The time where I reflect on the year and take a writing break for the holidays. But the truth is, I didn’t write much this year. This was the most challenging year of my entire life. Due to a continued fight for child support and an unexpected layoff from a job I loved, I was left financially wrecked. My health took a dive, and while I’m still struggling to get answers about what’s been happening, I was also forced to deal with my own mortality, as I nearly died from a pulmonary embolism. All of my coping mechanisms were taken and I fell into a deep depression. It’s been a struggle. But I’m bouncing back, with a new job, and hopefully more changes that will make things better. But thanks for coming with me on this insane ride, and as always, I’m sharing a series of photos of my year (excluding the kids). I wish everyone a wonderful holiday season and fingers crossed that 2023 will be a better year for everyone.
Have you ever looked in the mirror and not even recognized yourself anymore?
That’s how I feel. I don’t even recognize this person anymore. This year has been so challenging and it’s pretty much stripped away all of my best qualities, to the point where I feel like a tired old lady just ready to live with my cats and wither into dust. My finances are a mess, thanks to layoffs and lesser paying jobs, and the lack of child support. Every time I have to say no, I just feel bad. Parents should be able to afford a Slurpee, or a trip to McDonald’s, without counting all of the crack change. I should be able to send my eleventh grader lunch money. I should be able to go shopping for cute winter clothes. But instead, I’m always saying “next time,” and I know deep down they resent me because next time never comes. I’ve cut out everything that brings me any semblance of joy except for my morning cup of tea and even then, I don’t get one three days a week because I was putting money away for Xmas. I haven’t been to the gym in forever but I never picked up my shoes. I felt like if I did, it was defeat, that I would never go back. I don’t go out with my friends. Hell, I barely text. Also, if you’re my friend, I’m sorry I suck at communicating. I hate my weight, my hair, my skin, everything about my appearance and I just feel like I’ve failed at pretty much everything. It’s been a struggle to get out of bed some days. The cup isn’t half full or half empty; it’s just empty.
I suppose the last two years has taken its toll. There’s only so much you can give of yourself before you have nothing left, like the giving tree. And it’s only so long before you snap. I had two of those moments. The first one was when I needed coverage at work for a family emergency and I was told there was no one. Something in my brain snapped. For years I helped EVERYONE. Needed a shift covered? MHC. Needed help with staffing? MHC. Sick days? psh! I ONLY TOOK ONE DAY OFF FROM WORK WHEN I ALMOST DIED! And yet, the universe said “no one wants to go to where you are,” while I cried at work needing help. I called one of my colleague friends and bawled because he is an Angel sent from God. He found me some help and I could go home. But the whole way I was enraged. I loved my colleagues. I’m forever grateful to my DM for giving me a job, but I realized in that second I was right back where I was last year; trapped in a job I had to devote every second of myself to. I wanted to give my DM that person, but I don’t have it in me to give anymore. She deserves a top performer who can give her that level of buy in.
So I quit.
I found a new job with a living salary and more work life balance. I gave my notice and starting next month, I can stop selling phones once and for all and do a job that allows me to use my skills; training, development, and support. I’m excited. I was shocked I got it tbh. Do you know how many awesome candidates are looking for work? And I’m just me. But it’s a much needed change. I’ll be able to see my kids and clean my house. Maybe pet my cats. Maybe go on more dates and finally see my friends. I haven’t hung out with one of my best friends since July. It sucks dude. It’s gonna be nice to do stuff with my people again starting with the annual holiday party.
But, that was just one moment of clarity, the other came when I was a casualty of the Great War, AKA the battle to see my Lord and Saviour, Taylor Allison Swift.
I haven’t been anywhere in years. I couldn’t even go to my friend’s wedding. My kids are tired from school, teen pressures, and helping take care of their grandma when I’m at work. They deserved a trip. The opening act (Gracie Abrams) is my 15yo’s fave non Taylor performer. So I socked away every cent I had for nosebleeds. I gave up every minor luxury I have, banked the rest. I knew the tour was coming and I was going to come through. I had Verified Fan access that was supposed to carry me to the presale. I would use my income tax refund for flight and hotel, and for once, I wasn’t gonna say no. I was going to give them this one thing for Xmas and our Taycation was going to be magical. Instead, I got this.
My heart broke as the tire fire known as ticketmaster shut me out. I went to stubhub only to have my life ruined. My tiny little amount for our four shitty nosebleeds couldn’t even cover one ticket, let alone four. I had to say no again. No Taycation. No happy kids at Xmas that mom came through. Just another time I had to disappoint them. Between my work schedule, and my bank balance, and the realization that I wasn’t coming through for them, my brain broke again.
