A Worker’s Withdrawal: Day 1 (October 14, 2010)

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Yesterday was my last day at my full-time job and I am setting about the Herculean task of trying to deprogram myself. If you read this post I wrote late last month, then you are aware of the complete mind fuckery that has had me in a vise-like grip for endless weeks. Six months ago, I accepted a “standard” administrative position at a non-profit, whose human service advocacy work I completely support. A struggling writer needs a paycheck after all, and I calculated that I could work my 8:30 to 5 with plenty of bandwidth left to focus on freelance writing projects.

I had everything right, except the part about “standard” office responsibility and the energy left to focus on my authorial goals. The Boss turned out to be a real piece of mercurial work. Note to self: never accept a position where you are only one of two total employees, and the other holds all the cards. I need not restate the mental abuse I encountered because frankly, I don’t have the energy. Suffice it to say the Miranda character in The Devil Wears Prada would have to get a lot more creative in ways to crush one’s self-esteem while simultaneously squeezing every drop of available talent that $35,000 a year can buy.

But it’s over now. The Boss had a temporary worker sitting in my chair, answering my phone and checking my email account, as I arrived for my last day of work. Of course she didn’t warn me this would happen. That would have taken all the fun out of seeing the look of shocked embarrassment on my face. Is there any clearer visual message that I am disposable and can be replaced? I think that idea had already been driven home when I was told I was being “transitioned” right before The Boss jetted off for a two week African safari, fully expecting that I would stay and hold the place down (maddeningly, she was perfectly right). The Boss preceded to spend the rest of the day conducting phone interviews for my permanent replacement, making sure to tell every candidate what a “big mess” she had on her hands with the last person who filled the role (um, I am right here?). She did not thank me as I traipsed out at 4:30, or even acknowledge that I was leaving. Of course by this point, I know better than to expect courtesy from The Boss, yet a part of me was still hurt once more.

As I biked the 11 miles home from the office, feeling every bit the used up, sacked loser, I told myself mentally that I had to find a way out of this Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. I had spent six months working through lunches, coming in early, staying late and answering emails on the weekends. I had done a terrific job and I knew it. I received several calls from appalled board members yesterday, asking what The Boss was thinking (your guess is as good as mine friends) and wishing me well in the next phase of my life. I am a wife, a sister, an aunt, a friend, and dammit yes, a writer. Was I really going to let The Boss make me forget that? Was I going to give her the satisfaction of making me feel like an abject failure?

Apparently, the answer was a resounding “yes”, because there I was later that night, sobbing, feeling lost, asking my husband Eddie why he even stays with a no-income waste of space such as myself. What after all, is the difference between me and my mentally ill father, who has always struggled to hold down regular employment and never appears to have a direction? Most of my life, I have been Miss Overachiever, but here I am at age 32 staring down the barrel of malfunction and obscurity. This was not supposed to happen to me.

A now former colleague of mine warned me that I would get over the depression and find my way back to anger, where I was a couple weeks ago while The Boss was in-flight somewhere over Tanzania. I hope that stage of grief arrives sooner rather than later. I know that beating myself up is the height of counterproductivity, but I can’t seem to shake the temptation at the moment.

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