I’m Back.

I keep making promises that I cannot keep – and I apologize for that. I keep saying I’m “so busy but I’ll write soon!” but then I just don’t. My advice is not to have any real expectations when it comes to me and my writing. Sometimes I will write, sometimes I will not.

Pardon my mental illness, but it’s all part of it.

I’m overwhelmed with life. There’s nothing more I can say than that.

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This is how I nap: beautifully: topless with my hair strewn gracefully across the pillow on my clean, crisp white sheets, a faint smile on my lips….

When I started my blog, I was on sick leave. I had nothing but time on my hands, and reflection was a big part of my healing. Writing helped that.

Now, I do have enough time to write. I still spend a lot of time napping, watching hours of Netflix and make terrible television program choices, and I read a lot, and I bet I spend more time than anything scrolling through Pinterest, not looking for anything in particular. Not even pinning anything. Just kind of looking at things.

My point is that I have not added anything significant to my life aside from a regular old 9-5 job, which we all have, and which I have had in the past as well without incident.

But after the humiliation I experienced this fall (I can’t believe it was like 6 months ago now…), life has changed a lot for me. I feel like talking about it today because I am home sick, but I am actually well enough to sit up and feel boredom.

You can tell you’re really sick when feelings of boredom don’t arise. You can tell when you’re (hopefully) getting better when you are bored.

I have technically – on paper – put my old job behind me. I made my arguments and made my peace as far as anyone on the outside is concerned, but things have not settled for me in my mind.

It’s something I’m working on ignoring. Not in an unhealthy “swallow it all down and deny” kind of way. Just in a “these feelings will pass, don’t focus on them, don’t think about last year’s incidents constantly” kind of way.

But it is still very present in my mind, and therefore, in my life.

I have some severe scars following my dismissal from my job (read about it here if you have no clue what I’m talking about). The very short version: I was on medical leave for 6 weeks for my anxiety and depression, and on what I was told would be my first day back at work, I was fired instead. This multiplied my anxiety and depression in ways I’d never experienced, but I did find the courage to hire a lawyer, settle out of court, and move on.

The scars have two main branches, I’ve noticed. One involves my new work persona. The other involves being in public.

Don’t Talk To Me

I’ve been at my new job for almost three months now, and despite a couple of very unfortunately-timed bouts of illness (it is nerve-racking to have to call in sick when you’ve only been there a month; aka PLEASEDON’TFIREME), things are going well there. The job is a breeze so far, the people are nice, and my boss is really great too. There’s nothing I can complain about – so why am I so unhappy with it?

I go to work, do my work, actually take my lunch break, and then clock out at precisely 4:00 and head home. I used to work through every single lunch hour, and I never left when I was scheduled to be. There used to be (and still is, I hear) a dust cloud of gossip and stories hovering in the office at all times – I can’t recall a day I went in and didn’t hear some story about someone. Now? I really haven’t even overheard anything. People exchange recipes, ask about vacations, and update one another on their spouses’ medical issues. People certainly aren’t gossiping about me (although right now? I’ve been away sick for more than a week so they may be wondering if I have Ebola or something).

I’ve noticed, though, that I am reserved. I am not funny at work anymore. I am not trying to make friends, and I don’t start conversations. If a few people are sitting in the lunch room, I quickly go in, get my food, and hurry back to my cubical to eat alone. I never ask my group about their home lives or families. I never go out of my way to compliment anyone. I smile when I enter a room, but I don’t say anything or make eye contact. When group events arise, I opt out.

I don’t want to make friends when I don’t actually have control over whether I will ever see them again. I lost nearly everyone (except Work BFF) at my old job – poof, gone. No one reached out, myself included. I know they must know I was fired, and they’re not going to compromise their own jobs by befriending an employee who was fired.

I have thought about connecting with a few of them, but I can’t handle the potential for being ignored. Being ghosted. Being rejected. And now, so much time has passed that it would just be straight up weird to contact someone.

Those people, who I felt were my family, are just lost now. Just a memory. I am trying to come to grips with that, and I am discovering that I am certainly not cultivating friendships at work the way I used to, in all of my past working career.

Now, my job is just a place where I work.

Don’t Look At Me

I now work in the same downtown district as my old work’s offices. We are only about two blocks away from one another. Every time I am near their offices, I can’t ignore the heavy feeling that there is an invisible dome surrounding it that signifies it is Their territory. Not mine.

