The NoWhere Lounge

**photo from somewhere in Texas…

Back to work today. The ‘hysterectomy leave’ has come to an end. Luckily, I’m only working half days for half of the week. One thing I’ve noticed post surgery—the fatigue shows up unannounced and always at a bad time (because when is a good time for fatigue, after all)? So I finished my first half day today and it was a blur–like cleaning a really dirty house before you can do anything actually productive.

Talking to my boss’ wife this morning on the phone, she said, “I bet you couldn’t wait to suit up this morning and get back at it!”

Umm, well, not exactly….

I know I’m not the only one by a landslide…I hate my job. It would be easier if I hated my boss or hated the company, but I don’t. I am surrounded by awesome people. The problem is I’ve outgrown my position.

At this point, I feel I’m getting dumber every day because my brain is not engaged, because my work does not require it. I go through the motions. That is all menial tasks really require. I don’t know what the answer is and I’ve been trying to figure it out for the last two years.

Is this what most Americans face? Do people accept this as their lot in life?

Over a week ago, just thinking about going back to work, sullied my disposition. My humor evaporated, and with it, my generosity and appreciation for the little things. Three days ago, the depression showed up and unpacked its bags. I hadn’t seen it in a while. I think it must feel the same as the aftermath of an alcoholic’s binge: the shame, the lack of control, feeling like you are in a black tunnel, sliding down.

I called my doctor to renew my prescription. I have been here before and it’s the kind of place reluctant to let go of you. It holds on with a fervor meant for a parent releasing their child to their first day of college away from home. It’s grip can be hard to shake and oftentimes I have to call for reinforcements. I hate it, but I do it.

As a result, I haven’t written in almost three days. It’s like running out of oil. I can’t seem to force my creativity to show up when it’s staging a protest. The more I try, the more it backs out the door with its middle finger waving around.

This has not happened in a very long time, but I dread it when it does.

Today, with all of this happening, I decided to take stock of my situation.

These are the improvements I’ve experienced since taking this job:

1) No one is in my business all of the time. This is the result of living in a city versus a small town. Bonus: I don’t know other people’s business either. It’s like escaping from the worst yard sale ever.

2) No one shows up unexpectedly, repeatedly, at my home, after hours. That happened a lot. No one likes a surprise visitor, and definitely not from a landlord or a squeaky client.

3) Speaking of landlords, there are no more moody, weird ones in my life. It’s become a mantra of mine: If rent isn’t your business and it’s just what you do for your slush fund, I’m out. Being in a professional establishment, versus someone’s empty cottage in their backyard, makes a big difference.

4) Most workdays has a beginning and an end. That translates to having time for other things.

5) I have a very nice boss and the corporate culture is really good.

5) I am the most financially secure I’ve ever been. Mostly, it’s just knowing where I’m at with my money for the first time. I may not be where I want to be, but at least I know.  There’s power in knowing.

The downsides of this job:

1) I am not challenged at work.

2) What I do do is complete bullshit. Doing more of the same sounds fucking terrible. That’s just compounded boring/bullshit.

3) I may work “normal” hours, but I’m on call 24/7. I have days where I start at 4 am and don’t finish being on call until after 11 pm. I really hate this because the schedule can change at a moment’s notice. It can ruin an evening, a weekend, etc.

I hate being on call 24/7/364. (Yeah, there’s Christmas).

4) I’ve already hit the glass ceiling at work, as far as career and financial opportunities.

5) My creativity has instantly evaporated. It now hides under the bed like alcoholic daddy showed back up.

6) I have become distracted, less compassionate, less open with my friends and others, and probably with my husband too. I am only aware of this since I’ve had six weeks to myself. Despite the pain and the recovery process, I also felt more open and genuine and nicer….

I think that’s telling, but is it sustainable??

A couple weeks ago, my boss asked what I was doing with all my time on hysterectomy leave (hinting: I must be going crazy).  He went on how I must be ready to come back, be in a routine, and get back to being engaged.

I thought to myself, “You have no idea. That’s all I’ve been doing—reading, writing, and using my brain.”

I sure did love being on the payroll during my recovery. I think that’s the closest I’ll ever get to a trust fund.

That makes me a hypocrite, right? Sucking on the corporate tit….

What I learned on hysterectomy leave:

1) I like being by myself and don’t need others to be motivated to do my work.

2) I hate being interrupted. This happens a lot at work. Even for repeated pleasantries. Fucking drives me nuts. My day is a string of one little interruption after another, like the holes of a paper mâché necklace that eventually forms a noose.

3) My writing, and reading, engages me. Like many, no doubt, I would like to make a living writing. It feels true and connected.

Despite the vacuum work is, I am grateful to have a nice working environment with nice people. I’m just not sure that supersedes an empty life, where I produce nothing in my position.

As Gary Veynerchuk says, “There is a fine line between optimism and delusion.” Making decisions based on fear isn’t always good, but it isn’t always bad. There is also a fine line between self-preservation and stagnation.

I’ve starved before and been a couch crasher because I had to. That weighs heavily. But so does the idea of getting dumber from a lack of engagement.

When do you know it’s time to take the leap?

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