I COMPLETELY understand this is a first world issue. I am well aware that not taking my kids to see Taylor Swift won’t ruin my life. But it was just another no. Another “not this time.” I know it wasn’t my fault, and Ticketmaster is the dirt worst, but suddenly all of those times I had to say no flooded my brain; the slurpees, the tacos, the new shirt, that used CD, the discounted book, the hair dye, all of it. Every next time, or I’m sorry we don’t have it, every one just flashed through my eyes like a death scene in a movie, ending with the emptiness that this concert that meant so much to them was now, just another no. So I sat in my car and cried. I’d tell myself it’ll be okay, but we all know it’s not. It’s another thing I couldn’t do while the parents around me take their kids to Mexico for spring break and buy concert tickets for good grades. I moved them to a more affluent area and sometimes barely make rent, but I did it so they’d get a better education. But now they see how much more their friends parents can do for them. They’re good kids. They get good grades. They help at home, and are good to their friends and cats. But I let them down spectacularly every day and it just sucks.
After I was done my crying and generally being miserable, wallowing in how 2022 has been the absolute worst. It challenged me physically, mentally, and I’ve lost so much financially and I don’t even recognize myself anymore. I used to take so much pride in my appearance, in my work ethic, and in my life. Now, I just don’t care. I dug a hole and I couldn’t get out. Getting a new job is awesome, but I need to fix me or I’m just transferring the misery. So, I got to work. I deep cleaned my house. I started working out at home. I called a credit counsellor to work through my debt, whether it’s through a debt management program or a consumer proposal. It sucks, but it’s what I need to do. If I don’t have to stress about money as much, little things won’t get to me, and there will be fewer instances of no. I started getting up earlier and actually wearing makeup again. I started going to bed at a reasonable time. Also, I started forgiving myself for the things I’ve been beating myself up about. I can’t change that I got laid off. I can’t fix that I put on weight because I couldn’t work out for five months. I can’t change the fact that Ticketmaster sucks. But what I can do is change my situation. I can keep watching stubhub and seat geek for cheap resale tickets. I can keep an eye for Canadian dates. I can make time to work out. I can focus on budgeting smarter with the help of the counsellor. That will help me have more money to go to the gym and say yes to a few of those smaller things. I can go into my new job motivated and excited. I can continue to focus on being a present and active parent. These are things I can change.
While the answers aren’t ideal, at least there feels like a light at the end of the tunnel, except for the Taylor Swift tickets. That shit is just hopeless. But I will be able to look in the mirror in a few months and recognize who I’m looking at, and maybe even like that person too.
Over the last week, my life has felt like it’s imploding. I work almost every day, my work life balance is non existent, my house is a mess, I have a home repair issue, and my mental health is spiralling. I’m tired and overwhelmed and I genuinely feel like my life has hit rock bottom. My life has been stressful at times, but never so much so that I’ve felt so overwhelmed I can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel. My thoughts have been intrusive and dark and I have to actively fight not to give into them, and the CMHA crisis line hears from me a lot at 3am. I just feel like I’m drowning in a sea of responsibility, work, and anxiety. I took a massive pay cut this year so I’m scraping to make ends meet while working as much as I can just to earn as much as I can to make it. When you are stretched so thin, you feel the burnout radiating through your pores. There are nights I stare up at the ceiling and just pray not to be here anymore. That’s where I am right now. I’m also very, very alone.
I should preface, it’s not really a romantic partner I want when I mean “I am all alone.” I date when I have time, and if it happens, it happens. I mean I just wish I had someone to jump into the trenches when I need help. I have amazing friends who listen, mostly without judgment, and it’s helpful. I love them and I appreciate them listening. But they also have their own lives, so when I want to text and say I’m at rock bottom and I desperately need help and guidance, I also know they have work and families and priorities that don’t necessarily mean “help my friend who made a mess of her life for the 800th time.” But I just wish I had a teammate. Someone who could help me when things are over my head. Someone to help me with my mom. Someone who understands the challenges that come with raising my family. Someone to lessen the load. But my own family doesn’t check in. There’s no offer to help with my mom. There’s no one to talk to when my brain is the meanest in the middle of the night. There’s no one who can help me at home so I can work the extra hours, because I can’t ask anyone to take away from their life to fix mine. I can’t ask the kids to take on the big people jobs like running the house so I work. I just finally got benefits back so I can go back to therapy, but I make too much for government aid and not enough for a maid. So it’s me, all alone, against the universe, as it’s been for so many years, and I’m tired. I also feel like if I’m honest with people about how I’m feeling, then I’m complaining. So when people ask, I tell them platitudes;
– I’ll be fine
– it’ll all work out
– it’s under control
This made me start to realize I’m all alone because I’m too proud to admit I need help desperately. I already feel defeated, so I feel like obviously all of my friends who are killing it don’t need my eternal gloomy depression and exhaustion to mess their sunny days. I feel like everyone has to be sick of hearing about how my inability to learn from the same mistakes over and over. So, I tell everyone what they want to hear; that I’ll be okay. But I’m not. I want to cry and scream and even though my traumatic life has made me hate physical contact, I just want a hug. My hippy friend gives the best hugs, but she’s so far away. My best friend from high school gives pretty great ones too, but she’s also really far away.
