I’ve noticed that with this job there are horribly stressful time periods. And then, with no warning, it turns a corner for an unknown period of time, anywhere from an hour to a spate of a few days, where the work feels somewhat manageable. It is during these moments that I start to question my desire to leave this job, and I tell myself, “I can do this. It’s not so bad.” Inevitably, bad times come, the kind that keep me up at night or wake me up from a fitful sleep. Or, have me working until 3:24 a.m. with a full day of work ahead starting at 8 a.m. And no one cares you’ve only had 3 hours of sleep, except for your wife.
I like peace and routine, the peace of not changing jobs, and the routine of knowing how to do a job. As a trauma survivor I crave these elements, and when I have these elusive moments in my current job they lull me into a feeling of “it’s really not that bad.” Earlier this summer I spoke with a friend of mine who described a similar experience she has with her job, that it’s like we get to these periods of relative peace that make the job tolerable. For me, it’s hard to discern when something is truly bad, or if I am having trauma responses not based on what’s going on in the present day. It is so hard to know what reality is. I know my feelings are real. But, what is the reality of the situation around me? I know it’s a matter of time before some new work drama has me contemplating quitting altogether. For all I know it could bite me in the face first thing tomorrow morning, such is life in this vocation.
For now though, I had a weekend where I did not work and did not feel bad or guilty for not opening my work laptop. I sat around the apartment with my wife, and was present and happy. We ate at the same Chinese restaurant twice because we liked it so much, and I would love to have every weekend not be a recovery from a wretched week.
It was lovely to have a trigger free weekend. I would love to have more of these. I know it’s not a trigger free world, but it was a nice change not to have any. I know the challenge for me is handling those inevitable triggers that come my way.
One of my greatest joys is a job well done, even something as simple as a needed email or inputting a transaction correctly. I recently realized this is likely because growing up I could rarely, if ever, please my parents.
Today I am in a job that I love in a company that severely understaffs my department because we don’t produce revenue. Alas, they forget the fact that we are a large part of risk management. On top of working too many hours, I have two cases that are particularly triggering for me right now. They are reminders of past trauma. I am holding onto the cliff edge with one finger in this situation, so it seems. It has taken me a while to admit I need to look for another job. I like the job I have, but I have to finally admit it is not going to get any better. In fact, the understaffing situation is full of risk because there is a greater chance that something important will be accidentally overlooked. Oh wait, that already happened.
I have cried from the stress more days than not this past week. I am left with this feeling of abject hopelessness. Over and over again I go back to this fear of homelessness and joblessness. I’ll be wiping down a counter at home, and just suddenly burst into tears. This fear takes residence within me, and intermittently goes dormant and then springs to life.
I want to contribute meaningfully at a job in which success is possible. Success is not currently possible in my current situation, and though I work with lovely folks that does not change the impossible workload.
My life feels like it has become truncated. I need to find a way to feel hopeful again.
Tonight I feel alone on an island with no connection to any human. I am in a tunnel that is growing narrower and narrower. The view is nil and the ride is solo. My body feels broken from the inevitable tension throughout. My breath feels caught in my throat, and my mouth goes dry. There seems to be no place for relief.
Then I remembered my friend, with whom I watched Parks and Recreation episodes when we both got freaked out and anxious, reached out to me this week. I have a tendency to forget I have friends. Sometimes, I have to make myself sit and write down names of my friends to remind myself I do indeed have friends. Even so, I still forget! I emailed my dear friend and fellow Parks and Recreation fan a bit ago to say I needed to reach out because I was feeling alone in the world. And, even in the midst of her own difficulties, she emailed back to say she was thinking of me. I cried just reading her succinct email back to me. So short, yet so everything to me in that moment. She wanted me to know she was thinking of me, of us, all of us. Sometimes that’s all you need to get through the night.