Just had a pep talk call with Aunty C. She wants me back in the workplace.
So she’s instructed me that I have to allocate 2 x 2 hours a day to hunt and apply for relevant posts.
After she’d stopped laughing at my outraged squawks, she got serious.
‘Your parenting is terrible! Where is the Good Parent?’
Oh no, not this again.
‘The Good Parent should be reassuring the Child! The Child is afraid! What should the Good Parent be saying to the Child in this instance?’
I don’t know who any of these people are. I remain silent. It’s the only thing to do, I find.
‘OK, lets try it another way. If you had a friend in your position, what would you say to reassure and support them at this time? Would you try and motivate them? Or would you just let them mope around?’
I know I’m being facetious, and of course I know what she’s talking about but trying to play the part of two people is hard when I haven’t even got a handle on being the one I am.
‘You can’t stay at home forever Sista.’
‘You have some great skills, exceptional experience and passion, when you’re not on medication that is.’
Uh oh. Another subject I’d prefer to avoid.
There is a rattle of metal on plastic; the call is then muffled for a moment or so, then Aunty C returns.
‘I have to go, my other client has arrived, but I’ll be calling you on Saturday to check how you are getting along.’
‘OK, C, thank you so much. I’ll try, I really will.’
She laughs ‘We’ll see!’
I laugh too, but sadly. I let myself down, I let my family down, I even let my therapist down. Really, what is the point of it all?
She’s right though, I am afraid, but whilst it’s boring at home, I’m getting unfit and running out of money, no one judges me here. OK, maybe my cats do give me the odd outraged/disdainful/disgusted look from time to time, but that’s about it really. I only see people who love, support and care for me, anyone else has been neatly exorcised from my world, or at the very least, kept at arms length until I’ve figured them out.
Even just writing this makes me feel like a total wimp. I do have a strong, even fiery side and that’s the thing I’m afraid of really. I’m really not cut out to take shit from anyone. But, really, why should any of us have to?
That said, in the market I’ve come out of, that is par for the course. Impossible targets, bosses who won’t be reasoned with even though they know you are right, people who pretend to agree with such people and their ridiculous visions in the name of politics. People who laugh, smile at and joke with people they hate, people on top whack for merely being the mouthpiece of another fatter cat who crack the whip in order to crack the glass ceiling. People who throw others under the bus without a second thought in order to save their own, miserable pelts.
It’s normal right? People do this every day; it’s just the way things are in the workplace.
I can’t do it anymore though. It used to get to me; the falseness, the going through the motions, the putting time into projects that I know will never work, being made to clap and cheer things that were absolutely crap; the charade. It hurt me, mentally, emotionally, spiritually. I felt like a fake, a liar, and a fraud. I felt like I was dressed up as someone else whom, at any given moment, could be busted, exposed, maligned and dismissed.
I worked for companies that would give the average social climbing, net working wanker wet dreams, and had I embraced these environments and schmoozed my arse off, I would probably be a senior exec somewhere with my dream house, dream partner with lots of very influential friends. But I didn’t. I hid. And people could tell there was something wrong with me. They sniffed me out, like Roald Dahl’s freaky eyed witches, and avoided me wherever possible, even if we’d encountered each other before. I felt like a hyena in a pride of lions, although it’s safe to say, after my recent experiences, it’s obvious that there were quite a few jackals there too, but the point is I was different, and not in a good way. I would avoid any opportunity to self promote, any cross pollination events between divisions, any courses, Christmas parties, departmental lunches ‘face time’ with senior people who could do things for me…..
Urgh…excuse me, I’ve just sicked up in my mouth a bit….just using the words ‘face time’ gives me the heebie jeebies.
What was I saying? Yes, so the crux of this is that I have come out of the last 10 years with barely any contacts that, if pressed, could remember, recommend or reference me. It’s not their fault. It’s not because I don’t have talent or skills. It’s because I hated my false self even more than I hate my true self, though I hate myself a whole lot less since leaving the jungle, hence my fear of going back out there.
Here are my options as I see it:
1. Go back to the industry I’ve just escaped, sorry, left.
Pros: It’s an industry/role that I know back to front and pays well.
Cons: I would sooner top myself, plus my reputation is in tatters and gossip is rife.
2. Try and get a similar role in a different industry
Pros: I have good transferable skills and a lot of experience
Cons: I’m unlikely to get a reference from my previous employers, plus it would probably be like swapping Broadmoor for Holloway, i.e. same shit, different toilet and I’d have to play ‘the game’ again.