Now, this is our busy downtown core – the business district, the shopping district, the tourist district. It is an area that belongs not only to this city, but to everyone.

But not me. I walk swiftly, hunched, eyes darting from side to side, head down, just trying to get to my destination as quickly as possible without being seen. I feel like someone in exile, someone who isn’t allowed to be there, and that I’m doing something wrong or dangerous. Like the police could arrest me at any moment and humiliate me for thinking I had any right to come anywhere near this area of downtown. I don’t belong here, it’s Their territory.

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All I see is Them. Somewhere, probably. 

Every time I enter an downtown establishment, I search the room – not for my companion, but for Them. Are They here already? Had They had the same idea for lunch today? Is that Them, also here for the movie? Are They also picking up bread at this bakery?

A couple of times, I’ve met up with Work BFF for a coffee or to drop something off. She knows the drill now – I can’t come onto Their property. I can’t meet at a Starbucks on the same block. We have to meet at a spot well out of Their Zone. She asks me where I’d like to meet, and makes sure “it’s okay” with me before we meet up. She knows I can’t be seen, and I love her for understanding.

One time, as we were walking to a coffee house, we saw Them walking ahead of us about a block ahead. I felt like the blood had drained from my body and couldn’t figure out what to do. I stopped momentarily, my eyes wild, and Work BFF calmly told me it was okay, and that we could still go. That They weren’t going to the same shop as we were.

In my mind, I couldn’t take that chance. I wanted to call the whole thing off – not go for coffee after all. It was freezing cold out, but I thought perhaps we should take off in a different direction, add 10 minutes to our walk, and go to a Blenz in a totally opposite direction. BFF gets me, but she also knows how to handle me. She didn’t give me a hard time as we kept our distance, ensured one full block separated us from Them, and let me be sure they were indeed headed into a different shop.

As we sat and drank our coffees, I ensured I could see the entrance to the coffeehouse so I could monitor each person who entered, always watching for Them.

“They don’t ever go to Starbucks – don’t worry. I promise,” Work BFF told me, and she was right. After a while I did see Them – they passed by, just on their way back to their office.

Disaster averted. But panic attack, although low-grade, not averted. It has the best of me. And it’s constant.

What would happen if I ran face to face into Them? Would I die? Would I be injured? Would everyone stop, stare, and listen intently as He yelled at me, telling me what a horrible employee he thought I was? Would everyone agree? Would He shove me aside? Would He give me a dirty look? Would He stare at me? Would He nudge his friend, point, and whisper something about me?

No, probably not.

In fact, he’s a pussy and would likely pretend he didn’t see me, leave if possible, or just get his shit and leave.

But I react as those all those things are possible. I still can’t face Him. Not after what he did to me. What he took from me – what I’ve given up, what I’ve lost, what’s changed.

I am missing a large part of my confidence, my sense of belonging, and my sense of security. I haven’t taught myself how to regain any of that yet.

I am not whole. Despite things turning out in my best interest, all things considered, I still feel like I am the loser in the game I played with Them.

It’s really, really hard.

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8 thoughts on “I’m Back.”

  1. So my situation is different, I kinda knew I was going to be made redundant at some point and if you work in a really profit focussed corporate job thats the breaks. But when it happened a little over a month ago, even in the week after, whilst we got the settlement sorted all of those work colleagues… Well they went quiet, it’s almost as if you’re contagious. You’re going to be okay. Forgive yourself and when you’re back in, reach out and start to form relationships again. (I’m sure it will help not just you “enjoy” your job more but also it will help you too feel better and bring more of your self. Good luck x

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Man, that sucks. Advice I would give you but not take myself because we have similar anxieties: Go be on their turf and enjoy the heck out of your life. Unless your settlement says you can’t be in certain feet of certain people, be front and center and show them that you are moving on and that things are better (clocking out on time… taking lunch… meeting a friend who still works there…). Safe revenge.

    Are you happy in the new job? Do you want to make friends there or feel connected? This is where I’m struggling, and was actually going to write about today. My former co-workers are not initiating conversations or lunch dates with me, I am doing all of it. They show up, they’re happy to see me but unless I’m the one actually doing the connecting nothing happens. In my new job I can go days without anyone speaking to me and I hate it. I hate it so much. My boss doesn’t talk to me unless forced to – usually at our weekly 1-on-1 meetings or if I go to her to ask a question. Since we’re an office of two full time staff you’d think she’d communicate more.

