The Atomic Bomb.

This is Part II in my little I Got Fired + Swearwords story. Here is Part I.

Quick catchup: We left off when my supervisor and the company owner had just handed me my the proverbial pink slip.

Between hyperventilating breaths, I told my bosses that I couldn’t believe they were firing me because I’d been on medical leave. Amid a hurried exchange of glances, both of them quickly claimed it had nothing to do with my leave of absence. Nothing. They shook their heads determinedly, like two kindergarteners lying to the teacher about eating paste.

Of course, I think they are full of shit. And I am pretty certain that my facial expression at the time let on just as much. But I also knew there was no point in arguing. They’d certainly rehearsed what they’d planned to say to me if I questioned them anyway. There was no point in standing my ground.

Mostly, I just didn’t have that vitality left in me. I was depleted of any energy I had mustered for the day, like a burnt out light bulb hanging in the room, completely useless. Here I was, experiencing a collaborated effort to squash me run its course successfully. My soul felt crushed, and the somber cloak of dejection wrapped itself around my hunched shoulders. I knew depression was present. I’d never felt it come on so rapidly, so surely. It owned me.

In a room that was now so unwelcoming to me, so uncertain, depression felt so safe. Depression understood. It was there for me, and it was all I could rely on. In the preceding moments, I’d so swiftly been taught that I couldn’t rely on my bosses treating me with compassion. I couldn’t rely on a tacit respect of the law or even of human decency. None of that was within my grasp. I let depression stroke my head and tell me everything would be okay. I could rely on its presence.

The two men left the room, awkwardly aware that there was nothing left to say, and closed the door behind me. And I sat there, feeling like a fool. How had this happened?

Immediately after everything went down, I realized how painfully obvious it all should have been to me in the days leading up to doomsday. There we so many God damn signs: My boss was keeping me at arm’s length. No one from the management team contacted me to ask how I was doing. The email responses leading up to my final day were more and more uncertain. For once, my anxiety disorders were right. Why hadn’t I just quit while the ball was still in my court? How could I have been so stupid?

We all routinely look at signs and overreact, don’t we? Especially the anxious. I don’t know how many times I’ve tried to tell myself not to jump to conclusions. Hundreds of times any given worst case scenario that I so often felt so strongly was imminent had never even happened, in the end. Like a teenager who drives like a daredevil, I began to feel immune to anything bad actually happening to me. It was always just in my head.

My headspace has never been a safe haven. Although tragedy never really struck, so many impending situations played out so catastrophically in my mind over the years that it almost didn’t matter whether something bad actually happened to me. I still go through the trauma all the time. If I were to meet someone at a bar, for instance, I’d still go through the very real experience of my friend not showing up, strangers turning and laughing at me, telling me to leave, that I didn’t belong. I’d experience it all while I sat waiting in my car, twenty minutes before I was due to walk through the doors. That’s kind of what anxiety is. It’s a bad reaction to an experience that isn’t even happening.

And so, I grew to experience that worst case scenario, but never have to live with the actual consequences. But now I know that living in the reality after the bomb goes off is just so much harder than I ever thought it could be. I’m left picking up shards of my life without a plan. I don’t know how to deal with this. What do you do when the nightmare comes true?

Pictured: The outcome to every situation I’ve contemplated, ever.

The thing is, looking at perceived signs and overreacting is an anxiety- and depression-prisoner’s worst downfall. In therapy, one of my monster challenges was rewiring my brain to essentially not jump to a horrifying ending every time a difficult situation arose. While that is a positive thing that I still know I need to work on, and still believe in, it really didn’t help things this time around. It kind of worked against me.

I spent so much time over the past couple of months reassuring myself that the disastrous consequences I’d invented in my mind were not real possibilities. That they couldn’t possibly come to pass. I mean it when I say that I did not, for one minute, believe that I could lose my job after taking medical leave. I’d just worked far too hard training myself to be rational about it. And it left me completely unprepared for this. I’ve found myself suddenly climbing Everest wearing a pair of Chucks.

I can’t help but feel angry with myself for not listening to anxiety back at the end of September. It was telling me all of the right things, trying to protect me, and direct me toward the safest pathway. But I didn’t listen. Now I’m left doubting my ability to read the signs and act appropriately. I’ve realized that I don’t know anything.

So the last couple of weeks have been hard. Really, really hard.

