Humiliated At Work

Dear Brooke;
I love you and I love that you have the guts to do the Stop OverEating and Stop OverDrinking courses. I’ve been working for years on my self-esteem, which was not great. I was hypnotizing myself into believing what criticisms I heard, although I got a tremendous amount of praise for accomplishment too. I have always known that perfectionists are making an excuse to not turn in work, and it isn’t “high standards”, but another name for self-loathing.
I do a really great job at work. I do. And, like every human, sometimes I make mistakes. I have tried all my life to learn to not beat myself up, to be aware of my value, and how I don’t have to earn love and the right to respect myself.

My boss did something a few weeks ago that has been so hard for me to work around. She took a small error I made (and believe me when I say I am the FIRST to admit mistakes and feel bad about it) and went into a fit over it. She called a special meeting to rave at me and tell me that I was just ‘forbidden’ to ever, ever, ever do that again! (It was a typo). I was so shocked at the inappropriateness I had a hard time even believing she was serious.
But she kept on with it, and she made something my fault that wasn’t my fault. Then she got mad again and was acting like I burned the place down. I did not even make a mistake that time, it was just her wish to be fault-finding.

Then, again, she made a point of sending out a memo that we all were not to make this particular mistake, and that it was incredibly important (bolded and underlined) to not ever make this mistake! OK, OK, I get it, I heard you.

I have been gifted with some awareness with this experience – I’m not as healed as I thought I was.
I have been nervous and jumpy and having trouble sleeping, and a very hard time working. This is just proof that managers should not slam their employees and especially not needlessly. I am a valued and valuable employee, and have been for 10 years. However, she has shown how she can hound and harass me into misery. I’ve wondered why in the world she would be so cruel, but she just thinks she is being a “stickler for quality”. This is exactly the type of thing that I thought I had learned my way out of.
I know it is her business how she behaves, not mine. I know she is not the one who tells me what I’m worth. I know she is troubled, and many people steer clear of her for just these type of reasons.
I drew a boundary last week and asked her to stop speaking to me in a condescending tone. (Her emails were littered with “You may not(bolded font and underlined)… ” and “You must not (bolded and underlined) do….” I feel like a fool for getting my feelings hurt.) After 10 years of doing a great job, I know going to HR would be an unpleasant trip because I would feel like a whiny child. That’s what I would tell someone else to do though. The problem is that I did make a mistake! But her response is completely over the top. I realize that I’m actually demanding that she be different than she is, and that she behave in the way I want her to. Of course that doesn’t work!
It has just been disappointing to feel so crushed by unfair criticism after all the self-esteem work I’ve done. I thought I was tougher than that. Could you comment on my Models?
C: Boss complained and chastised me several times about a mistake.
T: This is humiliating, and she shouldn’t be allowed to do this
F: Hurt , embarrassed, angry
A: Withdraw, be nervous about work, spend all my own time writing models and crying
R: Being miserable and not doing great work either
What I would like instead
C: Boss criticized me over a mistake.
T: I know I do a good job. I know she is overblowing this so there must be something about this that makes it especially important to her.
F: Slightly guilty (except nobody is perfect!)
A: Let her blow her pipes out, apologize once.
R: Continue to be cautious at work.