So my ear doesn’t hurt as much but I still have this weird sensation of being underwater when I talk. I’m coughing up my lungs less often– very much looking forward to being UnSick again. Workaholism and Depression probably get me sick more often than not, and they don’t interact well with sickness when it does arive. I get less done when I feel crummy, which then makes me feel more lousy, which then makes me push myself more, which then drags the physical-me down further. I’m not surprised I got sick, it’s a tradition of mine when I hit a particular marathon’s finish line (I bet a lot of you Theatre Folk out there caught a fever after Tech more than once…). It hasn’t really been the Finish though, its just been the Beginning of this strange period of having one foot still in the Job and one foot drawing away– working “part time,” at least on paper but not (yet) finding the consuming nature of the work lessening in my thoughts. It is almost as if, since I don’t have an obligation now to go into the office as much, I’ve been freed, paradoxically, to spend that “lost time” on the phone, on the internet, and wrapped up in paperwork in my pyjamas. I know this is not Not Working. And I know these habits are a cross between the Unreasonable Demands that Meant I Need to Leave in the first place and the Unreasonable Workaholism that Kept Me Here So Long.
I imagine to most of the people in my life, it must be pretty tiresome when I talk about where I’m at these days emotionally. I hum along fine and then suddenly it’s like tonight, where I’m back at square one, grieving this thing I’ve called My Job and trying to figure out what direction it is that I am to go in Next.
Today there was a meeting where a gathered committee discussed the various resumes that have come in and decide which are worthy for interview as my replacement. I wasn’t a part of the meeting, except to rudely interrupt with a question for my Boss as I was on my way out the door. But it scratched against me a little, the way fingernails scratch on a chalkboard, and I hadn’t expected it.
I’m trying to figure out why this all affects me so deeply. My Job made me feel special, it gave me purpose. It gave me something to do that I was uniquely able to do. I loved my Title, my Office, my System of White Binders on the shelf. I was in love with the potential my Job had, and enamored with the idea that I could Make It what I wished it could be. I wanted to redeem an Organization that had meant a great deal to me as a child. And when things fell down because there wasn’t enough funding, or staff, or lead time– I took it as a personal failure, thinking that if I had Just Worked Harder, if I hadn’t been So Tired, if I hadn’t let OldBoss get me down, and if I could Just Be Patient… it would be different.
In a way, I grew accustomed to whining while in this position, a tradition carried over from my time working for the StageMotherSchool. Whining is usually about being Righteously Annoyed, not Angry really. I was surrounded so often by behavior and situations that others might have gotten Angry about. But I never really owned Anger here. I couldn’t be angry in the disgusted way outsiders who came along were. I loved this Place so much. And I had worked so much to make It better– to be disgusted with It was to be disgusted with myself. So I would whine, to those few who both listened well and every now and then add fuel to my whining– it got that frustrated energy released, my ego massaged, my view of events affirmed. Of course it got old to listen to sometimes, and even the most patient in my life would wander into the “So Why Are You There?!” territory and I’d scuttle away emotionally– knowing I had complained a few moments too long. It was okay if I was the noble victim, if I could garner sympathy and support for my mistreatments and still go back in to work the next day. But I couldn’t handle the implication that I was pathetic, attaching myself to a situation that a grown up would– should– walk away from.
It is this that I was afraid of. This sense of What The Hell Am I Doing. Who Am I if not this Title. More than that even– Who Am I If Not The Saving of This Place.
Maybe I’ll find Somewhere Else to Save. Maybe I’ll be Special in a million new ways to come. Maybe there will be Someone To Come holding my hand, and I’ll realize I never could have given to them or gotten from them if I hadn’t taken this step. Maybe I’ll find a way to value myself highly with or without a current Great Project. It’s scary to step out into a whole lot of Maybes. I guess the one thing the Whirlwind of my Job always had was that– the Constancy of that Whirlwind could always be counted on. When the Whirlwind stops suddenly there is a whole lot of empty space for thinking about the things that make me feel inadequate, the finances I’m not sure I will conquer, the strains within the love I have for my family. Sometimes I have more pain in me than I would like to acknowledge.