My role has always been the strong, optimistic friend. That’s all I ever hear “you’re so strong, you got this.” So I’m always afraid to tell people when I’m not. But I also wonder how many other people are also afraid to just admit they feel awful. Maybe they’re struggling too. Maybe we are all walking through life barely hanging on to our mental health, wondering why no one seems to care about us, it’s because we bury it until there’s nothing left of us. Then we sit up bleary eyed, crying at 3am with only Taylor Swift to keep us hanging on, or maybe that’s just me. Maybe if we were able to say “I need help,” or “I’m not doing okay,” there would be someone there for us. Basically, much like every other thing in my life, I’m all alone because I’m afraid of telling people how much of a mess things are. Maybe that’s how it is for everyone and we are all just floating through trying to hold it together while our late night ghosts keep us up.
But no matter how lonely and dark everything is, or how miserable I am, I can always count on my friends to try to help, with texts, memes, and a listening ear. I’m grateful that even if they can’t jump into the trenches and help me feel like I can get everything under control, at least I have people on my side who care, which is more than a lot of people have. And maybe everything will work out. But if you also feel like you’re drowning, at least you know there are other crazy single moms who are barely holding it together and cry in their car before they go into the house. You’re not alone, and you’re probably doing great. Even if you’re not, you’re probably doing better than me, and that’s not much, but it’s something we can drink to.
It’s been a minute! Truthfully, I haven’t had much to talk about. I’ve been focused on my family, and adjusting to my new job, and weight loss. Not terribly interesting stuff. Weight loss has been a struggle, and after my visit with the endocrinologist, I was left even more frustrated. Apparently I was misdiagnosed with PCOS, and there’s another issue, but I had to plead for blood work to figure it out. I just got “have you considered being less fat?” YES. YES I HAVE. But then instead of addressing the actual symptoms, it was just here’s a weight loss shot. I’m getting blood work, but I had to yell at the doctor to get it. It’s absolutely shameful that women’s health is completely ignored unless you want to get pregnant. I ended up taking medication and nearly died for legit no reason and I am actually really angry about it. I’m very hesitant to take medication after what happened in April. So, I’ll go ask for a second opinion from another OB/GYN, but until then, I’m going to have to take control of my health on my own, without help from doctors who have no interest in investigating women’s health.
One thing that has been tough about weight loss has been that I have no goal to work towards. Before, I would pick a goal and work towards it, like my friend’s wedding, or the lululemon 10k. But there was no 10k and the pulmonary embolism has forced me to start all over again in terms of fitness. But I’ve finally completed my treatment, which means two things; I can get back to running, and I can drink again.
I’ve been thinking a lot about what is a good fitness goal for me. I really want to work towards something big, something meaningful. Like those people who do Tough Mudder, but without the masochism, and the making Tough Mudder your entire raison d’être. That’s when I decided that I’m going to quit eating fast food (except one cheat meal a month) and I am going to save all of my coins, and compete in the Ultimate Hawaiian Trail Run!
All the money raised is to help at risk youth through the Keala Foundation. It combines all of my favourite things: fitness, helping others, and vacations. It’s a big goal to train for that requires me to stick to fitness goals, give up fast food, and stick to a budget, all things I’ve been trying really hard to do. I’m finally getting the hang of my new job and adjusting back to being in the store. I’m looking at how to better financially plan so I can get my debt under control, as well as reducing some costs by scaling back some cable and cellular services. I need to get healthier, so eating at home was the cheapest start. Until I can get back to the gym, it’ll be home based workouts with Deadboys Fitness and starting Couch to 5K again. I can’t keep obsessing about the year I was set back being treated for something I didn’t have. I need to focus on what is in my control, which is eating right, better financial planning, and exercise. Will I lose a ton of weight? Maybe. I did it before. Or maybe I’ll finally get answers about why I’m struggling with my health. But I know working towards some kind of goal will help me stay on task.
