It was bound to happen eventually. Of course I knew that; working is what I do and it’s a huge part of my identity. It was the next step in my recovery and I was keen to get this show on the road.
I started back in the workforce after a 4 months break, which I might add, is the longest time I’ve ever had off work (even when I had my child). During these 4 months of forced leave, I spent a great deal of time crying, rocking and staring at the wall. To clarify, when I say “forced” I mean that my ego was being held against it’s will, as my mind, body and soul were in desperate need some respite. The sheer panic that reigned every time I thought about my previous work place had me too distressed to leave the front door some days. I was too debilitated to think clearly, let alone work. My ego had taken a massive beating and had now found itself very bruised and damaged, cast aside in the corner of the room. Cold and quivering.
It was one of the darkest times in my life, but I had been working really hard to get myself well enough to return to the working world. I knew that I needed time to recover, but I also knew there was a fine line between taking a break and getting stuck in a rut. The last thing I needed was for me to lose my momentum completely and all my confidence along with it. Although I probably wasn’t truly ready, I needed to get back on the horse and face the working world once again.
Being very cautious and with much trepidation, I carefully screened my potential employers to ensure they were a good fit for me in my fragile state. My job hunting was no longer about high power roles and large salaries. I needed to change my search criteria to close to home and comfort zone. That’s the only sort of job I could fathom at this point and that was okay. But then it wasn’t at the same time.
The sensible part of me knew that I needed to stick to a nice, safe option for my first job post-breakdown. I needed something that I could do with my eyes closed, because the rest of me would be working hard to hold myself together. Especially if I got a bit stressed out or if something triggered my anxiety to start spiralling. Another thing I decided was that the role would need to have minimal people management; I did not want to deal with other people’s issues and weaknesses as well as my own right now. Safe and sensible; like a pair of beige, flat, orthotic old lady shoes.
Yup…..that’s my new career move *exacerbated sigh*.
The job I ended up taking was basically the role I was going about 5 years ago, in an industry I knew very little about and certainly was not passionate about. However, the hours were good, it was easy to get to, had some international travel and I could pick my own hours. Since my main objective in this new “recovery” role, was to remain employed and not put too much pressure on myself, it was actually perfect. Sure, the money wasn’t as good, but I wasn’t being expected to push myself to the limits of sanity either. My weekends were my own and I was actually able to clock off at finishing time. I was one of the regular people. My body, mind and soul were singing……but my ego was sulking in the corner with it’s arms folded in contempt.
Now, I don’t recall when my ego became such a dominating, moody bitch, but she certainly was making her presence known. She was having the loudest tantrum within my psyche, telling me that this job wasn’t good enough for me and that I had worked so hard for years, only to be a disgrace and end up back where I started. She was telling me that it had all been for nothing. That I had got myself to the point of a nervous breakdown, all for nothing. That my previous situation hadn’t been that bad after all and if I had just tried a bit harder, sucked it up and stopped being such a baby, that I could have made it. She was telling me that I was a complete failure and not good enough to hack it in the world of senior management. That I was a loser, a failure and weak.
This really hurt. It was excruciatingly painful to see myself the way my ego was describing me. I had failed in her eyes. But who was “she” anyway and what was her deal? Why was she telling me this and how had I given her so much power over me? At what point in my life did I allow such a horrible version of myself loose in my subconscious? And so ensued an exhausting and everyday battle between the the real me and this alter-ego, diva, bitch who had been beating the real me into submission every time she dared to want something for herself.
I was starting to realise that I wasn’t the beige, flat, orthotic old lady shoes……I was just wearing them for now as those damn black, pointed, patent stilettos had really damaged my feet. But what I was learning on this tumultuous internal battlefield, is that all I really wanted to do was walk through the field bare footed and free…..without any shoes at all.