Life, careers and toilets

So what have these things got to do with each other, I hear you ask? Well, let me share a little story with you …

As some of you know, a few months ago I started seeing a therapist, and she started scratching around in my past, and my life very quickly went sliding down the s-bend. Or so it seemed to me. Ok, so I was spinning wildly out of control all on my own, but it seemed like my therapist gave me that extra push.

I took what I thought would be a short break from work to deal with some of the mess that was bubbling out of the sewer. The short break quickly became long as I lost all ability to function.

Around New Year I almost mastered the ability to get out of bed every day, so started going back to work. Slowly. Part time. As I could.

My bosses (Kojak and his superior, Crazy Lady) were terrific. They told me to take as much time as I needed. That they wanted me back, but to take my time and only come back as and when I was ready. Work part time, come in when I could, etc etc. Kojak even told me about his own experiences of something similar. Told me to take care, be safe, etc. Kind, sensitive, caring, right? Very SNAGgy, right? Well, yes. Or so I thought.

Since then, there have been good days, and bad days: days I could make it to work, and days when I could even deal with some of the piles breeding around my desk. And other days where the flashbacks or other freakiness were just too much for me, so I’d stay home. And of course in amongst that I’ve had surgery and other health issues preventing me from doing anything much at all. But I’ve been making an effort to do what I can, without compromising myself or people at work too much.

Today Kojak calls me into his goldfish bowl and tells me the flexibility of my arrangement isn’t working for him. He says he needs (and wants) me back at work “properly” or I need to go “offline” for six months until I “sort myself out”. Huh?

I work in an ivory tower where “properly” is full on, high pressure and long hours; and “offline” is code for doing some boring cr@p that serves little purpose.

I was completely thrown. I know there’s a lot on. I know the unpredictability of my working arrangements isn’t convenient. But I also know I’m trying.

I was very upset – mostly at myself for being unable to cope with life and work and everything. But also upset at Kojak because he’s already spoken to a colleague of mine to see if she’ll do my job for six months – BEFORE he’d spoken to me about the idea. I’m annoyed at myself for being unable to cope with what seem to me the most basic work requirements, let alone go back to huge workloads and long long days. I’m also angry at myself for being so fragile. I’m worried that the career I’ve spent the last decade building and thought I so desperately wanted is being flushed rapidly away.

I’m at a loss over what to do.

So there you have it…. life, careers, and toilets. A connection you’d probably never thought about.


8 thoughts on “Life, careers and toilets

  1. “thought I so desperately wanted” – I can only talk for myself, but I have come to increasingly realize that the most important thing is to sort out my own head, more than getting myself destroyed in the career race. – While at the same time managing to keep up with work somehow.. Its a difficult balance, because you kind of need to do both. I hope you find a way to manage it! (and if you do, let me know how =)

    Very inconsiderate of your boss to talk to someone else and make arrangements before talking to you! 😦

  2. Hmmmm. I have a slightly different take on this … I don’t think it was necessarily inappropriate for your boss to figure out his options prior to talking to you; after all, part of his job is to keep things running. In a weird way, it might have been a compliment … to make sure he could find a placeholder, prior to letting you “sort yourself out,” as he put it.

    If you do go on leave, can you get a written guarantee that your job will be waiting for you when you get back?

  3. @D I do agree that a boss do need to know his alternatives, however, the way I read the post was that the boss had already made arrangements for someone to replace her _for sure_, without her ever having indicated this, nor him having talked to her about this. – the “someone starts in your job this monday, you dont need to come”. But maybe I read it wrong, or we just have different opinions =)

  4. The issue for me is that my boss had already decided that I would go offline and someone else would replace me before he discussed any of it with me. I thought that was unprofessional, unethical and disrespectful.

    Made worse because over the last few months we’ve worked together to nut out flexible arrangements that would work, but now he decides to go it alone. My T thinks he’s panicking about work deadlines, which he is, but that’s no excuse.

    I think it’s fine for my boss to figure out his options, but his first option should have been speaking to ME.

    David, you’ll be pleased to know that my boss agrees with you! 🙂

  5. I think my brain is just wired completely differently, maybe because I’m a guy. 🙂

    I would be more inclined to take it as the boss making sure my job could be covered from within, so that he didn’t have to ask me to take the time off and also present the possible threat of my job being advertised and filled by a new person, which, to me, would sound a lot worse than knowing that someone already at the company would fill in for me.

    Just sort of playing devil’s advocate … let’s say he’d talked to you first, before figuring out what he’d do. The options would have been the same, it sounds like … either you need to come back at full speed, or you need to take six months to get back up to full speed. Obviously, you need to take the time, for yourself even more than for the sake of your job … it’s beyond my comprehension how you’re working at all, and doing therapy at this level, and recovering from surgery, all at the same time. So, if you’d had that conversation with him, and then asked what would happen to your job while you were gone … would it have been reassuring if he’d said,”I don’t know.”?

    It probably wouldn’t have, and also probably wouldn’t have been acceptable to the people he answers to — my guess is that in order to offer you the personal leave, which is, I think, not a bad thing for the company to do, he had to have a plan in place … and there’s no way to do that without making a plan.

    At any rate, I think my only point is that although it felt dismissive and disrespectful, I don’t think that’s how it was meant. I think your feelings got caught in corporate cross-fire, which never feels good, but also isn’t necessarily personal.

    But again, I wonder — do you have a guarantee that your job will be there after the six-month leave? If you do have that guarantee, this six months off could be a fantastic opportunity for you to focus on healing, so you can go back with your guns blazing, as it were.

  6. Hi David, thanks for taking such an active interest in this. Just to be clear – the options were not “take leave” or “come back full pace”. They were “step aside and do ad hoc meaningless sh1t and watch someone else do your job” or “come back full pace”.

    I have already had a significant period of leave, and now need to start moving back into the real world – even if I’m not quite ready.

    I take your points about Kojak’s position, but I disagree. We have a culture of working things out as a team, so I thought for him to make a unilateral decision was incredibly disrespectful.

    My job is guaranteed – as much as any job is these days, if not more so. Kojak has said has much. He’s been great in that respect.

    At any rate this is now resolved (for now). I will post an update.

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