Tuesday, October 2, 2012

I've Learned Some Things

It's been almost two years exactly since I was asked to resign from my job. I suspect that they "allowed" me to resign to avoid having to pay unemployment, but I'm not sure if they were required to have unemployment insurance, since none of the employees except the owners worked full time.

But, that's not the point I want to make. I was reflecting this morning on all I have learned from that experience and all of the things I am now able to do because I no longer have that job.

Getting fired is extremely traumatic. In fact, my therapist told me that I had a true case of PTSD from that job and being let go from it. I still have some bad moments and this morning I had a nightmare from which I struggled to wake up about being at some university and being told that I had to leave because the chef in the dining hall had seen me eating cake in a way that he didn't like. The reason was bizarre and that makes sense, because that office was bizarre. There were rules I didn't understand but followed and there were rules I never knew about and there were rules that shifted, it seemed, just to make sure I would do it wrong.

In the dream, Joey was also at this school and I had to find him and get him out of there, because I knew he couldn't survive on his own at a place that big. Then I couldn't find my car. When I found my car, I opened the door and water poured out. And there were no boxes to pack my stuff, which had been thrown in a huge jumble. And no one would help me.

Yep. Still having flashbacks.

But. Here's what I wanted to say about that experience. I'm very glad I had it, because I learned a lot from some very dysfunctional people. I learned that if you are in a job that is making you miserable, there may be some things you can do to fix that, but there may not. And my feeling is that if you are miserable and cannot do anything to make it better, get out. Find what it is that makes you happy and do that.

It might seem easy for me to say get out and do what you love because I have Justin to fall back on and support me. But what I have realized over the last two years is that even if I had been single, I would have left that job, whether they asked me to or not. Many of you know that I receive social security disability for my bipolar disorder and that job threatened my benefits. If I had lost my benefits and then lost the job, I would have been completely destitute without Justin. But if I hadn't had Justin and left the job, I would have learned to survive on my benefits. I would have somehow learned to live on a meager income and do it properly. The job was paying me $12 an hour (for a person with a college degree in that field) and I was working three days a week. I couldn't have survived on that income alone if my benefits had been taken away because I was working three days a week and making $12 an hour.

With social security, there is a nine month trial work period. I religiously saved all of my paystubs and sent them in at the end of the trial period. They came back saying I wasn't making enough money to threaten my benefits  (which clearly means that I wasn't making enough to live on). But if I had gone to four days a week (still not enough to live on), I would have been in the place where my benefits would have ended and I would have been living on the money I made. And then I still probably would have lost the job.

So, my point is that if you can find a way to live without compromising your sanity, you should go for it. So many good things have happened to me in the last two years because I was no longer employed and I have learned a lot, matured, and realized why that job was a terrible fit for me. It's embarrassing as hell to say that you were fired from a job. I never had been before. It is also embarrassing to admit you have a mental illness. When my boss asked me why I was on social security and had to keep my hours to a limit, I just couldn't bring myself to tell him why. I was ashamed. I told him it was because of my fibromyalgia. And that was a true reason I couldn't work more hours. But I am not on disability for it. I am on disability for a mental illness that I cannot control. And I'm not ashamed anymore.

As I sit here, waiting for my first children's book to show up on Amazon.com, I am grateful for all of the things I am able to do today. Because I have fibromyalgia, working was terribly difficult for me physically. Because I have bipolar, it was horrible for me mentally. My therapist says it just wasn't a good personality fit and I am sure that is true. My anxiety fed off of the constant criticism and never knowing when I would do something wrong. I was a trembling wreck the day I left that job.

Today, I have written five manuscripts for children's books, have been published on numerous websites and in the Ask a Bipolar book that is linked here on this site. My first children's book should show up today.

I have been free to engage in the embroidery I love so much and have discovered many friends through the local embroidery guild. I now participate in two sewing clubs, one of which I formed. I have started another blog dedicated only to my sewing projects and I have made many online friends that I would never have known were out there if I hadn't had the time to go looking for them. I hope to get into cross stitch design in the future and also to enter some of my work in some needlework shows.

I am able to rest when I need to rest. I don't have to answer to people who micromanage my every move and ask things I can't give. I have been there when two of the most important people in my life got sick with cancer, something I couldn't have done if I was still working.

I learned while I was working that my children are not too old to still need me. Well, the younger two. The older one just uses a bedroom and eats our food and uses our washer and dryer. But the younger two, even being 13 and 15, still need me here. Maybe more than they did as babies. And that is more important than a $12 an hour job that made me miserable. In fact, the kids win, hands down.

The day I was asked to resign, I had asked Justin that morning if I should just go ahead and tell them I was quitting after Christmas or wait until two weeks before I had decided to leave. Because a little cash is always nice for Christmas, right? He told me to do what felt right. Well, they made the decision for me and ended the agony of trying to do the right thing by giving them plenty of notice. And I am actually grateful to them for that.

Because one thing I also learned is that I was trying to please someone that simply would not be happy with anything I did. I learned several months after I left that they had hired the intern that one of the people who worked there hand picked to replace me. I have a feeling I was never intended to keep that job for more than the 13 months I had it. And really, I'm fine with that.

Now, if I could just stop dreaming about chefs telling me I'm eating cake wrong and trying to get my kid to safety. Yep. That would be awesome.


1 comment:

  1. I find it admirable that you took away something positive from being fired. That's the great thing about having a good support system for people like us who have disorders that not many can truly understand. I'm still in the process of filing for my disability benefits and it's been a tough road. Thanks for sharing your story, Chelle! This gave me some encouragement to face the days to come.


I'd love to hear from you. Feel free to tag back to your blog in the body of your message. Comments are my favorite!