The other thing that is critical is eating right; no diets, no tricks. I have teenagers and I have to teach them healthy body image, including a positive relationship with food. That’s how I lost all of the weight before. No more intermittent fasting, or fad diets. I’ll watch my macros in MyFitnessPal, but that’s it. I’m a role model to three young people, I have to make sure they’re seeing someone getting healthy but not skipping meals or being really restrictive. It’s gonna be about choosing the right foods; not changing my entire diet to yo-yo with my weight.
I’m not going to pretend it’s all going to work out, but I am going to be gentle with myself while working very hard to improve. The more work I put in, the better the returns, so I’ll just keep working and keep positive, excited to see change…and hopefully go to Hawaii to run in mud and raise money to help others, which is always a good time.
Remember how I almost died? Well, 2022 decided to further kick me in the face! My company faced some financial hardships, and almost all of us were laid off. Suddenly I went from feeling confident in my future to worried about losing my house. It was tough. I have nothing negative to say about my time with the company. This is a great organization with great people. I’m honoured to have been part of it. I met really great people and I’m lucky to be friends with many of them. It was a rewarding experience. But, I have to pay bills and even when life gets you down, there’s a silver lining. One of my former colleagues works for another organization and she was gracious enough to offer me a position. I’m super excited to be part of this company. She’s a great leader and I feel like I can learn a lot from her. Most importantly, I’ve been reunited with colleagues and friends that I loved working with. It’s a really cool time for me work wise.
However, switching jobs means switching pay periods. Money is tight. Benefits are non existent for the next three months. Trying to scrape together money for medication has been tough. Speaking of medication, I’m still fighting my doctor for a referral to a specialist and I’m not getting anywhere. The tooth I had a root canal in has been feeling off (not painful, just weird), so anxiety says my tooth is falling out and I’ll be ugly. I’ve been afraid to work out since my pulmonary embolism. I’m just very down on myself.
I deleted my dating apps a few weeks ago. I got stood up and just decided that was it. But I’ve been noticing the way I look at myself hasn’t been great. I genuinely don’t see the point of trying to date when I feel genuinely ugly. Any time someone suggests that I date someone, I just say I am too ugly and crazy have WAY too much baggage. Whether or not i was interested was irrelevant; I was just too ugly to even consider it as an option. Everything is just about looks it feels. Even when I was explaining my frustration with my doctor, my friend kept bringing it back to my weight, even though it was about my doctor only wanting me to take one kind of medication. When I went into Lululemon I was asked if I was shopping for gifts because “we don’t accommodate plus size.” I realized my weight will always be my defining character trait until I lose it again, so there’s no point in putting myself out there to meet anyone. I just feel like the annoying person people engage with because they work with me or whatever. Hell, even some of my friends always tell me how I’m doing so great on my own and they see me as the type of person who will be happy with their cats, alone and don’t need anyone. They meant it as a compliment; I felt like it meant I’m not really a catch. I don’t think I’m a catch. It’s either that or reminders that the general population says me as some kind of airhead with no substance and talks too much. If I had a dollar for every time I heard “shut up Mary-Helen,” I’d never have money problems again. All of my report cards with “talks too much,” are now making me wonder if I’m really just…not partner material. All of a sudden dating just felt like a waste of of time so I just sort of gave up.
I get this is just anxiety. Deep down I know I’m not ugly or stupid and my tooth probably isn’t going to be extracted or fall out (but until the dentist says so, I’m gonna be a little scared). But I also have to internalize a lot because a lot of times, my feelings are sort of dismissed as “you’re fine,” or “it’s fine,” while I’m kind of expected to be there for everyone and it’s overwhelming. When I’m helping my kids with body image issues, I can’t really open up about my own. I won’t have benefits for three months so therapy is off the table for a bit. It’s also the feeling of not being in control of every situation to give myself the stability I need to thrive. So, I needed to figure out how do I pull myself out of this rut? I can’t just cry and I’m not allowed to drink so functional alcoholism seems to be off of the table for now. I needed a new plan to help pull myself out of this mental health spiral.
I’ve started goal setting using an app called Finch. It has all sorts of things to help with wellness and keep anxiety in check. One goal was to fill all of my Apple Watch rings in July. I need to build healthy habits. I get up thirty minutes before I have to so I can meditate and set the tone for the day. I went so long without putting on makeup or even trying to take pride in my appearance, so I make sure to at least do my eyes every morning, and do my hair as well. No more ponytails. I get to work forty minutes early so I can mentally prepare for my shift and make an action plan for the day. They’re baby steps, but hopefully they’ll turn into strides. It’s gonna be a journey, but I’ve pulled myself out of darker places. I just need to focus on the things that I need to thrive;
4. Ways to grow at work
This means getting over my fear of fitness. I have to remember that it wasn’t exercise that hurt me, it was the medication that caused the blood clots. I’ve taken steps to recover. I have to trust my body is healing and ready to get back into shape. I can start off slowly and eventually get back to the point where I’m seeing results. Obviously this situation has caused me to make some major dietary changes, so between that and the fitness, I should see the results I’m hoping to see, and I can celebrate my commitment to health.
