A Moment of Peace

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.

Today’s struggle to be in the world

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.

Life on life’s terms

My life has changed tremendously since I last blogged. I married my lovely wife in May, and I’ve moved to a different part of the country so that we can live together. The hardest part has been quitting a job, a job I loved, that was in a toxic place. So here I sit in Starbucks in a new city with no job. Of my own accord I quit my job to be with my wife. It’s wonderful sharing daily life with her, rather than one of us getting on an airplane every month, sometimes twice a month, to be together.

Though it is stunning to voluntarily place myself among the unemployed. I didn’t plan it this way. I’ve been actively applying for jobs since May, yet this is where I am. It’s rather humbling, and scary. For many years, my identity was wrapped up in my career. I stayed at terrible places for a multitude of reasons: too scared to leave, cared too much about my cases or people I worked with, resignation that nothing out there was better, etc. It was sobering to realize that my place of employment was not worth the suffering.

Even with the disastrous workplace that it was, it was still hard to leave. In any work environment, there are always good people to be found. I will miss the gals I worked with, and the accidental mentors that materialized for me.

Who knows what comes next for me. It could be something completely different. I’ll try to be open to it, and not let my trauma history take over my actions and mind-set. Sending out a prayer to the universe that work will come my way when my bank account needs it.