3. Get a job doing a similar role in an industry I’m passionate about.
Pros: Even though I would have to play ‘the game’, at least I’d get some pleasure and satisfaction out of the outcome.
Cons: See above. Plus they would expect me to have wonderful influential contacts and I don’t? Well none I dare contact. The pay is crap too.
4. Apply for something that isn’t stressful just to pay the bills
Pros: I could go to work, do the job, come home, and switch off
Cons: I probably wouldn’t get a job like this, as I’m over qualified, plus if it were anything more than a short term solution, something inside me would die. I like to be challenged.
5. Take anything that is offered before I run out of money and lose my home
Pros: Some money would be coming in.
Cons: See all of the above.
Do I channel greasy Gordon Gecko and sell my soul, integrity and sanity to the devil again? Do you remember that scene in Glengarry Glen Ross were Shelley ‘the Machine’ Levene is in a phone booth in the rain, dripping with water, desperately trying to close a deal before he lost his job? I remember cringing with a combination of disgust and delight (such an amazing movie) and thinking ‘You would never get me doing a job like that.’ How wrong I was. I won’t do it again though, so this isn’t an option.
Do I channel Lester Burnham, get a job at Micky D’s (yuck), do my shift, work out, go home and kick back? As much as he is a hero of mine, I don’t have a big house, or a rich partner and I don’t have enough money for a joint, let alone a Pontiac Firebird. Plus, it would only work if the main aim were to piss of the person you’re married to, and I’m single. I do love the cut of his jib though. He rules!
Last but not least do I channel Yossa Hughes from the totally stupendous ‘Boys from the Blackstuff’ who drags his kids around from site to site, asking foremen to ‘Gizza job’, then chins them when they turn him down. I can only hope that it doesn’t come to that. But it could (I’d try not to head butt anyone though ;-)).
Do you know what I wish?
I wish someone would open a temp agency for people with mental health problems.
I wish you could go to an agency and say ‘This is me, this is my background, this is where I am now, this is how good I can be when I’m not trying to be someone else, these are the few things I can’t do, but I’m not afraid of challenges and responsibility, I’m good at x, y and z and these are all the things I can bring to your company if I’m appreciated, trusted and nurtured.
Why wouldn’t a company want to employ someone like that, i.e. an authentic known quantity who knows both their flaws and their strong sets?
Company owners out there, wouldn’t you prefer to employ someone who has honour and integrity, who is innovative, frank and solution driven, or is your preference for some glib suit who’ll blow smoke up your arse all year round, then fuck off before financial year end and leave you in the lurch?
It strikes me again whilst typing this, that it is absurd that I have write this blog anonymously in order to ensure that i am not discriminated against when applying for roles. I’m not a nonce or a terrorist! I’m someone whose condition can be managed in the right circumstances, but despite all the good work that has been done in the last couple of years or so to address the stigma and alienation of people with mental health issues, there are still actively prejudice people in the workplace. People just aren’t quite as vocal about it as they used to be, that’s all.
Say you interviewed A. A suffers from OCD, but is incredibility meticulous and exacting, wouldn’t you want her negotiating your contracts, proof reading your copy, or managing your diary?
How about B who suffers from depression and low self esteem, but is hugely creative and has a good eye? You may not want him doing presentations (God I hated presenting!) but wouldn’t you employ him to work on creative briefs for your ad campaigns?
And C who is bipolar? He/she may not work a full 5 days a week, but in a steady, measured role in which they excel, they would be invaluable as a temp agency worker for ad hoc bookings.
These are just off the cuff ideas, but you get my drift. People like me are written off every day because they are perceived to be unemployable, and end up on permanent benefits; does it really have to be that way?
There is of course a sixth option, but that’s the one that scares me most of all.
6. Working for myself
Pros: I would be my own boss; I would be passionate about it, could work my own hours and wouldn’t have to take shit from anyone. Well not much anyway.
Cons: I don’t know what I’d do. What if it goes wrong?
I have considered this and have had some ideas but, and this is really weedy, I don’t want to do it on my own.
Pathetic eh? But I’ve felt on my own since I was small. I wasn’t close to my siblings, I never had a best friend that lasted very long, I’ve only had one or two serious partners, but for once, just for once, I’d like someone by my side to support me.
I’m tired of carrying the load, I’m sick of the buck always stopping with me, and I’m scared shitless. But given my choices, this is the only option that really flies.
The Artists Way maintains that when you are ready to jump the net will be there to catch you.
I can only hope that it’s strong, has no holes, and I don’t rebound onto the ground and smash my teeth in.