As for dating, I’m gonna stay away for now. Until I can see myself as someone worthy of love, I can’t. That’s how I ended up with people who were abusive or mean before. I don’t want to settle, so until my response is no longer “no way, I’m way too old/fat/ugly/stupid” when anyone suggests a possible date for me, I can’t even consider it. I can’t be a good partner to someone else when my inner monologue is treating my psyche like shit. This way I can avoid being preyed on by some creep, and when the time comes, I’ll be emotionally ready to be a good partner…In theory.
I’ve been pretty open about my weight gain and battle with PCOS. Part of that required me to take medication. I was prescribed birth control to help regulate symptoms. I’ve been taking it for a few months now, and originally I saw results. But lately I’ve noticed symptoms returning and I needed to change some things about my diet and how I exercise. I’ve been moderating my diet more, and being more cautious about what I eat, and working out before bed. My workout is what triggered this entire saga, so buckle up, as this is quite the ride.
During my Deadboys Fitness workout, I suddenly got really dizzy and needed to lay down. I assumed I was dehydrated and drank water. But I still kept feeling disoriented. I asked one of the kids to get me a snack, thinking maybe my blood sugar was low. Nothing helped. When my Apple Watch advised me my heart rate has spiked significantly walking to my bathroom, I decided maybe it was time to call an ambulance.
Now, anyone who identifies as female will tell you how important it is to advocate for yourself during a medical event. I’ve learned through the years from caring for my mom that medical professionals do not like to listen to women. Even my own health issues were largely ignored for months. I knew something was wrong; I had been hiking with one of my best friends three days earlier! Those lateral hops were nothing! But the EMT kept dismissing my concerns as “anxiety,” as my vitals were fine. But I wasn’t fine. I was winded bending over to pick up my phone. I spent hours in a waiting room in a wheelchair because walking ten steps wore me out. My chest and throat were burning like I ran a half marathon. Even the nurses said since three EKG’s, and a blood oxygen test were fine, I needed to go home. It was just stress. I insisted I see the doctor. I’m not normally one to demand things, but I’m grateful I did. The doctor said that while I looked fine, it didn’t hurt to check a few other things. So he requested an x-Ray, more blood work, and a d-dimer test, to check for clots. Within what felt like three minutes, a nurse rushed in saying we needed a CT scan RIGHT NOW. I had to take off my necklace and get into a gown ASAP. The first IV was removed to make room for IV number two. The next little bit was a blur: X-rays, needles, then a move to an observation room as my old room in the ER was taken (along with my necklace, that never made it back to me. I’m absolutely heartbroken, as the ring around my neck was a gift from my oldest friend), and now I’m hooked up to a heart monitor, blood pressure machine, and blood is being drawn from my HAND because there are no more veins in my arms available thanks to multiple blood draws and IV’s. I hadn’t eaten or drank in 13 hours. I hadn’t slept in 30 hours. There isn’t a single part of me that isn’t in mind numbing pain and worst of all, I can still barely breathe. The wait is long and miserable and that IV is driving me insane. Finally, a doctor appears and starts asking a bunch of questions:
– Do I smoke? (No)
– How often do I work out? (3-4 times/week)
– What medications am I on? (birth control)
Doctor has an “a ha!” moment. The medication triggered this. Finally I get answers. There are blood clots in my lungs, known as a pulmonary embolism. I caught it early so j should recover fully, but had I just gone to sleep, I could have suffered a cardiac event or stroke and even died. My 15yo basically saved me by waking me up out of concern. I also learned that doctors don’t enjoy black humour as a coping mechanism. Answering “obviously I’m killing it,” when asked how I was doing is the wrong answer. Who knew?
But for the next few months, things have to change; no crossfit or running for two months, blood thinners for four. No alcohol, stricter diet, and lots of rest. I also need a different treatment for PCOS. It’s a scary time and combined with my other stressors (caring for my elderly mom, raising my family, trying to find a second job to combat inflation), it’s a lot. When the doctor asked if I could reduce my stress levels, I just laughed. This was the worst time for a health issue. I won’t lie; I’m scared. I’m going to be at risk for blood clots for the rest of my life. I don’t want my kids to have to worry if mommy is gonna be okay. Right now they have to help me around the house and it’s insane. I’m supposed to take care of them, not the other way around. I’m back at work two days later because I just can’t afford to take time off. I rarely receive child support and I just can’t risk the financial hit. It’s very depressing to know you can’t afford to get sick. Also, I’ve never done well doing nothing. This has been an emotional roller coaster.