A real live actual worst case scenario is so hard to deal with, because it crosses over into your physical experience. It’s so much more than simply contemplating an outcome and living it in your mind. Simply put, not only do I have to deal with the emotional issues, but now I have to deal with the physical ones. I don’t feel capable of showering, let alone accomplishing anything that would make any normal human stressed. I need to do scary things like job hunt, to appear intelligent, groomed and put-together, and capable of doing the professional job I am trained to do. And I need to accomplish small things. Today, I burst into tears while I waited in line at the post office to buy a single stamp. I’m failing badly so far.

For me, this stuff feels insurmountable.

I know it’s not healthy, but I hold so much resentment toward my ex-boss right now. Let’s face it; I have zero control over my thoughts these days. Usually, I try to take responsibility for my emotions. But I just don’t feel like I brought this on this time. I was good at my job, and acted reasonably in an effort to mend myself. I didn’t fire myself. It was all him. The humiliation and indignity he’s caused me… it just hurts so badly. I relive the meeting every single day. I can see my supervisor, eyes downcast, and hear him say “we are terminating your employment” all of the time.

Every time I go out of the house, I feel terrified that I will see him or someone from the office. I’m frightened about my future, and how I might react if things start to get intense for me again at another job. I was trusting and was so wrong once, so how can I be sure that it won’t happen again? I can’t fathom taking risks anymore.

I want to live in a different city, in a different country, and I never want to have a boss ever again. Depression and anxiety are ruling over me right now.

I just want to disappear.

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14 thoughts on “The Atomic Bomb.”

  1. They’ve put you in such a horrible position, I really hope you manage to pull yourself up from this. On a side note, your writing is stunningly good and I was captivated throughout the whole post ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Darling girl, you know you can’t disappear, so own it. Make a point to leave the house at least once every day. Make a mental note this is your “job” right now, and it’s an accomplishment. Go out to get the mail, Go out just to look at the sky. Go to a park, you’ve accomplished something just by getting there. Of course you will get over it. Remind yourself this is painful, very uncomfortable, but it will pass. Pay attention to where you feel safe.
    Like every trauma, over time – actually it will begin on week 4- pay attention to any period you aren’t thinking about it. Trauma and crisis are worst the first 6 weeks. Mark it on the calender. You will see you’re starting to have more and more longer periods where you actually forget for a few minutes.
    Go to ERX website and begin taking the class: The Science of Happiness
    A free course that will be helpful and give you some structure- us humans do better with structure.
    Pick a usual work time, get up, showered, made up, and dress for work. After that sit down and spend 30 minutes on the course. Thats alot to accomplish even if you just do the shower and dress part and go back to bed.
    And PS, what did the labor attorney say?

    Liked by 3 people

  3. ok…maybe we can meet halfway here (regarding other comments). Taking ownership and responsibility are key. You likely feel shitty enough already. I have been going through the same process and your words hit very close to home. Kudos to you for taking the first steps and talking about it with others. You may not believe it now, but these are significant steps and i know you cannot do everything at once. Baby steps and work at congratulating yourself for those initial successes. Keep us posted.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. My heart is plummeting as I read this; I had a similar issue (many years ago) involving a massive breakdown and leave of absence from work. I won’t go into details, this isn’t about my story, but I will say that I was able to find new tools to deal with a lifelong struggle, and I made it through. The fact that you are writing and talking about your feelings and experiences, so openly, sets you on a path to healing from this. You were treated horribly and I seriously wish I could go and kick both the supervisor’s and then CEO’s asses; they clearly know that they did a really fucked up and unethical thing. But now, all that matters is you. Please be kind to yourself, reach out, stay connected to anyone or anything that gives you strength and solace, and you will find your way out of this. I am new to reading your blog, but I already know that you are a strong, insightful and immensely talented woman.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you so much. It means a lot to me. And it’s not just about my story – anyone who ever wishes to share their experiences in the comments is always welcome to do so!

      Writing is certainly an outlet for me. I start out with my topic and find my way into true meaning and understanding where my seemingly sudden feelings are coming from. It’s so therapeutic. Everyone should write!! Even privately!

      Liked by 2 people

  5. “My headspace has never been a safe haven. Although tragedy never really struck, so many impending situations played out so catastrophically in my mind over the years that it almost didn’t matter whether something bad actually happened to me.”

