One week after 21st, the world and I are both still standing, while I it seems have plunged right into the heart of that proverbial fire.
Following a relaxing weekend away, it was straight back to work, and a five day stretch during the festive week. While some get to have two whole weeks off work, those in the health and social care sector such as myself are lucky to have any time at all. It seems unfair in some ways that those who work arguably the hardest of all and make the greatest contribution to society reap the smallest of rewards, but I get the feeling that that may be about to change as society reappraises its values. That though is a whole other subject, although vaguely related to what I am about to say.
On Christmas Day I worked a long day from 7am to 6pm and knackered is not the word. Coran came along to help, as she often does entirely off her own back, and without pay, as she likes to do so, and also wanted to help me, knowing that with my colleague working in the kitchen during the morning, I was the only housekeeper on duty, responsible for the entire house. That is a big responsbility and one in a long line of reasons why I know that I really do need to leave. Despite the hard work, Christmas Day is usually reltaively relaxed - the work obviously needs to be done, but everything seems to slow down, as staff and residents enjoy the festive atmosphere surrounded by their own family, many of whom visited, followed by a festive meal, ably cooked by our superb Kitchen Manager.
Christmas Day was followed by a shorter day (normal for me) of 7am to 2pm, with the same again yesterday and today. I awoke on Christmas Day to the beginnings of what felt like a cold with a distinct soreness in the throat and the beginnings of a vague tickle in the nose. By yesterday it had developed into chills and shivering with watery eyes to boot (the eyes - the right one in particular, have been watering for a while - perhaps due to unshed tears?). I should have gone home, or better still, not gone work at all, but I have my heart set on certain items in certain sales, and sadly they do not buy themselves - and, if I do not work, I do not get paid, so off to work I went.
My already fragile feelings were exacerbated by the discovery on Thursday that a replacement has already been found for my job - a young Polish girl - I met her when she same to fill in her forms. I must admit that this knocked me for six, and I am not altogether sure why. This is not really true, for actually I am very much aware, but do not like to admit it. This discovery, when it came, immediately pushed all my own "I am indispensable and this place is going to fall apart without me" buttons. I realise that this will sound like ego, and of course it is, but there, I have said it. It is out there. I am a flawed and imperfect human, as we all are.
Of course is also means that there can be no going back. With this discovery also then came the realisation that this is real and happening, you see, I have been pretending that it is not, kidding myself that it is all in my head, and happening in some other universe. That though is so I do not have to deal with how I really and truly feel.
How then do I really and truly feel? When it comes down to it, I feel as if I have been pushed out of a job that I love because of others behaviour - there is a large part of me still that does not really want to leave, but there is also a part that sees that there are very compelling reasons why I have to. There is a sense of dictotomy between the two which has led my feelings to oscillate - one day I am happy with my choice and clear in my reasons for doing this, the next when one of the residents tells me they missed me on my day off, I start to think "how can I leave this place, when they need me and love me so much". Pure ego I know, for the truth is they will find someone else to miss once I am gone, and one year from now will probably not even be on this planet.
This morning though, all those feelings came flooding to the surface - what I then felt was a great and overwhelming sense of loss and betrayal - I felt dejected, miserable, fed up, unseen and unnoticed - the same it seems I have felt for most of my life. That then is why when I went to work this morning, feeling worse than I did the day before, after a restless night interspersed with coughing fits, I was not pleased to see my colleague, who is suffering from the same symptoms, gain copious amounts of sympathy from others while I was almost completely ignored. It was obvious that I too was suffering, but not one person asked how I was, or if I was alright - the Manager did ask just as I was about to go home. When my colleague then decided to go home, halfway through the morning, it all got a bit too much, and I sat on the toilet and cried and cried.
As the tears came streaming out, with great big sobs, so the feelings came out too. I managed to calm down, dried my tears and thought I was okay, but half an hour later, the tears came again for a second time, this time a lot more of them. Half an hour and a cup of coffee later, I finally dried my eyes, with still no one noticing or asking how I was, and reluctantly got on with my work. In truth, I felt like going home, but with my colleague gone, someone had to do the work. I had visions of me ringing Coran, asking her to come and me bursting into her arms with heartfelt sobs that left everyone in no doubt as to what I was experiencing.
I didn't though do this, and the fact that I didn't left me asking, why do I feel the need to continually paper over the cracks and hide how I feel, stuffing everything down out of sight and out of mind. I know it is not good for me, but still I continue to do this. Is it then really that surprising that I am unseen and unnoticed when I hide so much not only from others, but also from myself. I am also aware that unless I take action to clear these thoughts and these emotions that have been a part of me now for much, much too long, I will take them with me to my next job and nothing will change.
While it is true that where I am has become a toxic environment, I have to take some of the responsibility, in fact all of the responsibility for how I feel about and have reacted to that, for it is an undeniable fact that that has been the cause of at least eighty percent of my stress. None of that of course excuses what has happened during my three and a half years here, the four changes of Manager, the things that the Director has said and done, the constant tiredness and lack of respect from certain others members of the team, but all of this has pressed my buttons like mad and triggered what has sometimes seemed like an insane reaction. The first step is as always to recognise this pattern, for it is only then that the clearing can begin, and now that I know that there really will be no going back (for if my job has already been filled there will not be one for me to go back to), the clearing can well and truly begin - it starts with acceptance, and a good rest this weekend with lots of retail therapy and some gluten free cake!