But, much like everything bad that happens in life, there’s always something positive you can find if you look hard enough. My friends and colleagues all stepped up to check in on me and offer accommodations so I can work. My oldest offered to buy her siblings some summer clothes so I wouldn’t have to stress. My other daughter offered to let me hang out with her creepy doll so I wouldn’t be lonely on bedrest. My oldest friend called me to check in, because he knew not only was I upset about my health, but by the loss of my necklace, and he took the time to check in. One of my best friends offered to help us do my groceries. My amazing boss checked in all day while I was in the hospital. My downstairs neighbour made sure to check in with the kids so I wouldn’t worry. Everyone I know made sure to help me feel loved and supported. It’s nice to know that when times are tough, I’ve got a bunch of people who have my back. A lady can’t help but feel gratitude when so many people are there for you in a crisis situation. The world is full of amazing people and I’m fortunate enough to call many of them friends.
The next few months are gonna be tough, but we will make it through, just as we have always done before. I’ll be healthier, and probably happier. I’ll also have learned that I don’t need to do everything myself, and that it’s okay to ask for help sometimes; especially if that time is “I almost died.” I’ve always put everyone ahead of myself, so I’m going to use this time to take care of myself, because I can’t be a good mom from the great beyond.
Well y’all. Another year is over, although it feels like Marchvember 57 of 2020. It’s been an interesting year. I quit my job and found a workplace that’s collaborative and full of leaders who want to see everyone grow together. I put my mental health first and took steps to get as healthy as possible. I took steps to improve my physical wellness so I can get back on the weight loss train. I’m excited to be my best self again. As always, I compiled a photo essay of my fave memories (excluding my children). If you ever want to watch my ridiculous life in real time, follow my dumb ass on Snapchat!
Happy holidays everyone and I’ll have more adventures in 2022!
I know I sort of fell off of the Earth lately, but I haven’t felt particularly motivated or inspired to write lately. I haven’t really been motivated to do anything, except let my anxiety run wild and create insane scenarios in my head about how everyone actually hates me because they’re cooler, better looking, and smarter than me, and I’m the fattest, most annoying loser that ever lived.
I find myself constantly trying to balance if I’m being too much, or talking too much, or being too “me.” I’ve spent most of my life being told that being myself won’t always leave the best impression, and I really want to fit in with my new team, because they’re all so awesome. It’s dumb, but ever since one of my friends told me I’m only fun to be around in small doses because otherwise I’m overwhelming, I tend to obsess that I’m always gonna be too much and eventually I’ll annoy everyone until they don’t want to talk to me anymore. Every time I spend time with anyone, I wonder how I could have done that better. Could I have talked less, about myself less, could I have been nicer. What could I do to be less annoying. When I get home from work I wonder how I could have been better. Could I have interacted better. Do my coworkers like me. Am I dragging the team down. This is my head every night.
I thought getting out of a toxic work environment would fix my self esteem issues, but I still feel like I’m too annoying to be a real person. I’m doing well at work and I’m excited to be working on a project that I’m super passionate about. But it also triggers insecurities. I wonder if someone else should present it because my coworkers are cool and kick ass. Deep down I know I have no reason to feel that way. I love my new job. I’m getting to know amazing people. I’m part of a team of colleagues I admire and respect. I’m working on projects where we get to do more for our community because it’s the right thing to do, not just to get a point on scoreboard. I love being home more with my family. I love that I have more free time to see my friends. I love that work is fun again. But just because you remove yourself from toxicity doesn’t mean you don’t have to check yourself for your own toxic behaviours and correct them. I’ve realized that my insecurities and anxieties are impacting my life and I need to make healthy changes so I can be a better MHC.
The negative self talk has helped me realize that my anxiety is out of control. It’s dominated every aspect of my life. I’m constantly comparing myself to the highlight reels of others, wishing I was confident like them. I’m constantly putting myself down in my head, letting those comments from friends, my old boss, and even my third grade teacher play back.
– Too much
– too big of a personality
– too domineering
– no one wants a strong woman, a fat woman, an old lady
– talks too much.
