I had this idea months ago and wanted to take the time I needed to process everything before I wrote this. Honestly, I still don’t feel fully prepared to do this “correctly,” but I don’t know that I ever will, so take this for what it is: an exploration.
If you’ve been with me a little while, you know that the pandemic was traumatic for me in that it seriously hurt my business. I went from being self-employed with the flexible schedule and “workplace” design that are perfect from my chronic conditions, to losing this joyful career that I built from scratch and going to work as (per how the boss referred to me) a “desk girl” in a fast-paced medical practice. The boss provided me with my most necessary modification–a standing desk–and my most necessary need–a paycheck. I was absolutely grateful, and I worked my ass off, but I’ll go ahead and say now that I did not like that job at all. It was miserable.
After 11 months (I’d set a new record as the longest lasting desk girl at 8 months), I had enough speaking gigs finally coming back for my business and enough financial aid from the Small Business Administration’s pandemic programs that I was able to quit the job and return to being self-employed. I had my best life back at last!
I’m no stranger to hard times. There are a few periods in my life that were awful and I pretty much don’t talk about them. One was being in an abusive, controlling relationship when I was 18, 19, 20.
- Celebration. This is the big hurrah! It happened! It’s amazing and exciting! I won the lottery and the prize is my life!
- Initial believing. At first, it doesn’t feel real. The first few days it doesn’t feel real at all. When I quit that job this year, I was having bad dreams about stressful things happening at work, for days. Eventually they stopped. Eventually that constant stress I felt while working there began to fade. I called it The Unclenching.
- Full-picture slap. Now, it’s happened, and I believe it, and I’ve unclenched, which includes at last dropping all the defense mechanisms I had in place to get through the tough times. One of the most powerful defense mechanisms is denial. So at this point, I actually see how awful it really was. All the things I glossed over about that relationship, or that job, or that situation because it’s what I had to do to get through it suddenly shed their gloss and there’s a way big “holy crap” happening.
- Dealing. Defenses are down. The situation is seen for what it truly was. Now I’ve got to deal with it. Talk it out with a friend. Dig deep for forgiveness and detachment. Grieve. Go through whatever process I need to in order to come to terms with it, feel all the feelings, and move on.
- Improving. With the analysis and work of coping being some semblance of complete, I now pull from that analysis my own flaws that I can work to improve. I might have been turning a blind eye to something I shouldn’t tolerate, or I might have been ignorant of what “unacceptable” should be. I might have made poor decisions that got myself into a bad situation. Whatever it was, it’s something to learn from, to be a better person in the future, to myself and also towards others.
- Gratitude. Finally, I can lean into the full spectrum of gratitude. Grateful that it’s over, for one. I can also reflect on what good there was within the situation and be grateful for that. This includes being grateful for what I learned. And of course I am so very grateful for how good my life is now.