Today is day 5 of my new work life – my dreams for a work life come true. A life that accommodates moving toward a serious career as a writer, artist and belonging builder.
I am giddy with excitement. I am light and spacious. My interactions with the world are markedly different this week. More joy and generosity.
And I am anxious. I can feel it in my jaw and neck. Sometimes I feel it in my belly. I am anxious because the last time a dream came true it turned into my worst nightmare. I find myself waiting for the other shoe to drop, for my math to be wrong or for my other employer to find fault with me or for my partner to find the new arrangement unacceptable. Something. It just can’t be this good – can it?
I was fired by one of my part-time jobs a week ago, for telling my truth about my experience and that I was seeking a new position as a consequence. I was fired for having the integrity to be honest when my supervisor poked me with her questions. She also looked me in the eye and said she wasn’t going to fire me when I expressed my fear. I was fired for feeling undervalued in an organization that diminished my position until I was practically irrelevant (good leaders know that workers need to feel valued to thrive). I have a 16 year career of leaders who saw the best in me and let me shine. Leaders who accepted my truth telling ways and appreciated my insights, especially into decisions that impact culture and relationships. I am still in shock that a nonprofit with a mission to build relationship and community would treat a team member so carelessly and would have a woman who bullies at the helm of programs.
When I was told of my “involuntary” termination, I freaked out on many levels. I assumed it would be too much of a hit financially and that we would be back to struggling to make it work. I worried about losing my health benefits and having to give up Lyrica again, a $300/month medication I need to help manage my pain (I could get state benefits again for other health needs, but it won’t cover the medication). And it was an incredible hit to my pride. I’ve only been known for excellence in previous positions. It concerned me what my new employers might think when they found out why I suddenly have more flexibility and a desire to change my schedule (they were awesome about it and will likely throw more hours my way soon).
A couple days later I realized I feel mostly light and spacious because I am finally 100% free of bullies in my life. I finally recognize my unconscious pattern as a traumatized woman and emotional masochist who submitted to bullying and careless treatment in many of my relationships, in both my professional and personal lives. I finally stand up for myself and accept the consequences that come from speaking my truth, setting boundaries, and refusing to accept bullying and emotional abuse in my relationships any longer. Without the toxicity of abusive people infecting my mind, heart and soul, I am really happy.
And it turns out that the new job pays a high enough hourly wage that I don’t have to work full time to carry my financial weight in my partnership now that I don’t have a car. While I am working as an Executive Assistant, I make the highest wage in my career, equivalent to what I made as a manager with considerably more responsibility and stress in Humboldt (too much for one person really). And the position is virtual, so I mostly work from home. This is the benefit of tons of experience, living in a city, and working for a high end consulting firm. As for my benefits, Eros and I are going to get legally married sooner rather than later so that I can enroll on his benefits with UPS (which are ridiculously generous). We can’t afford the wedding we were planning in Humboldt, but we’re talking about the possibility of crowdfunding it and going with whatever comes our way.
My new work-life schedule is a dream come true. I have time to write and the brain space to work on my book. I have energy to exercise and make nutritious meals. I can have a slow morning with coffee and the interwebs, write my 1000 words between 8 & 11, work 11-3 mostly from my bed or my couch (with the flexibility to adjust hours as needed), take a walk or a swim after work, and have the energy to make a nutritious dinner for my partner who works a hard physical job and needs optimal nourishment. It’s ideal for my life needs – enough income for a simple and comfortable life with my partner, work where I feel valued and make a contribution, and the necessary time and energy spaciousness to work with the limitations of my chronic illness (rather than bully my body into submission at an office all day and have nothing left for creativity when I got home).
I am about to turn 43. I became a single mother at 17. That is 25 years of schooling and working full-time to survive, working to give my kids the best I possibly could, working to support an ex-husband who refused to work for years, working to support a partner who needs to invest in his career, working to support a chosen family, working despite a chronic illness that causes me pain every day, always working to increase my value so I could increase my salary, relentlessly working because it is my nature to do what is needed to support myself and my people without question.
In my world, this spaciousness is a fucking miracle. And it’s scary. No more excuses. I have a lot of work to do if I want to be a successful author and entrepreneur of some kind. It’s not like I get to spend the new 5+ hours I have a day (if you include commute) sitting on my behind wasting time. This is just a stepping stone. I have to bring my new dreams to life with writing and research, building relationships, and face the vulnerability putting my vision out there. There’s a whole new world for me where I get to share my ideas and make a contribution on my own terms, collaborating with people who resonate with my values, but it’s going to take working harder than I ever have before. No more restrictions or limitations means I get to be as big as I want to, dream as big as I please. and bring new possibilities into the world. That doesn’t happen without serious commitment, motivation, and confidence in who I am and what I see. I believe I’m finally ready.
I’m done with people telling me no because it doesn’t fit their limited vision.
I’m done giving my life to build other people’s dreams.
It’s my turn.