The truth is that I’ve neglected myself for so long that all I can focus on anymore is the negatives about my life, appearance, etc and I need to bust out of the rut of feeling ugly and stupid. So, I’ve made a conscious decision to shut down the negative thoughts by putting me first. I’ve been blocking off time to work out, and some friends in Ontario are keeping me motivated to get in shape for a wedding in the summer. I’ve rebooked that hair appointment I’ve cancelled four times. I’ve blocked off time to do yoga every night. Most importantly, I recently took time to talk to my doctor about my mental health. While I’ve been seeing a therapist for months, I’ve been referred to a psychiatrist to help me with my anxiety and PTSD. My therapist has been amazing, but I think it’s time I get to the root causes of my anxiety and how to effectively cope with my PTSD triggers to be my best self again.
Part of getting out of toxic environments is really looking at yourself and taking ownership of how you can avoid these situations in the future. Part of my issue was needing validation from my boss so desperately made me like myself a little bit less every time I didn’t get it. The more I got torn down, the more I would resolve to be better instead of accepting that this was a sick cycle carousel where my best was never enough. Now I want to feel valued by the people around me and that’s not a healthy way to live and it’s not fair to the people around me. I also need to figure out why I keep putting myself in these unhealthy situations; both personally and professionally. I don’t want to just learn to cope; I want to really heal from the trauma of losing a parent and being abandoned by the other, being physically assaulted by an ex fiancé when I was 19, the physically and emotionally abusive marriage, and why these incidents led me to choose unhealthy partners, jobs, and friendships. By working on healing properly, I hope to teach my own kids that it’s okay to have uncomfortable conversations about mental health, and it’s okay to seek help to be better.
I’ve always been afraid to really deep dive into my mental health, but I know in order to be healthy enough to get in shape, have healthy relationships, and regain confidence, I need to truly resolve my trust issues, insecurities, etc. It’s gonna be uncomfortable, but most growth is. I spent a lot of years being complacent with my job while letting my anxiety take over. Maybe it’s time I really push myself to better again, so I can finally feel good about myself, and feel like I’m really capable of accomplishing good things…or I’ll still be the cat lady who ends up a Walmart greeter at 85. You know, whatever.
I’ve always strived to improve as a person and the last year or so, I didn’t really do that. I basically sat around, got fat, and let the depression take me. I also learned that you never realize how bad something is for you until you get rid of it. Since I left my old job a month ago, my hair isn’t falling out as much. I work out again. I sleep better, my skin care routine is better. Oh, and I take vitamins every morning. I’m more optimistic and peppier. I just feel good about myself and my life for the first time in a long ass time.
I’m really excited about my future again. I don’t feel 100% confident to jump into dating, mostly because I don’t totally like myself. Also, I’m not sure online dating is for me. I need to get to know someone before I can pursue a relationship and I’ve run out of friends to date. But it’s not a subject that stresses me out anymore. If it happens, it happens. But I’m excited about who I’m going to become again.
One way I’ve gotten back on track is to focus on growth that isn’t about a scale number or a workout. It’s the stuff that has changed that I never thought was important but is. I pride myself on my house being clean and organized. Before I accepted that I’d never be the best housekeeper, but I’ve learned my family and I deserve better. I used to be afraid to drive; now I drive for a living! I’ve really prioritized taking care of my hair and skin, and I’ve been doing home workouts to get back into fitness. Sometimes you get so caught up in the idea that because one thing hasn’t changed, you aren’t growing. But I’ve been getting better in a bunch of other little ways. I’m not the person I want to be yet, but I’m trying and I’m gonna get there. For the first time in a long time, I feel like I can get back in shape, be a good mom, do well at my job, let my hair grow back, and be the type of person who can be in a relationship with someone else. Now that I’m not under the weight of a toxic work environment, I feel like I am capable of success and that I deserve it. I’m surrounded by friends and colleagues that share my ideas of what winning together and cheering each other on actually means. It feels so good to be around people who want to build each other up, and celebrating successes with people I respect and admire.
The lesson I’ve learned is that if you waste all of your time feeling like a failure because one thing hasn’t worked, you’ll never see all of the ways you’re bettering yourself l. I spent years being made to feel like I was dumb, old, and incompetent at work, which made me feel like that at home. It sapped the life out of me and turned me into the failure they said I was. Now, I see all of the ways that wasn’t true and that I’m actually making baby steps to be better every day. I still have moments where I feel good big, ugly, and stupid, but I talk myself through them by listening to Lorde, Taylor Swift, and reminding myself of the changes I’ve made and that I’m better than I was last week or last year. Maybe by focusing on my growth in other areas, I can use that to hit my fitness goals.
So if you feel like you’re stuck, or you’re not getting better. Maybe you’re stuck in a rut. Maybe look at what else you’ve been doing. You’ve probably come so far and don’t even realize it. You’re still killing the game, just not in the way you felt like you weren’t, and even that will come. Just keep pushing forward and you’ll find the bad bitch you were always meant to be.