    Same. I rarely feel like I can trust myself. People will say that I should just use my intuition and I laugh because my intuition tells me that I need to buy a bomb shelter and live underground for the rest of my life.

    I have a hard time with decisions that affect not just me but my family. If I walk out on this job will my family go homeless? Straight to homeless. Nothing in between. It’s frustrating to not be able to listen to myself in these situations. Should I apply for this job? But what if I just have another abusive boss and I have to leave in 6 months and I can’t find a job and then I slowly go crazy and die?

    Sigh. How do we unlearn the catastrophizing but learn to see warning signs? Yesterday I spoke with our organization’s lawyer about my job. For a year I’ve been bouncing around between tasks and responsibilities and the last six months I’ve had nothing to do. I am terrified that in our org’s current climate of not renewing people’s one-year contracts that come May I’m going to be out the door, not because I haven’t done a good job but because no one took the time to figure out what to do with me.

    I explained that I had approached my boss twice and was told not to worry about it and that I approached my boss’s boss about it, and she keeps telling me to give her a few more weeks. He asked me if I got the sense that people don’t want me around. When I talked to my boss, did I get the sense that he was trying to put it all off in hopes that I would just leave on my own? I said that my boss and I don’t have a good relationship so I’m sure he’d be happy if I left but I didn’t get that same feeling from his boss.

    Since that conversation I’ve been mulling it over. And over and over and over…do they want me gone? Are they just playing me the way they did the person who hired me for this position? Would people like to see me gone?

    This all lead to who wants to see me gone? What have I done to them? What gives them the right to see me go when I’m the only one who has stood up to an abusive boss?

    It’s out of hand thinking. It’s wrong thinking. It’s hurtful thinking. I’m trying to quiet all those voices down to try to see clearly. I think I am seeing clearly now but I cling to the clarity because the anxious voice can be very loud and persistent. And I hate it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I know exactly how you feel – I swear we are twins. First off, don’t rely on what should be fair or right. If there is one thing that I’ve learned to be true in the business world, it’s that adherence to that is rare. I think you do need to pay attention the the signs when you’re in your situation. I wish I had. Not the crazy stuff – “omg that woman looked at my funny and she hates me and probably tells the boss I am a horrible worker and I’m getting fired today!”. That’s the crazy. Hush. But the legitimate stuff? We can’t go through life assuming everything is rainbows either. We have to strike a balance. Which is hard for people like you and me!

      Try to step back. Think of your life as a movie. Be honest about it and think to yourself “if I were watching myself in this movie, what would I be urging my character to do?!” Maybe that can give you some perspective.

      If you feel that your gut reaction is “they’d like to see me gone,” then maybe that is a good clue. But if you’re coming to that conclusion based on something that seems “crazy”, keep that in mind too.

      SEE? SO SIMPLE. 😐


  6. I’ve said this one – maybe in your comments, maybe in someone else’s, probably my own – anxiety is such a BITCH. My brain is wired to imagine worst case scenario.. every. damn. time. It’s getting better and I think its because I’ve given my brain an outlet in reading and writing. It helps and I’m so glad you continue to tell your story.

    Also, how shitty of your bosses to put you in a position like that. They knew what they were doing. I don’t know you, but I do know this – you are worth so much more than that. I am so so proud of the little things you do. As someone who has battled anxiety, I get it. I talk myself out of doing things and going places because my brain can only conjure up the worst case scenario. I sit in my car before meeting someone or going into an interview thinking up every possible way the meeting can go. I think everyone everyone me is looking at me, laughing at me, or talking about me. I know that 99.9% of the time, they aren’t, but that .01% chance that they could be is right there in the forefront of my brain. I get it.

    I also know you, like me, are so much stronger than anxiety. We may not see it, realize it, or acknowledge it, but we have it in us. YOU have it in you. Writing has helped me. Talking about it helps too. Another thing I’ve been doing is just doing it – whatever it is – just do it. Usually anxiety is wrong.. USUALLY. But always, always, always listen to your heart. Keep being you. That’s the most important thing about this whole situation.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It can’t be said too many times, anxiety is a bitch!! Lol

      I’m totally with you I feel like we probably share a lot of the same brain 😉 I’m definitely finding that reading, writing, and talking about it really really helps. Mostly I just don’t feel like I’m a crazy person;)

      Liked by 1 person

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