, and so Christian convened with me through the digital distance and together with us the Phoenix drew up the treasure map, the business plan going into the next coming year. And with his help and taking control of the Phoenix within is how I finally became assured of the belief in myself again.