You’re probably wondering why I would quit my job after five years and have devoted almost every second of energy towards. So, let me answer! I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately, about how I can get back to a version of me I’m really happy with. One of the things holding me back was a lack of work life balance. My job was smothering me. I was giving so much to everyone, but in return I wasn’t getting a whole lot. I had to miss the last day of school, and the last time the three kids walked home together and it super sucked. I was reaching a level of professional dissatisfaction that I could no longer ignore, but I was trying to because I loved the company, my clients, and my colleagues. Then a line of professionalism was crossed, and I realized that while I was working so hard to be a good teammate, I wasn’t seen as a teammate by one person, I was seen as someone you didn’t need to treat with basic respect. I wasn’t being respected by a person who’s respect I should have earned through my work performance. I was giving so much of myself to a job that wasn’t giving me anything back in return but migraines, stress, and exacerbated PCOS symptoms. I was only staying for my women’s program, my colleagues, and charity work. I was worn out, exhausted, and I didn’t like going to work anymore.
The world has a way of helping you realize that where one person won’t appreciate you; others will. Some former colleagues and friends suggested me for another company. The company contacted me and offered me a job with work life balance, better financial security, and the opportunity to build a philanthropy program that was ethical and did more than just raise money, but rather empower employees to do more for their communities. I loved my colleagues, but I’d be stupid not to see that this is better for me. I’d have time to be a mom, more time for my mom, and more time to live my life, instead of just work.
Chasing someone’s approval, whether it’s a partner, a friend, or a boss that will never see your value, will always suck the life out of you. Over the last few years, I’ve seen my confidence diminish to the point where I’m afraid to do anything. I am afraid if I go to the gym, I’ll just mess up and not do well. My self esteem is in the toilet. I’m always tired. You always hear about how the wrong manager or the lack of validation at work can run an employee ragged and it would bleed into the rest of their lives. This was me. I took extra shifts, I was the first to volunteer for projects, I participated on calls, and helped my colleagues. I kept trying and trying only to end most of my evaluations in tears and apologizing for minor things. I loved my job. I loved the company. But after I got off of the phone with my new boss, I felt more valued than I had in years. I’m excited to unplug. No more late night messages about what worked, no more calls on my day off. My days off are mine, which means I can go to the gym, I can go to the beach (which I did), I can go to a movie without my phone blowing up. And above all, I feel optimistic about my work life for the first time in forever.
So, while it broke my heart to leave a job where I got to work with so many amazing people and help the clients I’ve worked with for so many years, I had to start thinking my mental health and my needs. I’ve spent five years devoting myself to what was best for the company, but never what was best for me. So, while it wasn’t something I had planned, I made a choice that was best for me.
Despite my love for my company and colleagues and team, when I left, I felt relieved and like thirty pounds of stress was gone. I’ll miss my colleagues and team, but it’s been so much easier to get up, exercise, and enjoy my week without that feeling of walking on eggshells wondering if today was the day I’d end up crying at work again. This week has been the most peaceful and relaxing week I’ve had in years. I’m actually looking forward to going to work again instead of sitting in my car for ten minutes just psyching myself up to go into the building or dreading answering my phone. For the first time since the start of the pandemic, I feel optimistic about my life.
I never realized just how much space my job took in my life until I realized my life had no space because of my job. Now, my new job holds a space in my life, but so does my family, so does fitness (even though I’ve been afraid of failing at the gym), so do my friends, and a social life, which is how it should be. There’s a good lesson here, which is that I can’t allow myself to let my job take over my life and I can’t keep giving my whole self to try and win the approval of people who are never going to give me that. I’ve done this in my personal life and now in my professional life. However, I also learned that even if one person doesn’t see your worth, doesn’t mean others are missing it too. I’m so grateful for the number of colleagues, team members (past and present), managers from other districts, and even HR, who reached out to thank me for my work, my contributions to the company, and wish me well. Those are the people who worked on the floor with me, knew me on a personal level, and saw my commitment. I’m so grateful for them and their friendship.
So, while I’m nervous to start something new, as it’s been awhile since I did that (which is weird, I used to do it all of the time), I’m also really excited for a change. Things haven’t been working the way they were and now I’m excited to take on a completely new job and do something different. I’m excited to grow my career and reduce my waistline. But I’m most excited to find the best version of myself that I’ve been so determined to find again. So, much like every other time I’ve made a change to embrace something new, I’m excitedly optimistic about what experiences I’ll have and lessons I’ll learn.