Just have to put this out here. Where I’d been accusing my supervisor of not getting back to me with comments, he had prepared comments and MANAGED NOT TO SEND THEM.
I THINK THAT IS WORSE THAN SEEMINGLY IGNORING ME.
This would not be the first time he’s convinced himself he sent an email when in fact he hadn’t. A prime example of that would be when I emailed to say I was going off sick with stress for two weeks and he didn’t respond at all.
So, on top of him not sending his comments on my draft for over 6 weeks, when I finally got to read them tonight, one comment really took the biscuit.
He’d managed to claim that the thing that was my idea was actually his and that he’d told me to do it all along, when in truth, he’d opposed me from the beginning.
It needs a lot of backstory, apologies.
A long time ago, back in my first year of my PhD, I was tasked with making a
fluorophore, sorry, fluorescent protein tagged Bacterial Artificial Chromosome construct. In fact, I was supposed to make two. For those that don’t know, BACs are plasmids on steroids. They can hold something like 300 kilobase pairs (kbp) of DNA, compared to the usual, easy-to-work-with plasmids that hold about 5 kbp at a push. That’s the difference between the architect’s blueprints for a skyscraper and a child’s crayon drawing of a house in genetic information terms.
Now, BACs are a complete and utter pain in the arse to work with and there are no shortcuts. You fuck it up? You start again from the beginning, preparing your BAC DNA prep from scratch. Oh, and by the way, it takes a full week just to prep the DNA.
I wasted the better part of 18 months, trying to get the bastard things to behave, and ultimately had to abandon them at the end of Year Two because I only had another 18 months lab time left, with nothing to show for it so far. That was worryingly behind the curve, even allowing for the general life sciences PhD pattern of nothing in your first year working ever.
While the BACs were making me horribly depressed (nothing like repeated failure to make a perfectionist feel suicidal*), I was also working on making some much, much simpler plasmid constructs. These were also not a simple to make as promised and the bulk of the work took four months, and some constructs I didn’t actually finish until 6 months before the end of my lab work phase. Yay.
I made these plasmids, despite my supervisor’s repeated instructions to focus on the BACs at the expense of everything else. Even when it got the point where I’d been working on them on and off for 18 months, with 18 months left in the lab, he still didn’t want me to quit them.
“Just one more try! Caliope’s managed it and made hers even though it took her over two and a half years. Why can’t you? Go on, just one more shot. Nevermind that you have nothing (seriously nothing) positive to your name at this point.”
That is the bullshit he gave me the entire time.
Imagine my surprise then, when I find a comment in the draft that implied it was his idea that my original goal was to make the plasmids first to inform the construction of the BACs.
Seriously, has he completely forgotten what he said to me in all those pointless meetings where I nodded and smiled and acquiesced to his dictats that I should focus on the BACs and nothing else? Nevermind that without those plasmids I slaved over, I would have nothing to show for my time in the lab? Nevermind that I essentially had to go behind his back and lie through my teeth about what I was doing in the lab because he was so against it?
What the ACTUAL HELL?!!!
I. CAN’T. EVEN.
It’s just astounding. He seems to lack an vital part of the usual memory functions. He re-interprets everything like it was his idea and the whole world revolves around him. Even to the point of stealing others’ stories and telling them like they’re his, IN FRONT OF the person whose story it actually was and who therefore knows he is a lying liar who bullshits? Just, ugh, really? Is that how he sees it?
I was going to write a nice post about him and how our meeting yesterday was actually really helpful and productive. You know, how I came away feeling positive, and like I might have a hope at editing this draft into something resembling a decent thesis chapter.
It reminds me once again, that he is not safe. We might get on occassionally, and things might seem fine and perfectly amicable on the surface. But if you scratch that veneer away, you’ll find that I do not trust him. Not an inch. Which sucks, because every once in a while he’ll do something that gives you the slightest hope that maybe this time he won’t subtly destroy you, and might actually give you the approval and support you need. Give it a day, though, and he’s sure to do something that will really hurt.
So no matter how much you want to trust him and like him, you have to remeber, he is not a safe space.
I don’t have the words to describe how much heartache this fact has caused me.
*Oh, and FYI, not joking about the being depressed and suicidal. I nearly go kicked off the PhD programme all together because my work output in the first year was so abysmal. Nevermind that the reason for that was that I was depressed.
Crying all the time, at my desk, for no-one to NOTICE. (How do you not notice a person crying in an open plan office?) When I wasn’t sleeping at night and so was falling asleep at my desk when I wasn’t crying. When I didn’t come into uni for two weeks because I thought I’d broken a really expensive piece of equipement and was convinced it was the END OF THE WORLD? I had to get Caliope to meet me outside because the thought of walking into the building had me on the verge of panic. When I used to stay out late because returning to the hell that was my roommate situation was so desperate that I was half convinced it would be better to walk the streets all night even though that was to risk getting mugged or raped (actually a serious risk where I lived).
Yeah, basically, not joking.