    In other words, don’t be miserable unless you have to be. I keep reminding myself that we can’t dress rehearse tragedy. Maybe you will be in this job until you retire. Maybe you won’t but until it actually happens you have to live.

    Okay that’s the end of all the advice I won’t listen to if I gave to myself. LOL

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Omg it’s so funny that you wrote this “advice I won’t listen to if I gave it to myself” because I am actually drafting a post on that exact subject now! I feel like you are my twin – I totally know what you mean when it’s you doing all the work in initiating meet ups with ex-coworkers. I do text my old Work BFF all the time, but I do think that every time we’ve met up or even talked about meeting up, it’s been because I brought it up. It’s a sucky feeling:(

      I don’t know if I’m happy at my new job yet. I’m a professional who’s capable of a lotttt more than I’m currently tasked with, because I’ve only been there a couple months. I haven’t slid into what the job will actually be (i.e. getting all my own files etc etc) so it’s too early to tell if I love it enough yet. But I think on the “friendship” front, I just feel kind of deadened. I sort of pity myself objectively, but while I’m there, I’m not overly bothered by not being social. I’m still doing what I WANT to be doing in any given moment. I guess i WANT to be lonesome at work now, to me that’s sad. I love having work friends… at least I used to.

      My advice to YOU (which I won’t take) is to just keep spending time with the ex co-workers who do meet up with you, but if after more time passes and they really never do initiate anything, you can make the decision as to whether there’s any point and if you actually enjoy friendships where you focus on the one-sidedness of them.

      I guess it’s all about how we perceive stuff, huh.

      Did I ramble too much there? Hope part of that made sense 😉

      PS I will try to enjoy myself on “their” block… but that’s very, very hard for me to do. Something I’m always working on though 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’ve been away from WordPress for awhile because of some downward cycling in my depression. We are twins lol

        I did stop the asking. I just got tired of it. Lots has gone down and right now I don’t have time to play friend politics. Maybe after the dust has settled I can revisit but right now it’s on their shoulders.

        Keep working on you. (To myself: keeping working on you!) You didn’t do anything wrong and it’s a free country to be enjoyed by all. I’ve missed reading your posts – I’ve been over here not enjoying my pity party.

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  3. Okay, so first off — incredibly well-written post! Second — SO relatable. I haven’t had very many grown-up jobs, but when I have, I go in so excited, and it’s great until all of the sudden, the bubble bursts. Especially in my first and only office job (which is my most recent). The gossip and immature behaviour was insaaaane in this group of mostly middle-aged (and older) colleagues.

    I drove in trying to be fun & friendly with everyone and I hit a point a few months in where I realized how disingenuine most of them were being. Ended up giving up on trying to be anything more than colleagues with most of them, which really brought me down at work. I lost respect for most of my colleagues and higher-ups and stopped trying to put it extra work.

    I think that some of my own baggage played into it, but I also think that there’s this healthy balance (at least my mom and therapist keep telling me so) where you’re friendly with colleagues and working hard, but also not over-invested in a way that’s one-sided.

    And, as much as it’s hard to do and I would struggle with it, I think that Upon Being Healthy has the right idea — if anything, they should be avoiding you, not the other way around. They were in the wrong — your boss & supervisor for firing you and your former coworkers for dropping you — you did nothing wrong. It helps me sometimes to have a retort ready if I know I might be in an uncomfortable situation. Like if they ask why you left or where you are now or how you’re doing, it sometimes helps me to rehearse what my response would be. That way I feel more prepared and in control.

    Wow, that sure got long quickly. Sorry about that. Best of luck!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Hey Maddi!

    Thanks for your kind words:)

    I know how you feel (obviously). It’s funny, when I got out of highschool, I thought the work world would be this great mature world where there were no more cliques and gossip etc. That wasn’t true. Then I got a “grownup job”/career after university – I thought that NOW I’d definitely be joining that mature work force I’d envisioned.

    Wrong again!! Not only is petty gossip still present, but now I’m at jobs where it can be devastating if you’re on the wrong side. You’re in a job you care about, you have responsibilities, there are consequences. Ridiculous how the highschool mentality never goes away.

    You’re totally right about striking that balance though. I’m trying to keep my relationships less intense now. As nice as it is to work with your best friends, workplaces can shift very quickly and it’s hard when your friends need to support the employer, even out of necessity 😒😒😒

    Liked by 1 person

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