Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The Sky Isn't Really Falling (Part 2)

(this is a continuation of a post started here)

The thing I know is that the fear that kept me at that job despite the way in which it was crushing my soul was the fear my mother gave me. The idea that I couldn't let this opportunity go because there would never be another one like it was the driving force behind my clinging to that job. It not only kept me there, but it kept me powerless to demand anything that I was reasonably due. I couldn't stand up for myself when credit was stolen from me. I couldn't ask for raises. I couldn't refuse to do things which were outside of my job description. I couldn't do anything because it might threaten my job security and the job must be kept at all costs, even at the cost of my mental and physical health.

In the end, I couldn't endure the depression anymore. I took a vacation and was more miserable when it was over than before I had left. The fact that nothing could make me happy anymore was too much to bear. With my husband's encouragement, I finally was able to take my utterly defeated self and say I'd quit. I gave notice about 6 weeks before leaving, and I cried every day for a month at the prospect of leaving. It wasn't that I loved the job so much, but that I feared the change.

Prying myself away from something I'd clung to like a lifeline for so long was like ripping the very flesh from my body. It was painful on so many levels because I'd assigned disproportionate and ill-deserved value to the company and the work in order to validate my remaining there. The truth was though that it was my mother's fears that she had so deeply inculcated into me that played the biggest role. If I left, the sky was going to fall.

Obviously, the sky did not fall. Everything was okay. I got other work. My husband and I make enough money with our combined jobs, and I finally began the process of recovering my mental health. It took nearly a year away from that job before the depression started to lift. I spent much of that year holed up in our apartment talking to my sister, playing MMORPGs, and going out as little as possible. I cocooned myself from as much external pain as possible and one day, about 7-8 months later, I realized that I could enjoy things again, though I still didn't feel anywhere near "whole" for a good deal longer.

Three years away from that job, and I had the courage to make a decision that set off my weight loss efforts. That decision is to move to a very different place where new opportunities will present themselves. The truth is that we have remained where we are, in part, due to inertia, but also perhaps due to my fear. Things are going pretty well here, so I'm afraid to leave, but the truth is that our situation keeps us both in a state of intellectual and career stagnation. I'm afraid the sky will fall if I walk away from a life of relative comfort, so I chose to stay in a place in which I am not really happy and in which I have no bright future.

My fear at letting go of the stability we have had here has been a big part of why we have remained. My husband is okay to remain out of inertia, but he probably would have left a long time ago if I had wanted to. Everyday that I think about leaving, I face my fear that the sky will fall when I move on. It's a deep terror that I realize has one foot in reality and one foot in conjured fear.

Anyone can step off the curb to cross a street and be hit by a car, though the chances of that are rather low. Chances are you'll cross that street just fine. Chances are that I'll cross that street just fine when I move on and life will be different but no worse than it has been here on the whole. My mother would have had me believe that I would certainly be killed for taking the chance and stepping off the curb. She would have had me decide to stand on that same corner forever no matter how miserable it made me for fear of that that one in a million chance of getting hit by a previously unseen car would be the result. I have decided that I just can't keep standing there anymore based on a fear that the sky might fall if I take a step.

1 comment:

Christina said...

Because of you
I'll never stray too far from the sidewalk
Because of you
I learned to play on the safe side
So I don't get hurt
Because of you
I find it hard to trust
Not only me, but everyone around me
Because of you
I am afraid