For the last three years of my life I had the best job ever. I worked for a small company with people I grew up with. We worked and played every day-it was awesome.
As my condition progressed I had to take time off to recover from a few procedures. 6 to be exact. Each time I left I would feel horrible knowing that there was no one else there to take over my duties while I was gone. What made it worse is that they were so good to me there. I wore sweatpants to work on days I didn’t want to get dressed, and they never batted an eye at the time off I requested for my procedures.
I felt so lucky to work with a company that was willing to put up with my sometimes unpredictable schedule. While I only took -in total- 5 days off due to bad pain days, I took 2 weeks for my Hysterectomy and 4 for my Trachelectomy.
That’s when things started to get sticky. I could tell they were upset I was unable to come back as quickly as I thought I would. Realistically there was nothing I could do about it, all I could do was rest and heal and get back to work at my own pace. I was already having a hard time with the slow progress of healing, and the pressure to return to work made it even harder.
At the time, the pressure made me feel important and appreciated by the company and the people in it. With this kind of responsibility on my shoulders, and being fully aware that I would probably never find myself in a company with such flexibility for my condition again, I was always afraid to leave. Of course I was worried I would upset a future employer with my constant need for medical leave, or my inability to lift and move heavy file boxes. What worried me more was the idea that I would let down my work family. That place was my second home, and I didn’t know how to say goodbye. So I stayed.
After our family vacation I realized that when I slowed down enough, I was able to really control my pain. A few short stay-cations into the summer and this theory was proven twice more. For months The Hubs and I debated the idea of me leaving my job, and every time I would cry and say “I just can’t do it.”. I was unable to leave, and let down the company I had grown to love.
Sure, there were bumps in the road, co-workers didn’t get along at times, management would butt heads on issues of policy, but hey, such are the workings of a small office made up of friends.
But things started to get worse for me physically, and with added stress of the bickering in the office reaching new heights, my pain was constantly spiking out of control. After over 2 months of debate I finally decided to throw in the towel and try the stay at home mom route. Desperate for some pain relief I was willing to give up the thing that defined me, and abandon the company I loved- it broke my heart.
For about 2 seconds.
I guess, with how involved I was with the company I expected some sort of acknowledgement when I resigned, what I got was the silent treatment for about 2 days. Complete with uncomfortable eye contact and silent conversations saying “I know you know I resigned” and “I refuse to address it”. Finally the owner and I had a late afternoon meeting where he asked me to come up with ways to make it so I could stay. I had spent so much time and energy prepping myself to leave, that this was almost upsetting. I mean, it was like deciding not to have any more kids and getting pregnant. It was great, just….not what I had planned on.
So, I took the three day weekend to go over every aspect of this idea. Do I stick with my plan to leave? Do I try to make it work for me to stay? I had already gotten so excited about my work free life, I was almost heartbroken at the idea of giving it up to stay with the company. But the owner had made it sound like I was so necessary to the company, and he seemed so willing to make it work, I felt I owed it to them (and me) to give it a try. I came up with at least 3 different options for me to stay, complete with troubleshooting ideas and execution plans. (I am a freak 😉 When I finally got to sit down with the owners to discuss them I was so sure this was it, I was going to stay.
They vetoed every idea I had.
Now, I realize that having someone telecommute -even just a few days a week-is a transition, and sometimes not practical, but they wouldn’t even give it a shot. Instead they went back to the silent treatment, and left me hanging with no answers. Suddenly it was becoming so clear to me; like when you’ve been looking through dirty glasses all day and then stop to clean your lenses. I wasn’t this great asset to the company, or this important person to my other friends there. I was….expendable. Expendable to the point that even the friends I had grown up with were talking about me behind my back. Expendable in the way that you toss out a shirt as soon as you get one in better condition.
All this time I had been thinking I had such a great thing in these friends, this job, this part of my life. It was crushing to realize that it was all just the way it looked through these incredibly dirty lenses. With all the smudges and finger prints on them, I couldn’t see exactly what was going on on the other side. At times I caught glimpses through the cleaner parts of the lens, hearing the way they treated other employees or friends, but I refused to believe any of it would apply to me.
Of course I questioned their motives at times, and wondered “if they could do this to others, why not me?” but the friendship felt too strong to let that happen. At least on my end it felt that way. Didn’t they know that I wasn’t staying for me? Didn’t they know that I kept working because I didn’t want to let them down? Didn’t they know how special they were to me?
They had to know, and since they knew how important they were to me, there was no way they would betray me the way they did the others. Right?
Wrong. So, so wrong. In just these past two weeks my glasses have been yanked off my face and polished to a level of clean that makes it see, like there is nothing there at all. There was nothing left to blur the images in front of me into something I thought was good. I was staring at these people and this place and what I saw was just awful. Nothing but backstabbing and lies and greed. Nothing but fake friends in a mess of a workplace.
I thought I would cry when I left yesterday. I thought I would be so hurt and angry that I would yell and curse and that this would ruin my night, my day today and my weekend.
I am still waiting for that to happen.
Maybe I am not shocked, maybe I knew it was there all along, but I just didn’t want to see it. Maybe, I let my glasses get so dirty so that I could stay in this happy place where everything was good. Maybe.
But I can tell you one thing for sure; I will never let my glasses get that dirty again.