Work

I was faced today, with a question I think about quite a lot. As usual, it (along with most subjects!!) peaked some emotion… and got me thinking. Got me thinking because the answer I gave, didn’t entirely match with the zillions of thoughts flying around in my head when asked the question (and still now, several hours and distractions later);

Do I miss work?

Yes, is the short answer. But I never do short answers, do I?! I think that would surprise some, given the black hole of a person that I was at the time I finally quit. Given the seemingly careless “life of Riley” I mostly get to lead now (☺️😉😂)!

Yes, I miss work. Despite the nightmares and agony, I was faced with for [almost] a year whilst in my final job pre “retirement”, I still miss it. I had multiple daily panic attacks, I couldn’t think, eat, exercise or function straight. I was constantly terrified, increasingly isolated and always self-punishing, one hideous way or another… one of the final straws saw me collapse – and I am forever grateful to the GP that essentially saved my life and got me out of there as early as he could…

But, I still miss work.

I miss the routine. I miss the fast pace where I seemingly (used to) function at my best (Ok, this came more with Primark than Clarks!!) and the fashion, the retail and the numbers, the analysing and the forecasting and the sense of achievement when you cracked it. I miss the conversations with like-minded adults (even if we ever have kids, I had hoped to return part time). I miss the banter that at one point I had with my colleagues; the brother/sisterly relationship I had with a previous line manager, and I miss that if I needed a hug, one desk away was a so-called “best friend”… I miss being the heart, life and soul of the team {that’s not me being big-headed – far from it, (I don’t have that kind of self-confidence or belief) I was actually told this by my boss… as an almost-but-not-quite 🙄-sandwich style “compliment”; that ended with essentially the statement that my mental health was also now ripping the entire team apart (yeah, I know.. he was never a great people person!). At 25, when I’d joined a team that had been in existence for who-knows-how long, I was the one that brought it together. And at 27/28 when I was crippled with anxiety and depression, I alone “ripped” it apart}.

I miss the confidence I had – the knowledge that I knew what I was doing and that I was good at it. I was once good at my job. I fell into my career knowing I’d love it – and I did. I miss that I was “sparkly” karen. I had independence, a decent salary and didn’t constantly rely heavily on my husband – for everything. For money, for the mortgage, some days just for a conversation, for help to answer questions because I can’t just be asked a straight question anymore without often looking to him when I answer, rather than looking the person who asked straight in the eye (including today’s question). I don’t trust myself still to get the words out that I mean [largely why I write this blog!] without jumbling them up and making little to no sense (which often happens; I confuse myself!) Don’t get me wrong – James doesn’t begrudge me a single thing, he never has and never would, he’s happy I’m happy, and alive, and almost ~ sometimes ~ back to normal.

I miss it – I often wonder, if I could turn back the clock, could I have changed things? Could I have fought harder, persevered? Continued to make myself more and more ill? After all – who knows if the infertility is something I was born with, or due to the 20 odd years of on/off ongoing anorexia, or, simply, due to that one nightmare year when I crumbled into barely even a shell of my former self? And the struggles I still face with that now.

I thought leaving was my choice, finally, after several months of encouragement from my husband, my family, friends, and even my GP, I thought I had finally made my mind up… but just over a year on, I looked back and realised I was bullied out; rumours rife about me started by the most-evil of line managers I was unfortunately dumped with at a critical time, meant no one talked to me. I drove in, alone, often having panic attacks and our-of-body experiences whilst driving, unable for weeks to even walk into the building without her (line manager) walking me. I did what I could manage to focus on, keeping quiet and hidden, and forgotten. And I drove home again, with more panic attacks ensuing. I couldn’t eat at work, I couldn’t/didn’t before work, and I ran through my lunch breaks as well as before/after work.

Could I have remained bleak, despondent and that ill – with the occasional “I like it when you laugh again” comment from my long-suffering husband, who tried so, so hard, and yet those comments were so, so rare, and incredibly devastating to hear – all he wanted – all we all wanted and needed – was the “old” karen back. The one who “shone” and sparkled and who was constantly organising fun and keeping busy. The one who never missed out on trying anything once, who lived hard, because life is all too short.

So yes. I miss work. And I guess I miss it more because it wasn’t, really, entirely my choice to leave. Yes, I was the one that quietly went in as late as possible one day to hand in my notice and accompanying sick note for the notice period (to minimise the amount of people that would be around), wordlessly emptying my draws of personal belongings two nights before, so no-one would know, or suspect or be around; but I was left with no choice – I didn’t have another job to move into, and I still can’t now imagine going through an interview process ever again. I can barely focus enough some days to watch a TV programme that I WANT to watch, or read a book, let alone seriously considering the further studying (in almost literally EVERYTHING) I’d love to do, because I don’t have the concentration span, memory or functionality anymore… my previous employer stripped me of that, and I can’t ever see myself getting it back.

I still miss work, but I also know how incredibly fortunate I am that I could leave – that financially we could remain stable and not *need* my income. There aren’t many people lucky enough to be in that situation, and who have to battle through – and I guess I’m sorry to my family that I didn’t take it up sooner, instead leaving them crushed and completely at a loss as to how to help. Not a day goes by where I don’t feel lazy. Particularly with all the fertility hell – I wonder what on earth I can possibly be here, on this earth for? I don’t work and I’m not a Mother..

Clarks stripped me of my confidence that even the mere thought of a job interview fills me with dread. In the midst of my second breakdown I was attending job interviews left, right and centre but absolutely making myself look like an idiot that had never done the job before – I struggled to understand or answer questions or even think straight. My concentration remains poor at times. My vocabulary regressed and I find myself convinced I am stupid on many days. But, there are glimmers – we’ve shedded the friends-who-aren’t-really-friends, made new ones, and we help and support each other as much as possible.. I never thought we’d see the “old karen” again, but occasionally, I realise.. she’s right here.

💛

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2 thoughts on “Work

    1. Hey you – I was thinking about you just yesterday and how I was going to post you something but it might have been too small! Nearly Christmas card time ☺️ how are you doing? Loving Bryony Gordon!! Xx

      Like

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