Tuesday, December 16, 2008

emancipation day

it's appropriate that i was awakened this morning by an earthquake that was 4.7 on the richter scale, centered across the sound in southern sweden. as strange as it sounds (and no offense to my dear san franciscan, who i realize faces true danger from earthquakes on a daily basis) but i really like earthquakes. that shifting of the earth, shaking me out of slumber and making me feel immediately alert is somehow delicious and life-affirming for me. and no one was hurt. so in more than one way today feels like a day of celebration....

i survived an early morning earthquake and it's been one year since i realized that i couldn't work for someone who looked like uncle fester but behaved with less manners and compassion. someone who would make decisions--harsh, life-changing decisions--without knowing the whole story and then not be man enough to be able to say he'd made a mistake. this despicable person actually fired several hundred people without looking into whether there would be a union issue--made a big proud announcement of the act to the newspapers about the fantastic (and fictional) sums he was going to save and then, when it had to be retracted because it was a HUGE union issue with major repercussions, didn't bother to even send a press release about the reversed decision. i knew i couldn't continue to get up in the morning and look myself in the eye as i brushed my teeth if i continued to work for this man. so i decided not to on this day one year ago.

it has proven to be one of the best decisions i've ever made. i had a conversation with someone last week who said i looked five years younger (at my age, that's pretty significant!) and i can see that my life is immeasurably better. there were great things about the job that i had, but four bosses in three and a half years was exhausting, especially as each one came in and decided that anything the last guy had approved was automatically bad. there was no continuity and no one with an over-all big picture view. each guy waltzed in and wanted to make his mark and then walk out again on to the next job within the company. looking back, it was mind-numbing, the constant battle state one was in. and my mind was numb.  it took me nearly this entire year to be well and truly over it.

i have been so fortunate to have the opportunity to have a job that perfectly enabled me to get over it and i'll always be grateful for that...some amazing planetary alignment clicked into place and i found exactly the situation i needed. to be mostly at home and there to pick up sabin so she didn't have to spend such long days at school and her after school program. to work with people who it felt good and comfortable to be around. to travel enough to stay gold (i know, i'm shallow, but this is strangely important to me) and to get the outside input i needed. it's been a marvelous year.

we should really be more grateful to the monsters we come across in our lives, because they do have a way of making us look in another direction, one that we might not have otherwise seen. so in a way, i'm grateful to uncle fester for being such a monumental ass, because it forced me to see the situation i was in for what it was. and it wasn't good. i was run down, i had seemingly forgotten how to sleep, i didn't do anything creative, my laughter had become forced and i didn't have enough time for the things that are important in my life--in fact, i had sort of forgotten what those things were in the haze i was stumbling through. it was no way to live. and now, one year later, thankfully i don't live that way anymore.

now i'm able to separate the great experiences i had in that job--seeing parts of the world i'd never seen, some of the truly wonderful people i worked with and who are still in my life, the network i built, the things i built up which couldn't be undone by uncle fester--e.g. my reputation, the time i spent with smart, creative people who furthered my thinking and helped me push borders. i can look back on all of that fondly now. and be grateful for those people and those experiences.

sometimes the earth moves under our feet and our world subtly shifts, we are shaken into awareness and find our way back to ourselves. that feels worth celebrating.


Tara Thayer said...

This is beautifully written, and perfectly said. I had something similar happen to me once, and ended up with a new husband and lots and lots of kids. But I love the sense that I found my way back, and glad you did, too.
Happy Anniversary, of sorts!

Amanda said...

What a great post! An earthquake even! Maybe I will experience it some day. Things do happen for a reason, I am convinced.

Dutchbaby said...

When they are small, I love earthquakes too. They are a great reminder that Mother Nature is a force to reckon with, deserving of great respect.

Your perspective of uncle fester (love the nickname!) is very generous and I respect how you were able to rise above his bad behaviour.

Great post, here's to earthmoving experiences!

M M said...

I too, have suffered Uncle Fester. In fact, I can think of four Festers off the top of my head. It is shocking how much that kind of work environment can suck the confidence and perspective out of you. It is actually such a "toxic" and wacked situation... I'm still wondering how these people get promoted! CONGRATS ON YOU YEAR ANIVERSARY!

julochka said...

tara--thank you. very glad you could relate, even if your situation was different.

amanda--i totally believe things happen for a reason and i'm really happy to see it so much more clearly today.

dutchbaby--thank you for stopping by! i'm glad i'm not the only one who loves small earthquakes (i was in whittier in, was it '87 or '88? and remember the pavement rippling before my eyes.). it was really uneventful today, so much that the crisis people didn't even post anything on their website 'til almost 4 hours later.

michelle--sadly, i'm sure we all have had an uncle fester..however mine really LOOKS like him!! bald head, a bit of a hunch, kind of shuffling along, dark circles under the eyes. i think they get promoted in the whole old boys' club...i almost sent him flowers today to thank him.

tangobaby said...

I wonder why most earthquakes seem to happen when it's early in the morning. The last two we had in SF were while everyone was still sleeping. When I'm that tired, I'm too lazy to get out of bed unless it was at least a 5.0. The other one was while I was trying to eat my sushi.

I think whoever plans earthquakes is rude.

I had a groping, hugging Uncle Fester. He's the only person that was a boss where I actually gave him a piece of my mind in no uncertain terms. He was shocked at my assessment of him, but my coworkers applauded me. I agree with you entirely. It's the difficult people (not just bosses, but ex-friends, lovers, family, etc.) who push us to examine our life paths and our beliefs.

I owe several people a huge debt of gratitude in that department. I'll just never be able to tell some of them.

Great post!

Barb said...

Ah the proverbial silver lining in your cloud. I'm a glass half full kind of girl too, so it's nice to read such a positive spin on not such a positive situation. Thanks for this terrific post. Barb xo

BTW, my word verification is aduckeyp. Could this be a for ducks requiring medical attention????

Relyn Lawson said...

I love the way you put it. Being more grateful to the monsters in our lives. Isn't it amazing how much a change in one part of our life can revitalize our entire self. I made a smaller change last year myself and it has made all the difference. I feel happy, excited, full of energy, at peace. All at once. I really appreciated reading about your experiences, and am so glad things are so good for you now.